Sony WH-1000XM5: Update for the ANC reference on the headphones

Sony has introduced the fifth edition of its successful WH-1000 headphones. For the new edition of the Bluetooth over-ears, the manufacturer has primarily improved the telephony quality and the ANC – and revised the design. While the previous versions of the headphones were difficult to distinguish from one another, the WH-1000XM5 is visually distinct from its predecessors and appears less bulky. The newcomer is not cheap, Sony is asking 420 euros for the headphones, which will be available from the end of May.

In addition to the USB-C charging and jack sockets, there are two control buttons on the headphones that put the device into pairing mode or switch between transparency and ANC mode. A touch field on the right ear cup controls volume and playback. Lay on of hands passes through the ambient noise and dims the volume. Additional commands for the control buttons can be assigned in the optional app. There you can also adjust the sound using a preset or individually using a five-band equalizer. The transparency mode can also be adjusted there in 20 levels. The ear cups are still relatively flat, but slightly larger than on the predecessor, so that even medium-sized ears have space under the headphones. The ear cups can be rotated for transport, but cannot be folded in.

Overall, the Sony WH-1000XM5 (red graph) sound more harmonious than their predecessor (blue graph) because the upper mids and the presence range are not lowered. For comparison, our relatively neutral analog reference, the Sennheiser HD600 (yellow).

In terms of sound, the XM5 doesn’t hide its affiliation with the 1000X family, but plays the upper mids less restrained than its predecessor, which means that it sounds more lively and less dull overall – although the precise bass is still very present. According to the press release, Sony uses carbon fiber composite for the 30mm drivers, which improves sensitivity to high frequencies. The WH-1000XM5 understands LDAC, AAC and SBC. However, the LDAC codec only works if Multilink Bluetooth, which keeps two devices connected at the same time, is disabled in the app. The device is certified for 360 Reality Audio.

Sony has turned transparency mode and ANC more clearly than the sound. Transparency mode now introduces significantly more ambient noise, making phone calls feel more comfortable because you can hear your own voice better. Sony has further improved the already very good noise suppression of the predecessor, especially the XM5 dims keyboard clattering in open-plan offices audibly more effectively – better than competitors like the Bose QC45. Sony itself writes that two processors control eight microphones, which are intended to reduce disruptive noise, especially in the medium and high frequency ranges. Like its predecessor, the WH-1000XM5 can optionally automatically adjust the noise suppression to the environment.

On the other hand, the voices of the other person are more voluminous compared to the predecessor, so that the headphones are also well suited for video conferences. Sony advertises the headphones with a runtime of around 30 hours with ANC activated. The headphones appear in black and gray and are supplied with a charging cable, jack cable and transport bag.


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