Sony upgrades design and noise cancelling for stylish WH-1000XM5 headphones

Singer songwriter Khalid wears Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones while having a coffee

Sony has taken a design diversion with the latest update to its 1000X noise cancelling Bluetooth headphone series. The WH-1000XM5 cans feature a sleek new look with a stepless headband slider. 

Unlike their predecessors, there are no hinges and they’re not collapsible. The ear cushion shape is also slightly rounder, ostensibly to better block external noise without putting pressure on your ears. For improved comfort, newly developed soft fit synthetic leather is used for the cushions and headband.

To promote the WH-1000XM5, Sony has partnered with singer-songwriter Khalid (pictured above).  

“The noise cancelling really makes you feel closer to the music and hear all the details in a song, transporting you to a different world which is how I love to experience music,” said Khalid. 

The new XM5 headphones offer a number of technical improvements. Noise cancelling has had an upgrade, with two processors controlling eight microphones (four on each earcup), and a greater variety of settings. The configuration better targets mid-high frequency hubbub, while an Auto NC Optimizer automatically optimises the noise cancellation operation, depending on the location.  

The headphones are built around Sony’s familiar V1 processor, and QN1 noise canceller…

The XM5’s have a newly designed 30mm driver unit, for greater clarity and bass reproduction. The drivers use a carbon fibre composite material that improves high frequency sensitivity, along with some fancy lead-free solder containing gold.  

The headphones are built around Sony’s familiar V1 processor, and QN1 noise canceller. High-Resolution Audio compatible, the headphones support LDAC encoding, and have DSEE Extreme upscaling.  Naturally the new headphones are 360 Reality Audio certified, too. 360 music tracks can be heard on Tidal, Amazon Music and Deezer.

They are just as smart as their WH-1000XM4 predecessor too, using Adaptive Sound Control to automatically tailor sound to suit your situation; they can recognise your most frequently travelled locations (train stations, coffee shop, etc), adjusting the ambient sound settings accordingly.

The WH-1000XM5 are Google Assistant and Alexa compatible; just say “Ok Google” or “Alexa” to activate your chosen voice assistant.

There’s also Speak-to-Chat, which pauses music playback when you begin talking, and implement instant pause as soon as you take the headphones off.  

Usability looks good. The WH-1000XM5 support Google Fast Pair, allowing you to quickly pair with Android devices, while Swift Pair makes it quick and easy to pair your headphones to your Windows 11 or Windows 10 laptop, desktop PC or tablet.

Battery life is rated at 30 hours. If you need a quick top-up, three minutes on the mains will give you three hours of playtime.   

Available in black and platinum silver,  the WH-1000XM5 are priced at £380 and are available here.

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About Steve May

Creator of Home Cinema Choice magazine, and editor of The Luxe Review, Steve muses and reviews for Trusted Reviews, T3, Yahoo UK, Home Cinema Choice, Games Radar, Ideal Home, Louder Sounds, Channel News and Boat International. He’s also the editor of professional home cinema website Inside CI. He's on Twitter and Instagram as @SteveMay_UK

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