Review / Sony WH-1000XM5 - The Good Gets BETTER! - Exhibit Tech Review
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Review / Sony WH-1000XM5 – The Good Gets BETTER!

Sony has been nailing the art of perfection since they launched WH-1000X series headphones in 2016. The 6-year-old flagship active noise cancelling (ANC) headphone series is one of the most loved and has helped the company to stay one step ahead of the competition. I spent 2-weeks getting to know the recently released Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones and realised why they’re referred to as one of the best in the segment.

Design

The WH-1000XM5 headphones are the first one in the series to receive a complete redesign, and the company has named them as a noiseless design. The slimmer and lightweight headphones are way too attractive than their predecessors. The earcups are in a flattened dome shape and can swivel sideways, while the hinge of the headband is hidden. Along with the headphones, the case also looks classy and can be flattened to half when empty.

Comfort

The earcups are made of recycled soft-fit leather padding, but they no longer collapse inwards within the headband like their predecessors, which is not quite welcome. The headphones have wide padding to accommodate all types of ears, which means anyone can wear them for hours without feeling irritated. The left earcup has two physical buttons: a power button and another to switch ANC modes like ANC, ANC off, or Ambient sound modes.

Controls

Input (touchpad) > Action 
  1. Swipe up > Volume up
  2. Swipe down > Volume down
  3. Swipe forward > Track forward
  4. Swipe back > Trackback
  5. Hold (centre) > Voice assistant
  6. Double tap centre> Pause/resume
  7. Cup hand > Ambient sound passthrough

Connection

You can connect the Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones to your source device via Bluetooth or TRS cable and can charge the headphones by plugging into the USB-C port, which is at the bottom of the right ear. To get the most out of these headphones for your phone, you must get the Sony Headphones Connect App (iOS/Android). The app is required for features like ANC optimisation, 360 Reality Audio, a custom equaliser and, of course, to get updates.

Audio Quality & Noise Cancelling

The headphones feature a single 30mm driver instead of 40mm like its predecessor, which made us think we would lose the signature dynamism of the WH line. Thankfully, they sound as good as the WH-1000XM4s, but not better for sure. The headphones support SBC, AAC, and LDAC codecs over Bluetooth. The sound of the WH-1000XM5 headphones is dominated by strong bass but fails lavishly when it comes to delivering premium audio quality.

The ANC of the XM5 headphone is one of the best in the market and will make sure you have a great music experience. Compared to the previous generations, XM5 offer better performance in the low end and can easily beat its competitors, such as Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 and Bose QuietComfort 45. I have used them at all the noisy places like local trains, busy streets etc., and they outperform everywhere as they drop off unwanted sounds by around 30 dB.

Microphone

The WH-1000XM5 headphones feature 8 microphones, double that of its predecessor XM4, and in terms of performance, they are impressive. The XM5 headphones arrive with an AI noise rejection algorithm, so you don’t have to think twice before receiving a call in noisy outdoors. The headphones offer good voice quality, and your callers can hear you clearly. There are some glitches in the headphones, which Sony could fix in a software update.

Battery Life

The company has claimed the headphones have a battery life of up to 30 hours with ANC enabled and up to 40 hours with noise cancelling switched off. In our testing, the headphones lasted slightly longer than advertised in both cases, with ANC enabled and disabled. The battery life is enough for a week whether you commute for 2+ hours daily or take 3+ long-haul flights. The headphones provide about 3 hours of playback in just 3-minutes of charge.

Verdict

The Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones are going to be a memorable purchase and a remarkable experience if you’re someone who travels a lot, be it commuting to work or taking several work flights. We know they are expensive, and investing ₹34,990 on headphones would be too much to gamble on, but you can’t forget the reality that they’re one of the best ANC headphones on the market.

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