After a long wait in the market today, Sony has finally launched its flagship wireless over-the-ear WH-1000XM5 headphones in India. Now for the unaware, Sony’s WH-1000XM series since its inception has been one of the best over-ear headphones in the market and also the most premium offering from the brand.
As expected, the headphones are priced at a premium, and will be sold at a starting price of Rs.26,990/- with an MRP of Rs.34,990/- Sony WH-1000XM5 Headphones Review: Still the King of Headphones.
The headphones were released in mid-2022, and have brought a significant design overhaul after four generations. The WH-1000XM5 headphones are now lightweight and sleek and made from recycled and recyclable materials. Apart from the looks, the WH-1000XM5 headphones also offer enhancements in sound profile, mic performance, and noise cancellation.
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Before we go on with the review, note that the WH-1000XM5 headphones are best suited for travelers, office goers, students, and the like who want superior high-fidelity audio over Bluetooth. Whether a music producer or a sound engineer, these or any wireless headphones are not recommended; Instead, it would be best to go for studio-grade wired audiophile headphones.
Sony WH-1000XM5 Headphones Review: Are the Ultimate Sound Experience!
Sony WH-1000XM5 Headphones Design:
The Sony WH-1000XM5 sports a distinct design and look, and you can easily differentiate between them. The headband of the WH-1000XM5 headphones has rounded up, and the earcups now get a slight facelift too. The most notable change, however, is the missing hinge, which allows the earcups on the XM4 to fold and rotate. This time it’s a piece similar to the AirPods Max, so the cups don’t turn inward; They simply rotate to sit flat in the case.
The WH-1000XM5 headphone cans are made from recycled plastic and have a smooth finish that looks premium. Most of it is made of acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), which has a satin-like texture, unlike its predecessor. Although it feels lighter, the textures have felt more premium over the predecessor.
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The build quality of the WH-1000XM5 headphones is impressive, but some may find the XM4 design better. We asked a few friends and colleagues, and they had mixed responses. So the design choice is subjective, but in practice, the new design does the job well. It’s also quite sturdy, and it looks like the WH-1000XM5 headphone can tolerate a few drops unless broken with force.
Lastly, the WH-1000XM5 headphones also come with a new carrying case. It has a fabric finish and sleek profile, which fits better and feels like a sturdier material to protect it from damage and scratches. The only complaint we have with Platinum Silver is that it starts to hold dirt within about ten days of usage. So, if you are going for it, make sure you avoid touching it with dirty hands or placing it on a dusty surface.
Comfort, Control, and Connectivity: What’s it like to use?
Sony has consistently advertised comfort in these headphones since the WH-1000XM4 model, and the WH-1000XM5 is no different. The Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones are built for long wear, so the focus is on making them suitable for it.
Over the past week, we’ve checked and used the WH-1000XM5 for over 15 hours, and it’s fair to say that it feels heady even with prolonged use. These are adjustable, apply just the right amount of pressure, are stiff enough to stay on the head while running, and are lightweight. The padding on the WH-1000XM5 is more attractive than on its predecessor, and so is the headband. We liked the new band design more than last year’s design or even the Airpods Max.
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In terms of controls, the WH-1000XM5 is straightforward and intuitive to use and gives good feedback. You get touch-enabled volume control, call/music control, ANC on/off, voice assistant, and talk-through control. It all works as intended. You get a touch-sensitive surface on the right ear cup and two physical buttons on the left which are quite nice.
Here are all the touch controls –
- Swipe forward/backward: Go to the next/previous track.
- Swipe up/down: Turns the volume up/down.
- Swipe forward and hold Fast forward the track.
- Swipe back and hold: Backtracks the track.
- Double tap: play/pause audio and answer/end the call.
- Cover the ear cup with your palm: Turns down the audio volume for you to talk.
- Swipe up and hold: Keep turning the volume up until you release the tap.
- Swipe down and hold. Continue to lower the volume until you release the tap.
- It is unacceptable to have unresponsive or slow touch controls; In this Sony has taken care of it. However, it will be interesting to see if it retains the same response in the long run.
In terms of connectivity, it connects to Bluetooth in a jiffy. You can also use the TRS cable and USB-Type C port for charging. In addition, the WH-1000XM5 can connect to your Bluetooth-enabled devices via LDAC, AAC, and SBC Bluetooth codecs. Unfortunately, Sony hasn’t rolled back aptX support, which was last seen on the XM3.
Lastly, you can use Sony’s companion Headphones Connect app for iOS and Android to get the most out of the WH-1000XM5 headphones. You can optimize ANC, register 360 Reality audio, use custom equalizers, and update the firmware. Not sure about the rest, but the last part makes it a must.
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There are more options for 360 audio like Find My Headphones and Ear Analysis. While the former also asks for access to your location, the others require photos of your ear to set it up for the best results. Sony is a reliable name and makes a logical argument for collecting this data, but if it tickles your concern, then you will have to compromise on these features.
Battery life and charging speed
The Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones are difficult to remove. We were forced to use them to drain the battery, and it gave a backup of over 30 hours with ANC on. But here’s the even more interesting thing – the Sony WH-1000XM5 can last over 52 hours without ANC, and that’s practically a week’s worth of battery life and that’s plenty, even if you use it for up to seven hours a day. use.
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So if you use your compartment with ANC for 5 hours a day, you’ll be sorted for six days on a one-time charge or a long flight. Still, when the Sony WH-1000XM5 runs out of charge, just three minutes of charging can provide up to 3 hours of ANC playback. In the worst-case scenario, if you’re stuck with no battery or charging option, you can just use the 3.5mm cable for direct playback.
Best Audio performance, ANC, and Microphone –
The Sony WH-1000XM5 continues on the same sound signature known for Sony’s WH headphones. However, it puts more emphasis on bass, louder highs and lows, and softer mids. While some may prefer the default presets, especially with high-energy music, audiophiles may need to tune the equalizer to achieve the desired sound profile. For example, rock music lovers may need to adjust the mids and highs to boost vocals and instruments such as guitars and horns.
We personally like bass-heavy, so we stuck to the default settings where the bass is heavy but still very tight and precise. We are always advised to experiment with equalizer settings to find the best one that suits your taste.
If you’re an audiophile, you can probably relate to the issue we saw with the excessive emphasis on highs. Take Kendrick Lamar’s N95 for example – the track begins with clear vocals and snare, but as the bass is introduced, the snare subsidies under the bass and vocals. The Sony WH-1000XM5 becomes more prominent as you move up to multi-instrument genres such as rock or metal, with more instruments in the higher frequencies.
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However, the Sony WH-1000XM5 is pretty impressive if you’re into pop, Bollywood, or EDM. There’s a track called Beat Freak by Chris Lake and Riva Starr, featuring a variety of basslines, and a mix of different sound effects – which the Sony WH-1000XM5 handles impressively. But again, the lows and mids are a bit suppressed if you listen at higher volumes. In the end, what we like is the soundstage. Put on headphones, close your eyes, and it’s so close to hearing a concert.
Noise isolation is greatly improved, which means you are physically isolated from noise even when the Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones are turned off. So it is blocking the noise before canceling it.
Coming to ANC, the Sony WH-1000XM5 is excellent. After using two competitors – the Apods Max, the Bose QC45, and the Bose NCH700 – we suspect the XM5 has hardly any options for noise cancellation. The Sony WH-1000XM5 can cancel distant noises and people talking next to you, and it’s so good that you can close your eyes and get away from your physical surroundings. So it would be fair to say that there are the best ANC headphones.
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The microphone doesn’t seem to have improved significantly, but that doesn’t mean the Sony WH-1000XM5 is terrible. The Sony WH-1000XM5 is still quite a good headphone for a premium set of cans. Call quality is excellent, whether via Zoom, Meet, or a phone call. But if you plan to record professional voice-overs, it may lack performance.
Now if you are looking for premium headphones for the office, commuting, or working from home, the Sony WH-1000XM5 is a no-brainer for you. Highlights are ANC performance, battery life, good microphone, connectivity, and of course audio quality.
The only problem you may face is the lack of IP rating and its high price. That doesn’t mean, however, that the Sony WH-1000XM5 isn’t worth the price. The only expert recommendation is for you to either buy it for the introductory price or wait for the prices to go down during the sale to give it even more value for your money.