Silence has a heavy price, as the Sony WH-1000XM5 proves. The new noise-canceling headphones from the Japanese company have a good price of 420 euros, but in return you get a device that is perhaps the best headphones on the market.
This is an abbreviated version of a file Full review From the WH-1000XM5 on Tweakers.
Sony has become a big name when it comes to noise canceling headphones in recent years. This reputation largely depends on the success of the MDR-1000X. These headphones, now about six years old, have formed the basis of many of Sony’s newer models.
These types of headphones often have a long life, because older models remain readily available at a sharply discounted price for a long time. Small differences between new and old models often make the latter group attractive for a while.
The first thing you notice about the WH-1000XM5 is its appearance. This differs significantly, for the first time, from the classic MDR-1000X and its backgrounds. The shift from metal to lighter plastic is particularly striking.
But the changes are far from cosmetic. The double number of microphones should improve noise cancellation and make you understand better during calls. New drivers, a better Bluetooth chip, and the ability to charge faster are also important differences.
The disadvantage is that this advance has a price tag of 420 euros. That’s €200 more than what the WH-1000XM4, Sony’s previous model, currently costs. Is the WH-1000XM5 worth this price?
Plastic material of taste
Switching from metal to plastic is a matter of taste. The WH-1000XM5 has been upholstered with faux leather and in any case looks distinctly different from its predecessors. The design was well received by the editors. The disadvantage is that the WH-1000XM5 is less foldable due to the lack of hinges in the wishbone. You can flatten the ear cups, but that’s it. Thus, the supplied carrying case is a bit larger than you might expect.
Fortunately, the new design does not affect comfort. The WH-1000XM5 is a very comfortable pair of headphones that don’t malfunction after a few hours of use. The disadvantage is that the ear cushions are not easy to remove, which may hamper their long-term maintenance. The WH-1000XM5 is also not splash proof. So watch out if you’re walking in the rain with this, because buying a new one is an expensive joke.
In terms of usage, little has changed since the WH-1000XM4. There are still two buttons on the left and a touch-sensitive part on the right, where you can turn the music on or off with swipes and double taps. The function of the buttons can be set via the Sony app, so you can, for example, choose to change the noise-cancellation mode with a few button presses or call in with the help of Google Assistant or Alexa.
In addition, the well-known functions of the former return again, such as “talk to chat”. With this, the headphones automatically allow ambient sound to pass through as soon as the microphone hears you talking, so you can still have conversations. There is also a sensor for detecting wear, with which you can automatically pause the music when you take off the headphones.
No noise, better clarity
The WH-1000XM4 is still one of the best noise canceling headphones on the market. However, the WH-1000XM5 attempts to outpace its predecessor with eight built-in microphones instead of four and new wind noise suppression algorithms, for example. Noise cancellation is now improved automatically and cannot be manually adjusted at this time.
In our tests, the WH-1000XM5 was impressive. Low tones are effectively suppressed, better than similar models from competing Bose. The biggest improvement compared to the WH-1000XM4 is in the mid-range, where noise and traffic noise disappear a little better in the background. The hissing, self-cancelling noise, which was quietly audible with the WH-1000XM4, also disappeared.
To test improved wind noise suppression, we stood in front of a fan. There was no audible difference with the WH-1000XM4. You may need stronger gusts for this.
The biggest improvement compared to the predecessor is clarity during calls. This was a recurring problem with previous models, but thanks to the increased number of microphones and the filtering of ambient noise, major steps were taken. Even during the annoying wrinkle of paper bags, we still could hear clearly. Also, calling while sitting directly in front of the fan did not cause any problems on the other end of the line.
Features can not help the biggest stumbling block
The WH-1000XM5, just like its predecessors, is a great headphone with a wide range of features and pleasant operation. The noise cancellation was really good, but now it’s even better. And by improving clarity, Sony was able to solve one of the important shortcomings of its predecessors.
The WH-1000XM5 also charges faster, although battery life remains unchanged when noise cancellation is turned on. The sounds also remain warm, rich in bass and well adjustable for those who prefer a clearer sound.
However, none of the above can do anything about the biggest stumbling block we’ve encountered with these headphones: the price. The WH-1000XM5 has great improvements, but it’s hard to justify $420 on that basis when the WH-1000XM4 is available for $220.
Not to mention the WH-1000XM3 and earlier models available at a lower price. After all, these are still excellent products.
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