Sony WF-1000XM5 review: So much better than the Sony WF-1000XM

Sony WF-1000XM5 still continues the design style of WF-1000XM4, but it is optimized on its basis. The noise canceling performance has been enhanced to ultra-wideband noise canceling, and the acoustic design has also been further upgraded, making the experience of the flagship TWS earbuds a step further.

Sony WF-1000XM5 specs and features:
  • Bluetooth 5.3 with SBC/AAC/LDAC codec
  • 8 – 12 hours playback of per charge (ANC on/off)
  • Charging case can charge earbuds fully 2 times
  • IPX4 waterproof rating (rain and sweat resistant)
  • Comes with 4 sets of eartips, USB-C cable, user manual
  • $298 – Check latest price on Amazon US, Amazon Germany, Amazon UK, other Amazon countries or AliExpress


Appearance Design and Comfort

The charging case still has the design style of the WF-1000X series, but compared to the Sony WF-1000XM4, its angular curves are more rounded. The charging case has a matte texture, and the touch is similar to the “environmentally friendly material” of the packaging box.

There is a status indicator light on the front of the charging case. A USB-C interface and a button on the back.

Sony WF-1000XM5 is a single dynamic driver wireless earbuds (8.4mm dynamic driver). The cavity is made of plastic, the surface is a glossy design, and the front panel is a skin-like matte texture. Its design continues the style of WF-1000XM4, the size has been reduced a lot, and wearing has finally become normal.

The weight of a single earbud is 5.9g, which is normal in TWS earbuds (AirPods Pro is 5.4g). The design of the earbud cavity is also more reasonable, and the inner side can be highly fitted to the auricle – the comfortable is much improved compared with Sony WF-1000XM4. However, because it is fixed by eartips and lacks the support of the earbud cavity, it always feels unstable when worn. In general, the wearing comfort is good – not excellent, and not as good as Airpods Pro 2 and BOSE QuietComfort Earbuds II.

The upgraded eartip structure gives earbuds a brand new hearing. The upgraded noise-cancelling eartips adopt a slow-rebound structure similar to industrial noise-cancelling eartips – the feel and touch are relatively soft and comfortable.

However, the rebound speed of the slow rebound structure is relatively slow. Therefore, when the eartips rebound in the external auditory canal every time they are worn, they will produce a rebound sound of “DA, DA, DA”.


Connectivity, App and Controls

The earbuds uses the Bluetooth 5.3 chip that supports SBC, AAC, LC3 and LDAC audio transmission technologies. The Sony WF-1000XM5 pairing process is similar to most Sony headphones – open the cover and take out the earbuds, and it will enter the connection pairing mode. Also, WF-1000XM5 has added a button pairing method – long press the power button on the charging case to put the earbuds into pairing mode.

Also, Sony WF-1000XM5 support multi-point connection, which can connect two bluetooth devices.

The earbuds work with the free Headphones Connect App for Android and iOS. Through the App, you can see the battery level of earbuds and charging case. There are also noise cancellation control, EQ setting, firmware upgrade, and more.

Its personalized smart equalizer is more interesting – according to the sound you choose in the options, the system will automatically adjust the corresponding EQ according to your preferences after a few repetitions – the ease of use is very good. And the sound after adjustment is indeed more in line with your preferences. Of course, the traditional EQ adjustment still exists, but the adjustable range is not as large as JBL.

Sony WF-1000XM5 still support 360° audio, but only specific APP. And the effect is not as good as Apple spatial audio.

The touch control of WF-1000XM5 is very rich, and common operations can be completed on the earbuds. Single-tap the left earbud to switch between noise canceling mode and ambient sound mode, and quad-tap to turn down the volume. Single-tap the right earbud to play/pause, double-tap the next song, triple-tap the previous song, and quad-tap to increase the volume – you can also customize the touch control according to your own habits. At the same time, its touch recognition rate is also very high, and it is even so high that it will be misoperated if you accidentally touch it.

In addition, thanks to the built-in motion tracking sensor, the WF-1000XM5 adds new control methods – users can answer/reject calls by “nodding” and “shaking their heads”. However, currently head controls are limited to answer/reject calls – hopefully more operations will be added to head controls in future version updates.


Noise Canceling and Battery Life

ANC Mode: Sony WF-1000XM5 has improved noise canceling effect on mid-low-frequency noise (car engine), which can significantly reduce such noise. The mid-high-frequency noise canceling performance is also good, which can effectively reduce the sound of talking, keyboard tapping and so on. However, it is still not possible to achieve the same depth of noise reduction as low-frequency noise. Its noise canceling effect is at the same level as Airpods Pro 2 and BOSE QuietComfort Earbuds II.

Also, WF-1000XM5 also support AI intelligent noise canceling. After it is turned on in the Headphones Connect App, it will automatically detect and analyze the activity status and location through the earbuds and the mobile phone, and realize the automatic adjustment of the noise canceling intensity. If manually adjusted, there are 20-level of noise canceling intensity to choose from.

Wind Noise: Finally, this time there has been a big improvement. Wind noise hardly affects the use, which is much better than the Airpods Pro 2 and BOSE QuietComfort Earbuds II.

Battery Life: After turning off the ANC mode, the single battery life is up to 12 hours, and the total battery life is up to 36 hours. The battery life after turning on the ANC mode is up to 8 hours. In addition, the Sony WF-1000XM5 support Qi wireless charging.


Sony WF-1000XM5 Sound Quality Review

Hardware Configuration: Sony WF-1000XM5 earbuds has a built-in 8.4mm dynamic driver unit, and also uses a new “dome-edge separation structure”, which makes the earbuds more powerful in low-frequency and has higher tri-frequency separation clarity.

Software Configuration: Support LDAC audio transmission technology, the maximum transmission rate is up to 990kbps. With the digital sound enhancement engine (DSEE Extreme), the lossy/CD music can be restored to 96kHz/24bit Hi-Res quality through AI technology.

ANC On/EQ Off/AAC Codec: The low-frequency quantity is moderate, the extension and texture are not bad, the rebound speed is general, and there is a slight looseness. The vocal distance and density are moderate, and the voice has a slight graininess and line feeling, which can better express the singer’s emotions. The high-frequency brightness is moderate, the density is general, and the texture and extension are not bad. It is relatively soft and delicate, and can better express the timbre of the violin. Soundstage and imaging are both good. Its sound has improved more than the Sony WF-1000XM4, and its style has also changed. The first feeling is that it is not as dark as before, and the whole is more balanced.

It is worth mentioning that when the ANC is turned off, its low-frequency quantity will be slightly more, and the looseness will be stronger. The low-frequency will be more blurred, it is recommended to turn on ANC to be better.

ANC On/EQ Off/LDAC Code: The low-frequency extension and texture are better, the rebound is faster, and the sound is cleaner. The vocal density is higher and the sound is more delicate. The high-frequency texture and density are improved, and the sound is smoother and more delicate. For Sony WF-1000XM5, it is perfect to choose LDAC codec (but LDAC is easy to disconnect).

Finally, the Sony WF-1000XM5 also introduces the “head tracking” function that can track head movements in real time to change the soundstage. But at this stage, it is only available on the Sony Xperia 1V series, and I hope this feature can be experienced on other brands of mobile phones in the future.


Conclusion

Although the Sony WF-1000XM5 has the same battery life as the WF-1000XM4 – but the noise canceling performance has improved significantly. The sound transparency has been significantly improved, and the overall becomes more balanced. Although it is still the best state under LDAC, the gap with AAC is not as big as that of WF-1000XM4, even under AAC it has a very good performance. (LDAC is really unstable, and it is basically useless in places with complex environments, and AAC is more practical.) Except that the spatial audio cannot be compared with Apple’s closed ecology, other performances are fine.


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