How to get the most out of Sony’s WH-1000XM5 headphones

Sony’s WH-1000XM5 is Sony’s latest flagship noise canceling headphones. And, as our review proves, they’re probably the most comfortable and best-sounding set of the 1000X series to date.

As a result, in the next few years, we will inevitably meet many people on airplanes and coffee shops. And if you’re paired yourself, it’s worth knowing some of those more advanced features and tricks that aren’t always obvious in basic everyday use. Here are some things worth trying when looking for new headphones.

WH-1000XM5 Headphone control method

Like its predecessor, the WH-1000XM5 headphones are controlled using touch gestures on the surface of the right earcup.

  • Tap twice to play / pause.
  • Swipe forward to skip to the next track, or swipe backward to return to the previous song. Swipe in either direction and press and hold to fast forward or rewind the current track.
  • Slide your finger up on the touch surface to increase the volume, or slide down to decrease the volume. Swipe and hold in either direction to greatly adjust the volume without repeating the gesture.

How to connect WH-1000XM5 to two devices at the same time

Sony has added to the previous WH-1000XM4 headphones the ability to pair two devices at the same time via Bluetooth, Multipoint. This useful feature is also available on the XM5. However, it will be disabled as soon as it is out of the box and you will only be able to connect to a single audio source. Thankfully, it’s very easy to change this to enable multipoint.

There is one unfortunate trade-off with multipoint that is important for Android phone audiophiles. If this feature is enabled, you will not be able to enjoy music using the high quality LDAC Bluetooth codec. This is not a sacrifice for iPhone owners, as LDAC is not available in Apple’s products.

  • Open the Headphones Connect app and tap system tab.
  • At the top, you’ll see a toggle for Connect to two devices at the same time.. Tap this to enable the multipoint function of the WH-1000XM5 headphones.
  • Once that’s done, pair the second device in the same way as the first device. Press and hold the power button for a few seconds until you hear “pairing” through the headphones.

An easy way to hear the surrounding sounds in a hurry

If you need to hear announcements from airports or train stations, Sony’s “quick attention” feature is useful. To enable it, hold your hand over the entire touch surface of the right ear cup. The volume of the music goes down, the surrounding sounds reach the headphones, and you can hear what’s going on.

When you no longer need to pay attention, simply take your hand off the earcups and both audio and headphone active noise canceling will return to normal.

The right earcup is used for features such as gesture control and quick attention.
Photo by Chris Welch / The Verge

How to automatically adjust settings with headphones based on location and activity

One of the most overlooked features of Sony headphones is called Adaptive Sound Control. You can use it to detect frequent activities and locations in the Headphones Connect app and automatically switch to your preferred headphone settings for each scenario. For example, you can automatically activate ambient sounds when it detects that the WH-1000XM5 is walking or running, or you can dial up active noise cancel when you are sitting. You can also change these settings based on your current location. You can make different settings at home and in the office.

(Note that to use Adaptive Sound Control, you need to allow the Headphones Connect app “always” location access, which may not be comfortable for some people.)

Adaptive Sound Control can automatically switch headphone settings based on activity and location.
Screenshots by Chris Welch / The Verge

  • Open the Headphones Connect app and situation tab.
  • Tap Adaptive sound control section. It is set to off by default.
  • This screen has various options, including: Action detection, Learning where to go oftenWhen Registration location..
  • Try each one to reach the ideal setting. Action detection In this section, you can choose from a variety of ANC / preferences for four scenarios: static listening, walking, running, and commuting.
  • You can let the Headphones Connect app guess frequent locations Learning where to go oftenHowever, I think it’s easier to manually register another location, such as your home or office.

The noise cancel button also acts as a shortcut to Spotify.
Photo by Chris Welch / The Verge

How to quickly start playing your favorite Spotify playlist with the push of a few buttons

The WH-1000XM5 headphones support Spotify Tap, allowing you to start playing audio from popular streaming services right away with convenient button shortcuts.

  • With the Headphones Connect app, service tab.
  • Here you will see the options for Spotify Tap: Quick Access..
  • Tap that text to choose to trigger a Spotify tap with just two or three presses on the Noise Cancel / Ambient Sound Mode button. I tend to choose the 3 press option because it is very intentional and difficult to accidentally activate.
  • Once the setting is enabled, you can press the button as many times as you like and Spotify will immediately resume playing what you were listening to last.

How to use Sony’s convenient Speak to Chat function

Sony’s recent headphones and earphones include a Speak to Chat option that, when enabled, can detect you talking loudly. As soon as the headphones recognize that you are speaking, the audio will be paused or muted, the surrounding sounds will be louder, and you will be able to have a conversation. If you stop talking for a customizable time, the music will resume playing. For more information on using Speak to Chat, check out the articles linked below.

How to switch to another voice assistant

With the WH-1000XM5, you can choose from several voice assistant services. You can use the device defaults (Siri on iOS, Google Assistant on Android) or choose Alexa instead. If you want to use the Alexa mobile app for voice commands, you need to install it on your phone.

  • pick system Headphones Connect app tab.
  • Tap Voice assistant Choose your preferred option.

Sony offers multiple choices for WH-1000XM5 voice commands.
Screenshots by Chris Welch / The Verge

How to make sure you get the best sound

The Headphones Connect app allows Sony to choose between two priorities when the headphones are connected to the device. You can choose either sound quality or connection stability. In my experience, I’ve always selected the sound quality option here, but most Sony headphones don’t experience dropouts or connection blip. However, if you’re in a location with heavy wireless interference, it’s a good idea to have an option that easily prioritizes Bluetooth stability.

  • With the Headphones Connect app, sound tab.
  • Scroll down Bluetooth connection quality Choose whether to prioritize sound or stability.

These are some useful tricks that go beyond the basics for mastering Sony’s best noise canceling headphones. If the company adds more options in the coming months, we’ll update this article with other features.

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