Review: Sony’s WH-1000XM5 headphones are the best ever

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I’ve been promoting Sony over-ear headphones for years. The WH-1000XM3 headset (released in August 2018) offers the best sound you’ve ever experienced with noise-cancelling headphones under $ 500.

I liked them so much that I skipped the XM4 that lasted a few years later. But earlier this spring, Sony released the WH-1000XM5 headphones. I was curious about what the progress of nearly four years would bring.

One thing to keep in mind: Sony is putting a lot of effort into the 360 ​​Reality Audio program. This certainly provides a more immersive experience, but it only works with certain apps (many of which cost extra). I was able to test 360 Reality Audio, but on a Sony audio device with headphones, I used XM5 headphones connected to my computer to deliver a 360-degree experience wirelessly on my iPhone.

We also tested headphones in the air for 40 minutes on a loud private plane during an office desk, home, walking down the street, and, interestingly, during a Sony music event in New York. JFK Airport (call out to performer Tate McRae that night. Her album was also what I heard on a plane in my 360 degree experience).

Early conclusion? These could be the best-sounding headphones you’ve ever used under certain conditions.

White and packaged white Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones

White Sony WH-1000XM5 Headphone Package



  • Available in black or silver
  • Up to 30 hours of battery life with fast charging (3 minutes of charging with 3 hours of playback)
  • Noise cancellation and ambient mode
  • Google or Alexa voice control (and touch control)
  • 8.85 x 3.03 x 10.36 inches
  • 0.55 pounds
  • 8 microphones
  • Bluetooth 5.2

What works:

  • Setup was relatively easy — I was able to connect my device to my phone in less than two minutes with just one issue.
  • Eco-friendly: The WH-1000XM5 headphones package does not contain plastic. Since the product box is made of recycled sustainable material, the headphones themselves are made of recycled plastic material for automobile parts.
  • Not at the level of Bose, noise canceling easily calmed down the talkative office noise and drowned out the very noisy airplane rides.
  • I usually don’t like the touch panel for control, but I was able to quickly learn intuitive movements (for example, swipe forward and release to move to the next song). In addition, when you put the right earpad in the cup with your palm, the headphones immediately switch from noise canceling mode to ambient mode, and when you release your hand, they return to their original state.
  • There is a Speak to Chat option to pause / mute the music when you start talking to someone, which makes them a pretty ideal office headphone.
  • Music will stop when you remove the headphones. Many headphones claim this, but they actually work 100% of the time (so far).

What kind of work:

  • Quick Access allows you to customize the NC / AMB button so that you can press it a couple of times for another operation (press once to manually switch between noise canceling mode and ambient mode). I programmed the double press to go to Spotify immediately and it worked, but that’s all Customization options allowed. Hope there is a way to connect more apps to enable more actions.
  • Custom sound profiles vary widely, but you’ll find your favorite settings for both podcasts and music.
  • Under the guidance of the World Health Organization (WHO), you can obtain sound pressure data actually recorded with headphones. Through the app, you’ll get instant notifications if your listening level is too high — thankfully it doesn’t happen to me yet.
  • When Adaptive Sound Control is turned on, the surrounding background and noise cancellation level switch according to your current location, and you can also adjust it based on your preferences in different locations. Sometimes I was a little confused because I thought the sound level was going down and up for some reason. It works, but it may not be the setting you want to continue. (Also, there are too many phone notifications that “adaptive sound control is turned on”).
  • Are you pairing with a Sony audio device and using 360 Reality Audio? Great sound. Is it only available in a limited number of apps without using 360? It’s solid, but it definitely hits the earth. The headphones seemed to be designed to be able to upgrade the audio app.

Things that need work:

  • Every time I manually updated the software (via the app), the app crashed. I switched to automatic updates and started downloading … Crashed 15 minutes after moving my headphones a bit.
  • A boring design is fine. It’s not as comfortable as other over-ear headphones, and not as cool as the Master & Dynamic line, for example. And the black or silver-only color options seem pretty old-fashioned. Even Sonos is adding talent.

Final idea:

Aside from price, somehow aesthetics, and frequent software crashes, the XM5 headphones are the perfect option for anyone looking for noise canceling, office, commuting, airplane rides, or home wireless headphones. If you’re an audiophile, using 360 Reality Audio is probably worth the extra cost and limited app options.

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