June 26, 2022

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Sony WH-1000XM5 |  Test - quieter than ever

Sony WH-1000XM5 | Test – quieter than ever

Since Sony launched headphones MDR-1000X In 2016, we liked how out of “nothing” Sony was suddenly better than Bose in terms of noise reduction, which led that market for a number of years.

Later complements came in WH-1000XM2And the WH-1000XM3And the WH-1000XM4 And now the WH-1000XM5.

Maybe it’s not as catchy product names as Apple’s, but if we say WH stands for “wireless headphones” and M stands for “brand” (version), there’s at least a system to keep track of here. WF, which Sony uses on their earssocketssupposed to mean “free wireless”.

new design

Enough terminology Sony. Where previous headphones in the 1000X series had more or less the same design, Sony has made the 5th Edition somewhat more elegant than before.

Siblings: the WH-1000XM5 on the left and its predecessor the WH-1000XM4 on the right. Photo: Pål Joakim Pollen
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The plastic still sticks out on the outside, but the hinge has been changed right down to the bells, and the headband can now be adjusted steplessly, giving a higher quality feel than if it were just a little run down. It is also now attached only to the top of the clocks and not to each side, which gives a more streamlined impression.

The disadvantage of the new design is that you can no longer fold the headphones, which was possible on previous models in the series. Admittedly, clocks can be flipped 90 degrees.

Both the headband and ear pads are upholstered with faux leather and filled with the so-called memory foam, as in most other headphones. We’re very pleased with the comfort of these Sony headphones, which compress snugly (slightly more flexible than the M4) and feel soft against both ears and head. We have tested wearing it for several hours at a time and it is absolutely problem free.

The case that comes with it can be squeezed when the headphones aren't raised, but it's so big, you can't fold the headphones any further.  Photo: Pål Joakim Pollen

The case that comes with it can be squeezed when the headphones aren’t raised, but it’s so big, you can’t fold the headphones any further. Photo: Pål Joakim Pollen
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In the box, you get a bag of some kind of nylon canvas that can be zipped together when not in use, so it takes up less room in the bag, but it looks a bit “cheap” compared to previous models.

Behind a hood on the inside, you’ll also find an audio cable and a short power cable, but not the “flight seat transition,” which Bose, among others, has attached to some of its models. In any case, it probably won’t be missed in 2022, as many people prefer watching movies on their tablets rather than airplane screens when they are on a long flight.

You can still use noise reduction if you’re listening with cable, and it can also be used quite passively, like traditional wired headphones.

Hatch: Behind this hole you will find the charging and audio cable.  Photo: Pål Joakim Pollen

Hatch: Behind this hole you will find the charging and audio cable. Photo: Pål Joakim Pollen
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two buttons

Like its M4 predecessor, you’ll find a few buttons on the WH-1000XM5. There are only two of them on the left clock, one is used to turn them on and off, and the other to switch between noise reduction and audio transmission. The latter can also happen automatically as the headphones will eventually learn what you’re using in the space, automatically turning on noise reduction in the mall, while letting the sound through in the home office, for example.

There are still swipes on the right watch that apply when changing the volume or switching between songs, and they work as before – back and forth (in view direction) to switch between songs and up and down to adjust the volume.

Two buttons: You can control the music and the volume via the touch sensors on the right watch.  Photo: Pål Joakim Pollen

Two buttons: You can control the music and the volume via the touch sensors on the right watch. Photo: Pål Joakim Pollen
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If you place your palm over it, the music is muted while you hear sound from outside. It’s a feature that Sony has on all five 1000X models, and that could certainly be great, but we would have liked to see an option in the app to do this so one would prefer to touch it once to turn it on and the other to turn it off.

Because it seems a bit cliched to have a conversation with your hand constantly toward your ear. Admittedly, there’s a “talk to chat” function here that automatically mutes the music when you start chatting, but then home office karaoke stops abruptly.

The music pauses automatically when the headphones are removed, thanks to the sensor located inside the earpiece. This was visible in its predecessor, but is now hidden behind the canvas. Here it also seems like Sony is faster than before able to notice you’re turning it on and off, and it only takes a few tenths before the music starts again.

However, the headphones are not IP certified and therefore should not be used in rainy weather.

The Sony app provides good sound tuning options and process adjustments.  Photo: Pål Joakim Pollen

The Sony app provides good sound tuning options and process adjustments. Photo: Pål Joakim Pollen
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Strong battery life

Although it was previously rumored that the WH-1000XM5 will have a battery life of up to 40 hours, Sony has made do with 30 hours – the same as its predecessor. Anyway, that’s more than enough, you ask us, and lasts for long trips and several days of office work.

And when you’re suddenly notified that you’re running out, there’s impressive fast charging on Sony headphones: after three minutes In the USB PD (Power Delivery) charger you can enjoy yourself three hours Music. If you spend another seven minutes with the cable plugged in, you get another two hours of on-ear entertainment.

Noise reduction very well

As noted in the introduction, Sony has been at the top in terms of noise reduction on all of its 1000X models thus far. This time, the Japanese chose to focus more on more high-frequency noise and it must be said that they succeeded. It will be quieter than before.

But “a little” is the key word here, because when we go back and forth between the WH-1000XM4 and the WH-1000XM5 and AirPods Max The differences are usually very small. In a traffic noise environment, with car engines, hunting, people, etc., we notice that the XM5 maintains a slightly larger distance than the other two. It also gets incredibly quiet on the ear with a constant hissing – even slightly better than the other two.

A new twist: Sony has improved the design of the WH-1000XM5, which now stops in just one place.  Photo: Pål Joakim Pollen

A new twist: Sony has improved the design of the WH-1000XM5, which now stops in just one place. Photo: Pål Joakim Pollen
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But it may be the case now that technology with microphones on the outside and generating “opposite” sound waves on the inside is starting to approach the saturation point of what can be achieved through silence, and if you’re also playing music, at a low volume, you won’t feel the surroundings Alarmed in any of the models mentioned.

On the WH-1000XM5 you don’t now have to calibrate the noise reduction, as you were able to do on previous models to improve it, for example if you sometimes wear glasses and others don’t – now it happens automatically and continuously.

When it comes to audio input from the outside, the so-called “ambient” mode, we still press a button on the Airpods Max, which reproduces external sound with high reliability – as if you weren’t wearing headphones. The Sonys are also good enough to have a chat with them, but not quite on the Apple level there.

As we’ve mentioned on several occasions in the past, it’s actually a job that we’re beginning to value as much as isolating ourselves from the outside world. Being able to listen to low music and keep hearing a knock on the door or shouting “Now it’s lunch!” In the home office we think it’s worth the gold.

Very good hands-free performance

With a number of new microphones and the use of artificial intelligence, Sony claims that the M5 version will be well optimized for hands-free aiming to distinguish your voice from the surroundings, and we can sign that up.

Below you can hear 2×3 audio clips from the three headphones mentioned. First in quiet surroundings, then with a great deal of background noise. The sound is purer on the Airpods Max when it’s quiet, but we hear it more easily than on the other end when we’re using the WH-1000XM5.

Sony WH-1000XM5, Quiet Environment
Sony WH-1000XM4, Quiet Environment
Apple Airpods Max, Quiet Environment
Sony WH-1000XM5, noisy environment
Sony WH-1000XM4, noisy environment
Apple Airpods Max, noisy environment

When it comes to hearing our voice while we speak, we still think there are products that naturally reproduce our voice, such as the Airpods Max and Jabra Elite 85h.

very similar sound

The speaker elements inside have been replaced this time around, and Sony still delivers an audio picture that’s easy to like and listen to over an extended period of time. The sound is slightly warm as the lower mid-range and bass are turned on, which has become quite typical for most manufacturers.

It sounds clear and detailed, and even with smaller components than before, the WH-1000XM5 is able to deliver deep bass. With the app, you can drag the equalizer levers a little to adjust the sound picture to your taste, for example by raising the mid-range a little, but the default settings are quite suitable for general use, as you ask us.

For codecs, both AAC and LDAC are supported, but not AptX. AAC is what is used on the iPhone, while LDAC can provide a transfer rate of up to 990 kbps from an Android phone. Then you have to settle for the fact that the phone has to be on the table and not in the pocket to keep the connection stable, but you can lower the bitrate a bit for a more stable connection.

A disadvantage of using LDAC is that you cannot use multiple points, i.e. when you are connected to two devices at the same time. It works fine if you are using AAC.

Sony WH-1000XM5 gets the recommended DinSide Seal.  Photo: Pål Joakim Pollen

Sony WH-1000XM5 gets the recommended DinSide Seal. Photo: Pål Joakim Pollen
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conclusion

Once again, Sony offers a solid pair of headphones, the WH-1000XM5.

Compared to its predecessor, it has better sound, better noise reduction, and better microphone quality in hands-free calls. The fast charging capability (3 minutes = 3 hours) is also a welcome innovation. We think they’re more comfortable to wear, but now it’s all about taste.

But there’s a lot more too – battery life, navigation, material usage, functionality… the upgrades seem relatively small this time around, but the price increase is the biggest yet.

Because with a 50 percent higher price tag, we think you’re paying a little more for the 1000XM5. The price is 4,990 kr and the advance is usually 3,290 kr in most stores. These two people should live next to each other.

We definitely chose the WH-1000XM5 over its predecessor, but that big price jump isn’t an insignificant additional price.

– Market leading noise reduction
– Very good sound quality
– Very good for hands-free mode
Very good battery life (30 hours)
Super fast charging (3m = 3 hours)
– Easy operation
Supports multipoint
Good opportunities in the application
– Google Assistant Support

– very expensive
– No IP certificate
– It can’t be folded

See also  Google lost a lawsuit against Sonos