It has now been more than two years since our review of the Sony WH-1000XM4 (here the review), the over-ear headphones with ANC of the brand that we defined as a practically perfect product, and the time has finally come to talk to you about the new version of the Sony series of prestige, which is immediately positioned on the highest step of the brand lineup and , as we shall see, probably of the market.
I've been trying them for some time, I've tried them on the plane, on the street when I take my four-legged friend for a walk and also connected to the PS5 (with the cable, mind you). And I anticipate it immediately, the step forward compared to the previous generation is very clear, but with this new model Sony has had to bring with it some of the compromises (and limitations) that we have also found in the M4.
The fact is that the Sony WH-1000XM5 they are among the best over ear headphones with noise cancellation, and I also prefer them over the AirPods Max. They have a higher list price than the Mark 4, it is true, but through the box below you could buy them at a discount directly on Amazon.
Sony WH-1000XM5 review: the best noise canceling headphones?
The packaging of the SonyWH-1000MX5 it is practically identical to that of the previous generation. In addition to the typical manuals and the semi-rigid fabric case, there are headphones, an audio jack, a double jack adapter for the aircraft and a USB / USB-C cable that continues to be too short.
Design and materials
The design of the SonyWH-1000MX5 continues to be typical of the lineup, but with some differences. The headphones seem much more minimal and, absurdly, they seem to be bulkier than the Mark 4, especially for the structural choice made by the brand that has decided to eliminate the possibility of folding the headband.
It is clear, however, that when you wear them, the feeling is that of having to deal with ultra-premium headphones and the very soft pads together with the totally redesigned headband really do their duty. The whole structure is circular, thinner and less rigid than that seen in the previous generation and the position of the auricles can be lengthened or shortened very easily.
In short, with their 247 grams SonyWH-1000MX5 they are undoubtedly the most comfortable over-ear headphones I have had the opportunity to try in recent years and, thanks to their perfect fit and the very low resistance of the headband, they are also excellent for long trips: I happened to try them a lot in plane in recent months, and traveling with a pair of headphones of this quality makes everything much more enjoyable.
Which, however, I cannot say about portability. Because, ok, that Sony has decided to use a rigid and non-collapsible structure like the one seen in the Mark 4 can only be an advantage in terms of product solidity, but this has involved the use of a new carrying case that it's really very big. It is so bulky, that if you are traveling only with a backpack (in which a computer and a camera may have been stored) you could probably have problems storing the headphones case.
Case that, fortunately, is no longer of the rigid type and has accordion-like sides so that it can be "crushed" when stored while wearing the headphones, in which a small compartment with magnetic closure has been inserted with which it is possible to carry the USB-C cable for charging and the cable with the 3.5mm connection.
To be honest, then, after trying the SonyWH-1000MX5 in their black color, I came to the conclusion that the best choice could be the white color, and the reason is simple: the pavilions are covered with a rubber layer that is very pleasant to the touch, but with the darker color it tends to get very dirty and it suffers a lot from fingerprints, which will therefore always be present on the headphones especially because it is precisely on the pavilions that the company has inserted the touch controls.
They also have no IP certification for resistance to water and dust, which underlines that this is a model not designed for sports, but excellent for relaxation. And that's okay, also because now there are excellent TWS earphones such as, for example, the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro (here the review), they can even be immersed to a depth of one meter for 30 minutes.
Audio Quality - Sony WH-1000MX5
To be the master in the SonyWH-1000MX5 there is all the best that Sony technology can offer in the world of audio. And it is useless to go around it: the sound quality of the SonyWH-1000MX5 è fantastic, especially if you consider them well aware of the fact that it is a “non pro” model, and therefore dedicated to the consumer market, which connects to the smartphone via Bluetooth. And they feel great despite, just like the previous generation, the SonyWH-1000MX5 are capable of supporting codecs only ldac, SBC and AAC, so nothing aptX HD or aptX Adaptive. And, as if that weren't enough, you can only use LDAC on Android devices and not on iPhones or computers. But poco bad because, as I have already said a thousand times, they still feel great.
The sound quality has been improved with the introduction of a new 30mm driver designed specifically for the SonyWH-1000MX5, and its presence is felt. from the playback volume, the sound played by SonyWH-1000MX5 is always extremely balanced, I would dare to say almost "flat", and this is perhaps the secret weapon that those of Sony have used: if you want more pronounced high or low frequencies, you can use the equalizer manageable through the companion app of the headphones, but also by not changing any settings (and therefore with a flat profile) it will be possible to hear e recognize any sound which is part of the song being played.
Active noise reduction ANC
The most prominent feature of the SonyWH-1000MX5 is noise cancellation. Of course, already in the Mark 4 I was quite amazed at the level of accuracy that the brand had managed to achieve, but in the new version things get even better. And this is possible thanks to a doubled number of microphones (which increase to 8 compared to 4 two years ago) and the presence of the new integrated V1 processor which, together with the HD QN1 (already seen in the Mark 4) SonyWH-1000MX5 to have a greater ability to listen to the surrounding noises and to process it with much more computing power: in a nutshell, the same and opposite sounds that animate the ANC system, with these headphones are much more precise and soft.
And they are so soft that you can hear by ear how much Sony has focused on "delicacy" in its ANC system, managing to achieve practically zero sound pressure and totally absent annoyance. And by adding all these characteristics to the excellent bearings that alone guarantee excellent passive insulation, we reach the result that SonyWH-1000MX5 are the headphones with the best noise cancellation. Point.
In short, these SonyWH-1000MX5 they can also be a great alternative for isolating yourself from the outside world while playing on the brand new Xbox Series X or PS5, even if - clearly - the response time isn't that of a pair of gaming headsets.
Advanced functions and controls
From the point of view of advanced features and controls, the SonyWH-1000MX5 they do not introduce many new features compared to the previous generation. They continue to integrate a proximity sensor in one of the pavilions (which however this time is well hidden) with which they activate or deactivate music playback independently, and the gesture with which - by placing a hand on the headphone pavilion is always present - Transparency mode will automatically activate and music playback will be stopped: this is very convenient if you suddenly find yourself talking to someone and don't want to take off your headphones.
There is also the function "speak to chat”Which, however, I personally appreciated well poco. Basically, once the function is activated, the headphones will be able to autonomously understand when the wearer is talking and then pause playback and amplify external noises.
A genius in theory, a failure in practice. And the reasons are different. Regardless of the fact that, once the music reproduction has been interrupted due to a hypothetical conversation, at the end of the chat SonyWH-1000MX5 they won't restart the music you were listening to, actually function speak to chat is started too many times by mistake: ok, the fact that headphones confuse singing with speech may be there (for example if you sing while listening to music, the playback will automatically pause), but it is intolerable that the function also be active when yawning and laughing. In short, deactivated immediately.
Anyway, 10 and praise instead as regards the sensitivity and precision of the touch controls on the right ear cup which are identical to those seen in the Sony WH-1000MX4, but which become much more precise and responsive. Here are all the touch controls of the SonyWH-1000MX5:
- Double tap: Play / Pause;
- Swipe right: next track;
- Swipe left: previous track;
- Swipe at the top: turn up the volume;
- Swipe at the bottom: turn down the volume;
- Extended tap: voice assistant.
Noise cancellation is smart too. And apart from the undisputed quality, the WH-1000XM5 (once you have obtained your consent) they are able to recognize the places where you are thanks to geolocation and set the preferred noise cancellation level, adapting to the surrounding environment. For example, if at home you prefer total noise cancellation, while when you are out walking the dog you want to listen to external noises to control all the vehicles that are passing by, the new Sony headphones will warn you with a sound alert when you are in a place known to them and will adjust the noise cancellation level accordingly.
If you remember what I wrote in the review of the Mark 4, the only aspect that did not make me crazy about the model of two years ago were the microphones: especially in noisy environments it happened that the audio would skip to allow the noise cancellation to eliminate the surrounding sounds. , and it was something that even in call was felt a lot.
Fortunately, and certainly thanks to doubling the number of integrated microphones, with the SonyWH-1000MX5 things have improved a lot: during a call, the interlocutor always hears the voice well and the background noise cancellation system is able to highlight the conversation, eliminating all disturbing sound elements.
also the SonyWH-1000MX5 are managed by the Sony Headphones application, available for iPhone and Android and which represents the more I would like to see in all headphones and earphones.
The functions, however, are practically the same that we found in the Mark 4: through the app it is possible to set the level of noise cancellation, manage the sound equalization, manage the associated devices (the SonyWH-1000MX5 are able to connect to two devices at the same time), choose whether to use Google Assistant or Alexa, or enable the technology DSEE Extreme, a particular Sony system with which the company has attempted to remedy the loss of sound of some lossy audio formats.
It is then possible optimize noise cancellation based on atmospheric pressure: a very convenient practice if you have to - for example - use headphones on long air travel.
And the battery autonomy is also confirmed which, in our tests, matched the excellent performance of the Mark 4. The duration of a charge guarantees about 25 hours of autonomy, with an average use of the ANC and recharging takes place. through a USB-C connector which, and this is a novelty, now supports Power Delivery technology in order to have the equivalent of a few hours of playback in a few minutes of charge.
Price and considerations
The selling price of the SonyWH-1000MX5 is 420 euros but, through the box below, you could buy them at a discount on Amazon for about 390 euros. And it is a figure that practically fills the increase in the launch price compared to that of the Mark 4. And yes, in the consumer world they are certainly the main competitor model of the AirPods Max, even if the Apple model was designed especially to be used. with one of the products of the bitten apple.
In terms of sound quality and noise cancellation, the SonyWH-1000MX5 they are an exceptional product and, of course, even if they continue to carry some of the limitations of the previous model, such as a rather narrow list of supported codecs and the lack of IP certification, the new microphones, the new processor useful for noise cancellation and bespoke 30mm drivers make this model (again) the best wireless headphones of 2022.
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