Sony is a brand that everyone recognises for its audio quality and its audio gear. Over the years, the Japanese brand has evolved to match the needs of the industry and go one step further. The wireless audio segment is rich with plenty of options, and the same can be said for the premium bracket. In this range, Sony, Bose, Sennheiser and more have their options, and today we are getting a chance to tell you more about the new Sony WH-1000XM5 wireless headphones, which has launched in India for Rs 34,990. But those pre-booking the headphones can get it for Rs 26,990 which is available from September 21 to October 7.
The successor to the WH-1000XM4 has to tick a lot of boxes, with the product still being a force to reckon with for buyers. So, how does Sony improve upon a product that is already popular? We tested the new cans from Sony to see the changes and here’s our review.
Sony WH-1000XM5 Review: What’s Cool?
The fit and finish of the new Sony wireless headphones is all about being premium. The soft fit leather finish has a textured touch which is similar to the XM4s. You also have the soft band over the headband, and the ear cups have better cushioning and more room to accommodate people with big ears. The XM5 weighs 250 grams, making it 4 grams lighter than the XM4.
Talking about fit, we’ve never had any issues with the headphones on that front, and that remains the case even with the XM5’s as well. Like we said, the earcups getting more room doesn’t affect the snugly fit that the Sony headphones are renowned for, and that helps with the overall quality of the audio and the noise cancellation.
The premium price tag of the XM5’s demands a feature-rich product, and Sony obliges to a large extent. You have the gesture support for controls on both the earcups. The headphones allow you to control the music playback, change volume, and even enable the noise cancellation. Taking off the headphones smartly pauses the music, which is also a helpful feature.
You have more features offered through the compatible Sony Headphones Connect app available for Android and iOS users. Having this app gives you updates that improve the quality and add more features to the headphones.
Connectivity-wise, Sony has given you a slew of options, to help you save the battery in urgent situations. You have the standard Bluetooth option, and it is good to see the company retain the headphone jack, so that you can connect the headphones to a PC in the wired mode.
But what about performance, does the XM5 get any better? Sony has talked about reducing the size of the drivers on the XM5 from 40mm to 30mm for this variant, which puzzled us to some extent. However, using the headphones allowed us to shed all those doubts, as the performance sees no major drop, in fact, the noise cancelling quality ensures that the headphones are able to block the outside noise even better.
We feel the tweaked design and fit of the earcups along with further help from the Integrated V1 processor, the overall audio quality and the noise cancellation has improved. You can always tap on the left earcup to enable the transparency mode.
Now, coming to the main segment for any headphones, how do they sound? Well, Sony is known for heavy bass and that extra push in the high levels, and we got the same soundstage from the XM5 headphones as well. The mids tend to be rather mellow, which gets highlighted by the addition of the bass in the track.
We noticed this in Faded by Alan Walker, where the emphasis on the bass in the mid-section is prominent. We got further details about the soundstage while listening to Blinding Lights by The Weeknd, where the high notes are clear but the mids have a definite low tone to them, and the bass remains intact.
For vocals, we had Wonderful Tonight by Eric Clapton, to hear the guitar notes in absolute clarity, also the vocals had a crisp touch to the ears. To further test the audio credentials, we also had What A Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong to get more details in the mid range devoid of any additional bass in the track. Coming out of this, we felt the WH-1000XM5 manages to keep the levels of its predecessor with a slight push in the higher notes with better clarity. These headphones became our go-to choice for taking calls, and the use of 4 beamforming microphones delivered excellent voice quality that was clear on both sides of the call.
With all these features, people usually worry about the backup, which according to Sony is 30 hours with the ANC enabled, and during our tests we got the battery to last for a little over 28 hours on a single charge, which is close to the company’s claims. It gets better when you disable ANC, or even use the headphone connector to get more juice out of the cans. You get the USB C charging with the USB-PD standard which offers three hours of playback from just three minutes of charging.
Sony WH-1000XM5 Review: What’s Not So Cool?
Sony talked a lot about the design of the new headphones, but the biggest change for us is the lack of portability of the XM5’s. The new model doesn’t fold, and the bundled case of the headphones make it bulgier than before. So, even though the XM5’s are marginally lighter, their portability factor has gone away.
When it comes to premium headphones, one would say that price is inconsequential but for people spending their hard-earned money, it is vital to know they are spending on the right thing. For Rs 34,990 the Sony WH-1000XM5 are on the higher side, which means some of you would now consider the previous generation, especially if you can get it on a good deal.
Sony WH-1000XM5 Review: Verdict
Sony has introduced the new WH-series wireless headphones in the market with a lot of expectations, and it builds on the promise of the XM4 to a large extent. The design quality is premium, even though the cans are not foldable anymore. The earcups fit on most ears now, and makes sure there is no noise leakage. The sound quality and the ANC performance is still one of the best in the segment, and the battery life will keep you going for days, if not more.
Having said that, the XM5 still carries a hefty price tag, which might push some of you to consider the XM4’s that are equally good. But if you want the latest, then the WH-1000XM5 deserves a look, especially at its introductory price.