Exploring the Advanced Technology of Sony WF-1000XM5

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The Sony WF-1000XM5 wireless earbuds provide superior noise cancellation, smaller, lighter design, and best-in-class sound, making them one of the most complete wireless earbud bundles I've ever used.


  • Outstanding sound quality
  • Strong noise cancelation
  • Exceptional functionality
  • Excellent level of control


  • Smaller earbud size affects eartip seal and fit
  • Battery life remains the same as predecessor
  • Flaky 360 Reality Audio personalization set up


  • Price: $299 / £259 / AU$499
  • Colors: Black, Silver
  • Battery Life (Rated): 8 hours (ANC on), 24 hours (with charging case)
    Quick charge provides up to 1 hour of playback from a 3-minute charge
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.3 (codec support: SBC, AAC, LDAC)
  • Processor: Sony V2
  • Water Resistance: IPX4
  • Size: Not specified
  • Weight: Not specified

I had the good fortune to be one of the first people to use the Sony WF-1000XM5 earphones. I'm fairly happy with the Sony newest flagship noise-canceling wireless earbuds, albeit there are some tradeoffs (more on that below).

There's plenty to be excited about, especially if you're using a music playback device with LDAC or LHDC Bluetooth codec support. The all-new Sony V2 audio processor, which enables powerful Bluetooth 5.3 connectivity, stronger sound, and even better active noise cancelation, is the highlight of the many upgrades.

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For this evaluation, I used an LDAC-capable Sony Xperia 1 IV phone that Sony provided, loaded with the most recent version of the Headphones Connect software, to stream my favorite albums and playlist tracks on Tidal HiFi.

Given the opportunity to test and compare the WF-1000XM5 to competing flagship models like the AirPods Pro 2 USB-C and Jabra Elite 10, I can confidently declare that it is among the best wireless and noise-canceling earbuds available. I have been using them for several months.

In comparison to the WF-1000XM4, performance is more polished overall, and while battery life is unchanged, additional app capabilities contribute to an improved listening experience, making the XM5 one of the best-rounded wireless earbud kits I've heard.

Naturally, not everything works perfectly, and some users may experience annoying eartip fit problems with the smaller earphones. See my complete review of the Sony WF-1000XM5 below to learn more about how they function and whether or not they're the greatest wireless earbuds I've heard this year.


  • The latest design offers all-day comfort and is approximately 25% smaller and 20% lighter than the XM4.
  • A new dynamic speaker driver combines several different materials for the dome and the edge to achieve a rich bass sound with low distortion and more natural sounding vocals.
  • Sony’s best-ever call quality thanks to clear voice tech that uses a combination of AI-based noise reduction algorithm and bone conduction sensors.
  • Strong list of features including 360 Reality Audio with headtracking, voice assistant support, adaptive sound control, Speak-to-Chat, multipoint connect, Google Fast Pair and Swift Pair.
  • Made from recycled plastic and environmentally conscious materials.


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It cost $299 / £259 / AU$499 for the Sony WF-1000XM5. In every territory, they come in silver and black color variants. The Sony shop sells them directly, and you can also buy them online via Amazon, Best Buy, and Crutchfield.

They compete directly with some of the best wireless earbuds available at this price point, such as the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds ($299 / £279 / AU$429), Apple's AirPods Pro 2 (now priced at $249 / £229 / AU$399), and Sennheiser's Momentum True Wireless 4 ($299 / £259 / AU$499). Nonetheless, it's easy to observe that several regions have rather erratic price differences.


The outgoing Sony WF-1000XM4 (left) alongside the new Sony WF-1000XM5 (right) showcases a significant redesign for the new flagship. (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Undoubtedly, the outdated Sony WF-1000XM4 earbuds were starting to appear a bit overly big in comparison to their more modern competitors' svelte earbud designs. Therefore, it's encouraging to note that the WF-1000XM5 sports a revised design that is around 25% smaller and 20% lighter. They are made to fit in the ears more covertly and are less noticeable. Moreover, the charging case is smaller.

In relation to that, the XM4 case's lengthy LED light has been replaced with a little dot to show the battery level and pairing status in the new, lighter charging case. The top lid bears the Sony logo in copper.

The gloss and matte surfaces of the WF-1000XM5 earphones are combined. Instead of the XM4's recognizable copper ring feature, they use a smaller copper vent that houses an ANC microphone. Additionally, the little copper Sony logo on the side is a great addition.

In order to assist more wearers achieve an overall stronger and more secure fit, eartip sizes have been expanded, and the WF-1000XM5 comes with SS-size tips that give consumers a choice of four eartip sizes.

The first thing that proved difficult for me with Sony's new design was finding the proper eartip fit. For some reason, I had to acquire the largest size of eartips available instead of my typical medium-sized ones because of the short stem on the earbud that goes into the ear canal.

I was unable to establish a satisfactory acoustic seal from my medium eartips because of the new, smaller earbud shape. Applying a modest strain when inserting the earbuds resulted in a more dependable fit and seal from the biggest size eartips.

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I discovered that in order for the noise cancellation and adaptive sound functions to function properly, I needed to obtain the greatest acoustic seal, thus it was helpful to have the Sony Optimal Earbud Tips in the Headphones Connect app to test the fit. It sometimes took me many tries to obtain the perfect seal with the proper earbud, thus I frequently had to make the necessary changes to get the greatest performance. I still use the medium-sized eartips for the Sony WF-1000XM4 and the AirPods Pro 2, and neither device has ever caused me any trouble fitting or sealing correctly.

During my test, comfort levels were consistent after some persistence in getting the fit just right, and I had no trouble wearing the WF-1000XM5 for extended periods of time. The Technics EAH-AZ80 offers more comfort throughout the day than the new XM5s do, but they seem a lot lighter than the XM4s I was accustomed to, and that makes up for it in terms of comfort.

You may use the new earphones for exercises at the gym since, like the XM4, they are rated IPX4 for sweat and water resistance. They weren't the greatest running headphones in my opinion, though, and I didn't think they were appropriate for running.

There was no slippage and they stayed securely in place, thus there was no need for this. Every stride and jog thudded loudly in my ears due to the sound of my feet hammering the ground through the headphones. Even with my noise canceling turned on, my footfall continued to thump. Although the AirPods Pro 2 appear to be able to dampen or isolate the sound of these external vibrations better, I found the microphonic effect on the Sonys to be quite bothersome when jogging.


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Similar to earlier iterations, tap commands were precisely handled using touch controllers. The standard single, double, and triple taps as well as the extended press approach may be used to assign functions to either bud.

The accompanying app automatically activates the Quick Attention mode on the left earbud, which reduces the level to around 10% so you can hear what's going on around you without taking the buds out. Playback was immediately interrupted when I took one of the buds out of my ear.

The XM5 and the new software appear to have removed Sony's voice instructions when navigating between ambient and noise canceling settings, but other than that, the control functions are the best I've seen.

One of my favorite features of the WF-1000XM4 was Speak-to-Chat, so I'm glad to see that carried over to the new flagship. When the microphones and bone conduction sensors detect a conversation, this automatically pauses the music and activates transparency mode. It does this by utilizing the microphones and sophisticated signal processing to identify your speech. As helpful as it may be, don't forget to turn it off if you're in a noisy place.

Furthermore, Head Gesture control allows users to accept incoming calls by nodding or shaking their heads, which triggers motion sensors. I was initially introduced to this feature, which is new to me, on the Cleer Audio ARC II Sport open-ear headphones, which perform similarly.

With Sony's mic array, voice commands could be used to control playback hands-free. The voice assistant capabilities extended to Google Assistant and Alexa integration, or you could use whichever assistant was integrated into your playback device. All of these functioned well.


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The Sony WF-1000XM5's degree of detail when listening to any performance is among its most remarkable features. Choosing songs and streaming Tidal HiFi on a Sony Xperia 1 IV phone with LDAC enabled Even with my little experience, I was still able to pick out some unexpected new aspects in the music mix, and the new Sony earbuds are unquestionably the most fascinating and melodic ones I've ever listened to.

The voices have some of the most realistic mid-range detail levels I've ever heard, and the frequency range is broad. Voices were more realistic and had greater presence. Tracks had a slightly unique tone, yet they also sounded familiar.

Compared to other earbuds, the WF-1000XM5 extracts more information and delivers more detail levels that are often missed. They can effortlessly and melodically capture the essence of whatever you're performing, without the frequency range being amplified in any one place.

Our reviewer claimed that the stereo image on the WF-1000XM4 was amazing. Furthermore, I believe that the new XM5's soundstage is much superior. Perhaps that's because the new dynamic driver makes subtle instruments and vocalists seem so lifelike by using a variety of materials to handle different areas of the frequency spectrum. In any case, it's a really captivating part of the listening experience.

Movie soundtracks always appeal to me, and the guitar solo in "Cinema Paradiso (Love Theme)" sounds amazing on the new Sony instruments. The intense rendition of "Like a Dog Chasing Cars" from the film The Dark Knight was so amazing that I had trouble believing it was being played in front of me.

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The bass was powerful and full-bodied without ever being too loud. Rather of being muddy and tiresome, it sounded precisely proportioned and dug deep enough to handle whatever bass beats I played with the type of detail that attracted me into everything I listened to.

My attention was drawn to effects and background information that I had not previously noticed, which made it simpler to follow each instrument as it played in the mix. I've listened to Julia Holter's "Feel You" several times, but I don't remember ever seeing the low-level subtleties or extra flourishes added to the string sections of the song. There was so much more information on the new Sonys in this track. Similar to how Kate Bush's singing on "Dream of Sheep" sounded even more exquisite and dreamy, the Sony WF-1000XM5 provided a fresh perspective on a well-known track, showcasing an excellent balance between bass and treble clarity.

And sometimes I could hear stereo noises coming from somewhere other than my head. The Sonys' natural, airy, and wide sound at times was almost like listening to a fantastic pair of open-back, over-ear headphones. As a matter of fact, several of the low-level studio noises in Nils Fram's "Some" recording, such as the sound of the piano's foot peddle being squeezed or the creaking floorboards, were so realistic that they made me feel as though I was watching someone else in my home office.

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The DSEE Extreme from Sony is now a very common audio function found on many of the top Sony headphones. While it's rather power-intensive and quickly depletes battery life, it improves low-fidelity records by restoring some of the audio signal information lost during the compression process of various music file formats.

Sony has also made 360 Reality Audio a popular feature. In essence, it's the company's response to Apple's spatial audio, giving compatible music a 3D appearance. Although head tracking functionality has been introduced, I thought the 360 Reality Audio customized setup procedure was a little strange at first.I tried many times, paying great attention to the voice instructions, but I was unable to get the software to identify my ears so I could customize the 360 Reality Audio sound. When the new version of the app is completely launched, I'll be looking into this further because it could have something to do with the beta version of the app I was using.

An additional iPhone listening test

As I noted in my review of the Sony WF-1000XM5 on an iPhone, I wasn't nearly as impressed with the AAC's sound quality. It wasn't the same listening to the exact same music through my iPhone 12 Pro's headphones from my Tidal HiFi playlist after I experienced their audio performance in all its splendor through an LDAC-capable gadget. In fact, the Sony WF-1000XM4 wireless earbuds didn't sound all that much better than the new WF-1000XM5, in part because I could hear the flaws in the AAC codec on my iPhone more clearly.


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As with the AirPods Pro 2 and Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II, Sony has improved the quality of its ANC technology. Compared to the WF-1000XM4, the WF-1000XM5 noise-canceling technology is said to suppress ambient noise by around 20% more. It's hard to quantify, but the Sony HD Noise Canceling processor and the more potent V2 chipset seem to produce really good results, making these earbuds among the finest available for noise cancellation.

The settings for your noise-canceling device can be automatically changed based on your environment. I've never heard an adaptive ANC mode this well, which allowed me to navigate between environments with ease as the earbuds automatically adjusted to the appropriate noise level.

While listening to my preferred music or catching up on a podcast, the WF-1000XM5 reduced the interference caused by various ambient noises, both at the gym and during my daily commute. It's crucial to note that if you don't take the time to make minor changes and establish the optimal acoustical seal with the appropriate size eartips, outside noises may still easily seep through.

In my testing, wind noise seemed to cause fewer problems, and I had no problems whether I went for runs outside or waited for a train on a windy station platform.

The Ambient Noise Control may be set between 1 and 20. Increasing the volume on each level allows more outside noise to be audible.While automated switching modifies the settings based on your location and behavior, there is also an option to concentrate on voice.

Review of the Sony WF-1000XM5: Battery life

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With the release of the WF-1000XM5, I had hoped for a significant improvement in battery life; nevertheless, the numbers are precisely the same as for the XM4, with up to 8 hours when using ANC. Considering that the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II and AirPods Pro 2 both have a 6-hour battery life on a single charge, it's still a fairly good deal.

Because of Sony's excellent battery optimization, the XM5 earbuds get the most out of their battery life before needing to be recharged. A rapid charge of three minutes can provide up to an hour of usage when you do need to top them off.

When ANC is turned on, the charging case has the same capacity and can carry around 24 charges.It can be wirelessly charged using compatible Xperia smartphones and is Qi-compliant.


When it comes to voice calls, Sony's wireless earbuds haven't always been the best. However, it appears that the firm has realized that this is a major factor in the way that many users utilize their earphones, and it has improved its offerings appropriately. My companion said that I didn't have any of the XM4's muffling and that my voice was clear. The AI-powered noise reduction engine, which can distinguish speech even in loud environments, is probably to blame for the improvement. Because the feed forward microphone's mesh helped to lessen wind noise during calls, there was also very little wind noise.

As of right present, Bluetooth 5.3 is the most reliable connecting protocol. It is more resistant to outside interference and has Bluetooth LE Audio compatibility, which improves energy economy. Without compromising battery life, this undoubtedly helps the more potent onboard V2 CPU meet its performance expectations.

Additionally, multipoint connection is included, allowing you to use the earphones with two devices at once. When you open the charging case, Pair Mode is activated, and the buds will appear on your list of available devices immediately. Swift Pair and Google Fast Pair are also included.

A Verdict on the Sony WF-1000XM5

Apart from the awkward eartip fit and tricky 360 Reality Audio customisation difficulties, I think the Sony WF-1000XM5 represents a significant improvement in sound quality. They provide one of the greatest wireless earbud experiences I've ever had, and the excellent capabilities available through the fantastic Headphones Connect app, together with the superior noise cancellation, make them a really nice and worthy purchase.

However, given the state of the economy right now, any price hike would hurt. Thankfully, it appears like Sony accurately presented their next model. The WF-1000XM5 wireless earbuds don't feel costly, and their remarkable functionality and performance levels make them well deserving of the little price hikes in the United States and the United Kingdom, despite some speculations of a significant price rise. These are without a doubt the greatest new wireless earphones I've heard this year, and it's not difficult to predict that they'll be among the top options when it comes to wireless earphones in 2023.

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