As we are already used to, every two years Sony updates its reference wireless headphones in terms of noise cancellation. The Japanese company had presented 2020 the WH-1000XM4, so its successor, as the leaks pointed out and the calendar demanded, was just around the corner. The long-awaited day finally arrived and the new WH-1000XM5 became reality.
We are now in front of two models of a line of premium headphones with a headband that has managed to gain the respect of a good number of consumers. Will this version retain the qualities that allowed its predecessor to stand out? Will these new headphones be able to surprise us again? Let’s see what are the differences between one model and another, beyond its exterior design and price.
Sony WH-1000XM4 and WH-1000XM5 datasheet
|Coupling||closed circumaural||closed circumaural|
|Sound||40mm drivers, with Liquid Crystal Polymer (LCP) diaphragms||30mm drivers, with Liquid Crystal Polymer (LCP) diaphragms|
|Connectivity||Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, multi-connection (up to 2 devices)||Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, multi-connection (up to 2 devices)|
|Noise Cancellation||Sony Noise Canceling Processor QN1||Sony Noise Canceling Processor QN1Integrated Processor V1|
|Frequency Response||4Hz to 40kHz|
20Hz to 40kHz (BT)
|4Hz to 40kHz20Hz to 40kHz (BT)|
|Indicted||Hi-Res Audio, DSEE Extreme, Edge AI||Hi-Res Audio, DSEE Extreme, Edge AI|
|Sound Profile||SBC, AAC, and LDAC||SBC, AAC, and LDAC|
|Battery||Up to 38 hours without NC activated|
Charge via USB-C
|Up to 40 hours without NC activated Charge via USB-C|
The biggest change is in the design
Let’s start with the appearance. The Sony WH-1000XM5s feature the biggest design change since the line was launched. Unlike the previous model, the headband is more subtle and thinner. The telescopic arms, meanwhile, are attached to each headset, which now has sleek new lines, through a minimalist mechanism that reminds us of the one implemented in Apple’s AirPods Max.
Internally there are also changes. The new model wants to remain the benchmark in noise cancellation, so it raises from 4 to 8 analysis microphones, maintains Noise Cancelling Processor QN1, but adds new features such as the integrated V1 processor (which we had already seen in the wireless in-ear WF-1000XM4), an automatic software optimizer and improved noise reduction technology.
The promise is to offer greater noise cancellation for high frequencies. Sony claims that the WH-1000XM5 will have a 50% improvement over the WH-1000XM4. To aid in this section and offer improved sound quality, the headphones incorporate a new 30mm carbon fiber driver designed from scratch (the previous version was 40mm) and internal soldering with a percentage of gold.
The latest model also uses four multi-directional microphones powered by a noise reduction algorithm to isolate speech and improve call quality. The WH-1000XM4s use only four microphones and lack this artificial intelligence-based enhancement.
There are also much more subtle differences. For example, in weight and battery life. The latest model is lighter than the previous one (250 g vs. 254 g) and has a longer listening time (40 h without NC activated vs. 38 h under the same conditions).
On the similarities, the WH-1000XM5s are charged via USB-C included in the box. A notable difference in this section is their charging speed. 3 minutes connected to the USB Power Delivery (has to be purchased separately) offers 3 hours of use. In addition, it is compatible with Google Assistant and Alexa and their respective voice activation commands.
Pricing and Availability
Finally, as a difference between one model and another, we should mention the price. When the WH-1000XM4 was released on the market and is available on Amazon for $278. The new model, the WH-1000XM5, arrives with an increase of $100, i.e., it will be available at the end of May at $378. The colors of its predecessor remain the same: black and platinum silver.
At this point, the big dilemma arises: which model to choose?
Certainly, the answer will depend on the user’s needs and the money he/she is willing to spend. As we have seen throughout the article, the WH-1000XM5s receive a good set of improvements, both in performance and design. Consequently, if you are looking for headphones with the most cutting-edge technology, the latest model is the best option.
However, the WH-1000XM4s are still great. Even the WH-1000XM3, which is still moving in the market cost $198 on Amazon. The predecessor of the model that summons us today, stands out for its noise cancellation and comfort, although, now that we have a new model with elegant and refined lines, we perceive that its design could age a little faster.