- Sony has been manufacturing audio products since 1979, and Sony’s 1000 series is one of the company’s best-selling audio products. The WH-1000X and WF-1000X product series are among the best ANC headphones and earphones on the market.
- The WF-XM5 are the latest ANC earphones in Sony’s flagship lineup. A lighter and more compact design with newly improved memory foam ear tips and a multi-point connection feature make the WF-1000XM5 one of the most versatile ANC earphones.
- In this article, we report on our review of the WF-1000XM5 after testing the Platinum Silver color variant for over 50 hours of music listening.
The WF-1000XM5 is the newest addition to the flagship lineup of ANC earbuds from Sony. This time around, Sony has improved the design to make the earbuds more lighter and the case more compact. They have also improved the design of the memory foam ear tips by taking inspiration from industry-standard ear plugs. The WF-XM5 earbuds have changed dramatically in design and performance, with each generation improving on the shortcomings and adding more features.
We listened to over 50 hours of music and media with the Sony WF -1000XM5 before writing this review three weeks after receiving them. In this article, we share our opinion on whether the Sony WF-1000XM5 are still the best ANC earphones money can buy. Let’s start.
Table of Contents
Sony WF-1000XM5 Review: Design and Comfort
The Sony WF-1000XM5 comes with a very compact case that has a snappy lid and strong magnets. The case has a matte finish and feels good to fidget around in the hand. The earbuds won’t pop out of the case when you open it, and the case won’t open accidentally. The hinge is well-secured and has a satisfying snap. It can be opened and closed with one hand without much trouble. The case is not as compact as the Airpods Pro, but it fits easily into most coin pockets. On the back of the case, there is a USB Type-C port for charging and a pairing button. The case also supports wireless charging and has a flat bottom, so you can keep it upright on a table or wireless charging station.
Overall, the case is very well made. There are two color options for the Sony WF-1000XM5. We tested the Platinum Silver color, and the other is simply called Black. Both have copper-colored accents that look very good. The earbuds are a bit large and quite visible when you wear them, but the weight and size have been greatly improved over previous generations.
In the case of the earbuds, the touch surface is matte, and the rest of the case is glossy. A completely matte design would have been better since the glossy part often smears, and earwax also accumulates very easily.
As for the ear tips, Sony has included memory foam ear tips in four different sizes. To be honest, the memory foam ear tips do not stay in the ear for long and keep slipping out. This also affects the seal and the ANC, but switching to silicone earbuds drastically improves the fit and provides the proper seal for ANC to work as intended. The earbuds are IPX4 rated against splashing and sweat, but you shouldn’t go swimming with them as they may not survive that. The included ear tips didn’t work out for us, but the earbuds are so light that once they’re properly in place, you basically can’t feel them at all.
Sony WF-1000XM5 Review: Connectivity and Features
The Sony WF-1000XM5 features Bluetooth 5.3 and NFC to pair the earbuds with your device. The Bluetooth connection is stable if you have the “focus on connection” setting in the app, but disconnects and music interruptions happen quickly when the priority is set to sound quality. The earbuds indicate connections and disconnections with beeps. The multi-point connection works well. It automatically switches between the last two paired devices depending on the content. When you start playing music on the two devices one after the other, switching takes a bit, but when it comes to calls, the WF-1000XM5 immediately switches to the desired device as soon as you answer the call. Bluetooth range isn’t the best, especially when connected to two devices. It disconnects from the less stable device when you move too far away from it.
As for the features, you have a multi-point connection. In-ear detection pauses and plays music when you take the earbuds off and put them back in. There’s a talk-to-chat feature that activates when the earbuds detect you’re talking. It automatically lowers the volume and turns on ambient mode, but that gets triggered way too often and gets annoying after a certain point, so we turned it off. Both earbuds have touch controls, and the sensitivity of the sensors is pretty good. You can find the detailed controls below:
- Single Tap (Play/Pause content)
- Double Tap (Skip to the next track/pickup call)
- Triple Tap (Skip to the previous track/end call)
- Press and Hold (Triggers voice assistant), also has built-in Hands Free Google Assistant for live commands.
- Multiple Quick Taps to increase volume.
- Single Tap (Trigger Noise cancellation/Ambient Mode)
- Press and Hold (Triggers chat mode to have a quick chat)
- Multiple Quick Taps to decrease volume.
The controls are customizable, of course, but only up to a point. For some reason, Sony doesn’t let you customize the double or triple tap on the left earbud. You can adjust either the noise cancelation or the play/pause controls. It would have been better if we could customize the double tap on the left earbud to skip to the previous track and the triple tap for something else, but we’ll have to settle for what Sony has allowed us to do. There is also a 360-degree feature, but we were not able to test it because there is not enough content to support it.
Sony WF-1000XM5 Review: ANC and Audio
Traditionally, the Sony WF-1000X series focused mainly on the ANC and somehow neglected the audio quality of the earbuds, but this year, Sony hit the right bases with the WF-1000XM5 to give us very good-sounding earbuds that have excellent ANC. The ANC will not work properly if the fit isn’t good, and that’s exactly what we found to be the case. The foam earplugs didn’t fit properly in our ears, which meant that the ANC didn’t work as expected and also affected the audio quality to some extent. But when we switched to silicone earplugs, the whole feel of the product changed. Now we could really test how good the ANC of the Sony XM5 is, and believe us, it is really good.
The ANC blocks out most noises, from ceiling fans to mechanical keyboard clicks and AC noises. Even when you’re flying, you hear almost nothing except a slight hiss, but that also disappears when you play audio with the WF-1000XM5. The ANC has even gotten better at suppressing people’s voices to some degree. So, if you’re in a public space and don’t want to be disturbed, you can count on the WF-1000XM5 to do it for you. The additional processor, specifically designed for noise cancelation, and the new bone conduction sensors work together to deliver the best possible ANC performance.
Ambient mode has also improved over the last generation. It’s still not as good as the Airpods Pro’s, but the WF-1000XM5 sounds more natural, thanks to the addition of a microphone array that provides more natural feedback. Call quality has improved a bit; there’s still a lot of work to be done, but the WF-1000XM5 don’t make you sound like a robot on calls.
In terms of audio quality, Sony has obviously included a number of high-resolution codecs in the WF-1000XM5. You have support for LDAC, LC3, SBC, and AAC for all your music needs, as well as DSEE Extreme to upscale your music streams. LDAC only works with Android smartphones, so all iPhone users will have to make do with AAC. In the Sony headphones app, you have access to a very powerful EQ. We recommend you use the EQ to tune the WF-1000XM5 earphones, as the default tuning is a bit warm and, as with all Sony audio products, focuses on the low frequencies.
But once you have tweaked the EQ to your liking, the Sony WF-XM5 sound very good. The low end is punchy and has some kick, as do the mids and highs. The sound is very clear; the instrument separation is easy to discern on most songs, the treble response excites you, and the bass performance keeps you hooked. We tested the Sony WF-1000XM5 to listen to many genres of music, and it shined on most of them, delivering the best experience.
All of this combined makes the Sony WF-1000XM5 one of the most well-rounded ANC earbuds on the market. Yes, something like the Sennheiser Momentum TWS earbuds have a better sound signature, and the Bose Quiet Comfort earbuds have a better ANC, but the Sony WF1000Xm5 does both pretty well.
Sony WF-XM5 Review: Battery and Application
As for battery life, the Sony WF-1000XM5 lasts about 8 hours of continuous use with ANC turned on, and with the case on it can add another 16 hours, for a total of 24 hours. In our practice, we were able to use the WF1000XM5 for a similar amount of time. We have to charge the case once every 4 days, which makes the battery life of the WF-1000XM5 quite decent.
The Sony WF-XM5 can be charged via the USB Type-C port on the back of the case. You can also charge it wirelessly by placing the case on a wireless charging pad, the flat bottom of which contains the wireless charging pad. The Sony WF1000XM5 can be fully charged from 10-100% in about 2.5 hours via the Type-C port, but you can also charge it for 10 minutes to listen to up to 4 hours of music.
The Sony Headphones app is a very powerful addition to the WF-1000XM5 earphones. The app has a very powerful EQ and has location-based ANC zones that change the ANC mode based on your location. This depends heavily on your phone’s GPS and sometimes displays completely absurd modes. The app also records your usage stats and awards rewards for the activities you do with your earbuds. The app is good, but it needs an urgent overhaul, as the current design is far too cluttered and outdated.
Sony WF-1000XM5 Review: Verdict
The Sony WF1000XM5 may not have the best sound signature or the best ANC in the industry, but they are certainly a total package when it comes to delivering good audio quality with amazing ANC performance for the price. The earbuds are lightweight, and the case is compact. The memory foam ear tips are not everyone’s cup of tea, so we would recommend trying the silicone tips as well. But all in all, for the price of $298 (INR 24,990), the Sony WF-1000XM5 are one of the best-rounded ANC earphones currently available in the market, albeit on the expensive side. If you want a better ANC, you can go for the Bose Quiet Comfort Earbuds II for $279 (INR 19990), or if you want the best audio quality, you can try the Sennheiser Momentum TWS 3 Earbuds for $199 (INR 16990). If you have any questions about the Sony WF-1000XM5, you can leave them below in the comments.
- Beautiful and compact design
- Very good ANC
- Feature packed app
- Decent battery life
- Not the best fit with included ear tips.
- App needs a redesign
- Bass heavy sound by default.
- Better customization for controls
The Sony WF1000XM5 are one of the best ANC True Wireless Earbuds you can buy for the price. The ANC is top notch, LDAC support and a powerful EQ make the difference from the competition. A better ear tip design and a redesign for the app is the need of the hour, but the rest of the product is also high quality, as you would expect from Sony.