Over the past few years, Sony has established itself as a leading manufacturer of noise-cancelling headphones, thanks to its consistently high-quality products in the WH-1000 line. Each iteration has brought slight improvements in sound quality, noise-cancelling, and call quality, cementing the brand’s place at the top of the market.
However, when we saw the official pictures of the Sony WH-1000XM5, we were taken aback by the major redesign. It was unclear whether this was a wise move, given the success of the previous versions. It seems that Sony has decided to completely revamp the look of its premium wireless ANC over-ear headphones for this latest iteration.
Due to the current market conditions, many products have experienced price increases, and the Sony WH-1000XM5 is no exception. These headphones are now priced at $399, representing a slight increase from their previous price. We got our hands on a pair of these headphones and this is what we feel.
The Sony WH-1000XM5’s design modifications are considerable, with the manufacturer seeking to produce a thinner, more seamless set of headphones with its “noiseless design” approach. Reworking certain regions that may contribute to wind noise results in smoother, sweeping lines and less sharp edges. Furthermore, several of the joints and hinges that enable the XM4’s earcups to fold away have been eliminated, allowing the XM5 headphones to fold flat.
However, the XM5 headphones do not fold up as tiny as its predecessor, which may frustrate people who love to conveniently put their headphones into a bag. The XM5 headphones may feel more fragile in this aspect, and it may be prudent to utilise the included carry case for further protection, even if it has been redesigned. This travel case does take up some extra room, which may be an issue for individuals with limited storage space.
The Sony WH-1000XM5 not only looks different from previous generations, but it also feels different in the hand. Despite being slightly lighter than the XM4s, the difference is minimal at only four grams. The plastics used in the construction of the XM5 feel nice to the touch, although the older model may still give off a slightly more premium feel. These plastics are primarily made of Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS), a material created by recycling and refining certain car parts from the US and Japan, and blending them with mica to achieve the final finish. This material was first used in Sony’s LinkBuds wireless earbuds.
The headband section of the XM5 employs ABS sliders rather than metal bands to adjust the fit, which we found to work well. However, the way these sliders protrude at the bottom does make the profile a bit bulkier, and we wonder if Sony could have trimmed the edges slightly for a smoother appearance. Overall, these are minor considerations and do not significantly impact the overall design of the headphones.