The new Sony headphones shine in everything, except in design

The new Sony headphones shine in everything, except in design

The new Sony headphones shine in everything

The new Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones are the maximum musical and functional expression of the coveted contemporary concreteness: a technological concentrate that marries a design that looks to the point. It's a question of religion now. There are those who look after performance, the result; and those who wander between usability and pleasure for objects. Trivially, it could be said that Sony are conceptually the direct antagonists of the Apple AirPods Max, playing in the same premium league.

Design, a timid step forward The only irreverent criticism that can really be leveled at the Sony WH- 1000XM5 is that the earpads, which hide the brand new 30mm carbon fiber dome drivers, look like soap holders from when we were kids. Then wearing them, looking in the mirror, the result is less traumatic than expected but every time we take them out of the case, the father of functionalist design Adolf Loos, author of Ornament and Crime (sic), probably closes a fist in the tomb as a victory. .

For the rest, the thermoplastic polymer used is silky and pleasant to the touch, perhaps only the black color tends to favor fingerprints; the alternative is a kind of off-white. Very pleasant is the leather-like lining that covers the internal pavilions and the headband, which also has a sliding mechanism for simple and (again) functional adjustment - even if it winks a little at the Bose NC700. And what about convenience? Awesome . They weigh only 250 grams and it almost seems not to be wearing them; no pressure point. Perfection does not exist, but it is very close here.

It is just a pity that the pavilions have a rotation limit of only 100-120 ° and that the auction does not fold down. This means that the inside of the neck must be exposed frontally to be comfortable and that for transport it is necessary to rely on the pretty but bulky case. Handling them it is easy to identify the button for the management of active noise cancellation, the bluetooth power button, the usb-c port for charging, the 3.5 mm audio input and at least 7 almost invisible grilles that probably hide the new 8 microphones - there are 4 on the Sony WH-1000XM4.

The declared autonomy is about 30-40 hours but it is a vague figure since it is very conditioned by the use of the noise cancellation system. The good news is that in 3 minutes you can get up to about 3 hours of battery life with usb-pd fast charging.

Musically flawless It's hard to ask for more from bluetooth headphones: the WH-1000XM5 have reached a impressive overall threshold. Separation of instruments, quality of details and nuances of the voice: there is everything listening to a piece like Frank Sinatra of Cake, moreover characterized by both the presence of trumpet and acoustic guitar as well as drums, percussion, electric guitar and keyboard. In Twenty One Pilots' Chlorine an analytical quality emerges that enhances the beat trip hop. In this regard, the control on the low frequencies is improved compared to the previous WH-1000XM4 and the search for greater refinement is evident.

Hey, but Bon Iver is simply creepy with the voice sliding smoothly on the carpet of percussion. The same emotion occurs with the Beatles' Dear Prudence when on the right channel there is the guitar riff and on the left channel the voice of John Lennon, the drums and the bass. There remains only one doubt, which manifests itself vividly with a track like Someday my Prince will come by Miles Davis Sextet: the listening position compared to the rest. With the WH-1000XM5 it seems to be a bit in the middle of the music, while with the AirPods Max (which are still slightly superior) the music scene is more spacious and airy. It is as if the WH-1000XM5 creates a smaller, compressed scene.

A thousand functions, even too many You can simply connect via Bluetooth (5.2) and already in this way you can take advantage of the basic functions. The right pavilion is in fact sensitive to the touch and allows the change of track, pause and volume management: the response to the touches is ready, just be delicate. For noise cancellation and the transparency function there is a button on the left pavilion. And here we really enter a new dimension because probably only an afterburner of an F-35 could annoy the listening. In short, the active noise cancellation works very well and is improved on the medium-high frequencies, thanks also to the contribution of the V1 chip already seen on the WF-1000XM4 earphones. Again perhaps only that of the Apple Max is at a similar level. On the other hand, Apple still has a slight advantage on transparency.

So far we remain in a human dimension, because the Headphones app (Android and iOS) opens up the rabbit hole. There is to be lost in the industrial quantity of functions and customizations that Sony has invented. Unfortunately we have not had the opportunity to try it because the update that will activate support for this model is expected to arrive later this month.

In any case, Auto NC Optimizer automatically optimizes noise cancellation based on the surrounding environment. 'Adaptive Sound Control, on the other hand, automatically adjusts the audio parameters according to the situation, recognizing the places frequented most often and setting the ambient sound accordingly. Then you can pair the headphones to two devices at the same time (multipoint).

Precise Voice Pickup technology uses four microphones (WH-1000XM4 only two) and applies artificial intelligence for noise reduction, isolating the voice during calls and reduce wind noise. Quick Access allows you to configure the headphones to resume playback on Spotify with just a couple of taps, without the smartphone. Speak-to-Chat stops listening for when you want to have a conversation, so that the headphones automatically suspend the music and let the ambient sounds in - just place your hand on the right pavilion. At the end of the dialogue the music starts again, while thanks to Wearing Detection, the music stops as soon as you take off the headphones. There is no lack of compatibility with the Google assistant and Amazon Alexa.

Swift Pair allows you to quickly associate the headphones with a desktop or tablet with Windows 11 or Windows 10. On the other hand, with Fast Pair it is easy to find the headphones thanks to the beep or check the last known location recorded in Google's Find My Device from your smartphone.

Sony High Resolution Music is one of the few manufacturers that can provide wireless audio streaming to high resolution thanks to the use of the proprietary Ldac codec, capable of handling 32-bit / 96kHz tracks with a maximum bitrate of 990 kbps. This means that with streaming platforms such as Tidal or Qobutz, where the focus is on high-quality audio formats, the experience is even more engaging. We are in the spectrum of audiophile micro-variations, but especially with some productions in classical and jazz the differences compared to standard tracks are evident. Finally, the headphones are 360 ​​Reality Audio certified and therefore capable of offering a surround experience. Also confirmed the presence of Dsee Extreme technology which should improve the quality of compressed audio tracks.


The Sony WH-1000XM5 have few rivals in the field of music and active noise cancellation; only Apple goes that far, but the AirPods Max still weigh 384 grams. The yield during phone calls is also good. The comfort offered probably deserves first place in the segment. The only weaknesses are highly questionable. The first is that of design in relation to the price range: for 420 euros Sony could have tried more; there are models that convey a better sense of preciousness. Secondly, the case is large and around the neck are not very comfortable, so you need a rather roomy backpack. The last is a question: how will the soft polyurethane internal coatings of the pavilions behave over time?

420 € - buy on amazon Rating: 9

Wired: excellent sound quality, noise cancellation and comfort

Tired: subdued design and portability (in case and around the neck ) can be improved

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