Sony has been shrinking the size of their premium TWS earbuds constantly, and the new WF-1000XM5 is 25 percent smaller and 20 percent lighter than the XM4. The new buds boast better noise cancellation and audio quality with a new and larger driver squeezed into the smaller buds.
Sony WF-1000XM5 review
The WF-1000XM5 is much smaller and lighter than the XM4, with a slimmer charging case. The XM4 had a top-heavy design, and the device had a tendency to fall while working out or on your morning jog. The new buds offer a better fit, and Sony has added an SS (Extra Small) pair of ear tips. The thinner tips now fit snugly in the ear canal without relying only on the outer cavity to hold the buds in place. The design still necessitates a bit of twisting to fit, but once firmly in place, you can go on with your routine without worrying about it falling off.
The ring-type design of the main microphones contributed much to the bulk of XM4, in addition to the possibility of catching wind. The XM5 rectifies this with a metal wind filter mesh that matches the body contour. The metal mesh and a glossy-matte combo provide some design flourish. The case houses a USB Type-C port and supports wireless changing. The buds are IPX4 rated for protection from water splashes, making it ready for your extreme workout sessions.
At the core of the 1000XM5 are the dual processors. Sony has added an HD noise cancelling coprocessor QN2e to aid the V2 integrated processor for better noise cancelling and sound quality. Each of the buds offers three mics — one feed-forward and two for feedback. The device uses a new 8.4mm dynamic driver X in place of the 6mm driver in the XM4, and this is slated to broaden the frequency range and enhance the depth of reproduction. Sony claims that the new AI-driven noise reduction algorithm (AI- Deep Neural Network) has been trained on 500 million voice samples for better isolation of noise and voice pass-through. The bone conduction sensor remains in place to ensure better call quality by efficiently isolating voice from eliminating ambient noise. The 1000XM5 supports SBC, AAC, and LDAC codecs and DSEE Extreme audio enhancements to transmit high-resolution audio over Bluetooth 5.3. However, there’s no support for aptX.
The TWS now supports head gestures to control Auto Play and calls. However, we found this more of a gimmicky addition, not quite responsive, yet not something you are likely to miss. The buds can connect with two devices simultaneously and come with Alexa compatibility.
Sony’s Headphones app has been one of the most detailed audio apps we have seen so far, and it now goes beyond normal enhancements when combined with the WF-1000XM5. The app now offers a feature that helps you choose the best equaliser setting. You are presented with different frequency range settings and a selection of sound balance options. The resulting equaliser setting is stored in the Custom 2 tab of EQ. We found our manual configuration sounding better, but any extra feature is welcome since audio is dependent on personal perception. Having said that, this is a Beta feature, and we believe the finished product will be better.
Ambient sound control menu offers the choice of Noise Cancelling, Ambient Sound, and Off. The ambient sound level can be adjusted in the app, and voice passthrough can be switched on or off. However, noise cancelling levels can’t be adjusted. Adaptive sound control continues from the previous buds and seamlessly switches between the chosen settings depending on the location.
The WF-1000XM4 was nothing short of impressive, and the XM5 builds on it with flair. ANC now completely shuts off the outside world, yet without that typical discomfort associated with pressure difference. We have used the buds extensively on a wide range of scenarios including indoors, on Mumbai local trains, busy market public roads, taxis, and onboard flights, and the experience remained the same. Voice passthrough was superb, and so was call quality.
Coming to sound, the XM5 reproduced audio with a wide soundstage. It was adept at bringing out fine details in audio with fairly good bass response once you play around with EQ settings. The device could easily be one of the best pairs of premium TWS earphones at this price, especially for Android devices.
In our experience with ANC on most of the time, we could squeeze out just over 5 hours from the buds with the case providing two additional recharges.
An interesting add-on is the announcement of time every hour, which is quite useful especially since you can easily plug yourself out from the outside world even while waiting for your flight.
Sony has done a remarkable job in improving a product that impressed all with superior ANC. With the WF-1000XM5, the brand has ironed out a few creases that remained in the form of weight balance and managed to improve ANC and sound reproduction further. Combine this with the feature-rich Headphones app, and you have a winner here.
One of the best allrounders among TWS earphones, complete with highly efficient ANC, impressive sound, and a feature-rich companion app.
|Battery life:||Max. 8hrs with ANC|
|Frequency range:||2.4GHz band|
|Supported audio formats:||SBC, AAC, LDAC, LC3|
|Weight:||Approx 5.9 g for each bud|