The WH-1000XM5 Bluetooth headphones are the latest addition to a range considered since 2017 as one of the best, in particular for sound precision and the effectiveness of ambient noise cancellation. Due to supply issues, it was only recently, 10 months after its release, that we were able to try it.
This Bluetooth 5.2 headset, which can also be used in wired mode with an included cable, can now connect to two devices simultaneously. Unlike our good old WH-1000XM3, our favorite for almost three years, we don’t have to disconnect it from the telephone, for example, to connect it to the television or the computer.
Better, all paired devices now appear in the mobile app Headphones from Sony, where you can select the active device. As soon as you turn on the headset, it automatically connects to the two preferred devices. No more mandatory detour in the settings of our OLEDCX television at each connection.
The other glaring change is the addition of five microphones, now eight in number, which finally makes it possible to have good quality telephone conversations. These mics are further used to enhance the WH-1000XM5’s other selling point, ambient noise cancellation, or ANC in English.
In the subway or in the street, to hear only your music or your TV show without the background noise at home, this function is probably the one that Sony has refined the best. By creating a real little sound bubble, it is simply unbeatable, far ahead of the in-ear headphones that have entered this field.
And the sound delivered by these headphones? It is always of very high quality, especially for the precision which makes it possible to clearly distinguish each instrument in a musical piece. The bass is more discreet than with our WH-1000XM3, but the high frequencies are noticeably richer.
There are also some changes in the interface of this headset. The little voice that signaled the on or off, activation or deactivation of the ANC has disappeared in favor of a musical trill. Only the battery level is now indicated by this voice.
Control is still done by flattering the right earbud, up and down for volume and front to back for song advancement. You can interrupt listening to a piece or take a phone call by tapping twice, and resume listening or hang up with the same gesture.
We have a fun feature: the music stops and ambient sound plays as soon as the headphones detect your voice. You can also summon a voice assistant by firmly pressing the right earpiece. By default on an iPhone, Siri will respond, and the Google Assistant for an Android device. You can theoretically configure the headset in the app Headphones to choose Alexa.
The autonomy of the headphones is around thirty hours with ANC activated, around forty without this function. We fully charged it in 38 minutes. To extend battery life, the headphones can automatically power off after a few minutes when not in use.
We love less
In our first listens, we found the sound of the WH-1000XM5 less immersive, the bass less enveloping than with our WH-1000XM3. This finding is not shared by all critics. The laboratory tests of the North American reference in terms of sound, the site Rtings.com, established in Montreal, however confirm our impression: the bass and mid frequencies are less precise for the WH-1000XM5. Note that the size of the speakers has decreased between the two models, going from 40 to 30 mm1.
We never got around to setting Alexa as the default voice assistant. The application displays a permanent “connection in progress”.
The feature that pauses the music when your voice is picked up sounds like a good idea, but it’s irritating. All it takes is a hiccup, a loud voice or a hum to activate it. We unchecked it in the settings.
One buys ?
The fifth version of the WH-1000XM poses a real dilemma. The intractable music lover will be disappointed that we opted for a slightly lower sound quality, which is still exceptional for ordinary mortals who may not see any difference.
No need for lab tests, however, to appreciate the superior Bluetooth connectivity and improved ability to handle phone calls. As far as we are concerned, on a daily basis, we preferred to use the WH-1000XM5, even if it means adding a little bass to it in the application settings, which some will consider heresy.
The WH-1000XM5 headphones
Maker : sony
Price : $499.99
Note : 8.5 out of 10
Tested with loaner unit from BestBuy