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Sony WH-1000XM5 boast new design, enhanced ANC and higher price

Sony has introduced the latest entry in its 1000X series in the WH-1000XM5, and they are looking to further advance noise cancelling headphones with its most ambitious effort yet.

To get into the meat of the new improvements straight away, noise cancelling is said to have been improved with two processors now controlling eight microphones (four in each earcup) that reduce noises with a particular focus on mid to high frequency range. The Auto NC Optimizer now runs automatically (previously you had to manually set it up), optimising the levels of the noise cancellation in real-time, depending on where you are.

The V1 processor that debuted on the WF-1000XM4 makes its way to the WH-1000XM5, partnered with Sony’s established HD Noise Cancelling Processor QN1 to help make sure sounds don’t evade its grasp, while the drive unit has been redesigned, smaller in size at 30mm than previous models, and said to feature improvements to overall sound clarity and bass reproduction.

LDAC is onboard as expected, and now that it is more widely supported in Android models, users will be able to get an even better audio performance if they are listening to High-Resolution Audio tracks. DSEE Extreme upscales digital music files in real time, reducing the compression that plagues lower quality steaming files, and there is the 360 Reality Audio feature that can play music in immersive surround on compatible music services.

Sony WH-1000XM5 product image

You’d have noticed from the pictures that the WH-1000XM5 sport a new look. Like the LinkBuds it is made from recyclable materials and automobile parts, available in black and silver finishes, with changes made to the headband, earcups and earpads.

Adjustment of the headband is through a new stepless slider, the result of which is that the WH-1000XM5 cannot be folded. The headband also uses a new synthetic soft fit leather material that Sony says fits snug on the head, taking pressure off the ears for all-day comfort. There’s a new collapsible case to place the headphones in and make them easier to store when travelling.

Call quality is another area said to have been improved, with Sony’s Voice Pickup tech using four beamforming microphones and AI-based noise reduction to isolate the user’s voice, while ‘noiseless’ design of the headphones aims to minimise the effect of wind noise during calls.

All the features from previous Sony headphones are available, from the Adaptive Sound Control that the tailors the sound and ambient sound mode to where you are, Google Assistant and Alexa integration, Speak-to-Chat that pauses music when it detects you’re talking, Google Fast Pair with Android devices and Spotify Tap functionality for quick access to that service.

Bluetooth connectivity is the latest standard in 5.2, while battery life noise cancellation remains the same with 30 hours. Use the headphones without noise cancellation and it’s had a minor uptick over the WH-1000XM4, from 38 to 40 hours. Three minutes of charging provides three hours of extra battery life.

Of course, what everyone wants to know is how much the headphones cost, and the Sony WH-1000XM5 have gone up in price to £380 / €420. They’ll be available to purchase from the end of May 2022.

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