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Sony WH-1000XM6: What to expect from Sony’s next flagship over-ear headphones

The five-star Sony WH-1000XM5 ANC headphones first went on sale in 2022, and Sony tends to refresh its premium over-ear headphones every two years. The assumption is that 2024 will see the launch of the WH-1000XM6.

Howeber, we’re now not too sure we will see the Mk 6 headphone in the flesh in 2024. It’s all gone very quiet.

Normally we’d have heard a few rumours and seen some leaks from the usual places but that hasn’t been the case and we’ve reached the point where Sony would have usually announced the WH-1000XM6. It does appear as if the headphones won’t launch in 2024.

So rather than mucking about with rumours and speculation, here are a few things that we’re expecting, hopeful for, and aren’t likely to see in Sony’s upcoming WH-1000XM6.

The Mk VI over-ears will launch in 2025

Sony WH-1000XM5 Midnight Blue
credit: Sony

The most recent leak has come from Zackbucks on Chinese social media site Weibo. As always, we’ll take it with a pinch of salt, but this leak does seem to make a degree of sense.

As picked up on by GSMArena, Sony is apparently looking at launching both its flagship true wireless and over-ears at the same time. That means the WH-1000XM6 is being pushed back to 2025 alongside the WF-1000XM6.

Given the last few generations of the true wireless and over-ears have shared technology (such as the V1 Integrated chip), it makes sense to launch them together. As well as that, Sony’s recent focus has been on its new ULT line-up of headphones and speakers, while the leaks have concerned the second generation of its LinkBuds models.

The leak mentions that Sony is looking to launch both headphones in the first six months of 2025, and given how quiet the rumour mill has been about both headphones, we think there is a degree of truth about it.

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Snapdragon Sound support is unlikely

Unless Sony do a huge pivot, we’re thinking it’s unlikely there’ll be support for Snapdragon Sound.

The WH-1000XM3 headphones were the last to support Qualcomm’s chipsets, and since then Sony has further focused on developing its own technology to squeeze out as much bandwidth from Bluetooth streaming as it can.

So even though Sony’s Xperia 1 IV smartphone feature Snapdragon Sound support, we’re not expecting that for the XM6. We don’t feel Sony would want to push a Bluetooth codec from a rival competitor over its LDAC solution, and Sony has put a lot of resources into its V1 integrated processor. We simply can’t see Sony performing a u-turn on this.

Battery life could go up…

Sony’s stuck to 30 hours battery life since the WH-1000XM2, its feeling that 30 hours is more than enough. That could change.

Heavy emphasis on could. As we said, Sony is content with how much battery life its headphones offer. However, the Technics EAH-A800, Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless and even Sony’s own WH-CH720N headphones offer 50, 60, and 35 hours respectively.

We’re not expecting massive changes, so a little battery boost could be one of the headline upgrades for the new model. If there isn’t a boost to the battery, an alternative would be a boost to fast-charging.

A lighter slimmer design

Sony WH-1000XM5 on side
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Sony’s true wireless models have been getting smaller with each iteration. The over-ears have been getting lighter and less cumbersome. Our prediction is for that to continue, although it may just amount to shaving off a few grams.

Sony has used recycled plastic for the frame of its most recent over-ears, and that’s kept the weight down for the CH720N (which are 192g).

It’s unlikely to be smaller. Sony over-ears pack a lot into their earcups, but if Sony continue to make efficiencies (an area Sony is trying to exploit) with its processor, noise-cancelling, and battery life, the profile of these headphones may be slimmer than before. We can’t see Sony going back to a collapsible design though.

Expect a big focus on 360 Reality Audio

360 Reality Audio is Sony’s immersive 3D audio feature, similar to Dolby Atmos Music, and the WH-1000XM5, WF-1000XM5, and ULT Wear headphones all have this feature, so it’s a cert that the WH-1000XM6 will have it too.

As we’ve mentioned before, 3D audio is becoming the next battleground for headphone brands with Bose, Sonos, and Apple all jumping onboard the spatial audio rocket.

We do wonder what new 360 Reality Audio feature Sony will bring for the WH-1000XM6. Perhaps Sony has been looking at what Sonos did with its TV Audio Swap feature…

Even better noise-cancelling

Sony WH-1000XM5 hands free calling
credit: Sony

Of course, you’d expect Sony to give its noise-cancelling a boost given the WH-1000XM5 remain one of the most exceptional models on the market for ANC, though there is one area we’d like to see an improvement in considering that the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones are the best over-ears for noise-cancelling.

While the XM5 bettered the WH-1000XM4 is most areas for noise-cancelling, one area we felt they fell down to their sibling is in suppressing voices.

A better wireless connection

The Sony WH-1000XM5 were good in terms of offering a reliable connection in busy hotspots with the AAC codec, but less so with the LDAC codec.

The connection became choppy when LDAC was enabled. If there’s one thing we’d wish for above all else, it would be a slicker connection when streaming in LDAC. Who wants sound this good to be interrupted by stops and starts?

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