As Phil mentioned recently, Sony’s new WH-1000XM5 headphones are a big upgrade on previous generations with lots of externally visible, hardware and software customisation courtesy of the Sony Headphones app.

Sony | Headphones Connect
Sony | Headphones Connect

After attending the launch event I have some first look insights to help you decide whether to buy the XM5 or the previous generation XM4’s.

Some of the interesting things I noticed about the new XM5 model were:

  • Wearing sensor – Smarter and now capacitive so the headphones should perfectly stop/start when you take them off/put them on.
  • Auto noise cancelling optimiser – the pressure sensor and other clever AI kick in automatically eg: they can tell when you’re in an aircraft automatically, not requiring manual action.
  • Noiseless Design – sliders, hinges and joints now all move smoothly so the parts don’t make lots of noise when you adjust them.
  • There’s a warning card in the packaging noting that there is no IP water resistance so you shouldn’t wear these in rain or during sweaty exercise. This is the same as previous models but Sony wants people to know about it more obviously.
  • Connectivity – NFC is not a pairing option anymore and the USB-C port is still only for charging, it can’t be used as a wired output.
  • The case is bigger (the reason why is below) and no longer includes an airline adaptor but does include a short headphone and USB-C cable. On the plus side, the XM5 still has a headphone jack so you can connect them to a wired device and use no battery.
  • Bending and Folding – Previous generations of the Sony WH-1000XM headphones (see below) could bend in on themselves and fold into a small space for packing in the official case or just throwing into a backpack. That’s not possible anymore as the new slider and joint design only allow a flat-pack into the case.

Pricing will be important to some buyers. The XM5 are currently on pre-sale for $548, which is a hundred dollars off the RRP once they hit retailers which will be $649.95.

The 1000XM4’s are RRP $395 but you can sometimes get them for a bit less like Amazon is $364.50 at the moment.