Build And Design
The build and design of the Sony WF-1000XM5 is the first area where you see massive improvements come in with these earbuds. The size of the earbuds, their fit, and the size of the case have decreased significantly. Now, I’m not worried about the earbuds falling out of my ears because they’re smaller and come with better-fitting foam ear tips in the box.
The same is true for the earbud case. It is significantly smaller than its predecessor and fits perfectly in the little pocket of my pants. Available in black or silver, the XM5s are 25% smaller and 20% lighter than the XM4s, according to Sony, with each bud weighing 6 grams (the XM4s weigh 7.3 grams each).
I enjoy the matte finish on the XM4s. These, on the other hand, have a glossy surface that I was first concerned about, but the outside area of the buds where the touch controls are located has a matte texture, so it doesn’t pick up fingerprints, and even the glossy part on the black version of the buds avoids smudging very well. I also appreciate that the buds don’t stick out of your ears as much as their predecessors did and the magnets holding the earbuds in are strong. They prevent the earbuds from dropping off in cases where I accidentally opened the case upside down.
Sony’s flagship headphones and earbuds have always been loaded with features. These XM5 buds add some new upgrades to go along with existing favorites like Speak-to-Chat, a mode you can enable that automatically pauses your music and activates the headphone’s ambient mode when you start talking to someone. Ambient mode is similar to Apple’s transparency mode but with the Sonys you can adjust the level of ambient sound you want to let in.
I’m not going to go through all the earbuds’ features here, but I’ll highlight the ones that stand out for me. First, you get multipoint Bluetooth pairing so you can pair the buds with two devices simultaneously.
There are also plenty of EQ settings to help tweak the sound and some adaptive sound modes, plus support for hands-free Alexa and Google Assistant (with my early review sample I could only get Alexa working, but Sony says hands-free Google Assistant is supported). That feature allows you to tap into Amazon’s voice assistant without pressing anything on the buds. The on-ear detection and multipoint connectivity worked like a charm on my all-Apple setup at home, which I think is a testament to the fact that Sony has all its bases covered well when it comes to quality-of-life features on these earbuds. With that said, I do not have anything to complain about with the features part of these earbuds. They are jam-packed with features that have been well-implemented. I wouldn’t expect anything less from a pair of Sony’s premier TWS earbuds. And they keep all of their commitments.
In terms of performance, there was nothing that came close to the Sony WF-1000XM5 this year. The earbuds sport a slightly bass-heavy sound signature. As you can see, there is a subtle boost in the lows, which is fairly apparent when you are listening to the earbuds. The mids come pretty close to our reference flat response of Pink Noise. In the highs, there is a boost as well, which rounds up the sound signature fairly well.
Coming to the ANC, Sony has outclassed itself with these earbuds. The only other pair of TWS earbuds that I can think of, which blocks off sound, as well as the Sony WF-1000XM5, are the Bose QC Earbuds II, which are widely regarded as the industry leaders in this performance metric. The ANC on the 1000XM5, coupled with the improved fit, thanks to the smaller size of the buds and the foam ear tips, definitely improves the overall user experience. Now, given that both ANC and the sound signature depend heavily on the fit of the buds, their reduced size is something that a lot of people would appreciate.
Battery life on the WF-1000XM5 is the same as what you get with the XM4s: Around 8 hours on a single charge with noise canceling on at moderate volume levels, and up to 12 hours with it off. The case holds two extra charges. That’s a couple of hours better than what you get with the AirPods Pro 2, so very good battery life overall.
Conclusion – FINAL THOUGHTS
The Sony WF-1000XM5 is one of the best pairs of TWS earbuds available in the market today. They build up on the legacy of their predecessors, the WF-1000XM4, and make sure that you get the worth of the money you are spending on them. As a result, they won the Digit Zero1 Award and the Best Buy Award 2023 in the Best Performing Premium TWS Earbuds category. The only option to these earphones that I can offer is the Bose QC earphones II. They are also well-rounded in terms of sound character and ANC performance; however one area where they fall short is in terms of features. So, the Sony provides a more comprehensive user experience, whilst the QC Earbuds II are what I would suggest to the more dedicated performance fan.
The Sony WF-1000XM5 is currently on sale at Amazon.
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