Sony makes its flagship over-ear headphones even better | Cult of Mac

Sony makes its flagship over-ear headphones even better

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The new Sony flagship cans improve on their predecessors and cost about $50 more.
The new Sony flagship cans improve on their predecessors and cost about $50 more.
Photo: Sony

Few would dispute that Sony’s flagship wireless WH-1000XM4 active noise-canceling (ANC) headphones have been among the best on the market since they came out in August 2020. But Sony has improved upon them, offering its fifth-generation WH-1000XM5 headphones on Thursday.

The redesigned cans flaunt several impressive improvements over the previous model, making the XM5s an even worthier competitor to AirPods Max and other premium headphones.

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Sony released redesigned WH-1000XM5 over-ear headphones with several improvements

The much-anticipated launch of the Sony WH-1000 XM5 headphones shows that many of the ideas recently leaked ahead of their release proved to be correct, including even stronger noise cancellation and a new design.

The new headphones replace the enclosed arms that swivel on the XM4 model with an exposed arm that has a single contact point at the ear cups. And the new cans’ ear cups are slightly bigger, which Sony said should lower wind noise when out and about.

Despite the size increase, the XM5 headphones weigh 250g, a touch lighter than the XM4s. A click-less slider in the synthetic leather headband should help wearers get the right fit.

New driver, audio codecs

A new 30mm driver powers the sound. It’s smaller than the XM4’s 40mm driver, which may be Sony’s way of refining the muddy bass response some people criticized in the XM4 model. The new driver’s light and rigid dome uses carbon fiber composite material that improves high-frequency sensitivity, Sony said.

The headphones use the LDAC codec to deliver high-resolution audio — given the correct source device that also supports it — and also work with SBC and AAC codecs and DSEE Extreme upscaling for compressed audio. Sony’s 360 Reality Audio spatial sound effect is also in the mix.

Double the number of microphones

The new headphones include eight microphones — four more than the previous model. Sony said it moved the mics into a more optimal position for noise canceling, especially regarding high-frequency noise.

In addition, four beam-forming mics are built in for better voice call quality, and an NC/Ambient button replaces the “Custom” button found on the XM4. And the button remains reprogrammable to activate voice assistants, including Siri.

The new headphones have a new design, a new driver, better noise reduction and longer battery life than the previous model, Sony said.
The new headphones have a new design, a new driver, better noise reduction and longer battery life than the previous model, Sony said.
Photo: Sony

Improved battery life

In terms of battery life, the XM5s improve upon the XM4s a bit. Both provide up to 30 hours of battery life on a single charge with active noise cancelation on, but the new ones get 10 more hours with it off, at 40 hours.

The headphones reach a full charge in 3 hours, Sony said. And the XM5s also support Power Delivery, and will give users three hours of playback from just three minutes on a charger.

Bigger case

Sony got ride of the XM4’s collapsible foldaway mechanism that let one cup tuck up inside the other. That means the rigid XM5 carry case will be bigger.

The XM5 cans come with a 3.5mm heaphone jack cable.

Sony’s WH-1000XM5 headphones will cost about $399, or roughly $50 more than the XM4s. They come in silver and black colors. They will be available to buy at Sony.com, Best Buy, Amazon and possibly other electronics retailers from from May 20.

Where to preorder: Amazon