Sony is one of the leading premium brands in India when it comes to personal audio. As per Sony India, it is aiming for a 40 percent expansion in the audio business in this fiscal year. Sony's 1000X series has been known for its premium sound quality thanks to impressive specifications and effective noise cancelling. Both the WF-1000XM3 and WF-1000XM4 offered good sound quality, decent battery life, and excellent noise cancellation, though the former lacked the advanced LDAC Bluetooth codec support. Sony launched its latest earbuds, the Sony WF-1000XM5 in India in September 2023 priced at Rs. 29,990.
Sony claims that the latest earbuds are better than previous models in terms of the quality of audio, calls, and noise cancelling. In terms of the design too, these are lighter and smaller than their previous counterparts. How much value does the new model offer for its price? Let's find out in this review.
Sony WF-1000XM5: Design, features and specifications
The earbuds come in two colours — Black and Platinum silver — and both have a glossy finish on the sides. They weigh 5.9g each. The WF-1000XM5 with the case weighs 39g. They are 25 percent smaller and 20 percent lighter than their predecessor, the WF-1000XM4. These are also smaller than flagship true wireless earphones in the mid-range segment like the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2.
Thanks to the ergonomic design, I found that they fit comfortably in my ear and I was able to wear them quickly without any fiddling.
They also remained stable later on. Sony has provided ear tips in four different sizes which are large, medium, small, and the new addition to them – extra small. I used the medium size ear tip and found it to be quite comfortable. The earbuds have touch sensors for controlling playback, and also feature noise cancellation.
You get ear tips of different sizes in the box
The earphones and case are designed with recycled plastic materials and 100 percent paper packaging.
Touch controls on the Sony WF-1000XM5 are customisable through the Sony Headphones Connect app. You can also enable adaptive sound control, changing music playback when the device is connected in a multipoint connection, ambient sound control, speak-to-chat, and voice assistant.
Coming to the specifications, each earbud features an 8.4mm Dynamic Driver X. The earbuds are powered by an integrated Sony Processor V2 along with Sony's QN2e Active Noise Cancellation chip. Sony claims that the WF-1000XM5 features their best-ever call quality thanks to bone conduction sensors and deep neural network programming.
The earphones support Bluetooth 5.3, Google Fast Pair, multipoint connection, and 360 Reality Audio. It has a frequency range of 20Hz to 20,000Hz (up to 40,000Hz with LDAC), and an effective operating range of 10m from the source device. It supports SBC, AAC, LDAC, and LC3 audio formats. The earbuds have an IPX4 rating for water resistance, but the case is not water resistant.
Premium earbuds like Bose QuietComfort Ultra earbuds, AirPods Pro (2nd Gen), and Google Pixel Buds Pro also come with an IPX4 rating. The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro is rated IPX7 and should therefore, be equipped to handle significant exposure to water.
Sony WF-1000XM5: Performance and battery life
I paired the Sony WF-1000XM5 with my Google Pixel 6a and found that the earbuds definitely deliver on the promise of impressive sound quality and spatial audio. I played songs of different genres and could hear the songs and instruments being played with excellent clarity and detail. The bass is rich without being overwhelming. I listened to “Calm Down” by Rema and was impressed with the audio quality. The Afrobeats were clear and the various instruments like guitar, bass guitar, and drums, could be heard with good clarity. The earphones delivered the collective energy of the song pretty well and made it an enjoyable experience.
The Sony WF-1000XM5 is smaller and more comfortable than its predecessor
To test the bass and treble, I played the classic “Boom Boom Pow” by Black Eyed Peas. Every element could be heard clearly. While the beats sounded good in both low and mid-volume, the best part was that the sound quality did not suffer and was equally good when the volume was high.
The earbuds come with very effective noise cancellation that removes all the exterior noises both indoors and outdoors. Most of the time, I used the noise cancellation feature while sitting inside the metro and found that it was effective in cancelling the conversation noise of other commuters sitting next to me. Other noises like that of the wind, air-conditioner, and the commotion while taking a walk on the street were effectively cut out too. Call quality was good and transparency mode also worked decently well with these earbuds.
Coming to the battery, the Sony WF-1000XM5 has a pretty long battery life. Sony claims a music playback time of up to eight hours with ANC and Bluetooth activated. With the noise cancellation feature turned off, you should get a music playback time of up to 12 hours. In my case, the battery lasted for around 7.5-8 hours, which mostly involved listening to music or taking one or two calls in between, and the ANC feature was always turned on. It took approximately 1.5 hours for the earbuds to charge fully with wired charging, which is pretty decent.
The Sony WF-1000XM5 offers excellent audio and noise cancelling performance
The battery life is better than that of the Sony WF-1000XM4 which lasted around 6 hours with similar usage, and even compared to the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro which lasted 5 hours. The WF-1000XM5 is similar to the comparatively less expensive Sony WF-C700N where the battery lasted for around 7 hours.
A comfortable fit, top-notch sound quality, and brilliant noise cancellation are definitely the strong points of the Sony WF-1000XM5. Though some might argue that the price of the earbuds is on the higher side, if you are someone who is ready to spend a bit more for a complete package that offers an enriching audio experience, then this is made for you. However, if you are an iPhone user, the AirPods Pro (2nd Gen) will be a better option.