It doesn’t come as a surprise after recent leaks, but today, Sony announced its latest flagship noise-canceling headphones, the WH-1000XM5. They cost $399.99, an increase from the prior 1000XM4s, and will go on sale May 20th.
Sony says it has cranked up its already-fantastic noise cancellation to new highs by adding a second processor to the new headphones. The improvements are most noticeable in “mid- to high-frequency noise,” according to the company’s press release. That includes things like everyday city street noise and human voices.
The 1000XM5s have a design that’s quite different from their recent predecessors. Sony has gone for a sleeker look, switching to a stem-style slider and moving the microphones (there are now eight of them) around the perimeter of the ear cups. The 1000XM5s also use a new type of synthetic leather on the headband, which is a bit thinner than on prior models. Controls haven’t changed: you still control audio with tap and swipe gestures, and there’s a physical button for switching between ANC and ambient modes.
The internal components have also changed. Sony has ditched the 40-millimeter drivers of the 1000XM4s in favor of new 30-millimeter drivers that supposedly sound more natural and “improve sound clarity and bass reproduction.” One of the criticisms of the 1000XM4s was their at-times muddy bass, so it seems Sony has worked to address that with the new model.
Sony is also highlighting improved voice call quality made possible by four beamforming mics and AI noise reduction algorithms. All the signature Sony features — LDAC, DSEE Extreme upscaling, 360 Reality Audio, Speak to Chat, and so on — have made their way to the 1000XM5s.
These headphones don’t really do anything new compared to the WH-1000XM4s, which Sony plans to continue selling. But the company seems confident that they surpass past 1000X-series headphones at the most important things like sound quality, noise cancellation, and voice calls.
Is that true? Well, I’ve been testing the 1000XM5s for the last couple weeks, and you can read the full review right now before deciding if it’s time to upgrade.