The Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones have one of the most revered family trees in modern audio history. Following two best-in-class over ear noise cancelling predecessors, the WH-1000XM5 land with a level of anticipation that is unusual in the world of personal audio.
TechRadar deservedly awarded the Sony WH-1000XM3 and Sony WH-1000XM4 top marks in their respective reviews, and so the expectation is that the WH-1000XM5 will follow in those perfect audio footsteps.
In terms of specs and performance, they mostly do follow in their predecessors’ footsteps (a little too closely) but in terms of design, the Sony WH-1000XM5 cans represent the biggest departure that the line has seen since its conception. But are the differences in design enough to raise the already-high bar Sony has set for itself?
Sony WH-1000XM5: Price and release date
- Price: $399 in the US
- Price: £380 in the UK
- Price: AU$649 in Australia
- Released in May 2022
On sale now, the Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones will begin to ship from May 20, 2022, priced at £380 / $399 / AU$649 – a significant step up above the £350 / $349 / AU$549 asking price of the previous-generation Sony WH-1000XM4.
At launch, you’re looking at around a £30 / $50 savings by choosing the older – and still very good – Sony WH-1000XM4. It’s a sizable chunk of change and, more importantly, it’s a gap that could widen as the year goes on and we drift towards the big shopping holidays like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. At some point in the future, we’re likely to see the Sony WH-1000XM4 dip below the $300 mark before plummeting to half-price – and, at that price, the Sony WH-1000XM4 is a no-brainer, although we could also see some Sony WH-1000XM5 deals as well.
They’re still a fair sight cheaper than Apple’s alternative though, with the AirPods Max still commanding a $549 / £549 / AU$899 price tag when bought direct from Apple.
Sony WH-1000XM5: Design
- All-new design
- Comfortable for long listening sessions
- Design prevents wind distortion – but no longer folds into a compact shape
- Still no water resistance
After two generations of largely-identical over-ear headphone designs, the WH-1000XM5 headphones are a significant departure from their predecessors.
The best way to quickly describe the WH-1000XM5 headphones is that they’re a bit curvier than their predecessors. It’s all a bit tidier, a bit sleeker – there are fewer visible points of articulation, more discreet noise-cancelling mic ports, and a slimmer headband with additional leather-look covering to hide away its joins and extension points. The cavity for your ears to sit in is a slightly different shape too – a more squat ovoid than the oval of the WH-1000XM3 and WH-1000XM4. Though we’ve not stress tested them to their absolute limits, the slide-out extension points feel sturdier than earlier designs too, with fewer pressure points that could snap away – a complaint of well-used previous models.