Following the now-common pre-release leaks online, Sony has officially announced the 2021 successor to its WF-1000XM4 noise-canceling true wireless earbuds. The flagship formula has been improved, with everything compressed into a smaller, lighter pair of buds.
The most obvious change to the new WF-1000XM5 headphones is the size – Sony has reduced the size of the housing and relocated components to create a more comfortable headset that is about 25% smaller and 20% lighter than the WF-1000XM4.
Noise cancellation has also been upgraded and now features a pair of proprietary processors, a total of six microphones (including dual feedback mics), a new Dynamic Driver X design and passive isolation foam tips to help listeners focus on the music. ANC settings can also be adjusted for specific situations, such as reducing the rumble of an engine on an airplane, or blocking out everyday street noise.
The headphones boast 24-bit audio processing, support for voice assistants, and a new AutoPlay app (currently in beta) that starts playing music as soon as you put it on, while also sounding a notification alert from a paired smartphone at the right time.
Despite the more compact enclosure, Sony has included a larger (8.4mm) high-performance driver with a different material for the dome and edges, which are said to deliver clear, low-distortion audio output at Sony’s usual high quality.
Listeners connect to music sources via Bluetooth 5.3, and Sony has opted for its proprietary high-resolution LDAC decoding over third-party codecs. AI-assisted upscaling improves the playback quality of compressed music files in real time. Head-tracking technology can automatically compensate for head movement during audio playback so the on-screen stage stays in front even if you turn your head to one side, or use spatial sound clips to help mobile players immerse themselves in the game.
The headset uses a noise reduction algorithm (trained on more than 500 million speech samples) and a bone conduction sensor to isolate speech from ambient noise during a call, while the mesh wrap in the microphone combined with a structure designed for noise reduction allows users to “hear clearly even in windy conditions.”
Calls can be answered or rejected using head gestures, and the voice chat feature can pause playback when you start a conversation. The earphones are also IPX4 rated for safe sprints in the rain or sweaty workouts at the gym.
Battery life per charge is the same as before, with 8 hours of playback per earbud with ANC enabled and an additional 16 hours via the charging case. And if you do let the earphones drain completely, it only takes 3 minutes to charge for an hour of playback. The case’s battery can be charged wirelessly using an optional Qi charging pad, or even from a compatible PowerShare smartphone.
Available in black or silver, the WF-1000XM5 headphones are available for pre-order now for $299.99. Shipments are expected to begin later this week.
Product page: Sony WF-1000XM5