Review: Sony WF-1000XM5

Best at noise cancellation

The Sony WF-1000XM5 continues the legacy of the popular M4 model, delivering even better noise reduction and sound quality.

Published 2023-07-24 - 6:00 pm
Sony WF-1000XM5
Geir Nordby

With the WF-1000XM5, Sony has taken noise reduction to a new level. More specifically, 20 per cent better than its predecessor, if Sony’s engineers are to be believed. With two chips and three microphones per earbud, the successor delivers an impressive experience of silence and tranquillity.

In terms of design, the WF-1000XM5 has become even more compact and lightweight. The earbuds are 25 per cent smaller and 20 per cent lighter than the M4, providing a comfortable fit and long-term comfort. With a standard IPX4 certification, they are fairly resistant to water splashes and sweat and should stand up to an active lifestyle.

When it comes to sound quality, Sony has introduced a new driver called Dynamic Driver X. The diaphragm is stiff in the centre for better bright frequencies, but is soft along the edge for better bass. This is to expand slightly at both ends of the frequency range.

Call quality is also improved thanks to AI (Artificial Intelligence) noise cancellation.

As before, Sony has included a 5-band graphic EQ plus a general bass adjustment (Clear Bass). In addition, ambient sound has been improved so users can be aware of their surroundings without removing their earbuds.

Battery life is the same as before, rated at 12 hours of playtime in the earbuds alone, with noise cancellation turned off. 8 hours with it switched on.

Sony WF-1000XM5 black & grey
(Photo: Geir Gråbein Nordby)

The sound of the Sony WF-1000XM5

Down in the Willow Garden is a 19th century murder ballad that Rufus Wainwright recently recorded with Brandi Carlile on guest vocals. A song that is as beautiful as it is sombre. And Sony emphasises the qualities. The voices sound great, despite a slightly restrained midrange. Sony is a little overzealous in the upper bass, which steals attention from the all-important midrange.

I recommend lowering slightly at 400 Hz to remove the colouration in the bass, and to compensate, Clear Bass can be increased to improve the overall bass register. A slight increase at 1 kHz will help emphasise voices even more, while minor adjustments up at 2.5 kHz and 6.3 kHz will give a more balanced sound.

Photo: Sony

It doesn’t take much, and now it sounds great on Jess Williamson’s country song Hunter. She has a slightly sharp voice that can be a little too much. But it’s all well balanced and the bass falls naturally into the soundscape.

Jan Gunnar Hoff’s piano on the instrumental Beach Boys cover God Only Knows has a great sound with rich tones and a clearly defined midrange.

Rap also works really well. Doja Cat’s voice is at the centre of the soundscape of Asian string instruments and an intense rhythm. It’s clear and airy, while the festive, pumping music sets the mood on Attention. With the WF-1000XM5, you can enjoy the details of the music, including the bass guitarist’s playful twists and turns that may not have been so prominent in the past.

Photo: Sony


The WF-1000XM5 is more than just an upgrade. Sony has improved every aspect of the earbuds, from noise cancellation and sound quality to usability and design. With the WF-1000XM5, you get an excellent overall package.

Sony WF-1000XM5

We think

Long battery life, good voice quality and excellent noise cancellation. The sound quality with music has also been significantly upgraded. The reviewer still feels the need to make some EQ adjustments.

Buy the previous version instead

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