a price increase that seems unjustified

The first tests of the Sony WH-1000XM5 have dropped, and if Sony’s new noise-canceling headphones are attractive in several respects, they are not entirely convincing.

Sony WH-1000XM5
Sony WH-1000XM5 // Source: Sony

This Thursday, Sony announced the release of one of the most anticipated wireless headphones of the year. Two years after its predecessor, the Japanese manufacturer has just unveiled its new Sony WH-1000XM5.

This helmet has already been tested by some of our colleagues in the US or France. The opportunity to take stock of the first feedback before our own test and the release of the WH-1000XM5, which is expected in late May.

If the Sony WH-1000XM5 was long awaited, it’s mainly because Sony has built up an excellent reputation around its advanced Bluetooth headphones with active noise reduction. The Sony WH-10000XM3 was already considered as one of the best headsets in its category and the 1000XM4 was able to perfect this image. But with the 1000XM5, the Japanese manufacturer has changed its formula with a completely new design, new narrower transducers and the promise of better noise reduction and voice recording for calls.

Criticized ergonomics

However, the new design does not suit everyone’s tastes. Several tests point to the lack of portability of the Sony WH-1000XM5. It must be said that the helmet, unlike its predecessor, can not be folded. “No waterproofness is offered here. As the helmet can no longer be folded, it is not as portable as before», TechRadar apologizes. Same story at Les Numériques: “The ear cups are still generously rotating about two axes, but are now mechanically unable to fold back towards the headband. Too bad … In addition, we wish the manufacturer had used this resuscitation to finally make his ear pads easily removable, for that is still not the case ».

Sony WH-1000XM5 cannot be folded
Sony WH-1000XM5 can not be folded // Source: Sony

Fortunately, once the helmet is upside down, the comfort seems to be in order, even though the headband features “actually creates a fulcrum that is a little more localized and therefore a little more noticeable at the top of the head”reports The Numerics.

A sound “less fit”

Regarding the sound quality of the Sony WH-1000XM5, opinions are quite divided. It must be said that the manufacturer has integrated new transducers ranging from a diameter of 40 mm to a diameter of 30 mm. To compensate, however, these new transducers are stiffer and lighter.

For the WhatHifi side, the Sony WH-1000XM5 is a small leap forward from Sony in terms of sound quality: “This new generation manages to offer even more clarity and a more open rendering […]. In the low frequencies, the WH-1000XM5 shows even more precision ». Overall, all of our colleagues agree that the audio signature remains similar to the WH-1000XM4, although the sharpness may vary. According to The Verge, the new helmet thus offers a rendering “more natural”but with less bass highlighted: “it’s less tight and less powerful out of the box”.

Sony WH-1000XM5
Sony WH-1000XM5 // Source: Sony

Nevertheless, Les Numériques is critical in terms of the sound reproduction of the headphones: “Although the WH-1000XM5 remains a very good reference in terms of market, it does not reach the excellence of its predecessor”. Questions according to the French side, a sound “infinitely more slaps” in the media, which will highlight a lack of precision.

Very convincing active noise reduction

Historically, Sony’s wireless headphones have been able to perform well thanks to the active noise reduction offered. The new Sony WH-1000XM5 does not seem to be an exception to the rule.

For Engadget, the improvements that Sony has proposed, especially in terms of filtering intermediate frequencies and therefore of voices “makes the ANC of 1000XM5 a significant improvement over the M4”. For Gizmodo, the noise reduction built into Sony’s headphones even manages to surpass Apple’s AirPods Max: “It is clear from my test that the WH-1000XM5 is not only a leap forward compared to the WH-1000XM4, but also over the AirPods Max”. The Verge does a great job of summarizing the overall feel: “It’s still not enough to make the world completely quiet if you’re in a noisy cafe, but it’s an improvement on what was already amazing noise reduction.”.

Good call quality

The second point that is largely put forward for the presentation of its headset relates to the call quality, which has also been significantly improved according to the claims of the Japanese manufacturer. And also there the contract seems to be fulfilled according to WhatHifi: “Your voice is clearly captured by the WH-1000XM5 without distortion. Sony’s headphones do an excellent job of suppressing noise and gusts of wind that threaten to overwhelm you when you use budget headphones. “.

Sony WH-1000XM5
Sony WH-1000XM5 // Source: Sony

However, the recording is not free from all blame, and we find the concerns inherent in this type of noise reduction during calls, as noted by Les Numériques: “When the noise is more present […]”the algorithm is very effective at eliminating ambient noise from the signal, but at the expense of a voice that is sometimes distorted and a little less intelligible”.

A price increase that is hard to justify

There is one annoying point about this new WH-1000XM5: its price. The helmet will be launched in France at a price of 420 euros, or 40 euros more than its predecessor, which is now around 300 to 330 euros.

For many of our colleagues, the proposed improvements hardly justify this price difference. For TechRadar, the changes are not worth changing the model for Sony WH-1000XM4 users. The same goes for The Verge: “If you have a 1000XM4 and are happy with it, there is no need to rush out to switch. This headset already does everything the new one offers ”.

The digital want to be even more critical: “By wanting to take risks by breaking an already almost perfect formula, Sony’s flagship loses its luster very little at certain points”. The French side still qualifies by reminding that it is about one “good helmet”.

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