Given just how good the Sony WF-1000XM4 true wireless earbuds were, you’d expect the newer Sony WF-1000XM5 to be even better. And thankfully, that’s true. These earbuds deliver great sound quality, solid noise cancelling, and fantastic battery life. I did notice some bugs, such as random audio cutouts, but updating to the 2.0.1 firmware seems to have fixed them.
- 8.4mm drivers
- Water-resistant (IPX4)
- Bluetooth 5.3
- Max. 8 hrs (NC on), max. 12 hrs (NC off)
The WF-1000XM5 delivers amazing sound, with clear separation between the mids and highs, as well as lots of detail. The bass is impressive — powerful and controlled — but could be a little more punchy. This is apparent in Jessi’s What Type of X, a bass-heavy track that sounded a little lighter to me than usual. But even so, Jessi’s husky vocals came through clearly. On tracks such as Mamamoo’s Wind Flower, the group’s powerful vocals are highlighted, while the background instrumentals are also distinct. Voice calls sound great, too.
Honestly, I couldn’t tell the difference between the older XM4 and the newer XM5 in terms of sound even though the XM5 comes with bigger 8.4mm drivers versus the XM4's 6mm drivers. They both sound really good to my non-audiophile ears. However, there is one thing that the XM5 has improved, and that’s noise-cancelling. While the XM4 delivered great noise cancelling, the XM5 is better. It will reduce noise such as construction work as well as engine noise even more. However, I do want to point out that the Apple AirPods Pro 2’s noise cancelling is still superior, so that’s something to think about if noise cancelling is your top priority. The XM5 also handles wind like a champ, you’ll barely hear any even while facing a fan. I also like that if you start speaking, the earbuds are smart enough to pause, and turn on transparency mode.
One thing the WF-1000XM5 does better than the AirPods Pro 2 is comfort and fit. The XM5 earbuds are smaller than the XM4, similar to the LinkBuds S, and snuggle nicely in the ear. Unlike the AirPods Pro 2, they don’t gradually slip out of my ear. That’s mostly thanks to the foam eartips, which fit really nicely. I can wear them all day without feeling irritated. That said, the earbuds' control scheme feels clunky. You need to tap the earbuds to play or skip tracks, which is fine. But you also need to tap four times on either side to adjust the volume. If you miss a tap, it rewinds the current track instead. You can change this using Sony's Headphones Connect app. The earbuds have up to eight hours of runtime with active noise cancellation on, enough for a full day. The case adds another 16 hours and supports Qi charging, but you have to place it with the Sony logo facing up for it to work.
At S$419, the Sony WF-1000XM5 is retailing for S$40 more than the WF-1000XM4's launch price in 2021. The price hike is justified by the new, lighter design and improved noise cancellation. If you’re deciding between this or the Apple AirPods Pro 2, both are pretty good, but the latter is cheaper. Get the Sony from Shopee, Lazada, or Amazon SG.
Note: Review unit provided by Sony.
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