Sony has built a name for itself as a premium audiophile brand with its WH-1000XM series and established itself as a worthy rival to the likes of the Bose Quiet Comfort series or the Sennheiser Momentum series. Sony WH-1000XM5, the Japanese company’s latest premium over-the-ear headphones, offers to level up beyond the laurels of its predecessors.

Experience

The XM5 felt quite familiar with its carbon fibre finish with soft-fit leather earmuffs padded with foam. With slight design tweaks from previous versions like the shape of the ear cups and non-foldable design, the XM5 doesn’t fold up compactly like the earlier generations. It has to be carried around in a hardshell carry case that might not fit compactly into a backpack filled with gadgets.

Other than that, the XM5’s build feels premium and is a pleasure to put over the ears. The earmuffs, when worn, do not cause any irritation or discomfort even after wearing them for over 2-4 hours. Sony’s Headphones Connect app is the one-stop place for controlling the XM5’s functions - from ambient sound control, switching on speak-to-chat, adding a new multipoint device, changing the audio codec, and even setting up Spotify tap.

Sound Quality 

The XM5 stands a class apart when it comes to audio quality. The feel of putting on the XM5’s gives one the anticipation of what a premium audio experience is awaiting them.

Out of the box, the XM5 sounds flat, but with some tweaks through the app, I was able to modify the sound signature to my liking with eight presets, one manual and one custom equaliser on offer along with a clear bass mode for those looking for a bass-rich music signature.

The headphones offer a fulfilling audiophile experience with a balanced bass and treble sound stage distinct from one another. The deep beats or haunting vocals in Kordhell-Killers from the NorthSide or even the autotune vocals and the beats in Daft Punk’s One More Time stand distinct when heard through the earphones.

The noise cancellation is excellent and works better than its previous versions. A better pressure differential system while the ANC is on makes it quite wearable for long air or train journeys. One thing to be commended on is the audio quality of the XM5 while taking calls. The XM5 features 2 x 2 beamforming microphones and AI noise reduction system while taking calls. My voice was clear to the person on the other end and vice versa making this an ideal multi-point, multi-device to take calls on or attend virtual meetings on a regular basis.

The XM-5 auto-off feature kicks in once I take off the headphones based on proximity to the ear and it works well and can also be customised in app. Even the speak-to-chat feature quite effectively pauses the music when I am talking with my colleagues and switches back to playing music once the conversation is over or after 5-to-30 seconds that can be set in-app.

Sony WH1000-XM5
Price: ₹34,990
Pros: Excellent ANC, build, battery life, call quality and feature rich app.
Cons: Price, choice between multipoint and high fidelity audio.
Battery life

The XM5’s battery is rated at 30 hours with ANC and 40 hours with ANC off, and in my experience - the battery lasted me for a whole week with audio/video edits, listening to music at home, and using the ANC in a packed office room on a mixed-use basis. The headphones feature a USB Type-C port to charge the headphones and a quick charge of 3 minutes can give the XM5 three hours of charge, while the headphones take on average over 2 hours to be fully charged. Even when the XM5 battery is fully drained, I could use the headphones wired along with the provided 3.5 mm aux cable minus the ANC features.

Conclusion 

With the XM5, having to make a choice between multi-point or high fidelity audio would be difficult for those who are multi-taskers and audiophiles at the same time. Having been an XM3 user for close to 3 years, the XM5 is surely an impressive upgrade with better user experience and audio and call quality. With excellent sound, premium build and battery life with great call quality, the XM5 is worthy of the premium price tag it commands.

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