Out of its sleek new case design (that some have pointed out is reminiscent of the Bose 700’s case), the Sony WH-1000XM5 looks cushy and premium, and weighs 250g.
Soft, vegan leather coats the cups—which feel more airy than spongy—and headband, making for a very comfortable fit. This is a win for those who plan to use the headphones for long virtual meetings/calls or for travel.
To get a feel for the headphones for this first impressions piece, I used the WH-1000XM5 for three hours straight. Despite being stuck to my head throughout, not once did I feel they built up or trapped heat around my ears, so I didn’t experience any sweating.
Note that they have no official IP rating, so it’s recommended you don’t get too sweaty in these, or use them in wet weather.
Instead of a notched track, there’s a smooth friction rod design to adjust the band sizing for your ideal fit.
I suspect my head runs a bit on the smaller side, because even with the band at its smallest, I didn’t feel like I had a good “seal”, and the WH-1000XM5 were prone to shifting around whenever I moved my head too much.
On the flip side, the cups have padding that’s wide and deep enough to accommodate those with larger ears.
Sony have proven themselves time and time again to be experts at audio, albeit some might argue favouring bass a little too much.
I’m all about that bass, so I actually used the Sony Headphones app to set the equaliser to Bass Boost, then sat back and enjoyed my music.
The audio is crisp and carries depth, and the amazing listening experience was honestly why I kept it on for three hours straight in the first place. I just couldn’t get enough.
What would’ve made it even better was if I could actually utilise Sony’s 360 Reality Audio, which claims to enable an audio immersion experience that’s as real as a live performance.
Unfortunately, this feature is only supported by rather niche music streaming apps (in this region) like 360 by Deezer, TIDAL, Artist, and nugs.net.
Spotify isn’t on the list, but I’m hoping someday it could be. The lack of Apple Music support is understandable since the WH-1000XM5 is a competitor to the AirPods Max.
Audio aside, the ambient noise cancellation (ANC) on the WH-1000XM5 was nice and balanced to me (I’ve tried others that made it feel like my brain was leaking out my ears), but might take a bit of getting used to for those new to the feature.
With ANC activated and your music playing or call going on, the majority of outside noise is drowned out, save for really loud or sharp ones.
I’d recommend downloading the Sony Headphones app for maximum functionality too, as it’s where you can toggle between noise-cancelling, 20 adjustable levels of ambient sound, and a neutral setting.
The convenient Speak-to-Chat feature can also be toggled and refined in the app. Though, if you’re someone who enjoys humming along to your music, maybe you’d prefer to leave it off and utilise the WH-1000XM5’s ambient sound passthrough by cupping your hand over the right cup instead.
Other controls such as pause/play, skip forward/backward, voice assistant (requires setting up), and volume up/down are done with the capacitive touch panel on the right ear cup too. One of my favourite features though has to be the auto-pause/play when you take off/put on the headphones.
With four beamforming microphones, I actually expected the WH-1000XM5 to have great call quality, but they fell short.
I got my colleague to try using the headphones in a call with me so I could hear for myself what the mic pickup was like. The noise suppression worked great, even with him purposely clapping his hands and knocking on his table loudly.
But the clarity of his own voice felt lacking, as if slightly distant from the mic. It’s enough to get you heard and understood through most calls, but personally, I’d pick the Jabra Evolve2 75 if call clarity is your priority, since it has a microphone boom arm that can be lowered.
The battery life on these Sony headphones is said to be amazing, able to offer up to 30 hours of battery life on a single full charge, while a quick three-minute charge is enough to give you three hours of use.
Over the three hours of my non-stop usage, its battery only dropped by about 20% with ANC activated throughout.
One thing that frequent travellers might find issue with regarding this RM1,799 unit though, is that unlike its predecessor, the WH-1000XM4, the WH-1000XM5 cannot be folded into itself, leading to a slightly larger and bulkier casing.
Whether or not that’s a worthy trade-off for a great pair of headphones is up to individual preferences. It would be worth it for me, as my short time with the WH-1000XM5 has proven them to be solid, premium headphones, excelling in comfort and audio, with my only gripe being the call mic quality.
This is just a first impressions though, so between this and my full review of the headphones soon, there’s room for my mind to change.