The first tests of the Sony WH-1000XM5 have fallen and if Sony’s new noise reduction headphones are attractive in several aspects, they fail to convince completely.
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 United States or France. The opportunity to take stock of the first feedback before our own test and the release of the WH-1000XM5, expected by the end of May.
If the Sony WH-1000XM5 was long awaited, it is mainly because Sony has built an excellent reputation around its high-end Bluetooth headsets with active noise reduction. The Sony WH-10000XM3 was already considered one of the best headsets in its category and the 1000XM4 was able to perfect this image. However, with the 1000XM5, the Japanese manufacturer has changed its formula with an all-new design, new narrower transducers and the promise of better noise reduction and better voice pickup for calls.
The new design isn’t to everyone’s taste, however. Several tests point to the lack of portability of the Sony WH-1000XM5. It must be said that, unlike its predecessor, the helmet cannot be folded up. “There is no water resistance offered here. As the helmet can no longer fold on itself, it is not as portable as before », regrets TechRadar. Same story at Les Numériques: “The earcups still pivot generously on two axes, but are now mechanically unable to fold back towards the headband. Too bad… In addition, we would have liked the manufacturer to take advantage of this revival to finally make its ear cushions easily detachable, because this is still not the case ».
Fortunately, the comfort once the helmet is on the head seems to be in order, even if the finesse of the headband “in effect creates a point of support a bit more localized, and therefore slightly more noticeable at the top of the head”report Les Numériques.
A sound “less fit”
Regarding the sound quality of the Sony WH-1000XM5, opinions are rather divided. It must be said that the manufacturer has integrated new transducers, going from a diameter of 40 mm to a diameter of 30 mm. To compensate, these new transducers are however more rigid and lighter.
For the WhatHifi site, the Sony WH-1000XM5 is a slight leap forward from Sony in terms of sound quality: “This new generation manages to offer even more clarity and a more open reproduction […]. In the low frequencies, the WH-1000XM5 displays even more precision ». Overall, all our colleagues agree that the sound signature remains similar to that of the WH-1000XM4, even if the sharpness may vary. Thus, according to The Verge, the new helmet offers a rendering “more natural”but with less bass highlighted: “it is less tight and less powerful out of the box”.
Nevertheless, Les Numériques prove to be critical in terms of the sound reproduction of the headphones: “While remaining a very good reference in terms of the market, the WH-1000XM5 does not reach the excellence of its predecessor”. In question according to the French site, a sound “infinitely more slamming” in the mediums which will highlight a lack of precision.
Very convincing active noise reduction
Historically, Sony’s wireless headphones have been able to do 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 proposed by Sony, in particular in the filtering of medium frequencies and therefore of voices “make the ANC of the 1000XM5 a marked improvement over the M4”. For Gizmodo, the noise reduction built into Sony’s headphones even manages to surpass that of Apple’s AirPods Max: “It’s clear from my testing that the WH-1000XM5 is not only a leap forward over the WH-1000XM4, but also over the AirPods Max”. The Verge does a good job of summing up the overall sentiment: “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 fantastic noise reduction”.
Good call quality
The other point widely put forward for the presentation of its headset concerns the call quality, which has also been greatly improved according to the claims of the Japanese manufacturer. And there too, the contract seems fulfilled according to WhatHifi: “Your voice is captured clearly by the WH-1000XM5, without distortion. Sony’s headphones do a superb job of suppressing the noise and gusts of wind that threaten to overwhelm you when using budget headphones.”.
However, the recording is not free from all reproaches 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 in eliminating surrounding noise from the signal, but at the cost of a voice that is sometimes distorted and a little less intelligible”.
A price increase that is difficult 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 made 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’s no reason to rush out to change. This headset already does everything the new one offers”.
The Digital ones 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 slightly on certain points”. The French site nevertheless qualifies by recalling that it is about a “great helmet”.
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