I still think about my AirPods Pro 2. A lot. I know that, as I type, they’re lying in someone else’s apartment, house, or car boot, wondering why they were left unattended at my gym.

The disappearance of my AirPods Pro 2 has resulted in a heavier reliance on competing earbuds. I’ve enjoyed it, too; Beats, Shokz, and several more have continued to broaden my horizon in this fascinating part of the home audio market.

Sony is, hopefully, about to do the same. Next month, we’ll be treated to their latest noise-cancelling earbuds, the WF-1000XM5. Promising the “best noise cancelling”, significant updates to sound quality over their predecessor, and Sony’s “best ever” call quality, the WF-1000XM5 look like a mighty tempting alternative to Apple’s in-ears.

This is everything I learned during a press briefing call for the WF-1000XM5 last week.

The WF-1000XM5 “best noise cancelling”

Sony’s claim about the WF-1000XM5 having the “best noise cancelling” is based on research carried out by the Japanese tech giant earlier this year and was “measured using JEITA-complaint guidelines”.

Sony WF-1000XM5

What that means, in reality, is anyone’s guess, but it needs to be good. I’m yet to experience noise cancelling on a pair of earbuds that is anything close to what the AirPods Pro 2 are capable of. Despite this, The Sony WH-1000XM5 remain the best noise-cancelling over-ear headphones out there, so my hopes for the WF-1000XM5 are high.

Sony is promising around 20% more reduced noise than the WF-1000XM4, with the WF-1000XM5 suppressing frequencies comprehensively across the spectrum. This is achieved with six microphones and two brand-new chips – the Integrated Processor V2 and the QN2e.

The WF-1000XM5 also come with redesigned noise isolation earbud tips (including a new extra-small size) which, we’re told, adds even more wholesomely to the passive noise cancellation on offer.

If that wasn’t enough, the new Dynamic Driver X which delivers the WF-1000XM5 sound is also capable of assisting with the cancellation of lower frequencies thanks to its ability to “generate accurate cancellation waves”.

Colour me intrigued.

WF-1000XM5 sound specs

The WF-1000XM5 have received a significant boost in their audio capabilities, too.

The aforementioned Dynamic Drive X driver has been redesigned from the ground up. At 8.4mm, it’s 2.4mm bigger than the driver found in the WF-1000XM4 and promises a wider range of sound reproduction with lower distortion.

Sony WF-1000XM5

Those two new chips (the Integrated Processor V2 and the QN2e) are also in charge of sound reproduction. Just like the WF-1000XM4, the WF-1000XM5 are capable of hi-res wireless audio and 360-degree Reality Audio, but head tracking is now thrown into the mix, too.

Having never tested the WF-1000XM4, I’m very much looking forward to hearing the WF-1000XM5. Once again, in order to impress me, they’ll need to at least match the sonic feats of the AirPods Pro 2, which is a tall order, but one which Sony seems rather confident about.

Using the WF-1000XM5 for calls

Now we’re talking. Literally.

If you know me, you’ll know that I have no interest in using over-ear headphones for calls. If I ever find myself in that situation, I’ll reach for my AirPods Max, simply because they have the best transparency mode on the market. But in all other instances, you’ll spot me wearing a pair of earbuds while undertaking a call.

The WF-1000XM5 need to deliver here – particularly when you consider the updates on offer over the WF-1000XM4. Along with Sony’s existing bone conduction technology that detects when the user is speaking, the WF-1000XM5 also benefit from a new AI-driven noise reduction learning system.

Sony has also added a mesh material to the feedforward microphone found on the WF-1000XM5 earbuds which is designed to reduce wind noise during calls.

Much like noise cancellation, Sony is claiming that the call quality within the WF-1000XM5 really is the best on the market (according to research carried out by the firm in June 2023). As someone who values this feature significantly on earbuds, I can’t wait to see what they’re made of.

Quality of life improvements

According to Sony, one of the most consistent pieces of feedback they received about the WF-1000XM4 was the desire to make the earbuds smaller and lighter.

Given how small the stemless design of the WF-1000XM4 is, it’s admirable that Sony has succeeded in making the WF-1000XM5 around 25% smaller and 20% lighter than their predecessor.

The difference in design between the two earbuds is relatively minor – the WF-1000XM5 simply look like a more refined and less busy version of the WF-1000XM4. It’s the same story with the case, which, we’re told, is slightly smaller than the outgoing version and benefits from a physical pairing button (rather than having to dual press the earbuds, as was the case with the WF-1000XM4).

Sony WF-1000XM5

The presence of multipoint, cross-platform device switching from launch was emphasised multiple times on last week’s press call. This is no doubt in response to the lengthy wait WF-1000XM4 owners had for the same feature to reach their earbuds (it took around eight months to appear in a firmware update and spawned multiple Reddit threads from disappointed users).

Battery life remains the same on the WF-1000XM5 as the WF-1000XM4, with a single charge delivering eight hours of playback with noise cancellation turned on. That increases to 24 hours when the charging case is taken into consideration, and a quick three-minute charge delivers 60 minutes of playback.

You can still charge the WF-1000XM5 wirelessly or by placing the case on the rear of compatible Xperia smartphones, and water resistance remains unchanged at IPX4.

WF-1000XM5 pricing and availability

The Sony WF-1000XM5 will be available from August 2023 and are priced as follows:

  • UK: £259
  • US: $299.99
  • EU: €320

As soon as I get my hands on a pair I’ll give you my full opinion on the WF-1000XM5. Stay tuned.

Before you go

Join my Substack newsletter for tips on becoming a profitable, happy online creator!

Images courtesy of Sony Corporation