Sony’s WH-1000XM4 is one of the best noise canceling headphones money can buy. As well as its predecessors it returned to the company’s premium OG noise-canceling headphones, the MDR-1000X.
In other words, Sony has a rather large series going on. So I was thrilled to see the new WH-1000XM5 leaks starting to appear.
Leaked images of the new headphones released by The Walkman Blog show a design that deviates considerably from Sony’s usual aesthetic. Here you are:
Someone on Reddit also posted an image of what appears to be a retail unit, apparently confirming the design and some specs.
For reference, here’s what the previous model looked like:
It looks a lot cleaner if you ask me. The previous design has started to look a little dated and this new one alludes to the old design by introducing a much more minimalist look.
That said, so far it doesn’t appear that Sony has plans to introduce more colors, instead of sticking to the black and off-white silver of previous models.
Curiously, the headphones seem to lack the extra hinges of the original, which allowed them to fold into a very compact form. Instead, the WH-1000XM5 appears to fold flat only by rotating the ear cups, as with most portable headphones.
Some users will definitely miss the more compact design, but I’ve long thought Sony’s noise-canceling headphones were a little flimsy (I’ve seen the hinges break on previous models). Hopefully, this new design will be more robust in the long run.
The lack of hinges allows the new headphones to have a wider and thicker headband, and they also appear to sport thicker padding.
Of course, it remains to be seen whether they are actually more comfortable, but at least they look more comfortable.
Convenience aside, thicker padding should help ensure a more even seal for better insulation and better sound texture, especially for eyeglass wearers and people with large hair.
Based on the leaked packaging, the headphones have a battery life of 30 hours, a figure that traditionally refers to performance with active ANC. It also continues to support both the Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.
Specifically, the box lists “Ok Google” support, suggesting it has full-fledged hot word detection, like Sony’s Pixel Buds or LinkBuds, rather than forcing you to hold down a button to invoke the assistant. This makes you much more likely to actually use voice commands, in my experience.
Sony has improved its noise cancellation performance with each generation, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see the same here. The leaked packaging shows that the headphones will continue to support Sony’s space audio technologies.
But I’m just as excited about the rumors that the headphones will be able to connect to multiple devices at the same time and switch between them on the fly. Previous Sony headphones supported pairing with multiple devices, but you’d have to manually switch between them. Bluetooth 5.2 should help the headphones quickly switch between devices, whichever is playing audio.
And this is all. The Walkman Blog suggests the headphones could launch in August, as that’s when the confidentiality period ends for a previous leak from the FCC. But considering the onslaught of leaks – not to mention retail packaging – it’s possible they could be released sooner.