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Sony has dominated the audio industry for decades with its cutting-edge audio technology. The company has developed some of the most powerful headphones today. These are the Sony WH-1000XM5 and the Sony WH-1000XM4. The Sony XM5 and XM4 have taken the headphone experience to a whole new level. These headphones have numerous capabilities and features that make them stand out. Their sound quality and noise cancellation abilities are unmatched by other headphones on the market.

However, despite being Sony products, the XM4 and The XM5 are significantly different. So which of the two is the better buy? In this article, we will examine their key differences and give our opinion on the better product. Read on to learn more about the capabilities of the Sony XM5 and XM4.

Sony XM5 vs. XM4: Side-By-Side Comparison

FeatureSony WH-1000XM4Sony WH-1000XM5
Price$350 during its initial release in 2020. The price has gone down since.Currently retails for $399
DesignIt has a broader headband with speed sliders, it is bulkier but more durable, and it folds into a ballIt has a slimmer headband with step-less sliders, it is more delicate, and it folds flat
Features and ControlsMulti-point technology, automatic ear detection, 360 Reality Audio, and speak-to-chat technologyMulti-point technology, ear sensor, speak-to-chat, 360 Reality Audio, Adaptive Sound Control
Audio QualityIt has excellent audio qualityIt offers outstanding audio quality that provides more definition and clarity in terms of dynamics
Battery LifeIt lasts for about 30 hours on a full chargeIt lasts for about 30 hours on a full charge
Best for Noise Cancellation
Sony WH-1000XM5
$398.00
  • Two processors control 8 microphones
  • Auto NC Optimizer
  • The new Sony V1 Integrated Processor
  • Hands-free calling with 4 beamforming microphones
  • Up to 30-hour battery life with quick charging
  • Ultra-comfortable, lightweight design with soft-fit leather
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
05/12/2023 03:24 pm GMT

Sony XM5 vs. XM4: Overview

The Sony XM4 and XM5 are noise-canceling headphones made to out-compete all others on the market. Sony released the XM4 in 2020, taking the market by storm with its incredible features. It introduced the multi-point connection, which lets you connect to multiple devices simultaneously. It also introduced speak-to-chat and automatic ear detection technology. This technology automatically pauses playback when you speak or take off the headphones. It also resumes playback once you put the headphones back on. Additionally, the XM4’s design provides ultimate comfort and noise cancellation. 

On the other hand, the XM5 is the most recent iteration in the WH-1000 series, released in May 2022. The XM5 mainly stayed the same as its predecessor, the XM4. However, it improved some of the functions introduced by the XM4. For instance, the XM5 upgraded the speech and on-ear detection technology to work faster. It also introduced the Automate Sound Control. This feature automatically adjusts sound output depending on your environment. Below is a more detailed overview of their differences.

Sony XM5 vs. XM4: What Are the Differences?

Both these high-end listening solutions are amazing for their audio quality, but they differ in terms of their price points and additional features. Let’s look closer at their key differences to determine which is best for you and your specific needs.

Price

Since the Sony XM5 is an upgrade from the XM4, the difference in cost is quite significant. During its release in 2020, the XM4 had a price tag of $350 (£350 and AU$550). However, the price has decreased since then, meaning you can get it today at around $250 to $300.

On the other hand, the XM5 is more expensive, retailing at $399 (£360 and AU$549) during their launch in May 2022. Since it is a new model and in high demand, deals are hard to come by, meaning the price has remained relatively the same. Although the XM5 is more costly than its predecessor, you will enjoy the improved features it provides

Design 

The first striking difference between the XM5 and its predecessor is its appearance. The XM5 has changed significantly with an almost entirely different design from the XM4. Unlike the XM4, the XM5 has a slimmer headband with step-less sliders, making adjusting the fit smoother.  Furthermore, the XM5 has an exposed arm with a single contact point, unlike the typical swivel arm in the XM4 and XM3. For this reason, the XM5 cannot fold the same ball-like way the XM4 does. Instead, the XM5 folds flat comparable to the Bose noise-canceling headphones. 

By folding flat, the XM5 appears classier and sleeker than its counterpart. However, it also makes it more delicate than the sturdy XM4. Hence you always have to use the carry case to prevent damage. While the XM4 seems bulkier, you will not need to carry its case, which takes up more space. Therefore, this rugged approach is beneficial when you need more room in your carry-on bag.

Another altered design choice is the Custom button which Sony relabeled NC/Ambient. Sony modified the tag because of the way most people opted to use it. However, despite the new label, Sony has kept in the same position. Like its predecessor, the XM5 is monotonous since no inspiring color options exist. Once again, Sony launched the headphones in silver and black options only. However, the XM5 has a lighter platinum silver finish than the previous model. 

Despite several design changes, the XM5 has retained the same level of comfort as its predecessor. While it has kept the headband memory foam, the ear pads use a new synthetic leather cover that is smooth and soft to the touch. 

Features and Controls

The XM4 and XM5 are significantly similar in the basic features available. After all, both are the best wireless headphones on the market. However, the XM5 has a few sight improvements that make it more desirable.  One of the improvements made on the XM5 is the noise-cancellation feature. Sony improved this feature by adding additional microphones from the five available in the XM4 to eight. Two processors (QN1 aided by V1) neutralize all the background sounds by controlling all eight mics. 

Like its predecessor, the XM5 also supports Sony’s 360 Realty Audio and LDAC music codec. Sony’s 360 Realty Audio provides virtual surrounding sound, enhancing the audio quality. Additionally, the XM5 also supports the DEE Extreme, which serves to upscale music files in real-time. Another upgraded feature is the Adaptive Sound Control. In the XM5, the Adaptive Sound Control adjusts the sound output automatically depending on the environment. For instance, if you are in a quiet meadow, the ASC automatically reduces its output volume to match the background. 

On the other hand, if you are in a busy and noisy street, it will automatically raise the sound output accordingly. This feature is more advanced than the one available on the XM4, which practically relies on the NC Optimizer. Depending on the NC Optimizer, it can only adjust sound output after you have left an environment.  Additionally, Adaptive Sound Control recognizes and recollects your most frequented locations. For instance, if you regularly make the same commute, your headphones will adapt and adjust their output accordingly. The XM5 also comes with quick access, which allows you to resume playback on Spotify or Apple Music with two or three taps.

Like its predecessor, the XM5 also has the speak-to-chat feature. This feature automatically pauses music when you start talking. Therefore, you can converse without taking off the headphones. Moreover, the XM5 also has the on-ear detection feature. This feature automatically pauses playback when you take your headphones off. The ear sensor also resumes playback automatically once you put your headphones back on. However, this feature is faster on the XM5 than on the XM4. The XM5 also provided hands-free controls courtesy of Google and Amazon voice assistants. 

Like the XM4, the XM5 also supports multi-point connections, allowing you to pair two devices simultaneously. You can also switch between devices by simply touching a button. Furthermore, if you get a call while connected to multiple devices, the headphones can automatically tell which device it is and connect you to it. The XM5 is the epitome of a noise-cancellation headphone, with features like AI-powered noise reduction, four beam-forming mics, and wind-noise reduction. It also comes with Swift Pair and Google Fast Pair to connect quickly to Windows and Android devices, respectively. 

Audio Quality

Both The XM4 and the XM5 have excellent sound quality. However, the XM5 offers more definition and clarity, especially concerning dynamics. Indeed, the XM5 is far superior to the XM4, despite the XM4 being one of the best-sounding headphones on the market.  In clarity, the XM5 has a notable improvement in that its sound output is more open than its predecessor’s. Its sound is also more precise, especially in the lower end, making it easy to pick up higher levels of detail. In comparison, the XM4’s output sounds quite thick. The same applies when you move up the frequency scale, where the XM5 has a punchier and more dynamic sound. Remember, the XM4 still has five-star performance; it’s just that the XM5 performs a little better. Indeed, the XM4 outclasses any other headphones within its price range.

According to Sony, they swapped the 40mm driver used for the XM4 with a 30mm carbon-fiber composite dome. Sony designed the new composite dome to be highly rigid and lightweight, which makes the sound quality much better. The audio quality of the XM5 has also primarily benefited from the improved ASC and noise cancellation features. Call clarity in the XM5 is also highly improved thanks to the incorporation of Sony’s Precise Voice Pickup technology.

Battery Life

The XM4 and the XM5 have the same battery life of about 30 hours. While there are superior options for battery life in the market, 30 hours is typically enough. If you start using your headphones at full charge, it is unlikely that you will deplete the battery quickly. 

Despite a similarity in battery life, the XM5 charges better than the XM4. The XM5 offers fast charging, where you get about three hours of playtime within a three-minute charge time. On The other hand, to get 5 hours of runtime on the XM4, you will need to charge for about ten minutes. Although not always consistent, this aspect puts the XM5 slightly ahead of its counterpart.

Best Performance for Price
Sony WH-1000XM4
$348.00
  • Best in class Active Noise Cancelling
  • Features Sony's Edge-AI
  • Battery life: 30 hours
  • Touch controls
  • Multi-point Bluetooth 5.0
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05/22/2023 04:27 pm GMT

Sony XM5 vs. XM4: 7 Must-Know Facts

  • The XM4 is a more affordable option with a price tag of $350 (£350 and AU$550) compared to the XM5’s $399 (£360 and AU$549) price tag.
  • The XM5 has a slimmer headband with step-less sliders allowing smoother adjustment. 
  • The XM5 has an exposed arm with a single contact point, unlike the typical swivel arm in the XM4 and XM3. This alteration enables it to fold flat instead of into a ball. 
  • The XM5 is more delicate than the XM4. Therefore, you must always carry it in its case to avoid damage.
  • The XM5 has Adaptive Sound Control that adjusts the sound automatically depending on the environment. It also recognizes and remembers your frequented locations and adjusts the output accordingly.
  • The XM5 has superior sound quality than the XM4 thanks to its 30mm carbon-fiber composite dome. In contrast, the XM4 uses a 40mm driver heavier than the XM5’s.
  • Despite several design changes, the XM5 has retained the same level of comfort as its predecessor. While it has kept the headband memory foam, the ear pads use a new synthetic leather cover that is smooth and soft to the touch. 

Sony XM5 vs. XM4: Which is the Better Buy?

For Multi-Device Connection

While the XM5 and the XM4 have multi-point connection technology, XM5 is superior in its application. For instance, if you get a call while connected to two devices, the XM5 can tell which device it is and connect you automatically. This feature is helpful, especially if you want to stream music or podcast while still on the alert for phone calls.

For More Automated Functions

Although both have automated functions like speak-to-chat and on-ear detection, the XM5 is quicker than the XM4. The XM5 has undergone various updates, making its automated features faster than its counterpart. Furthermore, the XM5 also comes with Adaptive sound control technology. This technology functions in two ways. First, depending on the environment, it automatically reduces or increases its sound output. Secondly, it remembers your frequent locations and automatically adjusts its output accordingly.

Overall

The XM5 is significantly better than the XM4 in terms of performance and audio quality. It also has more features and automation than its counterparts, making it the better headphone. However, the difference is minimal. Therefore, if you are on a budget, it would be best to buy the XM4. You will not miss all that much.

  1. Sony WH-1000XM5
  2. Sony WH-1000XM5
    $398.00
    • Two processors control 8 microphones
    • Auto NC Optimizer
    • The new Sony V1 Integrated Processor
    • Hands-free calling with 4 beamforming microphones
    • Up to 30-hour battery life with quick charging
    • Ultra-comfortable, lightweight design with soft-fit leather
    Buy Now on Amazon

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    05/12/2023 03:24 pm GMT
  3. Sony WH-1000XM4
  4. Sony WH-1000XM4
    $348.00
    • Best in class Active Noise Cancelling
    • Features Sony's Edge-AI
    • Battery life: 30 hours
    • Touch controls
    • Multi-point Bluetooth 5.0
    Buy Now on Amazon

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    05/22/2023 04:27 pm GMT

Sony XM5 vs. XM4: 5 Key Differences and Which is the Better Buy FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Are there any design differences between XM4 and XM5?

Yes. The most noticeable difference between the XM5 and its predecessor is their appearance. The XM5 features a significantly different design from the XM4, with a slimmer headband that has step-less sliders, providing a smoother fit adjustment. Additionally, the XM5 has an exposed arm with a single contact point, in contrast to the XM4 and XM3’s typical swivel arm. Due to this design change, the XM5 cannot fold in the same ball-like manner as the XM4. Instead, it folds flat, much like the Bose Noise Canceling headphones, giving it a sleek and elegant appearance. However, this design also makes the XM5 more fragile than the sturdy XM4, so it’s essential to use the provided carry case to prevent any damage.

Do the WH-1000XM5 headphones have replaceable ear cups?

Sony’s official literature or documentation does not mention anything about replaceable ear cups. Typically, headphones designed for audiophiles at a higher grade offer replaceable parts. For instance, high-end studio headphones usually come with the option to replace the cable and ear cups when they wear out. It’s disappointing that Sony does not provide support for replacement parts considering the WH-1000XM5’s price point, while wired headphones in a similar price range have replaceable components.

Is the Sony XM4 good for gym?

The Sony WH-1000XM5 is not the most suitable option for use in a gym setting. These headphones are primarily designed for casual listening, travel, and work, and they are not sweat or water-resistant, which can make them vulnerable to damage if used during a workout. Additionally, the XM5 is an over-ear design that can become uncomfortable and hot during intense physical activity.

If you’re looking for headphones to use in the gym, you should consider options that are specifically designed for that purpose, such as sports earbuds or headphones that are sweat and water-resistant. These options will be more durable and better suited for intense physical activity.

Are XM5 louder than XM4?

If you do a frequency sweep, you will find that the XM5 is significantly louder in the upper frequencies. You will detect this gain in specific beats, especially ones with longer bass decay. However, you will pick up little to no difference for most music.

Can you use the WH-1000XM5 with a gaming console?

If your gaming console supports Bluetooth audio, then absolutely you can. The headset already has four built-in microphones, so you can readily communicate with teammates. Audio quality and frequency response are quite good as well, so your gameplay shouldn’t be impaired.

Is Sony XM5 worth it?

The XM5 has plenty of positive attributes. Its sound quality remains unmatched, its ASC is incredible, its call quality is top-notch, and it is incredibly comfortable. While it is a little expensive, its design and performance are worth every penny.

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