- Our choice for the #1 Best Overall Alternative to the Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones is the Bose QC45.
- When looking at alternatives to the Sony, you need to consider battery life, noise cancelation, and fit.
- With these Sony alternatives, you can expect a similar level of audio quality, including some options that are ideal for phone calls as well as music.
Over the last 12 months or so, many have considered the Sony WH-1000XM5 to be among the very best noise-canceling over-the-ear headphones you can buy today. Sony has long had a stellar reputation with audio quality that shines through as part of their headphones. Whether it’s earcups or earbuds, you can count on Sony to deliver some of the best listening experiences you can purchase today.
However, what if you don’t like the fit, feel, or finish of the Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones? The good news is that you prefer an alternative to the Sony, there are plenty of options out there. The likes of Bose, Apple, Sennheiser, and other brands are all ready to show you exactly what else your money can purchase today.
Let’s take a look at the six best alternatives to the Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones you can purchase right now.
- Best Overall: Bose QC45
- Best for Apple Devices: Apple AirPods Max
- Best for Travel: Sennheiser Momentum 4
- Best Design: Bose 700
- Best Budget Option: 1MORE SonoFlow
- Best Earbuds: Sony WF-1000XM4
#1 Best Overall: Bose QC45
- Excellent and comfortable design with an over-ear design
- High-fidelity audio with adjustable EQ settings on Bose's smartphone app
- Active noise cancelation includes both Quiet and Active modes
- Get up to 22 hours of battery life with a 15-minute fast charge for 3 additional hours
The very best Bose has to offer, the QC45 headphones are not just the best alternative to Sony’s flagship headphones, but they are also some of the best sounding. Adding a high-fidelity audio experience courtesy of a volume-optimized Active EQ, you can be sure the Bose QC45 will keep the consistent bass quality. When the Bose QC45 is fully charged, you can expect up to 22 hours of battery life. If you need a little boost on the go, a quick 15-minute juice-up will get you an extra three hours of audio.
Battery life aside, where the QC45 really shines is with its noise-canceling thanks to Quiet Mode. When active, you are sure that the Bose QC45 will essentially block out any outside ambient noise and instead let you focus on your favorite soundtrack or Netflix show. Plus, the Bose offers outstanding comfort for lengthy listening sessions without any type of head or neck fatigue. Check out the Bose QC45 on Amazon.
|Outstanding noise cancellation
|Limited battery life
|High fidelity audience experience is best-in-class
|Voice calls are only okay
Best for Apple Devices: Apple AirPods Max
- Available in five different colors
- Apple-designed dynamic drivers
- Apple H1 chip enables seamless connectivity with Apple devices
- Active Noise Cancellation
For Apple iPhone, iPad, or macOS users, there is no better Sony WH-1000XM5 alternative than the Apple AirPods Max.
Undoubtedly Apple’s most premium headphone experience ever, the AirPods Max is a wireless headphone that looks as good as it sounds. Available in five different color options, these Apple headphones offer similarly strong active noise-cancelation to the Sony headphones. Better yet, the AirPods Max also offers one of the best transparency modes so you can block out some ambient noise while still being able to interact with those around you.
Where the AirPods Max really shines is with connectivity, specifically around the Apple H1 chip. As an Apple product, the H1 chip allows near-seamless syncing to any other Apple product. Whether it’s an iPhone or iPad, the H1 chip offers such a seamless experience, it’s something all other headphone manufacturers should emulate.
On top of connectivity, the AirPods Max offer up to 20 hours of listening all while being incredibly comfortable to wear thanks to memory foam cushions and a lightweight knit-mesh canopy. Check out the Apple AirPods Max on Amazon.
|Fantastic pairing experience with other Apple devices
|So-so battery life
|Offer outstanding looks
|Pricey compared to the competition
Best for Travel: Sennheiser Momentum 4
- Battery life of up to 60 hours
- Features a 42mm transducer system
- Comes with adaptive noise cancellation
- Use the Sennheiser Smart Control app to personalize sound settings
- 4 digital beamforming microphones
It should come as no surprise to see the Sennheiser Momentum 4 wireless headphones named one of the best Sony WH-1000XM5 alternatives as they are just that good.
As soon as you take them out of their packaging, the feel of the Sennheiser name comes to life. The lightweight and foldable design is easy to pack in a bag when not in use and unflip in less than a second as soon as you are ready to wear.
From the moment you put the Momentum 4’s on your head, you will find the padded headband and ear cushions provide long-lasting comfort. Long-lasting comfort is something you definitely want with these headphones as well thanks to their 60-hour battery life with fast charging.
Music might be where the Sennheiser Momentum 4 wireless headphones shine best with a pair of 42mm transducer drivers. When it comes to phone calls, four digital beamforming microphones work together to help block out wind noise. In fact, they work so well that it’s easy to say the Sennheiser’s are one of the best for phone calls as well as travel. Check out the Sennheiser Momentum 4 on Amazon.
|Outstanding audio quality is a Sennheiser staple
|Blocking out wind noise is hit or miss
|The foldable design makes them easy to transport
Best Design: Bose 700
- 11 levels of active noise cancelation
- Built-in beamforming microphone that adapts to noisy and windy environments
- Lightweight headband (stainless steel) and tilted earcups
- battery life: 20 hrs
Offering not one or two but 11 levels of active noise cancellation, the Bose 700 wireless headphones stand out for their excellent looks.
Having such excellent noise cancellation is the perfect reason to give the Bose 700 a look, as is the lightweight stainless steel headband. Adding to the overall comfort are ear cups that are perfectly angled to provide the perfect fit for lengthy periods of use. You will need all the comfort you can get thanks to 20 hours of battery life on a single charge. Another one of the best design aspects of the Bose 700 is that you can tap once on the right earcup and instantly listen to your last Spotify session.
Regardless of what you listen to, the Bose 700 wireless headphones bring together a beautiful sound, no matter the volume. Bose’s signature active EQ and excellent bass response help deliver a pure sound that can quickly make you forget all about the idea of purchasing the Sony WH-1000MX5 headphones. Plus, you have a dedicated button on one of the ear cups to immediately access voice control through Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa. Check out the Bose 700 wireless headphones on Amazon.
|Includes support for Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa
|One of the lower battery life numbers for the price
|Excellent comfort and build quality
|The steel headband might not be for everyone
Best Budget Option: 1MORE SonoFlow
When you want a budget-friendly alternative to the Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones, the 1MORE SonoFlow is the perfect answer.
Featuring 40mm dynamic drivers, the SonoFlow offers high-resolution audio that feels like it should cost far more than its $99 price tag. This is even more true when you activate SonoFlow’s QuietMax noise canceling technology, which does a fantastic job blocking out ambient noise.
Instead of the outside world, you can instead focus on tweaking audio quality through the adjustable EQ and any of its 12 studio-grade presets. Beyond music, there are also beamforming microphones that work in tandem with AI to provide crystal-clear voice calls.
Where the SonoFlow really stands out is its whopping 70 hours of runtime on a single battery charge. Of course, this requires active noise cancelation to be disabled, but even so, this still positions the SonoFlow as having best-in-class battery life. You can even get five hours of battery life on the go with a fast charge of just five minutes with the included charger. Check out the 1MORE SonoFlow on Amazon.
|Great budget-friendly price
|Doesn’t block out as much noise as competitors
|Best-in-class battery life
|EQ only offers 12 presets and no manual adjustments
Best Earbuds: Sony WF-1000XM4
- IPX4 water- and sweat-resistance
- Up to 8 hours of battery life on a single charge
- Crystal-clear call quality with four built-in microphones
- Pair with two Bluetooth devices at the same time
Sometimes, you really want to change things up, and that means something totally different in the likes of the WF-1000XM4 earbuds.
Unlike over-the-ear headphones, these earbuds are designed to block out noise courtesy of Sony’s Integrated Processor V1. Developed by Sony, the WF-1000XM4 earbuds incorporate noise isolation earbud tips that provide a stable enough fit to block out more noise than any other Sony earbuds before them.
Having noise cancelation comes in handy as having four microphones built directly into the earbuds makes these earbuds ideal for hands-free calls without additional noise from the outside world. Additionally, speak-to-chat detection helps the Sony earbuds stop playing music when you begin speaking to someone around you.
With IPX4 water resistance also built-in, the Sony WF-1000XM4 earbuds are ideal not just for work, but play as well. Take these running and they can easily handle you being on the go thanks to their 8-hour battery life. Additionally, you get another 16 hours of battery courtesy of their carry case, which can provide 60 minutes of extra juice after a 5-minute quick charge. Check out the Sony WF-1000XM4 earbuds on Amazon.
|In-ear cups might be more comfortable for some people
|8-hour battery life is just okay
|Excellent noise blocking for the design
|Would be nice to have waterproof instead of just water resistance
What to Know Before Buying a Sony WH-1000XM5 Alternative
Before you buy any alternative to the Sony WH-1000XM5 headset, it’s important to know you can definitely find some great options. Among the available choices, you want to find a headphone that offers similar noise-canceling qualities to the Sony, and the good news is that there are quite a few that meet the criteria. The Bose QC45, Sennheiser Momentum 4, and the Bose 700 all do a phenomenal job of blocking out ambient noise.
Similarly, the same headphones along with the AirPods Max do a fantastic job of delivering sound quality that rivals the Sony headset. As good as Sony is at audio, Bose, Sennheiser, and Apple all work just as well, if not better in some cases. The same goes for call quality, especially the AirPods Max, which is designed specifically to work nearly flawlessly with iPhones and iPads.
The next most important criterion is battery life as the Sony rivals on this list can vary from 20 hours to 80 hours. Sony’s WH-1000XM5 hovers right around the 30-hour mark so that should be a strong number with which to determine an appropriately good alternative. The Bose QC45, for example, only gets 22 hours but they make up for it with fast charging.
Using a Sony WH-1000XM5 Alternative: What It’s Like
No matter your selection from this list, every headphone or earbud listed here is going to be top-notch for just about every type of person. Unless you are a professional-level audiophile that has very specific needs for highs, lows, and mids, every headphone here is going to work great. The AirPods Max is an especially attractive option for iPhone owners as the H1 chip is incredible at syncing up to your phone quickly.
Bose and Sennheiser deliver the level of quality you expect from their brand names and they make it easy to forget about the Sony’s right away. Even the 1MORE SonoFlow is a fantastic choice for most people who don’t want to come near the Sony, Bose, or Apple price tag.
As you can get 90% of the Sony WH-1000XM5 qualities from headphones that cost an equal amount or less from the list here, there is little reason to consider the Sony WH-1000XM5 as the only headphone out there for you.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Gorodenkoff/Shutterstock.com.