The 8 Biggest Complaints About Sony WH-1000XM5 Headphones

Sony WH-1000XM5 Vs. Jabra Evolve2 75

The 8 Biggest Complaints About Sony WH-1000XM5 Headphones

Key Points

  • The Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones have a ‘plasticky’ feel despite their excellent sound quality.
  • The WH-1000XM5 headphones are less portable and ergonomic than their predecessor, the XM4 version.
  • Users cannot manually control the ANC, which can be inconvenient in certain situations.

The Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones are among the industry’s premium models. Since they have a long model history and come from Sony, you naturally expect nothing but the best. But that’s not the case.

While the Sony WH-1000XM5 is an incredible quality headphone, it also has drawbacks. That’s why you should think twice before buying it. Let’s go over the top 8 complaints about the Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones.

Complaints about the Sony WH-1000XM5 Headphones

Some complaints about the Sony WH-1000XM5 touch on its audio quality. However, the major complaints are about the design and build quality, ANC, and additional built-in features of these headphones.

#1 – Sound VS Feel Should Be Better

One major complaint about the Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones is the difference between the fantastic sound and the not-so-incredible design quality. Sony chose to use a material that looks like plastic when making these headphones. This way, you get a “plasticky” feel instead of a high-quality feel.

sony wh-1000xm5
While lightweight and comfortable, the design of the Sony WH-1000XM5 can feel a bit cheap.


Even though the balanced sound is excellent, you’ll notice the design flaws every time you use the headphones. We feel Sony should have spent more time (or money) on the design and build quality, considering these headphones sell for $399.

#2 – ANC Feels Subpar for Some

ANC stands for active noise cancelation and is a technology that can reduce unwanted noise from the environment. The Sony WH-1000XM5 does an excellent job of suppressing ambient noise. The ANC in this version is supposed to be a big step up from the Sony WH-1000XM4 (previous version), but some users don’t feel this way.

Sony WH-1000XM5
The Sony WH-1000XM5 employ an AI-based noise reduction algorithm for superior ANC.


Some users have complained that specific head movements can mess up the ANt, yet it’s supposed to cancel noise. Some users had the Sony versions WH -1000XM3 and WH -1000XM4 and tried the latest version WH-1000XM5. Some think that ANC is substandard, while others don’t complain. Your previous experience with ANC headphones may also play a role.

Best Performance for Price
Sony WH-1000XM4
  • 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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12/03/2023 03:20 am GMT

#3 – Portability and Ergonomics Were Better in the XM4 Version

Sony WH-1000XM5 has a slightly different design than its predecessor Sony WH-1000XM4. The headphones still look minimalistic, slim, and attractive. However, one significant shortcoming cannot fold completely.

Sony WH-1000XM5
The Sony WH-1000XM5 only fold so far, which limits their portability.


If you travel a lot and want to use the ANC feature in traffic or on public transport, this can be a bit of an inconvenience. Sony’s WH-1000XM4 version was completely foldable and portable. It feels like the Sony WH-1000XM5 has taken a step back in this regard.

#4 – ANC Can’t be Manually Controlled

One of the things users would like to see is manual adjustment of the ANC. While the automatic active noise cancelation is handy, simple things like head movements can easily mess it up. Sometimes the effect of noise cancelation isn’t sufficient, and users can do little about it.

Sony recommends disabling Adaptive Sound Control and enabling noise cancelation manually when needed. Moreover, some users claim the now-improved feature is only slightly better than the Sony WH -1000XM4’s.

#5 – Touch Instead of Buttons Isn’t Very Convenient

Many users complain about the touch surface. Sony introduced this feature in the Sony WH -1000XM series. However, some users still prefer buttons.

Sony WH-1000XM5
The touch surface takes some getting used to.


The touch surface makes the headphones look elegant and minimalistic. But in certain situations, the buttons would be beneficial. The touch requires a bit smoother operation than the buttons, which you can quickly find and press without worrying about pressure or movement.

Still, some users didn’t mention the controls at all. So, it’s probably something you’ll have to adapt.

#6 – Might not Hold Fit People With Bigger Heads

Sony WH-1000XM5 has great ear cups and reasonable adjustment to head size. However, the big difference from the previous version is the telescopic band instead of a one-piece size adjuster.

Sony WH-1000XM5
Reportedly, it takes the telescopic headband a few months to loosen.


The previous version had a sleeker design as the slider was an inner part of the design of the headphones, and it was also much more practical and portable. However, with the Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones, the newly introduced telescopic band can loosen over time.

This is likely true for users with larger heads who stretch the telescopic band more. When this happens, you lose the tight fit crucial for proper noise cancelation function.

#7 – Random Issue Complaints

Considering the Sony WH-1000XM5 costs $399, you shouldn’t expect significant problems. However, users have reported some minor issues, which are still good to know.

Some say the headphones randomly turn off. That’s a big problem if you use the noise-canceling feature to have conversations on the go.

Sony WH-1000XM5
The buttons on the Sony WH-1000XM5 are located close to each other, which can get tricky.


Another significant issue is that the touch sensor for control doesn’t work when switching between devices. So, you can’t adjust the volume before connecting to another device. And if your second device is already playing music at a higher volume, you can’t control it through the headphones.

Hopefully, these are one-off issues that won’t reoccur. While these might not be the biggest complaints, they can affect your experience with the Sony WH-1000XM5.

#8 – Costs More than the XM4 Version

The price difference between the XM4 and XM5 is only about $50. However, since the XM5’s release, some retailers have been selling XM4 at a discount. You can get it up to $100 below the price of the Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones.

XM5’s features aren’t a better upgrade than the previous version. So, it might be better to stick with the XM4 version. This is especially useful if you have a limited budget and don’t want to replace your headphones soon.

We also believe the XM5 version doesn’t have many innovative features over the XM4 version to justify an upgrade, considering the XM4 version is still decent and future-proof.


Sony WH-1000XM5 are fabulous headphones but a bit pricey. While these headphones have phenomenal sound and offer a great audio experience, some users have complained. The biggest complaints about WH-1000XM5 might seem inconvenient for some and a deal breaker for others.

So it’s up to you to decide if you can live with those issues or look for another model. Overall, you won’t regret buying the Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones. You can get a different pair of headphones or something better for the money if you can’t deal with minor issues.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are Sony WH-1000XM5 the best for?

They’re great for traveling thanks to the ANC technology, having phone calls on the go, or blocking out ambient noise anywhere.

Are Sony WH-1000XM5 better than Bose headphones?

If your primary criteria for determining the better headphones is the audio quality, then yes, Sony WH-1000XM5 is better than Bose headphones.

Is Sony WH-1000XM5 waterproof?

No, Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones can’t withstand water and even sweat so they’re not ideal for rain or exercise.

What's unique about Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones?

The intuitive touch control on the side of the headphones is a great example.

What's a great alternative to Sony WH-1000XM5?

Going for the previous XM4 version is a great alternative, but a cheaper alternative can also be Sony WH-CH720N.

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