Sunday, June 16, 2024

Sony WF-1000XM4 vs Sony WF-1000XM5: Are they worth the upgrade?

Share

The Sony WF-1000XM4 first launched back in 2021 as yet another pair of would-be AirPod competitors and quickly became some of the best true wireless earbuds available. With the arrival of the Sony WF-1000XM5, are you better off paying a bit more for their successors? We take a quick look at the biggest differences between the Sony WF-1000XM4 vs Sony WF-1000XM5 to help you decide which are the better fit.

Sony WF-1000XM4 vs Sony WF-1000XM5: At a glance

Sony WF-1000XM4 vs Sony WF-1000XM5: Specs

Bluetooth connectivity Bluetooth 5.3
SBC, AAC, LDAC
LE audio
DSEE Extreme upscaling
Bluetooth 5.2
SBC, AAC, LDAC
DSEE Extreme upscaling
Water resistance Earbuds: IPX4 water-resistant build Earbuds: IPX4 water-resistant build
Battery Earbuds, ANC on: 8 hours
Case and earbuds, ANC on: 24 hours
Earbuds, ANC off: 12 hours
Case and earbuds, ANC off: 36 hours
Earbuds, ANC on: 8 hours
Case and earbuds, ANC on: 24 hours
Earbuds, ANC off: 12 hours
Case and earbuds, ANC off: 36 hours
Charging USB-C
Wireless
Fast charging
USB-C
Wireless
Fast charging
Audio hardware 8.4mm dynamic driver (aka Dynamic Driver X)
Six-microphone array
6mm dynamic driver
Dual beamforming, noise-sensor microphones
Sensors Bone conduction sensor
Motion-detecting accelerometer
Proximity sensor
Touch control
Bone conduction sensor
Proximity sensor
Touch control
Chipset QN2e chip
V2 processor
QN1e chip
V1 processor
Spatial audio Personalized 360 Reality Audio
Head tracking
Personalized 360 Reality Audio
Features Adaptive Sound Control
Ambient Sound Control
Automatic wear detection
Ear tip fit test
Google Fast Pair
Mono mode
Multipoint connectivity
Speak-to-Chat
Swift Pair
Adaptive Sound Control
Ambient Sound Control
Automatic wear detection
Ear tip fit test
Google Fast Pair
Mono mode
Multipoint connectivity
Speak-to-Chat
Swift Pair
Noise canceling Yes Yes
Ambient sound mode Yes Yes
Ear tip selection XS, S, M, L S, M, L
Release date July 24, 2023 June 8, 2021
Price $299.99 $278

The Sony WF-1000XM5 only retail for $20 more than the starting price of the XM4, but the actual price you pay could be much less as retailers begin to discount old inventories. We already highlighted some of the biggest differences above, so let’s dive a little deeper, starting with the new V2 and QN2e chips.

The V2 chip has much faster real-time processing than the V1 found on the WF-1000XM4, which pairs nicely with the new QN2e noise canceling processor. The QN2e can also serve higher-quality DAC that enables 24-bit signal processing. There are also improvements to the microphone set up which both help with call clarity and noise reduction.

According to testing from our sister site SoundGuys, the WF-1000XM5’s ANC makes sub-bass rumbles from airplane engines sound about 50% quieter than WF-1000XM4. Still, it’s not just improvements to the hardware that makes for better noise canceling on the XM5, meaningful touches like new memory foam ear tips that aid with noise isolation are equally important. The tips keep a lot of external sound under control, so the ANC doesn’t have to work quite as hard.

Credit: Harley Maranan / Android Authority

Noise canceling isn’t the only thing that gets better with the XM5. The sound quality also gets a notable upgrade here. There’s a new 8.4mm dynamic driver that Sony calls “Dynamic Driver X,” which is at least on paper an improvement over the 6mm dynamic driver on the XM4. Based on our tests, most users are going to prefer the sound from the XM5, but if the bass is too loud, you can always take it in the custom EQ module to achieve a sound that’s more similar to the XM4.

Design is another area where the Sony WF-1000XM5 see some upgrades. Although the controls are quite similar, it should be noted that you can now adjust the volume right from the earbuds. This time the buds are also 25% smaller and lighter than their predecessors, though they keep the same IPX4 water resistance.

The new earbuds take on a more tapered shape which leads to a much better fit. There are two color choices here as well, white or black. Both have copper accents that not only look great but actually reduce wind noise to help provide a better listening experience.

sony wf 1000xm4 vs wf 1000xm5 case

Credit: Harley Maranan / Android Authority

We mentioned a motion-detecting accelerometer, so what exactly is that? In short, head tracking lets sound react to your head movements. To set this up, you can take a photograph of your ears with the 360 Reality Audio effect. This take on spatial audio leads to more immersive sound, and the head tracking addition makes a good thing even better.

Let’s talk battery real fast. While the WF-1000XM4 and WF-1000XM5 are both rated to handle eight hours on ANC with an additional 24 hours of charge through the case, our own tests showed that the XM5 were in fact hitting around eight hours but you’ll get slightly less with the XM4 at seven hours and 43 minutes. Of course, it could be the fact our WF-1000XM4 units have slightly older batteries now. Nonetheless, battery life should be similar, if not identical.

While there are likely to be other small differences, those are the biggest changes this time around. The next question is whether the Sony WF-1000XM5 are worth the extra cost.

Is an upgrade worth it or not?

 

The Sony WF-1000XM5 improve noise canceling and sound quality, but it doesn’t stop there. They’re now lighter and more comfortable than before. While a lot remains the same, what Sony has changed leads to a much more refined experience. If you already own the XM4, it’s probably not worth the upgrade. Still, if you’re more than happy to pay the retail price, get the Sony WF-1000XM5.

Just don’t forget about the sales factor. The Sony WF-1000XM4 have gone for sale as low as $178 in the past, which makes for an over one hundred dollar discount compared to the XM5. At that point, the XM5 upgrades might be tempting, but the savings make it worth picking up the older models. You can bet we’ll see this price or even lower once again during big sales. If you already have a decent pair of earbuds or headphones and can hold out longer for a good deal, we’d wait to see what those sales bring.

Read more

More News