Sony's new WF-1000XM5 buds are here, and AirPods Pro 2 better watch out

Sony WF-1000XM5
(Image credit: Sony)

Audio Titan Sony has announced the WF-1000XM5, the follow-up to the popular WF-1000XM4, with improvements to the noise canceling, sound profile, size, and design.

In an announcement today, the new buds were unveiled alongside a new tagline for the brand's audio hardware; 'For The Music.' Partnering with Artist Miguel, Sony says it is "affirming itself as the premier audio brand connecting creators and music lovers, aiming to create authentic music experiences and transcend emotion for fans by supporting creator vision over everything." Big words, and words that illustrate what Sony wants to do with the WF-1000XM5 earbuds.

Whats new?

What earbud launch would be complete without improved noise-canceling news? Sony says there will be massive improvements here, going so far as to demonstrate to the press with a graph. The graph tells us that the total noise ceiling has been reduced, with what looks like a lowering in particular of the mid-range frequencies. The previous model, the WF-1000XM4, were no slouch in the noise-canceling field, so these improvements will be interesting to experience firsthand.

The other big thing is the new look of the buds — they've shrunk. You could hardly call the old model big, but these new buds are positively tiny, sitting more in the ear than just outside like the old ones. Sony says they are 25% smaller, and 20% lighter. They also look a little more conventional, with a more 'normal' shape compared to the sculptural style of the previous ones. They're going to come in two different colors; black and ivory, and both are going to feature some very nice bronze accents over the vents.

Call quality and mic quality have also improved, with an AI-based algorithm that will improve mic noise canceling and isolation. Sound quality has also received a boost, with support for LDAC and Sony's DSEE Extreme tech that will upscale compressed audio to near hi-res quality. Nice.

Spatial Audio is also on board, with 360 Reality Audio, so they're coming straight for the AirPods Pro 2. Also coming directly at the AirPods Pro 2 is the price, as they're going on sale for $299/£259. They are a little more expensive, but if they perform better, they might just be worth the extra.

Tammy Rogers
Senior Staff Writer

As iMore's Senior Staff writer, Tammy uses her background in audio and Masters in screenwriting to pen engaging product reviews and informative buying guides. The resident audiophile (or audio weirdo), she's got an eye for detail and a love of top-quality sound. Apple is her bread and butter, with attention on HomeKit and Apple iPhone and Mac hardware. You won't find her far away from a keyboard even outside of working at iMore – in her spare time, she spends her free time writing feature-length and TV screenplays. Also known to enjoy driving digital cars around virtual circuits, to varying degrees of success. Just don't ask her about AirPods Max - you probably won't like her answer.