Sony XM4 vs XM5 – Why Do I Recommend Sony XM5?

Why the Sony XM5 is the Ultimate Choice? Sony’s WH-1000XM series has set the benchmark for noise-cancelling headphones. With the XM5, Sony has taken innovation to the next level. Here are the quick comparison, we’ll highlight why the XM5 outperforms the XM4, helping you choose the perfect headphones for your needs

Why Do I Recommend Sony XM5

While both the XM4 and XM5 are exceptional headphones, the XM5 brings several noteworthy improvements to the table. Here’s why I recommend the Sony XM5:

  • Enhanced Noise Cancellation: The XM5 features an upgraded noise-cancelling system with two processors and eight microphones, offering even better ambient noise reduction.
  • Improved Sound Quality: With a new 30mm driver unit, the XM5 delivers clearer and more detailed audio across all frequencies.
  • Sleeker Design: The XM5 boasts a more modern, streamlined look that’s both aesthetically pleasing and functional.
  • Better Call Quality: Thanks to its advanced microphone system and AI-powered noise rejection, the XM5 provides superior call clarity.
  • Increased Comfort: The redesigned headband and earcups offer a more comfortable fit for extended listening sessions.
  • Faster Charging: The XM5 supports quicker charging, providing 3 hours of playback with just 3 minutes of charging.
  • Auto Play/Pause: The XM5 automatically pauses music when you take off the headphones and resumes when you put them back on.
  • Improved Touch Controls: The touch-sensitive surface on the XM5 is more responsive and intuitive to use.
  • Multi-Device Connectivity: Like the XM4, the XM5 can connect to two devices simultaneously, but with improved switching capabilities.
  • Environmental Awareness: The XM5 is made with recycled materials, appealing to environmentally conscious consumers.

Check Sony XM4 Price

Sony XM4 vs XM5 Side by Side Comparison

sony xm4 vs xm5
FeatureSony WH-1000XM5Sony WH-1000XM4
Noise CancellationIntegrated Processor V1HD Noise Cancelling Processor QN1
Driver Unit30mm40mm
Battery LifeUp to 30 hoursUp to 30 hours
Quick Charging3 hours in 3 minutes5 hours in 10 minutes
Bluetooth Version5.25.0
Multi-Device ConnectionYes (2 devices)Yes (2 devices)
Touch ControlsYes (Improved)Yes
Voice Assistant SupportYesYes
Wearing DetectionYes (Improved)Yes
Folding DesignYesNo
App SupportSony Headphones ConnectSony Headphones Connect
PriceCheck Sony XM5 Price at AmazonCheck Sony XM4 Price at Amazon

What Can Both Do?

Both the Sony XM4 and XM5 offer a range of impressive features that cater to various user needs. Here’s a list of capabilities shared by both models:

  • Active Noise Cancellation: Both headphones provide industry-leading noise cancellation to immerse you in your audio.
  • Ambient Sound Mode: This feature allows you to hear your surroundings without removing the headphones.
  • Speak-to-Chat: Automatically pauses music and enables ambient sound when you start speaking.
  • Touch Controls: Easily manage playback, volume, and calls with touch-sensitive panels on the earcups.
  • Voice Assistant Support: Compatible with Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and Siri for hands-free control.
  • Multipoint Connection: Connect to two Bluetooth devices simultaneously for easy switching.
  • Customizable EQ: Fine-tune your audio experience using the Sony Headphones Connect app.
  • LDAC Support: Both models support Sony’s high-quality LDAC codec for superior wireless audio transmission.
  • Wearing Detection: Automatically pause playback when you remove the headphones.
  • Long Battery Life: Enjoy up to 30 hours of playtime with noise cancellation activated.
  • Quick Charging: Rapid charge functionality for when you need a quick boost.
  • 360 Reality Audio: Support for Sony’s immersive 3D audio format.
  • DSEE Extreme: AI-driven upscaling to enhance the quality of compressed audio files.
  • Bluetooth 5.0+: Stable and efficient wireless connectivity.
  • NFC Pairing: Quick and easy pairing with compatible devices.

Common Strengths

Both the Sony XM4 and XM5 share several strengths that have made the WH-1000X series a favorite among audiophiles and casual listeners alike:

  • Exceptional Sound Quality: Both models deliver rich, detailed, and well-balanced audio across various genres.
  • Industry-Leading Noise Cancellation: The XM4 and XM5 are at the top of their class when it comes to blocking out ambient noise.
  • Comfortable Design: While the XM5 offers improvements, both models are designed for long-wearing comfort.
  • Impressive Battery Life: With up to 30 hours of playback, both headphones can last through multiple long-haul flights or several days of regular use.
  • Smart Features: From wear detection to speak-to-chat, both models offer convenient smart functionalities.
  • Customizable Experience: The Sony Headphones Connect app allows users to tailor their listening experience on both models.
  • High-Quality Wireless Audio: Support for advanced codecs like LDAC ensures superior wireless sound quality.
  • Versatile Connectivity: Both can connect to two devices simultaneously and offer NFC for quick pairing.
  • Voice Assistant Integration: Easy access to popular voice assistants enhances hands-free operation.
  • Adaptive Sound Control: Both models can learn your frequently visited locations and adjust sound settings accordingly.

Now, let’s delve deeper into the Sony XM4 vs XM5 comparison to help you make an informed decision:

Design and Comfort: The Sony XM5 introduces a significant design overhaul compared to its predecessor. While the XM4 maintains the classic look of the series, the XM5 opts for a more modern, streamlined appearance. The headband on the XM5 is slimmer and uses a step-less slider for adjustment, providing a more precise fit. The earcups on the XM5 are slightly larger and more oval-shaped, which may offer better comfort for some users.

One notable change is that the XM5 no longer features a folding design. While this might be a drawback for some travelers who prioritize compact storage, the new design contributes to the XM5’s improved structural integrity and noise isolation.

Both models are lightweight, with the XM5 being slightly lighter at 250g compared to the XM4’s 254g. This small difference, combined with the redesigned headband and earcups, makes the XM5 marginally more comfortable for extended listening sessions.

Sound Quality: Both the XM4 and XM5 deliver exceptional sound quality, but there are some differences worth noting. The XM5 features a new 30mm driver unit, which might seem like a downgrade from the XM4’s 40mm driver at first glance. However, Sony has optimized this new driver to produce clearer and more detailed sound across all frequencies.

The XM5’s sound signature is slightly more balanced and neutral compared to the XM4, which has a bit more emphasis on the low end. This makes the XM5 potentially more appealing to audiophiles who prefer a flatter response. However, both headphones offer customizable EQ through the Sony Headphones Connect app, allowing users to tailor the sound to their preferences.

Both models support Sony’s LDAC codec, which allows for high-resolution audio transmission over Bluetooth. They also feature DSEE Extreme technology, which uses AI to upscale compressed audio files in real-time, enhancing the overall listening experience.

Noise Cancellation: While the XM4’s noise cancellation was already industry-leading, Sony has managed to improve upon it with the XM5. The new model features an upgraded noise-cancelling system with two processors working in tandem with eight microphones (compared to the XM4’s single processor and four microphones).

This enhanced system allows the XM5 to more effectively cancel out a wider range of frequencies, particularly in the mid to high range. This means better performance in environments with human voices or higher-pitched noises. The XM5 also adapts more quickly to changes in your environment, providing a more seamless noise-cancelling experience.

That being said, the XM4’s noise cancellation is still excellent and will be more than sufficient for most users. The difference is most noticeable in challenging environments or for users who are particularly sensitive to ambient noise.

Call Quality: One area where the XM5 shows significant improvement is in call quality. The new model features four beamforming microphones and AI-powered noise rejection technology. This combination results in clearer voice pickup and better isolation of your voice from background noise during calls.

While the XM4 performs adequately for calls, the XM5 elevates the experience to a level where these headphones can confidently be used for important business calls or video conferences, even in noisy environments.

Battery Life and Charging: Both the XM4 and XM5 offer impressive battery life, with up to 30 hours of playback time with noise cancellation activated. However, the XM5 has an edge when it comes to quick charging. It can provide 3 hours of playback with just 3 minutes of charging, compared to the XM4’s 5 hours of playback with 10 minutes of charging.

This improvement in charging speed can be crucial for users who often find themselves needing a quick battery boost before heading out.

Smart Features: Both models come packed with smart features that enhance the user experience. They both offer:

  • Speak-to-Chat: Automatically pauses music and activates ambient sound mode when you start speaking.
  • Wearing detection: Pauses playback when you remove the headphones.
  • Adaptive Sound Control: Learns your frequently visited locations and adjusts sound settings accordingly.
  • Multipoint connection: Allows connection to two devices simultaneously.

The XM5 refines some of these features. For instance, its wearing detection is more responsive, and the multipoint connection switches between devices more seamlessly.

Price and Value: As the newer model, the Sony WH-1000XM5 comes with a higher price tag than the XM4. This price difference is significant enough to be a deciding factor for many consumers.

For those on a tighter budget or who don’t need the absolute latest technology, the XM4 represents excellent value. It still offers top-tier noise cancellation, great sound quality, and a full suite of smart features at a more accessible price point.

On the other hand, if you’re after the best of the best and are willing to pay a premium, the XM5 justifies its higher price with its improvements in noise cancellation, call quality, and overall refinement.

FAQs About the Sony XM4 vs XM5

How does the XM5’s non-folding design impact its durability compared to the XM4?

The XM5’s non-folding design actually enhances its durability. With fewer moving parts, there’s less risk of mechanical failure over time. The unified structure also contributes to better noise isolation and overall build quality.

Can the XM5’s smaller 30mm drivers reproduce bass as effectively as the XM4’s 40mm drivers? 

Yes, the XM5’s 30mm drivers are specially designed to deliver excellent bass response. Despite being smaller, they’re optimized for efficiency and can reproduce low frequencies just as effectively as the XM4’s larger drivers, while offering improvements in mid and high ranges.

How do the XM4 and XM5 compare in terms of wind noise reduction during outdoor use?

The XM5 has a slight edge in wind noise reduction. Its sleeker design with fewer protrusions and improved microphone technology helps to minimize wind interference, resulting in clearer audio and better noise cancellation in windy conditions compared to the XM4.

Is there a difference in how the XM4 and XM5 handle humidity and sweat resistance?

While neither model is officially rated for water resistance, the XM5 has slightly better protection against humidity and sweat. Its updated design and materials offer marginally improved resistance to moisture, making it a bit more suitable for light workout sessions.

How do the touch controls on the XM5 differ from those on the XM4 in terms of responsiveness? 

The XM5’s touch controls are more responsive and accurate than the XM4’s. The touch-sensitive area on the XM5 is larger and more precisely calibrated, resulting in fewer misread gestures and a more intuitive user experience.

Can the AI noise cancellation in the XM5 be fine-tuned for specific environments more effectively than the XM4?

Yes, the XM5’s dual processor setup allows for more sophisticated environmental analysis and noise cancellation adjustments. Users can create more detailed custom profiles for specific locations, offering a more tailored noise cancellation experience compared to the XM4.

How do the XM4 and XM5 compare in terms of audio latency when used for gaming or video watching?

The XM5, with its Bluetooth 5.2 support, offers slightly lower audio latency compared to the XM4’s Bluetooth 5.0. This results in better synchronization between audio and video, making the XM5 marginally more suitable for gaming and video content consumption.

Is there a difference in how the XM4 and XM5 handle sudden loud noises or pressure changes? 

The XM5’s more advanced noise cancellation system adapts more quickly to sudden changes in noise levels or air pressure. This results in a more comfortable experience during flights or in environments with fluctuating noise levels compared to the XM4.

How do the XM4 and XM5 compare in terms of their impact on hearing health during long listening sessions?

Both models offer features to protect hearing health, but the XM5 has slightly more advanced algorithms. It more accurately tracks listening volumes over time and provides more nuanced notifications to encourage safer listening habits compared to the XM4.

Can the XM5’s improved microphone system be leveraged for better voice command recognition compared to the XM4?

Yes, the XM5’s enhanced microphone array and noise rejection algorithms result in clearer voice pickup. This translates to more accurate voice command recognition and better performance when using voice assistants or voice-to-text features compared to the XM4.


In the Sony XM4 vs XM5 debate, both headphones stand out as exceptional choices in the premium noise-cancelling headphone market. Your decision between the two will largely depend on your specific needs and budget.

Ultimately, both the XM4 and XM5 offer an exceptional listening experience that will satisfy even the most discerning audio enthusiasts. The XM5 brings notable improvements in key areas, but the XM4 remains a strong contender, especially considering its lower price point.

Whichever model you choose, you’ll be getting a pair of headphones that represent the pinnacle of wireless audio technology, promising to transform your listening experience whether you’re commuting, traveling, working, or simply enjoying your favorite music at home.