Best daily deals

All products featured are independently chosen by us. However, SoundGuys may receive a commission on orders placed through its retail links. See our ethics statement.

Bose QuietComfort Headphones vs Sony WH-1000XM5

Can't decide between the latest Bose and Sony cans? We've got you covered.
By

Published onOctober 5, 2023

If you’re in the market for active noise canceling (ANC) headphones, both Bose and Sony have been the natural brands to look to for years. But if you’ve narrowed your search between the new Bose QuietComfort Headphones and the Sony WH-1000XM5, which should you get? Let’s take a look.

Editor’s note: this article was published on October 5, 2023, and is the first version of the article. Updates will follow as the market changes.

What’s it like to use the Bose QuietComfort Headphones compared to the Sony WH-1000XM5?

Both the Bose QuietComfort Headphones and Sony WH-1000XM5 are very similar headphones, owing to the fact that the market has settled a bit on what a “good” set of ANC headphones should be. Both use dynamic drivers, lean on Bluetooth as their primary means of sound transmission, and both have the option of using a wire should you choose.

A man wears the Bose QuietComfort Headphones.
If you found the Bose QuietComfort 45 to be comfortable, good news: the Bose QuietComfort Headphones is virtually identical.

Much like the Bose QuietComfort Headphones’ predecessor, the Bose QuietComfort 45, the new headphones are more comfortable than the Sony WH-1000XM5. Bose had the good sense not to reinvent the wheel from version to version, and the form factor is largely the same. Suspiciously similar, in fact. Really, the main difference here is the available colorways and the removal of the painted logo.

Neither the Bose QuietComfort Headphones nor the Sony WH-1000XM5 are resistant to moisture, and neither bear an ingress protection rating of any kind. So you’re going to want to avoid moisture or excessive dust. I would not recommend either set of headphones to anyone for working out or using in wet environments.

No.

How do you control the Bose QuietComfort Headphones and Sony WH-1000XM5?

Controls for the Bose QuietComfort Headphones and Sony WH-1000XM5 differ in that the former uses physical buttons, and the latter uses a mix of physical buttons and touch controls. Though you might have your preferences between the two philosophies, we generally prefer the touch controls because they run a much lower risk of affecting the seal between the ear pads and your head. Every time you press a button or apply force to your headphones, it moves them. If the headset moves too much, then it can leave a gap somewhere, affecting not only your sound quality but the noise canceling as well.

A man uses the touch controls of the Sony WH-1000XM5.
Swiping to control your headphones reduces the risk of a broken seal.

Bose QuietComfort Headphones controls:

Bose’s controls live mainly on the right earcup, and consist of volume buttons, a multifunction button, and a power/Bluetooth slider. These are about as standard as you get and don’t really need an app to customize them very far.

ACTIONTOP BUTTON (right)MIDDLE BUTTON (right)BOTTOM BUTTON (right)ACTION BUTTON (left)
ACTION
One press
TOP BUTTON (right)
Volume up
MIDDLE BUTTON (right)
Play/pause, answer/end call
BOTTOM BUTTON (right)
Volume down
ACTION BUTTON (left)
Toggle ANC mode
ACTION
Two presses
TOP BUTTON (right)

MIDDLE BUTTON (right)
Next track
BOTTOM BUTTON (right)

ACTION BUTTON (left)
Mute/unmute call
ACTION
Three presses
TOP BUTTON (right)

MIDDLE BUTTON (right)
Previous track
BOTTOM BUTTON (right)

ACTION BUTTON (left)
N/A
ACTION
Press and hold
TOP BUTTON (right)

MIDDLE BUTTON (right)
Decline call
BOTTOM BUTTON (right)

ACTION BUTTON (left)
Activate shortcut

Sony WH-1000XM5 controls:

Though the Sony WH-1000XM5 has a mix of controls, we appreciate that the buttons mainly govern functions you aren’t going to be accessing while you’re listening to the headphones, such as the power button, or the ANC mode switch. All playback and call controls are handled by a series of taps, swipes, and hand-cups to the right ear’s touchpad.

INPUT (touchpad)ACTION
Swipe up
Volume up
Swipe down
Volume down
Swipe forward
Track forward
Swipe back
Track back
Hold (center)
Voice assistant
Double tap center
Pause / resume
Cup hand
Ambient sound passthrough

Should you use the apps of either Bose QuietComfort Headphones or Sony WH-1000XM5?

As of publish, only the Sony Headphones Connect app offers users a true benefit in terms of improved performance of the headphones. By installing it on your phone, you unlock firmware updates, spatial audio (with head tracking), and several other audio features like 360 Reality Audio and an EQ. Unfortunately, that app is also one of the more prolific data suckers out there, so privacy buffs will likely elect to avoid this utility.

The Bose QuietComfort Headphones sitting atop a table, with the Bose Music App open on a phone.
Harley Maranan / SoundGuys
The Bose Music App is necessary to adjust EQ, get firmware updates.

Bose’s app does have a three-band EQ for the Bose QuietComfort Headphones, but beyond that, it doesn’t do much. Of course, if new features or firmware are released for the Bose QuietComfort Headphones, you’ll need the app to handle the update for you — or you can use the Bose Updater tool on your computer.

How do the Bose QuietComfort Headphones and Sony WH-1000XM5 connect?

Though both the Bose QuietComfort Headphones and Sony WH-1000XM5 are primarily commuter ANC headphones, there’s a bit of differentiation in how each connects to source devices. Namely, the Sony WH-1000XM5 has the ability to use a higher-bitrate codec (LDAC) when connecting to Android phones, and the Bose QuietComfort Headphones only employ AAC and SBC. There’s nothing really wrong with that, and if you have an iPhone LDAC will be unavailable to you anyway, but it’s still something to be aware of if normal Bluetooth headphones don’t do it for you.

The connection ports and buttons of the Bose QuietComfort Headphones.
Harley Maranan / SoundGuys
Unfortunately, that USB-C port doesn’t allow USB-C audio.

Both headphones can connect using a TRS cable, and both can be used wirelessly over Bluetooth 5. However, only the Sony headset uses Bluetooth 5.2, while the Bose cans use Bluetooth 5.1. Though there’s not an Earth-shattering difference here, it may matter in the long run with phone compatibility. It doesn’t gate any features that are present on one but not the other, as both support multipoint, and both enjoy the improvements Bluetooth 5 offers over Bluetooth 4.

Yes. Both headphones have the ability to use a TRS cable for wired use.

Is battery life better on the Bose QuietComfort Headphones or Sony WH-1000XM5?

While the Sony WH-1000XM5 was able to survive our test for 31 hours, and 53 minutes with ANC on, the Bose QuietComfort Headphones were only able to last 27 hours, 14 minutes under the same general settings. Four hours might seem like a huge gulf, but it’s really not much more than one extra day of commuting when you’re already measuring battery life in the span of over a week in practical use. If you have to charge a day earlier, that’s not so bad — but it does add up over time by putting stress on the tiny little solder points in the USB connector.

USB-C charging port of the Sony WH-1000XM5
Both headphones may charge using USB-C, but there’s an annoying lack of USB-C audio.

I point this out because the more you put a strain on these fragile points, the more you run the risk of breaking the connection to any one of the pins needed for your headphones to work, leading to a set of broken cans. Additionally, batteries are only rated for so many charge cycles, and the less often you can charge your headphones, the longer they’ll last. It’s one of those considerations that you might not be aware of when buying gadgets like this that makes a difference over the years.

Do the Bose QuietComfort Headphones or Sony WH-1000XM5 block noise better?

Loading chart ...

Because both the Bose QuietComfort Headphones and Sony WH-1000XM5 are going to be some of the most popular ANC headphones on the market, it’s worth pointing out that Bose QuietComfort Headphones does slightly better in the 200-800Hz range than the Sony WH-1000XM5, but beyond that these are two competent noise cancelers. You really won’t hear a massive difference between them, even if the line looks a bit different on a chart. Both are not only good at canceling noise, but they’re also excellent at isolating you from outside noise as well.

Loading chart ...

If you’re hoping for a clear winner here, there isn’t one, so this comparison is a push. However, since both are so good at this task: you shouldn’t doubt yourself if you end up with one over the other. However, if you’re hoping to use these headphones in any other context than “listening to music,” we encourage you to seek out hearing protection instead — something that headphones are not.

Do the Bose QuietComfort Headphones sound better than the Sony WH-1000XM5?

Head to head, we think that the default sound of the Sony WH-1000XM5 will be more appealing to more people than the default sound of the Bose QuietComfort Headphones. While the bass shelf of the Sony WH-1000XM5 will annoy audiophiles, many people will enjoy this feature on their commutes — not necessarily at home in a quiet environment. That said, it’s a simple tweak in the Sony Headphones Connect app or in any of the music players out there with inbuilt EQ functions. Personally, the peak at 6-8kHz expressed by the Bose QuietComfort Headphones made some of my music sound strange to me, and I found it more off-putting than that of the Sony WH-1000XM5. You may disagree with this assessment.

Loading chart ...

If you’re hoping for higher-bitrate listening, only the Sony WH-1000XM5 supports higher-bitrate codecs like LDAC. Though no Bluetooth headphones are truly “lossless” yet, the Sony WH-1000XM5 is superior in this regard with its much higher transfer rates over LDAC. However, the only devices that support this codec are Android phones (and Android-based media players) at the moment, so if you aren’t using one of those devices: this advantage is erased.

Do the Bose QuietComfort Headphones or Sony WH-1000XM5 have a better microphone?

Though we could wax poetic about which microphone is better than the other, this is one of those rare times when we can show you how each mic performs in simulated conditions — and you can decide for yourself! Just note that when you’re on a phone call, several factors may affect your sound quality. Namely, your network can strongly negatively impact your call quality.

Bose QuietComfort Headphones microphone demo (Ideal conditions):

Sony WH-1000XM5 microphone demo (Ideal conditions):

Bose QuietComfort Headphones microphone demo (Windy conditions):

Sony WH-1000XM5 microphone demo (Windy conditions):

Bose QuietComfort Headphones microphone demo (Office conditions):

Sony WH-1000XM5 microphone demo (Office conditions):

Which microphone sounds best to you?

1811 votes

Bose QuietComfort Headphones vs. Sony WH-1000XM5: Price and availability

Even though the Bose QuietComfort Headphones are cheaper at the outset, the Sony WH-1000XM5’s age will work in your favor here, as its list price is seldom what you can find at online retailers. Additionally, as the Sony WH-1000XM5 is now over a year old: it will likely appear on sale more often than the Bose QuietComfort Headphones.

A top down view of the Sony WH-1000XM5 resting on a dark grey graph patterned surface.
While neither the Sony nor Bose will be difficult to find, the Sony has had more time on the shelves, so you may find it on sale in more places.

Given that both of these brands are some of the most popular around, you should not have any difficulty finding either of these sets of headphones at all. Online retailers, big box electronics stores, and even airplane kiosks will have both models available. If either is out of stock, move on to the next store and you should be good to go.

Should you get the Bose QuietComfort Headphones or Sony WH-1000XM5?

Given the features, performance, and relative longevity offered by the Sony WH-1000XM5 over the Bose QuietComfort Headphones, you should probably stick with that set of headphones. Even though the Sony WH-1000XM5 is a full year older than the Bose QuietComfort Headphones, it has a newer version of Bluetooth and a better feature set than the Bose QuietComfort Headphones. It’s also much easier to get sounding the way you want through the app.

See price at Amazon
Bose QuietComfort Headphones
Bose QuietComfort Headphones
Great battery life
Comfortable materials
Great ANC
See price at Amazon
Sony WH-1000XM5
2%off
Sony WH-1000XM5
ANC performance
Outstanding microphone
Useful app features

However, if the Bose QuietComfort Headphones appeal to you more, you may actually be better suited with the Bose QuietComfort 45 ($279 at Amazon) instead of the Bose QuietComfort Headphones. I say this because the performance and features are largely identical, save for a slightly better sound. Though you may want to do some tinkering with the sound in the Bose Music app, you can save yourself a bunch of money as Bose tries to clear out the outdated models on holiday sales. Be sure to check out our picks for best noise canceling headphones if none of these models appeal to you, as there’s a lot out there at the moment.

Frequently asked questions

Yes, both have Bluetooth Multipoint.

No, neither set of headphones support USB-C audio.

Yes, see above for samples.

Not particularly, as neither has an ingress protection rating, and the larger size of the headphones means that they’re more prone to slipping.

You can use either set of headphones with the 3.5mm TRS cable provided.

You might like