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.

Sony WF-1000XM5 vs Sony WF-1000XM4

Sony made the WF-1000XM5 smaller and lighter, but are they better?
By
January 16, 2024
Sony WF-1000XM5
MSRP: $299.99
8.7
Check price
Positives
Excellent ANC and Isolation
Comfortable
SBC, AAC, and LDAC support
Great app support
Great battery life
Negatives
Price
Default sound too bassy
Sony WF-1000XM4
MSRP: $279.99
8
Check price
Positives
360 Reality Audio support
Excellent Isolation, ANC
Foam ear tips
IPX4 rating
Bluetooth 5.2; SBC, AAC, and LDAC
Negatives
Price
Out-of-the-box sound a little wonky

Since the Sony WF-1000XM4 came out, fans have been wondering how Sony will improve the next-gen earbuds. Fortunately, we no longer have to wonder. The WF-1000XM5 comes with even better active noise canceling (ANC) and a more comfortable fit than before. Just because the XM5 buds are newer, though, doesn’t make them the best earbuds for your needs. We’ll compare the Sony WF-1000XM5 vs WF-1000XM4 to clear up some unique differences between the buds.

Editor’s note: this post was published on January 16, 2024, to ensure the timeliness of the information within.

What’s it like to use the Sony WF-1000XM5 and WF-1000XM4?

One hand holding the Sony WF-1000XM5 inside of the charging case with the lid open
Harley Maranan / SoundGuys
The Sony WF-1000XM5 provides over 8 hours of battery life on a single charge and up to 24 hours with the charging case.

The Sony WF-1000XM5 looks like the WF-1000XM4, but the newer buds are 25% smaller and 20% lighter. Not only did Sony shrink the buds, but it also re-contoured the shape and got rid of the edges. The new buds still protrude from the ears more than the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro or AirPods Pro 2, but they’re noticeably more comfortable than the last-gen buds.

We also credit the improved comfort to the broader array of memory foam ear tips. The WF-1000XM4 includes three sets of foam tips (S-L), and the newer buds come in four sizes (XS-L). Sony also redesigned the WF-1000XM5 tips, making them more malleable and allowing the buds to block out more noise.

The Sony WF-1000XM4's case open, revealing the earphones sitting within.
The addition of the copper ANC mic housings makes the Sony WF-1000XM4 a bit more glam.

The WF-1000XM4 and XM5 earbuds share the same IPX4 water-resistant build. You can exercise with them and get caught in a rainstorm. We prefer working out with the WF-1000XM5 because of the smaller shape. Depending on your preferred exercise, you may need dedicated workout earbuds with hooks or wings. Just so you know, while the IPX4 rating protects the buds from water splashes, you can’t shower with or submerge them.

Under the hood, the Sony WF-1000XM5 houses the V2 and QN2e processors, while the WF-1000XM4 houses the V1 and QN1e processors. Both do the same thing, but the newer chips afford more processing power for improved ANC and microphone performance.

The Sony WF-1000XM5 are much more comfortable than the WF-1000XM4, making them more appealing to listeners with small ears.

Both cases accept USB-C and support wireless charging. Their horizontal orientations allow them to stand upright. The WF-1000XM5 case measures 65 x 27 x 40 mm, and the WF-1000XM4 case measures 69 x 30 x 30 mm. The new case is lighter than the old one, weighing 38g compared to 41.1g.

Sony gives you two color options: black and silver for its WF-1000XM5 and WF-1000XM4 earphones.

How do you control the Sony WF-1000XM5 and WF-1000XM4?

A hand holds a single Sony WF-1000XM4 earbud next to a single earbud of the Sony WF-1000XM5
Harley Maranan / SoundGuys
Both earbuds have a robust command system that requires a series of taps.

The Sony WF-1000XM5 and WF-1000XM4 support touch controls. Tapping the buds several times lets you change songs, answer calls, and more. With the WF-1000xM5, Sony added onboard volume controls, which the WF-1000XM4 lacks.

Sony WF-1000XM5 controls:

INPUTACTION (left bud)ACTION (right bud)
INPUT
ONE TAP
ACTION (left bud)
ANC/Ambient sound
ACTION (right bud)
Play/Pause
INPUT
TWO TAPS
ACTION (left bud)
Quick Access
ACTION (right bud)
Next
INPUT
THREE TAPS
ACTION (left bud)
Quick Access
ACTION (right bud)
Previous
INPUT
FOUR TAPS
ACTION (left bud)
Volume Down
ACTION (right bud)
Volume Up
INPUT
TAP AND HOLD
ACTION (left bud)
Quick Attention
ACTION (right bud)
Voice Assistant

The Sony WF-1000XM4 and WF-1000XM5 support “Hey, Google” or “Alexa” on Android and have proximity sensors for automatic wear detection. This means removing the earbuds, pausing the music, and wearing them to resume the music. You can customize the controls through the free mobile app.

Sony WF-1000XM4 controls:

INPUTACTION (left bud)ACTION (right bud)
INPUT
ONE TAP
ACTION (left bud)
Mute/ANC/Ambient sound
ACTION (right bud)
Play/Pause
INPUT
TWO TAPS
ACTION (left bud)
N/A
ACTION (right bud)
Track forward/answer call
INPUT
THREE TAPS
ACTION (left bud)
N/A
ACTION (right bud)
Track backward
INPUT
TAP AND HOLD
ACTION (left bud)
N/A
ACTION (right bud)
Smart assistant

Sony WF-1000XM5 vs WF-1000XM4: App features

The Headphones Connect app complements the WF-1000XM5 and XM4 and works on Android and iOS. The app experience is virtually identical between the buds, except the newer WF-1000XM5 has a toggle for head tracking. This feature works with spatial audio content and tracks your head movement relative to the device.

Shared features that you’ll find in the Headphones Connect app include a five-band equalizer. Sony also includes some EQ presets if you want to avoid creating your own. The presets are suitable for specific types of media like spoken word content. You can also toggle Ambient Sound mode (aka transparency), Adaptive Sound Control, and Speak-to-Chat on or off. Adaptive Sound Control accounts for the environmental noise and your movement, adjusting the Ambient Aware and ANC modes on the fly. With Speak-to-Chat, the earbuds sense when you’re speaking and immediately pause media playback, enabling Ambient Sound. This way, you can hold a quick conversation without removing the buds.

The new earphones have sensors for head tracking, while the old buds lack this feature.

The app is also necessary for using DSEE Extreme, Sony’s algorithm for upscaling lossy audio files. Most listeners won’t need this, but it can be beneficial if you store lossy, low-quality audio files on your device. The app also hosts an ear tip fit test for both sets of buds. More basic in-app features include control customization and firmware updates.

How do the WF-1000XM5 and Sony WF-1000XM4 connect?

Sony WF-1000XM5 charging case open showing the earbuds next to the Sony WF-1000XM4 charging case open with the earbuds on a wooden table
Harley Maranan / SoundGuys
The WF-1000XM5 and WF-1000XM4 support SBC, AAC, and LDAC.

The Sony WF-1000XM5 uses Bluetooth 5.3, which is slightly more efficient than Bluetooth 5.2 found on the WF-1000XM4. With the WF-1000XM5, you get LE Audio for low-latency streaming on compatible devices. Both sets of buds support the same Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC, and LDAC.

You can enjoy one-step pairing to an Android device with either set of buds because they both support Google Fast Pair. Both sets of buds can also juggle simultaneous connections with multipoint.

What’s the battery life like on the Sony WF-1000XM5 and WF-1000XM4?

Sony WF-1000XM5 charging case placed next to the Sony WF-1000XM4 charging case on a wood table
Harley Maranan / SoundGuys
Both cases provide 16 hours of portable power, but the WF-1000XM5 earbuds have a longer standalone battery life than the WF-1000XM4.

We tested the WF-1000XM5 and WF-1000X4 with our standardized battery tests, playing music peaking at 75dB(SPL) until the batteries depleted. With ANC on, the WF-1000XM5 lasted 9 hours, 32 minutes on a single charge, about two hours longer than the 7 hours, 43 minutes we eked out of the WF-1000XM4. Both charging cases hold an extra 16 hours of ANC listening and support wireless charging. To recharge either case by wire, Sony provides a USB-C cable.

Does the Sony WF-1000XM5 have better noise canceling than the WF-1000XM4?

A chart compares the Sony WF-1000XM5 vs Sony WF-1000XM4 ANC performance, revealing the XM5 buds block out more noise.
The WF-1000XM5 blocks out more low and high-frequency content than the WF-1000XM4.

The Sony WF-1000XM5 has better noise canceling than their predecessors. The new earbuds attenuate sub-bass frequencies up to 32dB, whereas the max sub-bass attenuation for the WF-1000XM4 is about 28 dB. Additionally, the WF-1000XM5 has a more consistent ANC effect from 100-300Hz than the WF-1000XM4. You won’t observe any odd filtering noise with the WF-1000XM5.

Sony improved its memory foam ear tips on the WF-1000XM5, too. The new tips are easier to pinch and fit in your ears, resulting in better high-frequency isolation. You can see this improvement from 1-3kHz. Ambient noises that fall in that frequency range, like background laughter and unpredictable noises, will sound about 50% quieter with the new buds.

Another benefit of the WF-1000XM5 over the WF-1000XM4 is the copper-colored mesh covers that reduce wind noise. In all fairness, both sets of earbuds are great for commuting and air travel. The WF-1000XM5 will take the edge off a touch more than the WF-1000XM4.

How does the Sony WF-1000XM5 sound quality compare to the WF-1000XM4?

We tested the WF-1000XM5 and WF-1000XM4 using our standard protocol on our B&K 5128. The chart above illustrates how the models have similar frequency responses generally but handle treble differently. With the newer XM5 earbuds, you’ll perceive more vocal and instrumental clarity in the high frequencies (above 1kHz) than the WF-1000XM4. This improved clarity is helped by new 8.4mm dynamic drivers, compared to the 6mm drivers in the WF-1000XM4.

Since both generations of buds share the same app, you can equalize them to your liking. It takes just a few moments to create a custom EQ for the WF-1000XM4 so they sound akin to the XM5 buds. Aside from that, you can also equalize either set of buds to reduce the mid-bass emphasis. We recommend decreasing the Clear Bass slider a couple of notches.

What is the microphone quality like on the Sony WF-1000XM5 and WF-1000XM4?

The Sony WF-1000XM5 has the most advanced mic system in the WF-1000X series. Each earbud houses three microphones. Together, they use AI to enhance the speaker’s voice above background noise. Unfortunately, our WF-1000XM5 are pre-production earbuds, and the microphone quality doesn’t reflect the mass-market units on sale today. We will update this section when we have demos that accurately represent the WF-1000XM5 mics. Below, we’ve included the WF-1000XM4 standardized microphone samples. At the very least, the newer buds should have equal call quality.

Sony WF-1000XM4 microphone demo (Ideal conditions):

Sony WF-1000XM4 microphone demo (Windy conditions):

Sony WF-1000XM5 vs WF-1000XM4: Price and availability

The Sony WF-10000XM5 is available now and costs $298. The WF-1000XM4 is a bit more affordable at $278. You’ll find the WF-1000XM5 and WF-1000XM4 available in black or silver. Historically, the WF-1000XM4 goes on sale around various holiday seasons. We’ve noticed the price drop as low as $178 and expect the WF-1000XM5 will also go on promotion throughout its lifecycle.

Sony WF-1000XM5 vs Sony WF-1000XM4: Which should you buy?

The Sony WF-1000XM4 charging case open next to the Sony WF-1000XM5 charging case with one ear bud in front of the case from each product
Harley Maranan / SoundGuys
The WF-1000XM4 are great earbuds, but the WF-1000XM5 are even better.

The Sony WF-1000XM5 and WF-1000XM4 are some of the best noise canceling earbuds around. For the absolute best ANC between the two, get the WF-1000XM5. The more comfortable design lends itself to longer listening sessions, and the improved ANC is impressive. The WF-1000XM5 are also Sony’s first earbuds to include head tracking — an excellent feature for movie buffs.

The WF-1000XM5 are more comfortable and technically impressive than the WF-1000XM4, but the XM4 buds are the better bang for your buck.

That said, the WF-1000XM4 holds its own against modern flagships. The ANC and isolation are effective, and you get most of the same software features as the WF-1000XM5. I especially appreciate how Sony added multipoint connectivity to the WF-1000XM4 via update. If you have larger ears, the WF-1000XM4 may also fit as comfortably as the smaller WF-1000XM5. If you want the best value between these two sets of earphones, get the WF-1000XM4.

See price at Amazon
Sony WF-1000XM4
1%off
Sony WF-1000XM4
Great ANC
IPX4 rating
360 Reality Audio
See price at Amazon
Sony WF-1000XM5
1%off
Sony WF-1000XM5
Great ANC
Improved sound quality
Comfortable fit with four ear tip options

Frequently asked questions

The WF-1000XM5 and WF-1000XM4 cases work with wireless charging mats.

Yes, both the WF-1000XM5 and WF-1000XM4 have Ambient Sound mode. You can enable this directly from the earbuds or through the Headphones Connect app on iOS or Android.

The WF-1000XM5 and WF-1000XM4 both work with Android. Google Fast Pair enables one-step pairing with Android devices, and you can customize the listening experience through the Headphones Connect app.

You can use the WF-1000XM5 and WF-1000XM4 with an iPhone. All the same, features that work on Android will work on iOS, so long as you download the Headphones Connect app.

Yes, the Sony WF-1000XM5 and WF-1000XM4 both support multipoint connectivity. Sony added this functionality to the WF-1000XM4 in a firmware update, and the WF-1000XM5 came with multipoint to boot.

Both the WF-1000XM4 and WF-1000XM5 are water-resistant and merit the same IPX4 rating. Both sets of buds can survive water splashes from any direction, but we urge you to dry them off before inserting them into the case.