Sony WH-1000XM5 Headphones Review: How They Stack Up Against Bose and AirPods

Sony’s WH-1000XM5 over-ear headphones are the latest iteration in the company’s popular 1000X line. As the successor to the highly acclaimed WH-1000XM4, the XM5 brings improvements in audio quality, noise cancellation, comfort and features.

But how do the new Sony headphones compare to models from Bose and Apple’s AirPods? This comprehensive review will examine the XM5’s design, sound quality, noise cancellation, battery life, features and more against top competitors. We’ll help you decide if the WH-1000XM5 is the right premium wireless headphone choice for you.

Overview and Design

The Sony WH-1000XM5 sports an all-new design that is slimmer and lighter than previous models. The headphone headband and ear cups feature a more rounded aesthetic with seamless upgrades for better ergonomics.

Some key design differences between the Sony XM5, Bose 700 and AirPods Max:

Headphone ModelWeightHeadbandEarcups
Sony WH-1000XM5250gThinner, seamless lookMore oval with seamless edges
Bose 700250gFoldableOval
AirPods Max384gOne-piece knit mesh canopyoval

The Sony XM5 has a slimmer profile that is lighter than even the Bose 700. The AirPods Max are noticeably heavier.

In terms of materials, the XM5 uses a new synthetic soft-fit leather on the headband and memory foam earpads. This allows for a more comfortable fit that gently conforms to the head.

The Bose 700 features glass-filled nylon and stainless steel, giving it a high-end look and feel. The AirPods Max uses machined aluminum and a knit-mesh canopy headband. Despite the premium materials, some users find the AirPods Max uncomfortable due to its weight.

One unique aspect of the AirPods Max is the ability to customize the look with interchangeable headbands that are sold separately. The Sony and Bose models do not offer personalization options.

Overall, the Sony WH-1000XM5 strikes a slimmer and lighter profile in a more oval shape for all-day wearing comfort. Those who prioritize lightweight portability may prefer the XM5 or Bose 700 over the heavier AirPods Max.

Sound Quality

With each new iteration, Sony continues improving sound quality to deliver lush audio reproduction. Here is how the headphones compare:

Headphone ModelSound ProfileCodec SupportCustomization
Sony WH-1000XM5Balanced with clear mids/highsLDAC, aptX AdaptiveEQ in app
Bose 700Clean detailed soundaptX, AACBasic EQ
AirPods MaxSmooth, wide soundstageAACNo EQ

The Sony XM5 delivers deeply immersive sound with punchy bass, clear mids and crisp highs. The 30mm driver units produce improved clarity across all frequencies compared to the XM3 and XM4.

Sony also includes support for premium wireless codecs like LDAC and aptX Adaptive for hi-res playback with compatible devices. The ability to customize the sound profile with the EQ in the companion app is another advantage.

The well-balanced sound profile makes the XM5 great for all genres of music. Acoustic, jazz and orchestral recordings sound particularly stunning. Vocals come through with detail and intimacy.

Bose is known for its crisp, clean audio reproduction, though bass lacks some impact compared to Sony. The AirPods Max produces a wide, expansive soundstage that sounds great, though codec support is limited to AAC.

If sound quality is your top priority, the WH-1000XM5 is hard to beat with its warm, textured audio and extensive codec support. But the Bose 700 and AirPods Max also impress in different ways.

Noise Cancellation

The WH-1000XM5 introduces Sony’s new Integrated Processor V1 for improved noise canceling performance. Dual noise sensor technology better blocks out ambient sound in real-time.

Here’s how noise cancellation compares between the headphones:

Headphone ModelNoise Cancelling TechANC Performance
Sony WH-1000XM5Dual noise sensor systemIndustry-leading
Bose 70011 levels of ANCExcellent
AirPods MaxH1 chip, 6 microphonesVery Good

The XM5 blocks out ambient noise extremely well, making it easy to get immersed in your music, podcasts or calls. Adjustable ANC optimizes settings based on activity and environment.

Bose 700 ANC remains excellent with 11 increments so you can fine tune as needed. AirPods Max noise cancellation is very capable but a small step behind Sony and Bose.

For frequent travelers or commuters, the Sony WH-1000XM5 provides the most advanced and effective ANC to hush noisy surroundings. Faint background sounds like chatter and engine rumble practically disappear.

Call Quality

With more people working remotely, call quality has become a priority when choosing headphones. Here is how voice calls sound on the Sony, Bose and AirPods:

Headphone ModelMicrophonesCall Quality
Sony WH-1000XM54 beamforming micsExcellent
Bose 7004 micsVery good
AirPods Max6 micsGood

The Sony sticks out with four mics optimized for voice pickup while suppressing ambient noise. Voices sound exceptionally clear to call recipients.

Call quality is also very good on the Bose 700 with four mics. The AirPods Max has more mics but ranks lowest for call clarity, which can sound muffled at times.

If call quality is important, the beamforming mics make the WH-1000XM5 the best choice. Voices are picked up with precision while minimizing background noise.

Battery Life

Long battery life allows you to keep listening all day without constantly recharging. Here are the battery specs:

Headphone ModelBattery LifeCharging Speed
Sony WH-1000XM530 hours (ANC on)3 minute quick charge = 3 hours play
Bose 70020 hours (ANC)15 minute charge = 3.5 hours play
AirPods Max20 hours (ANC)5 minute charge = 1.5 hours play

The Sony extends battery life to 30 hours with ANC on, an improvement over the Bose 700 and AirPods Max at 20 hours each.

Quick charging provides substantial play time after just a few minutes plugged in. Sony takes the lead again, providing 3 hours from a 3 minute charge compared to under 4 hours for Bose after 15 minutes.

For longest continuous listening per charge, the WH-1000XM5 is the battery champion. Quick charging gives you hours of play time in a pinch.

Smart Features

All three headphone models include clever features that enhance the user experience. Here’s an overview:

Headphone ModelKey Features
Sony WH-1000XM5Speak-to-chat, adaptive sound, LDAC, 360 Reality Audio
Bose 700Bose AR, adjustable ANC, transparency mode
AirPods MaxSpatial audio, transparency mode, location tracking

The Sony WH-1000XM5 offers speak-to-chat which automatically pauses audio when you speak. Adaptive sound control adjusts ambient sound settings based on your location. And Sony’s LDAC codec streams hi-res wireless audio.

Bose 700 Bose AR audio for location-based augmented experiences. Adjustable ANC lets you transition from full isolation to complete transparency.

AirPods Max spatial audio and dynamic head tracking make for an immersive listening experience. The Find My app helps locate lost headphones.

All models offer useful smart features. But the Sony sticks out with unique offerings like 360 Reality Audio and speak-to-chat that improves voice interactions.


Here is a breakdown of wireless connectivity for each headphone model:

Headphone ModelBluetooth VersionMulti-Pairing
Sony WH-1000XM55.2Yes, with 2 devices
Bose 7005.0No
AirPods Max5.0Yes, with Apple devices

The Sony uses the latest Bluetooth 5.2 for optimal wireless performance. Multipoint pairing lets you connect the XM5 with two audio sources like a computer and phone.

Bose 700 only supports single device pairing at once. AirPods Max multi-pairing only works between Apple devices logged into the same iCloud account.

For the most flexible wireless connectivity, the Sony WH-1000XM5 is the winner. Broad multipoint pairing keeps you connected to your top two devices.

Pricing and Value

Here is a pricing comparison between the three headphones:

Headphone ModelMSRPCurrent Price
Sony WH-1000XM5$399$348
Bose 700$399$329
AirPods Max$549$479

The Sony WH-1000XM5 launched at $399, now selling around $348. The Bose 700 matches the Sony’s original $399 MSRP but goes for $329 now. AirPods Max remain the most expensive at its $549 launch price, currently about $479.

At 15-20% lower than the others, the Sony WH-1000XM5 provides strong value considering its excellent sound, ANC and features. But deals on the Bose 700 make it compelling for the price too.

Overall the Sony delivers performance that justifies the price tag. Savings on the Bose 700 make it more competitive based on budget.

WH-1000XM5 vs Bose 700 vs AirPods Max: Which Should You Buy?

All three headphones deliver excellent wireless audio and noise cancellation. But some key differences give each model a performance edge in certain areas:

  • Sony WH-1000XM5 – Best overall sound quality, ANC and smart features
  • Bose 700 – Sleek modern design with very good audio and ANC
  • AirPods Max – Seamless connectivity for Apple users

The Sony WH-1000XM5 is the strongest all-around performer with great sound, battery life, call quality and next-gen noise cancellation. It offers the best user experience for music, movies, calls and more.

Those who want great ANC from Bose in a lightweight portable design should consider the 700 headphones. Apple users invested in the ecosystem get the most from AirPods Max.

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Overall, the Sony WH-1000XM5 stands out as CNET’s current top wireless noise-cancelling headphone for 2022-2023. With enhancements across the board over previous models, the WH-1000XM5 earns our highest recommendation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How is the comfort on the Sony WH-1000XM5?

A: The WH-1000XM5 features a new slimmer design with softer synthetic leather and memory foam for excellent all-day wearing comfort. The lighter weight helps too. Earcups gently conform around the ears without squeeze. Those sensitive to pressure should find the XM5 very comfortable.

Q: Does the Sony WH-1000XM5 support multi-device pairing?

A: Yes, the XM5 allows simultaneous connections with two paired devices for flexible wireless connectivity. This makes it easy to switch between a phone for calls and computer for music.

Q: How does sound quality on the AirPods Max compare?

A: With a wide soundstage and spatial audio, sound quality on the AirPods Max is excellent. Music has an immersive, speaker-like quality. But codec support is limited to AAC, while Sony supports LDAC, aptX Adaptive and more. If you want hi-res wireless audio, the XM5 is better. But for casual listening, the AirPods Max still sounds great.

Q: Does the Bose 700 block out noise better than the XM5?

A: Sony edges out Bose when it comes to noise cancellation. While the Bose 700 ANC remains very good, Sony’s new Integrated Processor V1 and improved dual noise sensor technology delivers the best ANC yet. The XM5 practically eliminates ambient noise in real-time. Faint sounds like chatter and engine rumble are muted. For frequent travelers, the Sony is superior.

Q: Can the Sony WH-1000XM5 connect to an iPhone?

A: Yes, the XM5 headphones are completely compatible with iPhones. You get full audio playback, microphone access for calls, and can use controls for volume, playback and ANC. The Sony Connect app is also available for iOS for added customization. While not as seamless as AirPods Max, the XM5 works great with iPhones.

Q: Do any of these headphones offer water resistance?

A: Unfortunately none of the models are water or sweat resistant. While suitable for use in light rain, you wouldn’t want to submerge them or wear during intense workouts. For a weatherproof option, consider the $279 JBL Tour One instead. It offers an IPX4 water-resistance rating. But audio and ANC falls short of Sony and Bose.


With premium sound, advanced noise cancellation, smart features and improved design, the Sony WH-1000XM5 represents the new benchmark for wireless over-ear headphones in 2022-2023. For discerning listeners who want excellent audio playback and a superb listening experience, the WH-1000XM5 should top your list.

Bose 700 headphones remain a compelling alternative

with great sound and noise cancellation in a lightweight, comfortable design. Apple users invested in the ecosystem can’t go wrong with the seamless connectivity of AirPods Max.

But for the best all-around audio performance, listening experience and noise canceling technology, the Sony WH-1000XM5 delivers. They earn our strong recommendation as a top-tier wireless headphone that excel across the board.

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