Sony’s WH-1000XM4 noise-canceling headphones have been one of the best options since they debuted in 2020, but it looks like the company is preparing to release the next generation. German tech news site TeknikNyt has published some pictures and specifications of the successor, apparently called WH-1000XM5 (via Gizmodo).
The first thing you might notice is a sleek new design, especially a thinner headband. The 1000XM3s and 1000XM4s were almost identical, but Sony could change the way things look for the new 1000XM5s.
Instead of a wrapped arm that rotates, the arm is exposed, with a single point of contact replacing the XM4’s larger folding hinge over the ear cups. It also changes the design of the ear cups, but suggests that there is just a little more space available for the things that affect what you hear.
The arm looks slimmer than the previous design and can contribute to a lighter weight that hopefully does not give up strength and durability. As Gizmodo points out (via Notebook check and The Walkman blog), applications to the FCC and other regulators outlining a new model were discovered in February. A key element revealed is that the FCC label has moved from the headband itself to under an ear cushion, which The Walkman blog speculated could mean that the tape is now made of metal instead of plastic.
Pictures of the leaked models in their carrying case show a design that removes the collapsible folding of the XM4 that hid one cup inside the other. Still, in these photos, it seems doubtful that they will take up much more space on a desk, stand or in your bag.
According to TeknikNyt retail source, the WH-1000XM5 will have an estimated battery life of up to 40 hours with active noise reduction (ANC) on, 10 hours longer than the XM4, with a total charging time of 3.5 hours via USB-C, approximately 30 minutes longer than the XM4. They also report that it will use two processors for the ANC instead of one, and audio will be produced by a new driver, although there are no details on what has changed. They still have three microphones to pick up your voice and detect noise to cancel it, but the location has changed.
The button that was previously marked “Custom” is in the same place as before, but now marked NC / Ambient, which probably reflects what most people use it for, rather than integrated voice assistants or something else.
Last year’s model repeated its award-winning predecessor with “Speak to Chat”, which mutes the music if it hears you trying to talk to someone, and multipoint Bluetooth audio that remained connected to more than one device at a time. The latter feature was much more useful, although it had some flaws at launch. Software updates helped it work better, but any improvement in helping the headphones decide which device to connect to and when would be welcome.
There are no words on pricing or a release date, but the WH-1000XM4 cost $ 349.99 at launch, and retailers like Best Buy and Amazon maintain that price today. The price of headphones has occasionally dropped during sales Guardian offer points out when they appear and it is unclear whether the changes in a new model will move the beam in any direction.