Sony WF-1000XM5 vs WF-1000XM4

Sony WF-1000XM5 vs WF-1000XM4: Should you upgrade?

The Sony WF-1000XM5 and WF-1000XM4 are both exceptional earbuds from Sony’s acclaimed 1000x series, with the Sony WF-1000XM5s being the latest and most advanced earbuds from Sony released on July 24 2023. The Sony WF-1000XM5s come with numerous improvements – it has a new glossy finish while makes the earbuds look more aesthetic, compared to the WF-1000XM4 which has a matte finish. Furthermore, the biggest improvement that Sony made to the WF-1000XM5 earbuds is the ear size – the WF-1000XM5 is now 25% smaller and 20% lighter than the WF-1000XM4, making it extremely comfortable to wear for long periods of time especially for those with smaller ears (although the driver unit itself in the WF-1000XM5 is larger than the WF-1000XM4). If you are looking for more comfortable ears, the Sony WF-1000XM5s are definitely much better than the previous 1000XM4s.

The Sony WF-1000XM5s also come equipped with numerous improvements to the noise cancellation and sound performance. The 1000XM5s now provide better ANC which can attenutate sub-bass frequencies up to 32dB compared to the 1000XM4’s 28 dB, and also has more vocal and instrumental clarity in the high frequency ranges due to its new 8.4mm dynamic driver (compared to the XM4’s 6mm drivers). We would say that the WF-1000XM5s have a more balanced sound signature with improved bass depth, more detail and spacious sound as compared to the XM4s and better noise cancelling capability.

Sony WF-1000XM5 vs WF-1000XM4 Comparison
Sony WF-1000XM5 vs WF-1000XM4 side by side comparison. The WF-1000XM5s have a slightly larger 8.4mm driver

Comparing the Specs

SpecificationSony WF-1000XM5Sony WF-1000XM4
WeightApprox. 0.21″ x2 (earbuds)Approx. 1.45 oz
Headphone TypeClosed, dynamicTruly Wireless
DSEE ExtremeYesYes
Frequency Response (Bluetooth)20–20,000 Hz (44.1 kHz sampling) / 20–40,000 Hz (LDAC 96 kHz sampling, 990 kbps)20 Hz–20,000 Hz (44.1 kHz sampling) / 20 Hz–40,000 Hz (LDAC 96 kHz sampling, 990 kbps)
Driver Unit8.4mm6 mm
WaterproofYes (IPX4 equivalent)Yes (IPX4)
Battery Charge TimeApprox. 1.5 hrsApprox. 1.5 hrs
Battery Life (Music Playback Time)Max. 8 hrs (NC ON) / Max. 12 hrs (NC OFF)Max. 8 hrs (NC On) / Max. 12 hrs (NC Off)
Bluetooth VersionBluetooth Specification Version 5.3Bluetooth Specification Version 5.2
Supported Audio FormatsSBC, AAC, LDAC, LC3SBC, AAC, LDAC
Noise CancelingYesYes

Both models offer advanced features such as DSEE Extreme, a wide frequency response, and waterproof design. The WF-1000XM5 has a larger driver unit compared to the WF-1000XM4 and supports an additional audio format (LC3).

Sound Performance Comparison

In terms of sound quality, the XM5 offers a more precise spatial imaging and a deeper, more intense bass, with the sub-bass power being more prominent than in the XM4. The XM5’s ‘find your EQ’ feature allows for more personalized sound adjustments, providing you with a range of filters to tailor their listening experience. While both models have average midrange reproduction, the XM5 has a slightly darker timbre with moments of instrumental and vocal clarity that can be enhanced through EQ settings. The highs in the XM5 also have more height and airiness than the XM4, offering a more sparkling and dynamic range. For example, Tony Bennett’s “The Way You Look Tonight” sounded much brighter and spacious on the XM5 earbuds, with very good spatial imaging and detail in the upper frequency ranges as compared to the XM4 earbuds which sounded duller.

One notable enhancement is the XM5 earbud’s ability to provide deeper, more distinct bass with better clarity due to the use of Sony’s latest DSEE codec. The XM5 stands out for its deeper bass with more present sub-bass power, providing a more intense sound with clear bass that makes EDM and rock music sound much more engaging. This might overshadow other frequency ranges, but it can be balanced with the ‘find your EQ’ feature. The XM4 also provides strong bass but with less depth compared to the XM5.

Overall, we preferred the sound signature of the Sony WF-1000XM5s as they make music sound much more engaging with deeper bass notes and punchy beats, while the XM4s earbuds feel more mellow and well-balanced.

The Sony WF-1000XM5 delivers much better noise cancelling than the 1000XM4 earbuds with adjustable ANC levels

Noise Cancelling Comparison

The WF-1000XM5 provides exceptional noise cancelling and is comparable with Bose’s latest Bose QuietComfort Ultra earbuds. It incorporates a second feedback mic in each earbud (totalling three mics), along with the new Integrated Processor V2 and the HD Noise Cancelling Processor QN2e. This setup enhances the XM5’s ability to block lower frequencies and reduces 20% more noise compared to the XM4. The XM5 also provides better call quality with an AI-based noise-reduction algorithm and an additional microphone.

Both models feature Adaptive Sound Control and Ambient Sound Control which can allow the earbuds to adjust the noise cancellation in real time according to your surrounding environments. However, the XM5 introduces head tracking for 360 Reality Audio tracks, akin to Apple’s Spatial Audio which makes music much more fun and engaging to listen to especially if you use these earbuds to watch movies.

One notable difference is that the Sony WF-1000XM5 uses the latest Bluetooth 5.3 and the XM4 uses Bluetooth 5.2. The battery life is similar between both earbuds with both offering around 8 hours of playtime on a single charge.

Design and Specs

Design-wise, the WF-1000XM5 earbuds have undergone significant changes. They are 25% smaller and 20% lighter than the XM4, and are just much more comfortable than the XM4s for prolonged listening. Additionally, the XM5 comes with an extra small ear tip size, accommodating a wider range of ear sizes (especially for those with smaller ears). In terms of aesthetics, the XM5 now has a slightly glossy finish, differing from the matte finish of the XM4. Both models maintain an IPX4 water-resistant rating, making them suitable for gym use and resistant to sweat and splashes.

Both earbuds have roughly the same battery life of 8 hours on a single charge and up to 24 hours with the charging case.

The Verdict?

The Sony WF-1000XM5s are definitely worth the upgrade from the Sony WF-1000XM4 earbuds. The Sony WF-1000XM5 earbuds are much more comfortable to wear than the XM4 earbuds and are substantially lighter and smaller, making them great for those with small ears. You can practically wear the XM5 earbuds for hours on end without feeling ear fatigue and this reason alone can be a game-changer for those who want a more comfortable listening experience.

Furthermore, the XM5s come with more advanced noise cancelling which can block louder noise levels and reduce ambient background sounds for a comfortable listening experience. Compared to the XM4 earbuds, the XM5s also deliver crisper highs and nicer bass that has more depth with DSEE codec support for high quality music streaming. These upgrades make the WF-1000XM5 a substantial improvement over the previous XM4 and we highly recommend getting them.