The changes to the Sony WH-1000XM5’s design are significant. Sony calls the new design a “noiseless design,” which the company has tried to use to create a sleeker, more seamless headphone by reworking the areas that can contribute to wind noise. This has resulted in smoother, curved lines and less aggressive edges. Importantly, some of the joints and hinges that allow the XM4’s earcups to fold in have also been revised. Not only do the WH-1000XM5s look quite different from previous generations, they feel different as well. They feel lighter in the hand, although the scales show only four grams between them and the XM4s. The plastics used are pleasant to the touch, although the older model still feels a bit more premium. They are made mostly of acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), a material made from certain car parts manufactured in the U.S. and Japan that are recycled and refined and mixed with mica to create the final finish. This material was first used in Sony’s innovative LinkBuds wireless headphones. The headband now features ABS sliders instead of metal bands to adjust the fit, which we think works very well. The way the sliders protrude at the bottom means they stick out a bit, and we wonder if Sony could have trimmed a bit off the edges to smooth out the profile. But that’s just a minor issue. Sony’s noise-cancellation technology has consistently impressed us in recent years, and the WH-1000XM5 claims to be the best in the business as well. After focusing on low-frequency noise in previous models, Sony has attempted to improve noise cancellation further up the frequency range in the XM5. To achieve this, Sony has incorporated the V1 integrated processor, which was first used in the WF-1000XM4 wireless earphones. Sony has also increased the number of microphones in the WH-1000XM5 to eight, and claims to have improved the technology inside the headphones that is responsible for detecting sounds. In previous generations of WH headphones, you had to run Sony’s NC Optimiser before changing locations to ensure you were getting the best possible noise cancellation. Now, the XM5 headphones automatically optimize noise cancellation when you move. This is done in conjunction with Sony’s headphone app and the Adaptive Sound Control feature, which senses where you’re wearing the headphones. Alternatively, you can switch between noise cancellation and the headphones’ ambient mode by tapping the corresponding button on the edge of the left earcup.

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