As advertised and promised, the WH-1000XM5 benefits from an improved active noise reduction system compared to the previous model, but not everything is so simple…
Sony’s new flagship is capable, at best, of offering a slightly higher level of isolation than its predecessor, which was already among the best in the field. The system mainly acquires efficiency at high frequencies, in the mid / treble level, by erasing the slight background noise (very diffuse and rather loud breathing) that can be observed on previous models. The WH-1000XM5 is therefore able to put the user into a real bubble of silence thanks to the extremely effective action on a wide range of noise sources, in particular conversations that become almost indistinguishable. Pure fun.
Note that we intentionally insisted above on the “best case scenario” idea, which is because the WH-1000XM5’s active noise reduction does not always provide the same isolation performance. The system is actually based on automatic optimization, completely linked to any functionality associated with the application (randomization, adaptive voice control), and is intended to be completely transparent to the user. In other words, which cannot be managed in any way. The small problem is that this switching between the different levels – we identified two key levels during testing – can sometimes be done in a somewhat reverse way. In fact, at the lowest level of attenuation that we observed, and the only one we were able to measure, the headphones provide less isolation in the low and mid/mid region (on certain components of spin/vent noise and human voices), in situations that specifically require Maximum level of performance, in open space Or a noisy train, for example.
Moreover, we sometimes found that in the same environment and identical noise conditions, with complete silence still, active noise reduction oscillates between the two levels from time to time, without anyone knowing exactly why. This behavior is obviously seen when headphones are used only to isolate themselves (this doesn’t stream any content or at very low volume), but it’s still unfortunate.
Finally, the WH-1000XM5 shows a nice evolution in ambient sound listening mode, which is distinctly more natural and thus proves to be more pleasant and usable than its previous iterations. Thus we can hope to carry on a conversation or just perceive our environment more clearly and instinctively. We still have good capabilities behind some models that are more transparent, honest and “open”, such asAirPods Maxand therefore less muted than the WH-1000XM5, whose isolation is still evident on the ears.
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