Great audio + excellent ANC + killer battery life = the best headphones
Given Sony’s longstanding status as ANC royalty, it’s almost a given that any new entry in the high-end WH-1000 series is going to be a winner. Still, it bears calling out: the WH-1000XM5 is Android Police’s 2022 pick for wireless headphones of the year. The new XM5 isn’t a radical upgrade over the WH-1000XM4 that came before, but given Sony’s premium headphones have been so good for so long, it doesn’t need to be. In 2022, wireless headphones don’t get much better than the Sony WH-1000XM5.
Like many of our 2022 faves, including the Pixel 7 Pro and the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5, the Sony WH-1000XM5 does not represent a fundamental shift from the preceding generation. But what can we say, it was a big year for small improvements to already great products. In the case of the XM5 in particular, some of those little changes included brand-new styling — actually kind of a big get, considering the series’ look had been nearly unchanged for four generations — and noise canceling that, yet again, sets a new bar.
On the heels of several pairs of headphones that all shared the same aging design language, the Sony WH-1000XM5’s refreshed aesthetic is a breath of fresh air. It’s not especially flashy, only coming in two neutral shades, and the newer headphones are marginally less portable than the XM4 and earlier, which folded down to fit into a smaller carrying case. The WH-1000XM5 trade that convenience for an adjustable headband that slides smoothly instead of clicking into predefined positions. It might not be the most practical generational change, but the XM5’s case is only a little larger than the XM4’s was.
Sony’s trademark outstanding active noise cancellation gets a boost in the WH-1000XM5 thanks to a second ANC processor and more mics than the WH-1000XM4 had. These things can make peace and quiet out of all but the noisiest environments, which makes traveling with them a dream. This past fall, I had about 20 hours of flights in the span of a single week, and I was so happy to have the XM5 with me for it. For me, cabin noise was practically nonexistent, and fussy toddlers faded into the background. And thanks to the WH-1000XM5’s outstanding battery life — 40 hours between top-ups with ANC — I never had to think about charging.
And it almost goes without saying, but of course, the WH-1000XM5 sound fantastic, too. Audio is clear and spacious, and bass is refreshingly restrained compared to many similar over-ear options. If you’re out for movie theater-style, brain-vibrating low-end response, that’s not what you’ll get here (for that, consider our runner-up headphones this year, the Sennhesier Momentum 4). But sound out of the XM5 is detailed and sharp, and you’ll never be left wanting for better audio quality. The headphones even support Sony’s proprietary LDAC codec, if that’s a priority for you.
With excellent audio quality, segment-defining ANC, killer battery life, and a refreshed, modern look, the Sony WH-1000XM5 is an easy choice for our 2022 headphones of the year. If you’re looking for the best pair of wireless headphones you can get, this one should be at the top of your shortlist.