The WF-1000X5 series from Sony consistently stays on the list of favourite wireless earbuds for many users the world over. Each year, Sony, who cannot be faulted for not listening to its customers with this product, makes improvements to the newest in the series. The WF-1000XM5 has been pioneering with its smart features, surprisingly strong noise handling and a stellar companion app that allows for much customisation. At the same time, the wireless audio market has grown and competition, both from above and below, without and within, is intense.

The WF-1000X series has, for many years, set a new standard for an all-rounder set of earphones that give you great sound, excellent noise cancellation, and intelligent tech features which, when first debuted, were surprising for what could be packed into such a small product.

Smaller is better

On top of its smart features, the WF-1000XM5 has the added advantage now of being much more comfortable than its predecessors. Placed next to the WF-1000XM4, one can see that the case is considerably smaller, or rather, narrower, making it easier to carry in a pocket. There are tiny design changes on the case, with the horizontal line of light having been done away with and a pairing button added. The packaging is minimal and sustainable and contains the bare essentials, which this time include three sets of memory foam ear tips. Changing these to see what fits you best is highly recommended as it makes all the difference to the comfort, the way you experience the sound and the noise cancellation efficacy. And this is important, particularly because these earphones are popular for travelling.

The fit will vary for every user, which is why it’s important to try out the different ear tips you get in the package. These are memory foam, but it all depends on the size and shape of your particular ear canal and how it tolerates earbuds. The buds themselves are now small and less clunky, but there will still be some users who won’t find their equation with these earphones and will want a more secure fit. If one does, it’s a stable fit and quite comfortable. Certainly, these buds don’t dig into the ear and give an earache.

Noise out, sound in

Sony surprised users with its quality of noise cancellation a few years ago. Until then, Bose is the name that would come to mind for noise handling on everyday audio products like the QuietComfort. You can turn on active noise cancellation (ANC) from the on-bud surface with a tap, or you can use the Headphones Connect app on your phone. It’s necessary to download and use this app because it guides you through all the smart features, gets firmware updates and connects you to services. There are also fit tests, 360-degree music, and an excellent equaliser.

Several smart features have been inherited from previous models. There’s the ambient sound option and adaptive sound which considers your location and activity. This feature will depend on your signing in and giving permission. This shouldn’t spook anyone since it has proven itself to be no violator of privacy. It makes noticeable adjustments to the sound based on whether you’re staying put at home, travelling, working out at a gym, etc. Somehow the amount of noise these buds block out seems less dramatic than before but the feature works in a natural way and allows you some peace.

Sound quality focuses on a balance that would please mass consumers and is nice and clear, detailed and spacious. There’s the equaliser to help tune up sound as you like it and save presets or use Sony’s. Battery life is between 8 and 12 hours, depending on ANC usage and usual parameters such as volume, smart features and so on.

The price for these sought-after true wireless buds hovers between ₹22,000 and ₹23,000 on Amazon.

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