Pocket-lint is supported by its readers. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

(Pocket-lint) - Sony has announced the fifth-generation of its award-winning WH-1000X headphones. The new Sony WH-1000XM5 offer a new design and a range of performance updates to tempt you into upgrading.

Since their launch in 2016, the Sony WH-1000X have been among the most popular over-ear headphones for travellers - or anyone who values class-leading noise cancellation.

On launch, they cast a shadow over the Bose Quiet Comfort models that had been the defacto for air travel - with Sony gaining more plaudits with every iteration.

The fifth-generation model marks the biggest update in the history of these headphones, most notably because of the change in design. Gone is that familiar look, with a softer and sleeker aesthetic.

That's not just for looks - Sony told us that this design was to reduce the wind noise around the outside of the headphones, reducing the angles and gaps, to help boost the performance.

Sony is also promising that this new design is more comfortable, with soft synthetic padding and a stepless slider to ensure you have the right fit.

There's a boost to the technology onboard too. Firstly, there's a new 30mm driver which uses a carbonfibre composite, while adopting premium touches from Sony's high-end Walkman line, like gold infused solder to ensure better optimised circuitry.

SonySony WH-1000XM5 official with a new design, enhanced performance and noise cancellation photo 2

There's also a doubling of the microphones onboard compared to the 1000XM4 - so there's now eight mics, all gathering data to ensure that the correct external noise can be detected and eliminated.

There's a real-world performance boost in active noise cancellation according to Sony; while the low end reduction (think aircraft noise) has always been really good, the enhancement here is at the high end - with a marked improvement over previous 1000X models.

That means it's better placed to reduce higher pitched external noise, like human voices. That might make these headphones better for working in the office, for example, when you don't want background chatter cutting through.

The improvements are delivered by two processors, the QN1 and V1 as found on the previous iteration of these headphones, but now working smarter to deliver results.

Talking of working smart, there's AI support to make sure that your voice comes through loud and clear on calls, while the headphones can also detect when you start talking and pause your music.

SonySony WH-1000XM5 official with a new design, enhanced performance and noise cancellation photo 4

As before, they will also adapt their mode to suit what you're doing, for example walking or sitting, to vary the level of ambient sound let in.

There's support for Google Assistant or Alexa, meaning you can bark commands via the headphones and leave your phone in your pocket.

There's still support for a 3.5mm cable connection, but these headphones also offer Google Fast Pair for quick and seamless connection to Android devices, like Sony's Xperia devices.

And they might make a great pairing for an Experia phone, because they also support Sony's proprietary LDAC for higher fidelity Bluetooth audio, which not all phones support.

There's a USB-C for charging, with support for PD - Power Delivery - for a faster charging experience. You'll get 30 hours of use with Active Noise Cancellation, or 40 hours without. Charging takes about 3.5 hours to full.

On top of all that, there's a new case design too. The new case folds flatter when it's empty so you don't have to carry round such a bulky lump in your bag when using your headphones.

The Sony WH-1000XM5 are available to order now, priced at $399 in the US, £380 in the UK and €420 in Europe. Delivery will be from 20 May.

Want to do the Wings for Life run? Buy Philips Go headphones and get your entry fee free


Writing by Chris Hall.