Sony WH-1000XM5 tips: how to connect to multiple devices, use wired, and more

Sony WH-1000XM5 tips
(Image credit: Future)

If you have made your latest pair of wireless headphones the Sony WH-1000XM5, congratulations – you now own the best-value pair on the planet. As you will have probably already experienced, these current What Hi-Fi? Award winners offer a class-leading combination of sound performance, features and comfort.

But as wireless headphones can do more and more nowadays, with many pairs boasting multiple connectivity functions, various active noise cancellation modes and companion apps, it can be difficult to know whether you are making the most out of everything they can offer. Below we have rustled up some tips and answered FAQs to help you get to know your Sony XM5 a little better...

How to set up the Sony WH-1000XM5 app

To get the most out of the WH-1000XM5, you'll need to install the Sony Headphones Connect (opens in new tab) companion app on your iOS (opens in new tab) or Android (opens in new tab) device.

The app is a gateway to all kind of features. It lets you, for example, see the headphones' battery life without taking them off; manually select noise-cancelling and ambient aware modes; tweak the sound equaliser; and enable/disable features such as Speak-to-Chat (which automatically pause music and engage aware mode when you start talking) and multi-point connection (which lets you connect to and manage two devices simultaneously). You can also set up a personalised experience for listening to 360 Reality Audio music, track how you're using your XM5 in an activity log, and match up on-cup touch controls to specific actions.

The app installs firmware updates, too, and there's also a Help section for any problems you might be having.

Are Sony WH-1000XM5 sweat resistant / waterproof?

No, sadly not. The XM5 are not waterproof, nor are they sweat-resistant. According to the user manual, "if water or foreign matter enters the headset, this can result in burnout or malfunction". That means you should be wary of wearing them out in the rain or during running or exercise where moisture or sweat could leak into the internals.

It is a blot on an otherwise impressive spec sheet, though not many over-ear headphones tend to offer much in the way of waterproofness.

Sony WH-1000XM5

(Image credit: Future)

Are Sony WH-1000XM5 good for gaming? Do they work with the PS5?

Many premium gaming headsets these days offer some form of surround sound in an effort to make your gaming experience more immersive. However, these rarely tend to work well, so it's worth prioritising good, old-fashioned stereo sound quality and considering any surround sound processing (which the Sonys do not have) as a potential bonus.

Sonically, the Sony XM5 are certainly up to the gaming job. There are, however, a few logistical things to consider around connectivity. Despite the PS4 and PS5 being Sony consoles, they don't natively support the Sony XM5 – unlike dedicated Sony gaming headset models like the (very good) PlayStation Pulse 3D Wireless Headset and newer Sony InZone headsets. That doesn't mean the XM5 can't be used; you simply need to buy and connect a Bluetooth adapter/transmitter to the console's USB port. It's this adapter that the headphones wirelessly connect to over Bluetooth, rather than the console itself, so you'll just need to make sure it is selected as the 'audio output' in the PlayStation's 'sound' settings. The headphones' mic won't work while connected, though the PlayStation controller has a built-in mic that works well.

If you're finding there is a lag issue over a wireless connection, you can always wire the XM5 to the console by plugging them into the 3.5mm jack at the bottom of the DualSense controller.

Can Sony WH-1000XM5 be wired?

Yes, the Sony XM5 can be wired for occasions when you need to on a plane, have run out of battery life or simply prefer a wired experience. While some wireless ANC headphones require battery life to even facilitate wired playback, the Sonys do not, meaning you will never be left completely in the lurch if their 30/40-hour battery life expires before you can recharge them.

If you do have battery life left in your Sony XM5, they can be used wired with active noise cancellation turned on too.

How to connect Sony WH-1000XM5 to a Mac and other devices

To listen wired, you can directly plug the Sony XM5 into the 3.5mm headphone jack of a Mac, laptop, computer or any other device with that headphones output via the 3.5mm audio cable included in the XM5's box.

To listen wirelessly over Bluetooth, pairing your Mac* and Sony XM5 requires opening the 'Bluetooth File Exchange' application on your Mac and waiting for the XM5 to appear in the list of available devices. For this to happen, the XM5 need to have charge, be within one metre of the Mac, and be in pairing mode, which can be achieved by holding down the power button (right ear cup) for 5 seconds until the indicator light flashes blue and a voice inside the XM5 says 'pairing'.

Once a pairing between the XM5 and the device has been established, they will then automatically connect when the XM5 are turned on and within distance.

*For other devices, open Bluetooth settings and follow the subsequent pairing steps.

Can the Sony WH-1000XM5 connect to multiple devices?

Yes, Sony's multi-point connection feature lets you connect the XM5 to two devices simultaneously. It can come in extremely handy if, for example, you are listening to audio from your laptop but need to be connected to your phone so that you don’t miss any calls. If a call comes in, you can seamlessly switch over to your phone without having to faff around unpairing your laptop, repairing your phone... and inevitably missing your call!

Having this ability can be a godsend and it works seamlessly enough, once you have enabled the feature in the Sony Headphones app. Do note, though, that you can’t use this feature and stream music wirelessly using LDAC at the same time; you need to pick one or the other.

Sony WH-1000XM5

(Image credit: Sony/John Lewis)

Are the Sony WH-1000XM5 worth it?

In short, yes – the Sony XM5 are worth it. Despite their fairly significant asking price compared to Bose and Sennheiser rivals and older Sony models, we think they are the best-value wireless headphones on the market, as is represented by their 2022 What Hi-Fi? Best Buy and Product of the Year awards.

They set the benchmark for sound quality until you reach the heady heights of your AirPods Max, Bowers & Wilkins Px8 and Focal Bathys, boast a decent spread of connectivity and usability features that make them a dream to own, and build and comfort don't let them down either. A solid all-round package, which you can read more about in our comprehensive Sony WH-1000XM5 review.

Where to buy the Sony WH-1000XM5

Most, if not all, consumer electronics stores (physical and online) should stock the Sony XM5, such as Amazon worldwide, John Lewis, Currys and Argos in the UK, Best Buy, Walmart and Crutchfield in the US, and The Good Guys, JB Hi-Fi and Dick Smith in Australia. Sony also sells them directly in each of those countries via its webstore.

Sony's WH-1000XM models have been some of the most popular over-ear headphones for years now so are widely stocked and don't tend to have stock issues. You can see the best XM5 prices currently available online...

Sony WH-1000XM5 vs XM4?

While the WH-1000XM5 are the latest and greatest pair of premium wireless noise-cancelling headphones from Sony, the older WH-1000XM4 are still very much available to buy – and, due to their age, at a more affordable price point. For those who cannot stretch their budget to the XM5, we believe the XM4 to be the next-best options in the wireless headphones market. They actually offer many of the XM5's attributes and are still mighty competitive next to newer Bose and Sennheiser rivals.

But what would you be missing out on exactly? We have stringently compared the two Sony models in the specification, design and sound quality departments so you can decide which pair is best for you, the Sony WH-1000XM5 or WH-1000XM4.

MORE:

Read our full Sony WH-1000XM5 review

Our expert pick of the best Bluetooth headphones you can buy

How to choose the right pair of headphones for you

How do the Sony WH-1000XM5 stack up? Sony XM5 vs Apple AirPods Max or Sony XM5 vs Bose 700 or Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless vs Sony XM5

Becky is the managing editor of What Hi-Fi? and, since her recent move to Melbourne, also the editor of Australian Hi-Fi magazine. During her eight years in the hi-fi industry, she has been fortunate enough to travel the world to report on the biggest and most exciting brands in hi-fi and consumer tech (and has had the jetlag and hangovers to remember them by). In her spare time, Becky can often be found running, watching Liverpool FC and horror movies, and hunting for gluten-free cake.