I’ve had earbuds envy for almost five years now. While the Sony WF-1000XM3 and their successors, the WF-1000XM4, have received five-star reviews here and best-in-class awards there since they arrived in 2019 and 2021 respectively, deservedly occupying hundreds of thousands of lugholes around the world and filling them with sweet, sweet music, I have been forced to get my on-the-fly music kicks from alternative earbuds. And for one simple reason: the Sony earpieces simply do not fit well in my apparently on-the-shallow-side ears.
That was a pretty common scenario when true wireless earbuds first came on the scene. The new technology facilitating completely wire-free inter-bud transmission required space. Consequently, the earbuds were rather big. The thing is, as the technologies have advanced, the earbuds have generally become smaller in the past few years. Cambridge Audio’s Melomania 1+ are some of the smallest and lightest we’ve come across, with each earbud weighing around 5g. The AirPods Pro 2 are around that ballpark, as are the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3, and so on.
The latest Sony XM4 earbuds are some of the most substantial and weigh over 7g each. The previous XM3 weighed over 8g each. So while initially I cursed my unaccommodating genetics, I then turned my frustration to the Sony’s comparatively cumbersome design in the market. Thanks to the review sample pairs that have been within my reach, I’ve tried to make it work like Cindarella’s sisters tried to cram on her shoe. But they just haven’t felt securely buried in my ears – a mere shake of my head dislodges them – and they look a bit daft sticking out as they do. When I see a colleague in the office or a person on the commuter train who is wearing them nicely flush in their naturally deeper ears, I get a pang of jealousy. And while their class-leading sound means that the XM4 is on the tip of my tongue if a friend asks what earbuds I recommend, I do often caveat that with a “so long as you don’t have shallow ears like me”.
I take solace in knowing I’m not the only one who has anti-1000XM ears – a colleague of mine shares my chagrin, for one – but I take greater comfort in knowing that that might all change with the arrival of the heavily rumoured, highly anticipated WF-1000XM5.
The XM5 are rumoured to arrive this summer, based on the model’s two-year cycle history, and will be expected to introduce improved features, such as Bluetooth 5.3, and boosted ANC and sonic performance. The one rumour I’m most anticipating, however, is – you guessed it – a smaller earbud size.
Recent leaks via The Walkman Blog suggest that they will be more compact, dropping the flat underside of the XM4 earpieces, and weighing 5.9g per bud. Much more like it. Perhaps they’ll somewhat resemble Sony’s mid-ranging WF-C700N. This will no doubt make the XM5 more ergonomic than their predecessors and consequently more suitable to a wider range of ears, not to mention better for wearing over longer periods of time for everyone. And if that rumour turns out to be true and the XM5 keep the 1000XM series the leaders of the pack, I can’t wait to welcome them into my music-listening life. And now to wait it out, limbs crossed, until an official announcement comes.
Read our Sony WF-1000XM5 rumours roundup
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