Don’t buy the Sony WH-1000XM5 unless they're under £300 – here's why

Don’t buy the Sony WH-1000XM5 wireless headphones unless they're under £300
(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

This year's Amazon Prime Day is rapidly moving into view and, with that in mind, we have been thinking about how to ensure our readers get the best price on our favourite wireless headphones when it arrives, courtesy of Jeff Bezos and his heaving catalogue of audio goodies.

If you’ve been thinking about getting a new pair of noise-cancelling headphones for a while, Amazon's July sales event is very much the time to pounce. Prices are set to fall as part of Amazon's mammoth savings event, meaning there are certainly great deals to be had if you have the right info at your fingertips and a wealth of savvy consumer tips stored in your brain.

Thoughts of a new pair of fantastic headphones will have inevitably brought you to the Sony WH-1000XM5, the What Hi-Fi? Award-winning over-ear headphones that became immediate favourites of ours thanks to their premium design, majestic sense of sonic clarity and punchy, precise bass delivery. Pound-for-pound, these are the best-value wireless headphones out there.

When they first arrived last year, we would have keenly recommended anyone in the market for a pair at this level to purchase the Sonys at their £380 RRP, such was the impression they made on our hearts and ears. The XM5 have been on shelves for a little while now, though, and given that we have seen their price discounted a number of times since, there's no doubt it will go lower again in the (probably quite near) future. So what price should you pay for the Sony XM5?

Wait and see for a Prime Day deal

Sony Price Graph

(Image credit: CamelCamelCamel)

At the time of writing, the Sony WH-1000XM5 can be picked up for around £349 at various retailers, or around £310 to £330 on Amazon (which generally tries to undercut rival retailers for popular products like these – even if just by a £1 or two.) That's roughly 18 per cent lower than the price at which they launched last year. 

However, they have dropped below that price point at various times. They fell to around £275 during the Christmas and New Year period last year, for example, which is the lowest price we've ever seen attached to the XM5. They have generally hovered between the £295 and £328 range consistently since the end of last year, meaning that numbers probably won't go back up to their original RRP in the near future, if ever.

This isn't the worst time to get a pair of XM5 at all, but it's not the best time either. You might, for instance, look at the headphones' price graph on something like Amazon-tracker CamelCamelCamel and feel that this is a decent drop from their higher price tag from a few months ago, but bear in mind that Amazon tends to return discounted products back to a previously higher price in the lead up to Prime Day, so that when they plummet for Prime Day, the deal looks even more enticing.

The current £310 to £330 range is a pretty standard area around which the XM5 tend to hover, but history tells us that they're more than capable of falling significantly lower if the time is right. Considering the fact that it was the Christmas period which saw prices falling to record lows last time, an occasion like Amazon Prime Day 2023 is exactly the sort of event that will see a far more significant drop to below the £300 mark. Unless you're desperate to grab a new pair before a holiday or something, there's certainly no danger in holding out to see for yourself, is there?

While we consider the Sony WH-1000XM5 great buys even at their £380 RRP – that's the price at which we awarded them five stars, after all – we would advise waiting until Prime Day to see if that price does fall significantly below £300 once again. Could we even see a new lowest-ever price? Fingers (and toes) crossed.

Consider alternatives if the price is right

Wireless over-ear headphones: Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

We accept that you might have had your heart set on the Sonys. After all, there's a lot to like about an Award-winning pair of over-ears that offer sensational clarity and marvellous sonic punch, not to mention their ease of use – all from one of the most consistent consumer electronics manufacturers working today. But if prices aren't going to fall below that £300 threshold, there's no harm in considering some alternatives, just in case a better deal comes along from a comparable rival.

The obvious alternative is the older version of the XM5, the Sony WH-1000XM4, which are still lurking around as their end of life nears, for roughly £250. If that price drops to, say, £200 for Prime Day then it would be a tough call between the XM4 and XM5 with regard to best value.

And then there are alternatives from other brands. Have you considered, for example, the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless, another sparkling pair of five-star performers that, for a similar price to the Sony cans, deliver that superbly clean, neutral Sennheiser sound alongside a veritable bounty of features at the same time? At the time of writing, they're currently around their standard retail price of £300 and so the XM5 would be our number one pick, but if they became significantly cheaper than the Sonys during Prime Day, they would certainly be worth considering.

Then, of course, there's the small matter of Apple's five-star AirPods Max. These are typically more expensive options at around £499, but with a next-gen AirPods Max 2 potentially not that far away, Prime Day could offer record-low prices, bringing them more in line with the Sony XM5. If they did reach within touching distance – say, £350 to £400 – and you're an iPhone and/or iPad user, they would be difficult to pass up.

It's not easy being patient and holding fire on a purchase if your heart is already set on the WH-1000XM5, so if discounts don't matter much to you, go ahead and make that purchase – you won't be disappointed. If you can wait, however, we would recommend that you do in order to get the best price at Prime Day next month (dates are still tbc by the way). We don't have a crystal ball and so can't guarantee that we'll see the discounts we are expecting, but history writes that we can be pretty confident.


All about Sony? Read our Sony WF-1000XM5 rumour roundup

These are the best wireless earbuds you can buy right now

Amazon Prime Day 2023 UK: everything we know so far about the biggest sale of the summer

Harry McKerrell
Staff writer

Harry McKerrell is a staff writer at What Hi-Fi?. He studied law and history at university before working as a freelance journalist covering TV and gaming for numerous platforms both online and in print. When not at work he can be found playing hockey, practising the piano or forcing himself to go long-distance running.