The Sony WF-1000XM5's best features come to their over-ear stablemates

The Sony WF-1000XM5's best features come to their over-ear stablemates
(Image credit: Future)

The best over-ear headphones around just got even better. Sony has taken some of the best features from its brilliant new WF-1000XM5 wireless earbuds and shoved them into its Award-winning WH-1000XM5 over-ear model via a firmware update.

The WH-1000XM5 gain head-tracking for spatial audio content, plus the ability to stream Sony's higher-quality LDAC audio codec while maintaining a Bluetooth Multipoint connection. If that's all gobbledegook to you, let us explain.

The head-tracking element of spatial audio essentially tethers the sound to your device, so if you're watching a film on your phone or tablet and turn your head to the side, the audio stays anchored to the screen. Admittedly it's not that useful for movies, as the point is you watch the screen the whole time. But for games that use augmented reality, it can make the experience a lot more engrossing. The WH-1000XM5s already supported the 360 Reality Audio spatial tracks you get on Tidal and Deezer, but the head-tracking feature is brand new.

Sony's LDAC audio codec lets you stream audio up to 32-bit/96kHz over Bluetooth at up to 990kbps data transmission rates – that's higher quality than more traditional codecs like AAC and SBC. Multipoint, meanwhile, lets you wirelessly connect your headphones to two devices at once and switch between them seamlessly, so if you're listening to music on your phone you can switch to a Zoom call on your laptop the minute it comes in with no need to re-pair your headphones.

Previously, the WH-1000XM5 made you choose between LDAC or Bluetooth Multipoint, but the new firmware update lets you connect over the latter while enjoying the former.

The firmware update is available now through Sony's Headphones Connect app on iOS and Android.

The WF-1000XM5 earbuds launched this week as a real step on from their XM4 predecessors. As well as better noise cancelling and a smaller, lighter design, Sony has overhauled the sonic profile for a more analytical, detailed performance. You can see how they compare to other wireless earbuds in our versus features below.


Sony WF-1000XM5 vs Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II: which should you buy?

Sony WF-1000XM5 vs WF-1000XM4: which noise-cancelling earbuds are best?

Sony WF-1000XM5 vs Apple AirPods Pro 2: which premium earbuds are better?

Check out the best headphone deals

Joe Svetlik

Joe has been writing about tech for 17 years, first on staff at T3 magazine, then in a freelance capacity for Stuff, The Sunday Times Travel Magazine, Men's Health, GQ, The Mirror, Trusted Reviews, TechRadar and many more (including What Hi-Fi?). His specialities include all things mobile, headphones and speakers that he can't justifying spending money on.