This year's Black Friday sales period is rapidly gaining momentum and, with that in mind, we have been thinking about how to ensure our readers get the best deal on our favourite wireless headphones when the event officially arrives later this month, when retailers look to shift stock as spending increases and Christmas hurtles into view. It really is the most wonderful time of the year. To shop, anyway.
If you’ve been thinking about getting a new pair of premium noise-cancelling headphones for a while, this month's Black Friday savings period will undoubtedly be the time to pounce. We can say with certainty that prices on many of the most popular pairs will fall for Black Friday, 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.
If your budget stretches to around the £300 mark and you have done your research into the best wireless headphones on the market, thoughts of a new pair will have inevitably brought you to the Sony WH-1000XM5, the What Hi-Fi? Award-winning over-ears that became immediate favourites of ours thanks to their premium design, majestic sonic clarity and punchy, precise bass. 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 several 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 finest Sony wireless cans on the market?
Wait and see for a Black Friday deal
At the time of writing, the Sony WH-1000XM5 can be picked up for around £320 at most retailers, although Amazon seems to be undercutting its rivals somewhat by offering the premium headphones for £315. That Amazon total, by the way, is around 19 per cent lower than the price at which they launched last year (£380), but prices fluctuate daily – sometimes even hourly – so we can't guarantee that those figures will be the same today as they are tomorrow.
However, we do know that they have dropped below that price point at various times. They fell to around £275 during the Christmas and New Year period last year (2022), for example, which is the lowest price we've ever seen attached to the WH-1000XM5. They have generally hovered between the £295 and £328 range consistently since the end of last year, meaning that numbers probably won't ever go back up to that original RRP.
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 retailers can often return products to a previously higher price in the lead up to major sales events (Prime Day, Black Friday etc) – so that when they inevitably plummet, the deal looks even more enticing. Sneaky, eh?
The current £300 to £320 range is a pretty standard area around which the XM5 have tended to hover recently, but history tells us that they're more than capable of falling significantly lower if the time is right. Considering that it was the Christmas period which saw prices falling to record lows last time, an occasion like Black Friday 2023 is exactly the sort of event that will see a far more significant drop to below the £300 mark.
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 Black Friday hots up to see if that price does fall significantly below £300 once again. Could we even see a new lowest-ever price? Fingers crossed.
Consider alternatives if the price is right
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 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 alternatives are the older model, the Sony WH-1000XM4, which are still lurking around for roughly £250 as their end of life nears. If that price drops to, say, £200, then it would be a tough call between the XM4 and XM5 with regards to which is the best value pair.
Then there are alternatives from other brands, of which a few are worth considering. There's 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. We would take both the Sony XM4 and Sony XM5 over them as they edge ahead in performance terms, however if they miraculously fall below both pairs and your budget is tight, you won't regret spending your money there. At the time of writing, they're below their standard retail price of £300, sitting at £269 at John Lewis and £279 at Amazon. At closer to £200, they'd be very compelling buys.
Then, of course, there's the small matter of Apple's five-star AirPods Max. These are typically more expensive options at around £450-499, but with a next-gen AirPods Max 2 potentially not that far away, Black Friday could offer record-low prices, bringing them more in line with the Sony WH-1000XM5 perhaps. 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 for their next-level sound, exceptional build and iOS friendliness.
While we wouldn't recommend Bose's older QuietComfort 45 or Noise Cancelling 700 above the Sonys, Sennheisers or AirPods, the newly unveiled Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones are very good indeed, albeit within AirPods Max as opposed to Sony territory at a rather cool £450. They are brand-spanking-new, though, so we wouldn't expect them to drop during Black Friday by more than, say, 10-15 per cent, if at all.
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 so to get the best price. We don't have a crystal ball and so cannot guarantee that we'll see the discounts we are expecting, but history writes that we can be pretty confident of seeing numbers fall as the festive period approaches.
Here's all you need to know about this year's Black Friday deals
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