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I’m a little like Goldilocks when it comes to headphones. I’m very particular about size; they can’t be too big and cumbersome or too tight and small. They have to deliver magnificent sound while blocking out any annoying background noise I encounter day to day on the New York City subway. They also have to look good, of course. It turns out the Sony WH-1000XM5 Wireless Noise-Canceling Headphones are just right.
It’s a well-known fact that Sony is behind some of the best cans on the market. This particular pair is the most recent update to the Japanese tech titan’s flagship active noise canceling (ANC) headphones and follows in the footsteps of 2020’s highly popular WH-1000XM4. Starting inside, the new integrated processor controls eight smart microphones for unprecedented noise cancellation. These headphones don’t just drown out the low-frequency hum of the train but also the high-frequency screech of its brakes.
The updated drivers, meanwhile, pack a more powerful punch than previous models. My morning Spotify playlist sounds expansive and rich, even as “Showtime” is in full swing on the way to Manhattan. As for comfort, the lightweight cans are fitted with memory-foam ear pads that are wide enough to accommodate larger ears and a padded leather band that is soft to the touch.
Sony WH-1000XM5 Wireless Noise-Canceling Headphones
The streamlined headphones are a real treat to use, too. There’s a touch panel on the right ear cup that allows you to carry out all manner of tasks without getting your phone out. I particularly enjoy making hands-free calls that are crystal clear thanks to the four beam-forming microphones. There’s also a nifty ear sensor that pauses your music as soon as you take the headphones off to ensure you never miss a beat.
Another bonus: The headphones have an impressive battery life of 30 hours, which gets me through a full week of intercity trips. They also support quick charging. In fact, just three minutes of charging via the USB-C port gives you three hours of playback. The accompanying app enables some pretty cool stuff as well. It can track your location, for instance, and adapt the sound to suit the environment (in my case, the Q train).
Best of all, you can currently pick up the headphones for $50 less than usual via Amazon Prime’s Early Access Sale.