Sony’s WH-1000XM5 is the company’s latest flagship, noise-canceling headphones. And as our review can attest, they are perhaps the most comfortable, best-sounding set in the 1000X series so far.
As a result, you will inevitably see them a lot – on flights, at the coffee shop, etc. – over the next many years. And should you end up with a few yourself, it’s worth knowing about some of their more advanced features and tricks, which are not always obvious in everyday use. Here are some worth trying out while exploring your new headphones.
How to control the WH-1000XM5 headphones
Like their predecessors, the WH-1000XM5 headsets are controlled by touch movements on the surface of the right earcup.
- Press twice to play / pause.
- Swipe forward to skip to the next track or swipe back to return to the previous song. Swipe and hold in both directions to fast-forward or rewind the current track.
- Slide your finger up on the touchpad to increase the volume, or slide down to decrease it. You can also swipe and hold in both directions to make larger volume adjustments without having to repeat the movement over and over again.
How to connect the WH-1000XM5 to two devices at once
Sony added multipoint, the ability to pair with two devices over Bluetooth simultaneously, to the previous WH-1000XM4 headphones – and this handy feature is available again with the XM5s. But out of the box, it is disabled by default and you will only be able to connect to a single audio source. Fortunately, changing this and activating multipoint is pretty easy.
There is an unfortunate trade-off that comes with multipoint that can affect audiophiles with Android phones: You can not enjoy music using the higher quality LDAC Bluetooth codec when the feature is enabled. This is not a sacrifice for iPhone owners, as LDAC is not available on Apple products.
- Open the Headphones Connect app and press System fanen.
- At the top you can see an on / off button for Connect to two devices simultaneously. Tap this to activate the multipoint function of the WH-1000XM5 headphones.
- After doing so, just pair your second device the same way you did the first one: Hold down the power button for several seconds until you hear “pairing” through the headphones.
This is how you can briefly hear your surroundings in a hurry
If you need to hear something like an announcement about an airport or train station, Sony’s “Quick Attention” feature will come in handy. To activate it, hold your hand over the entire touchpad of the right earcup. The volume of your music is turned down and ambient sound enters the headphones so you can hear what is happening.
When you no longer need to pay attention, just remove your hand from the earcup and both your sound and the active noise reduction of the headphones will return to normal.
How to let your headphones adjust settings automatically based on your location or activity
One of the most overlooked features of Sony headphones is called Adaptive Sound Control. You can use this to get the Headphones Connect app to record frequent activities or locations and automatically switch to your favorite headphone settings in each scenario. For example, you can have the WH-1000XM5 automatically activate ambient sound when it detects that you are walking or running – or turn up the active noise reduction when you are sitting. You can also make these settings change based on where you are: you can set different preferences for your home and office.
(Note that to use Adaptive Sound Control, you need to give the Headphones Connect app “at any time” location access, which some people may not be familiar with.)
- Open the Headphones Connect app and select Status fanen.
- Press Adaptive sound control section which is turned off by default.
- On this screen you will find various options such as Detection of actions, Learn about places you visitand Registered locations.
- Experiment with each one to land on your ideal settings. Detection of actions the section allows you to select different ANC / ambient settings for four scenarios: listening while still, walking, running or commuting.
- You can let the Headphones Connect app try to guess your frequent locations with Learning about places you visitbut I think it’s easier just to register different places like home or office manually.
How to quickly start playing your favorite Spotify playlist with a few keystrokes
The WH-1000XM5 headphones support Spotify Tap, which allows you to instantly start playing audio from the popular streaming service with a convenient shortcut.
- In the Headphones Connect app, go to Services fanen.
- Here you can see the possibility of Spotify Tap: Quick access.
- Tap that text and you will be able to choose to trigger Spotify Tap with either two or three presses of the noise reduction / ambient sound mode button. I tend to choose the option with three taps as it is very deliberate and difficult to activate by accident.
- Once the setting is activated, simply press the button no matter how many times you have selected, and Spotify will immediately resume playback of what you last listened to.
How to use Sony’s useful Speak to Chat feature
Sony’s newer headphones and earphones include a Speak to Chat option, which, when activated, can detect when you speak loudly. When the headphones recognize that you are talking, the sound is instantly paused or muted, and the surrounding sound becomes louder so you can have a conversation. When you stop talking for an adjustable amount of time, your music starts playing again. Check out the article linked below for more details on using Speak to Chat.
To switch to another voice assistant
WH-1000XM5s lets you choose from several voice assistant services. You can use your device’s default (Siri on iOS, Google Assistant on Android) or select Alexa as an alternative. The Alexa mobile app must be installed on your phone if you want to use it for voice commands.
- choose System tab in the Headphones Connect app.
- Push Voice assistant and select your preferred option.
How to make sure you get the best sound
In the Headphones Connect app, Sony lets you choose between two priorities when the headphones are connected to a device: You can choose either sound quality or connection stability. My experience is that I have always chosen the sound quality option here – and I still have not encountered any dropouts or disconnections with most Sony headphones. However, if you are in a place with significant wireless interference, it is always good to have the option to briefly prioritize Bluetooth stability.
- In the Headphones Connect app, select Sound fanen.
- Scroll down to Bluetooth connection quality and select whether you want to prioritize sound or stability.
These are just a few useful tricks beyond the basics to master Sony’s very best noise-canceling headphones. I will update this article with other features if the company adds more options in the coming months.