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For the first time, I am excited about Sony's WF-1000XM5 buds
We can’t talk about the best wireless earbuds or best headphones on the market today without mentioning Sony. The company has found a winning formula and churned one success after the other with its WH and WF series. Two things have stopped me from trying its products so far, though: I prefer over-ear headphones that wrap more tightly around the head and collapse into a more portable form factor, and I simply can’t use its earbuds because they’re too big. But the upcoming Sony WF-1000XM5 could change that thanks to their smaller form factor which promises better comfort.
Are you excited about the upcoming Sony WF-1000XM5?
Comfort is the first factor with wireless earbuds
I’ve drummed about this many times but it bears repeating: All the specs in the world don’t matter if I can’t use a product comfortably. A phone that’s too imbalanced, a wearable that causes itching, or an earbud that triggers mounting ear pressure — all of these are dealbreakers.
But earbud manufacturers didn’t seem to care all that much about comfort. For many years, most true wireless buds had perfectly circular shapes — for all those perfectly round human ears? — with large bodies, zero ergonomics, and multiple potential pressure points for the wearer. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen commuters in Paris wearing their buds in the most ridiculous configurations because they couldn’t get them inside their ear as intended.
I stick with earbuds that are comfortable to wear for hours. Slightly better audio or noise cancelation aren't worth the pain.
That’s why I’ve stuck with earbuds that are pleasant to wear. In my Nothing Ear (2) review, I mentioned that they’re so comfortable and pain-free that I actively avoid switching to other buds, even those with better sound or noise cancelation, because why would I subject myself to pain if I could avoid it?
This brings me back to Sony’s WF series, which I’ve jealously eyed for several years. My Android Authority and SoundGuys colleagues swear by them, their excellent sound, and even more excellent noise cancelation. But I couldn’t take the plunge because I knew that form factor was a no-go for me. Too big, too wide, too much potential to exert pressure on my ears. Every photo of a reviewer wearing the WF-1000XM4 shows that they compress the tragus and I just know I can’t handle that for more than 20 minutes. Just compare the image below to the one at the top of the section and tell me which one looks properly designed for human ears. I’ll wait.
Sony’s WF-1000XM5 promise to be smaller and more comfortable
The upcoming Sony WF-1000XM5 leaks surprised me with a big design departure. The buds are rumored to have a significantly smaller form factor that’s less of a perfect circle and more of an ergonomic oval. More curves to naturally fit human ears, fewer sharp angles that fit no one but the factory mold.
For the first time, Sony seems to be building ergonomic earbuds designed for human ears, not factory molds.
Here is an overlay showing the rumored shape of the Sony WF-1000XM5 compared to the older XM4. Oof, what a change!
And that, honestly, is enough reason for me to completely reconsider my stance on Sony’s WF series. I still don’t know how these buds will fit (or specifically how they’d fit me), how good they’ll sound, or whether Sony didn’t sacrifice some other aspect to significantly trim the size down. But history says Sony knows what it’s doing with audio products, and the WF-1000XM5 could be the first time it hits all the right notes for me in one package: sound, noise cancelation, comfort, and extra features.
It’s safe to say I’m intrigued and I can’t wait to see the Sony WF-1000XM5 officially launched. If our resident audio gurus on Android Authority and SoundGuys are happy with them and notice a big upgrade in comfort, I’ll definitely pick up a pair to see for myself.