Skip to main content

Sony updates WH-1000XM5 with head-tracked spatial audio and better multipoint

Sony WH-1000XM5 wireless headphones hanging on wall hook in front of a mirror.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Sony has released a software update for its flagship noise-canceling headphones, the WH-1000XM5, that enables head-tracked spatial audio — a feature the company first debuted this week on its new WF-1000XM5 wireless earbuds.

The update also includes an enhancement of how Bluetooth Multipoint works on these wireless headphones. Previously, you had to choose between connecting two devices to the XM5 simultaneously or being able to use the company’s LDAC hi-res Bluetooth codec. Turning on one of these features would automatically disable the other. Now, you can leave LDAC enabled and take advantage of simultaneous connections, even if one of the devices isn’t LDAC-capable (like an iPhone).

To get the update, connect your WH-1000XM5 to your smartphone and open the Sony Headphones app. If the app doesn’t notify you of the update automatically, select the Information tab to see if the update is mentioned in the message list. Updates typically take up to an hour on iOS devices, but only half that time on Android.

Head-tracking spatial audio on the WH-1000XM5, as with the WF-1000XM5, is limited at the moment. It only works with select smartphones that are running Android 13, which also support head-tracking e.g. the Google Pixel 7 Pro. It also requires a compatible app and content.

At the moment, very few apps fall into this category, but Netflix is one of them. In 2022, Netflix turned on spatial audio for all of its subscribers on select movies and TV shows through a partnership with Sennheiser. Anyone with a set of stereo headphones can hear the spatial audio version of this content, but if you have head-tracking on your headphones, it will sound even more realistic.

We’ve asked Sony to provide a list of the compatible Android apps that support the new head-tracked spatial audio feature and we’ll update this post if we get a response.

Editors' Recommendations

Simon Cohen
Simon Cohen covers a variety of consumer technologies, but has a special interest in audio and video products, like spatial…
Leak: Are these Sony’s WH-1000XM5 headphones?
Possible leaked image of Sony's upcoming WH-1000XM5 headphones in silver.

Hot on the heels of a Sonos soundbar leak, we now have what might be the very first images of Sony's next-generation WH-1000XM5 noise-canceling headphones. The images were published by German tech blog TechnikNews, which claims to have gotten them from an unnamed retailer. The source also suggested that the timing for the announcement of the new Sony cans is imminent.

You can never say for sure when dealing with leaked images whether or not they truly represent a real product, but these pics bear all of the hallmarks of Sony's design language, from the copper-colored accents to the sleek, understated, low-profile shape. TechnikNews has credited Sony for all of the images.

Read more
Are Technics’ hi-res EAH-A800 the Sony XM4 alternative you’ve been waiting for?
Man wearing Technics EAH-A800.

When it comes to noise canceling wireless headphones it's pretty hard to beat the Sony WH-1000XM4, but Technics is going to take its best shot a doing so with its EAH-A800, a new set of wireless cans that it debuted at CES 2022 and that will hit stores in March for $350 in black and white/silver.

The key to Sony's success with the WH-1000XM4 is their combination of great sound quality, great active noise cancellation (ANC), great battery life, and wired/wireless hi-res audio chops thanks to Sony's LDAC Bluetooth codec. It's not surprising that these same attributes are also high on Technics' bragging list for the EAH-A800. In fact, Technics might even surpass Sony's performance in these areas.

Read more
Beats Fit Pro offer secure fit, ANC, and head-tracking spatial audio for $200
Beats Fit Pro.

Beats has taken the wraps off its latest set of true wireless earbuds, the $200 Beats Fit Pro. As rumored, the new buds feature an integrated, soft and flexible silicone earfin (or wingtip as Beats likes to call them) that's designed to lock the earbuds into place and keep them from moving about. They come in black, white, gray, and pink -- though Beats calls that last one Stone Purple -- and can be pre-ordered on November 1 through Apple.com, with shipping starting on November 5.

The $200 Fit Pro occupy the middle-ground between the $150 Beats Studio Buds and the $250 Powerbeats Pro in terms of price, but the Fit Pro are arguably the new Beats flagship when you consider their list of features.

Read more