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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.

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Simon Cohen
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