Sony WH-1000XM5 Vs ULT WEAR Comparison Review

Sony has some of the most popular Bluetooth headphones on the market. The WH-1000XM5 is part of their flagship wireless product line, and recently they released the ULT WEAR. These are a less expensive option to the XM5, and have its bass response as one of its main features. Should you choose the more inexpensive ULT WEAR for this reason, or is the XM5 more worth the money?

What You Get

  • Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones
  • Eighth-inch cable
  • USB-C charging cable
  • Manuals
  • Carrying case
  • ULT WEAR Headphones
  • Connection Cable
  • USB Cable
  • Carry Case

Look & Feel

Both of these headphones have the classic Sony look to them. They both carry a solid color, with a plasticky build that’s lightweight and compact. The XM5 is a bit lighter, but the ULT WEAR folds inward like the older 1000x models used to do. Despite some of these differences, these headphones are very similar in terms of comfort. While the ULT WEAR has a tighter, more secure fit, they can both be worn for many hours without causing extra pressure or fatigue.

Design & Functionality

The XM5 and ULT WEAR have two different drivers. With the ULT WEAR, you get a bigger dynamic driver that is supported by Sony’s Processor V1. This is all to help that headphon’s bass properties, as the XM5 is only 30mm in comparison. All of the extra features that you expect from Sony still exist with both headphones though, including their industry leading noise-canceling technology. Other features like 360 Reality Audio will allow you to listen to both headphones with spatial audio, provided that you are subscribed to a service that offers it.


Both the XM5 and ULT WEAR offer stable wireless connections supported by Bluetooth version 5.2. They both offer the LDAC CODEC and have multipoint connection.

Battery Life

The ULT WEAR surprisingly has a much better battery life than the XM5. A 30 hour battery life for the XM5 was solid when it launched initially, but since then more inexpensive headphones have beefed up they playtime. While it depends on the amount of features in-use, the ULT WEAR should last you around 50 hours of playtime, which is much superior to the XM5.


With both headphones, you’ll get the most out of the soundstage if you can use them with 3D Audio. Listening to the ULT WEAR and XM5 with spatial audio increases the immersion that the built-in soundstage can bring. However, when listening in standard stereo, the ULT WEAR has more of an advantage over the XM5. This might be surprising to some, but switching between both headphones reveals that the XM5 feels a bit constricted in comparison. Some of the bass extension features on the ULT WEAR can impact its spatial imaging, but the scope of the sound is still more apparent than it is on the XM5. These headphones will perform similarly when listening through 360 Reality Audio though. The soundstage and imaging take on a whole new depth where everything appears more like a precisely placed object.

Low End

Usually, this is where the XM5 thrives compared to most other Bluetooth headphones. The thickness and customizability of the lows are still some of the XM5’s best attributes, but bass richness is the ULT WEAR’s entire MO. The reason the ULT WEAR exists is to be the bassist headphone that costs significantly less than the XM5, and it definitely succeeded on that front. While the XM5 has body and resonance, the ULT WEAR is thunderous and cinematic. It feels more artificial than the XM5, but it’s more fun. Both headphones create this pool of bloated low frequencies that result in boominess, but the ULT WEAR takes better advantage of its timbre that way.


Neither the XM5 nor the ULT WEAR have the midrange as their strong suit. The unfocused mids have always been a personal gripe of mine with the XM5, but I find it more forgivable on the ULT WEAR. Both headphones feature major recession in the mids, but the ULT WEAR feels less hollow to me somehow. With EQ, the XM5 can sound clearer than the ULT WEAR though. You can reduce some of the cloudier low mids and make some space for the mids to balance out the sound profile, which is easier to do on the XM5 than on the ULT WEAR even though they both use the same in-app EQ.


The treble is where the XM5 is the clearest winner. While the ULT WEAR doesn’t falter too much in the highs, the XM5 is much more articulate in comparison. There’s more room for the high frequencies to develop naturally, and it’s much more responsive with EQ. The XM5 delivers much more height and clarity to the sound signature, while the ULT WEAR just smooths them out so as not to get in the way of the more dominant frequency areas.


While you can never go wrong with a pair of wireless headphones from Sony, the ULT WEAR and XM5 are very different headphones for two very different prices. They carry many of the same features, but they still serve different functions. The ULT WEAR is a bass machine, and while it’s incredibly fun to listen to, the XM5 gives you a bit more detail to bite on in terms of fidelity. This mostly has to do with the upper-mids and highs being better, but the sound signature is also more natural in comparison. Your decision will come down to price and how important bass response is on your preferred sound profile. Otherwise, everything else that’s great about Sony headphones exists with both products.

The Sony WH-1000XM5 and ULT WEAR are available at Audio46.

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Alex S. is a sound designer and voice-over artist who has worked in film, commercials, and podcasts. He loves horror movies and emo music.