Technology: We tested Sony’s XM5 headphones

In the competitive jungle of the noise reduction headphone market, Sony has just added a fifth option. The first impression of this new helmet, tested in its cream version, is its lightness: only 250 grams on the scale. The intention of the Japanese manufacturer to now build its helmets with recycled ABS plastic, coming from automobile production, as well as the packaging, has something to do with it: if it seems a little less “premium” in the materials used than some competitors, its design of great sobriety and its ecological virtues definitely provide a plus. The lead comes naturally, with real comfort on the lead rim, while the sound is, as is often the case with Sony, very rich. Depending on the songs, instruments or vocals stand out clearly, the bass is round without being too intrusive, although the pure acoustic quality sometimes seems a bit behind compared to the previous version, the XM4.

in a bubble

On the other hand, where the headphones stand out is in active noise reduction. The microphones, the number of which has been doubled, perfectly play their role of countersound and you really feel in a bubble when listening, without any particular oppression. Calls are also perfectly clear, while the “speak to chat” function is a bonus: ambient mode kicks in as soon as you speak. Another notable change: it does not fold. The result is a little overweight for the reception desk. On the practical side, the autonomy is more than enough, with more than 30 hours on paper and a fast charge capacity to avoid frustration: in three minutes, it comes back for three hours of listening. Alexa and Google Assistant enable intuitive voice control, with the Home app for all other advanced features. Also available in an equally delicate black version. A good vintage despite a rising price.

Price: 419 euros.


Zen Hybrid Headphones from Creative.  A folding and light model.

Zen Hybrid Headphones from Creative. A folding and light model.DR

Creative, Hybrid Zen

Creative throws out nice surprises from time to time, like this ANC (active noise reduction) headset whose microphones filter out up to 95% of ambient noise and keep conversations crystal clear. Charging is ultra fast, five minutes for five hours of music and 27 hours when fully charged. As well as folding, it’s ready for Super X-Fi immersive technology, coming soon to select PCs and TVs. Also lightweight, with its 271 grams, it has a two-year guarantee. Price: €109.99.

Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT.  No active noise reduction but very low price.

Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT. No active noise reduction but very low price.DR

Audio-Technica, ATH-M20xBT

We do not change a listening that wins. Audio-Technica therefore reiterates with the launch of a wireless version, inspired by the M series professional headphones. We salute its record autonomy, with almost 60 hours of listening. Featuring 40mm drivers with neodymium magnets and aluminum voice coils, it delivers clear acoustics. Two devices can be paired with it, low latency for gaming. However, there is no noise reduction for this very affordable model. Price: 89 euros.

Skullcandy's Inequality Crusher.  : a multicolored Evo to support the LGBTQIA+ cause.

Skullcandy’s Inequality Crusher. : a multicolored Evo to support the LGBTQIA+ cause.DR

Skullcandy, Inequality Crusher

Skullcandy’s flagship Evo model takes on colors, to support the LGBTQIA+ cause (part of the proceeds will be donated). A limited edition for this elegant, comfortable to wear and efficient helmet. Wireless, the Inequality stands out with volume control keys, good bass management or even a 40-hour battery life and fast charging. Better, it has integrated the “Tile” tracking system, to find it in case of loss. Price: 199 euros.

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