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Sony has been one of the largest sound companies in the world since it was founded in 1946 – the name comes in part from Sonus, the Latin word for sound – and the latest headphones have continued that tradition in 2021.
The company continues to innovate and adds new features such as Bluetooth wireless connectivity, active noise reduction and battery life throughout the day without sacrificing sound quality or comfort.
Although these values are reflected in all Sony headphones, we found four pairs that are a cut above the rest, and show that the equipment is competitive and better in many cases than the top equipment from any other company.
What are the best Sony headphones?
There are many factors to consider when choosing the best Sony headphones for you; Below are the most important ones that we considered while researching this list.
Bluetooth: All Sony headphones in this guide use Bluetooth to connect wirelessly to your phone, tablet, computer or TV. Bluetooth is an open standard, which means you can use these headphones with gadgets made by any company.
Battery life: Bluetooth headphones run on rechargeable batteries and must be plugged in regularly to keep working. This can be a disadvantage, so we have chosen wireless headphones that get between six and 20 hours.
Weight: Because headphones will sit on your head or in your ears for hours, it is important to pay attention. Wireless earplugs weigh much less than a large over-ear pair, but we have made sure that our heaviest recommendation is a little over half a pound.
Active noise reduction: Some of the Sony headphones we recommend support ANC (Active Noise Reduction) technology, a feature that uses the headset microphones to block certain frequencies.
When ANC is activated, you do not need to turn up the volume on your headphones so much, which can save you from damaging your ears. The downside is that this feature will drain the headphone̵
Wired backup: All the headphones on the ear and above the ear in our guide have a 3.5 mm audio output, which allows you to connect them to a phone, tablet, computer or aircraft media console with a 3.5 mm audio cable.
1. Best headphones: Sony WH-1000XM4
Sony’s WH-1000XM4 are the latest headphones in the company’s over-ear audio file series, the first to give Bose’s noise cancellation a run for its money.
The Bluetooth headphones get up to 30 hours of music playback on a single charge. If you connect them for 10 minutes, you get five hours of music playback; almost enough for a cross-continental flight. Many over-the-ear Bluetooth headphones have 20 hours of battery life, making the WH-1000XM4s stand out.
Sony achieved world-class noise cancellation by placing two microphones on both earbuds to block annoying noises (an office fan, aircraft engine, etc.) before reaching your ears. The first headphones in the WH-1000XM series blew everyone away, and this fourth generation does an even better job of putting a barrier between you and the outside world.
We have tested WH-1000XMs for ourselves, and really like how they sound. You will hear many details in your music, without too much boomy bass or shrill treble. You can customize the EQ of the headphones in the Sony Headphones Connect app (iOS and Android), to customize them to sound right for your ears.
One of the main reasons why audio files have usually avoided Bluetooth headphones is that Bluetooth compresses music files, which reduces the sound quality. The WH-1000XM4s use artificial intelligence to “upscale” low-bit music files to make them sound better.
These are the heaviest headphones in this 8.9 oz (ounce) manual, but they are light for Bluetooth models over the ear, which can be as heavy as 12 oz. The padding on the earcups and headband is soft and provides more comfort than we expected.
If you shop for Sony headphones, the WH-1000XM4s sounds good, feels good and lasts a long time.
2. Best earphones: Sony WHXB700
Sony’s WHXB700s offer the sound quality you expect from an over-the-ear pair, in a sleeker, lighter design.
It inherits the WH-1000XM4’s best features: 30 hours of battery life, plush ear pads, a padded headband and the ability to customize sound via Sony’s Headphones Connect app. But at 6.9 grams, it is lighter and even easier to wear for a longer period of time.
This WHXB700 is part of Sony’s Extra Bass series of headphones, which provide a comfortable boost to low frequencies without overpowering midrange or heights. You’ll notice the difference, especially on bass-heavy tracks, but it’s never enough to be annoying. We’ve tried a few of Sony’s Extra Bass headphones, and they make the music sound a little more artificial, but fun to listen to.
The most important feature WHXB700 does not have is active noise reduction. Almost no headphones on the ear have them – Marshall’s Mid ANC is a notable exception – but there is something to consider.
Beyond the minor disappointment, the WHXB700s is an excellent pair of versatile Bluetooth headphones from Sony. The size and battery life are especially remarkable because it allows you to use them all day without fatigue.
3. Best earplugs: Sony WF-1000XM3
The WF-1000XM3s are Sony’s latest pair of premium, fully wireless headphones, and they surpass Apple’s AirPods in some important areas.
They offer up to eight hours of music playback per charge, which is two to three hours more than we expected from fully wireless headphones. Their charging bag provides up to 18 extra battery life, and you get up to 90 minutes of playing time with 10 minutes of charging.
Sony designed the WF-1000XM3s with digital noise reduction, which uses a custom processor and microphones to isolate sound. It is different from active noise reduction, but the result is the same. Sony’s chip also optimizes the sound quality of your music while listening, but does not try it.
The biggest advantage of completely wireless earbuds is the size, and the WF-1000XM3 does not disappoint. They weigh only 3.5 grams. You can press the buttons to activate the phone’s smart assistant (Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa), or press them to play and pause your music. You can also swipe the knobs to adjust the volume.
WF-1000XM3s are also waterproof, with an IPX4 rating which means that they are not damaged by sweat or water splashes (think of rain). This means you can use them while exercising indoors or running without any problems.
Sony’s WF-1000XM3 are not only the best fully wireless earbuds in the company’s portfolio, they are one of the best choices in this entire category.
4. Best Budget Choice: Sony WH-CH510
If you want a pair of high-quality headphones for everyday casual listening, the Sony WH-CH510s has you covered.
The Bluetooth earphones offer up to 35 hours of music playback on a single charge. You can get up to 90 minutes of music playback if you connect them for 10 minutes. These features come in a pair of headphones that weigh 4.6 grams – barely more than Sony’s Bluetooth earbuds.
The WH-CH510s lives up to the high sound quality line you expect from Sony, but does not have much extra. They can’t pick up your music, do not support any noise reduction or customization via Sony’s headphone jack app.
They may seem basic compared to Sony’s other headphones, but they nail the basics and cost less than $ 40. The Sony WH-CH510 comes with headphones in their price range.