Sony are one of the biggest, more respected names in the audio market. If you’re looking for a new pair of headphones, the Sony brand is one that’s recognised with top-quality efforts.

But out of all the headphones that Sony has to offer, which is the right pair for you? We’ve put this guide together of the best Sony headphones, from the best wireless over-ears to the best wireless earbuds and best gaming headsets. 

Each pair of headphones has been tested and reviewed in real-world environments. We take into account everything from the design, features to battery life. We listen to a variety of genres, judging the headphones’ value before settling on a final score.

Whether you’re an existing Sony fan looking to upgrade your cans or defecting from another brand, you’ll find our latest recommendations right here. 

If you’re looking for a wider selection of headphones, visit our other audio best lists to explore broader categories, such as the best headphones, the best over-ears, the best wireless earbuds and the best noise-cancelling headphones.

Best Sony headphones at a glance

How we test

Learn more about how we test headphones

Not just anybody can review a pair of headphones. You don’t need superhuman hearing to tell what’s good, but you do need to know what to listen out for.

Our headphone tests are done by some of the best and most prolific reviewers in the industry, with years of experience listening to everything from the plasticky freebie earbuds that come with your smartphone, to five-figure beasts of glass and marble. We love music and we want your tunes to sound good, too.

So we listen every pair of headphones we can get on or in our ears. We use a variety of sources, from basic MP3s playing on a laptop to high-quality tracks on dedicated hi-res audio players.

Our test tracks are wide-ranging to give headphones a thorough challenge. They’re also familiar, so we know every track backwards, and we know which bits might trouble the lesser performers.

We listen again and again, and we do that for weeks in case the sound changes – because it usually does. Then we’ll listen to similarly priced rivals and come up with a verdict that reflects the performance and features for the money.

Sony WH-1000XM5

Best Sony wireless headphones

Pros

  • Excellent comfort
  • Musical, rich audio performance
  • Impressively clean and natural noise cancellation
  • Superb Ambient Mode
  • Great call quality

Cons

  • Non-foldable design
  • Connection gets choppy in busy areas

The Sony WH-1000XM5 aren’t just our favourite pair of Sony headphones, they’re one of the best headphones you can buy right now. 

The headphones are an evolution of the WH-1000XM4. The headphone’s design no longer folds flat like previous generations, a design choice that mirrors the Bose NC 700 and Apple AirPods Max, the reason given is to improve noise cancelling performance by reducing the surface area that could cause wind noise.

Testing out the ANC, we did find that the XM5 were more adept at suppressing high frequency sounds than the XM4 although we didn’t find them be quite as good at dealing with voices. That said, the headphones perform an excellent job, plus with the clear and detailed Transparency Mode you can hear what’s around you in crystal clear clarity. 

Features like Speak-to-Chat and Quick Attention mode make it possible to hold conversations while still wearing the headphones, and built-in voice assistance offers convenience for hands-free operation. The Adaptive Sound Control builds custom sound profiles based on the locations you frequent most, and there’s 3D sound support with Sony’s 360 Reality Audio. 

The battery life is 30 hours, and we managed to get through a week before needing another charge. Battery life is better than the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones but the same as the older model. Where the processor granted longer battery on the WF-1000XM4, through various reasons that couldn’t be done here. Perhaps we’ll have to wait until the WH-1000XM6 for longer battery.

Audio quality is the most important aspect here, with even more texture and depth heard in the bass frequencies, a richer and more detailed midrange, and a sharper, more expressive high frequency performance. Sony’s best-noise cancelling over-ears so far.

Reviewer: Kob Monney
Full Review: Sony WH-1000XM5

Sony WF-1000XM5

Best Sony wireless earbuds

Pros

  • Smaller, lighter design
  • Powerful noise-cancellation
  • More detailed, balanced audio performance
  • Plenty of smart, convenient features

Cons

  • Bose a smidge better for ANC
  • Slightly odd call performance

While the audio performance of the WF-1000XM4 was fantastic, the WF-1000XM5 still managed to improve on them by taking a more measured approach.

Featuring the Dynamic Driver X, the bass performance isn’t as powerful or as fun as it is on the WF-1000XM4 but the bass carries more detail and clarity. The midrange has a better sense of finer detail, especially with voices, and the high frequencies are sharper, clearer and more detailed.

The noise-cancelling performance is another area where the XM5 improve on the WF-1000XM4, able to suppress voices and general noise better for a much quieter performance. The transparency mode is clear and detailed, although we find the WF-1000XM4 is slightly clearer.

Battery life matches the WF-1000XM4, with 8 hours per earbuds and 24 in total with the charging case. The design is smaller and lighter, making for a more favourable and comfortable fit. With the introduction of an extra small ear-tip size, there’s more room to fit a wider range of ears.

Wireless performance is good in both AAC and LDAC playback modes, and the WF-1000XM5 is bundled with an array features that make these earphones one of the smartest on wireless earbuds on the market, much like the rest of Sony’s premium headphones. Call quality is decent but it does leak in background noise whenever we spoke but silent when we weren’t. It’s a little strange.

Reviewer: Kob Monney
Full Review: Sony WF-1000XM5

Sony WH-1000XM4

Best mid-range Sony headphones

Pros

  • Superb audio
  • Impressive noise cancellation
  • Lightweight and comfortable
  • Useful smarts

The WH-1000XM4 over-ears were replaced by the WH-1000XM5, but they’re still hanging about as a more affordable mid-range option. 

They look similar to the still available WH-1000XM3, but Sony tightened up the design and improved on the already great sound. From a design perspective, we found that small tweaks reaped big benefits. While they weight a gram lighter, they feel comfier with softer earpads and a headband structure redesigned to distribute weight better. The pressure they exert is minimal, which makes them perfect for both casual wear and long-distance travel. One advantage over the XM5 model is that these can be folded up and collapsed for travel.

The noise-cancelling was the strongest we’ve heard from a Sony headphone until the WH-1000XM5, but they still manage to hold their own against newer ANC headphones from other brands. We found they reduced outside sound effectively, hushing voices more effectively than the XM5, although it does do this with a slight noise-cancelling tone. 

Combined with its smart features that allow you to speak to other people without taking the headphones off, as well as Adaptive Sound Control that learns the places you frequent most often and tailors the ANC performance, these Sony headphones remain one of the smartest on the market. 

The sound improved immeasurably over the XM3: more refined, less noisy and as confident as ever. They’re more musical in their approach, adding an extra layer of refinement and detail for a more articulate performance. They extract more detail from mid-range, with instruments better defined, and the separation of elements within a track is clearer, the result is a performance with greater fidelity than the XM3. We also found the DSEE Extreme feature was impressive in how much noise it removed from older tracks.

The WH-1000XM4 still impresses and remains one of the finest noise-cancelling headphones on the market. While we do think the WH-1000XM5 are slightly better in terms of noise-cancelling and sound quality, if you’re after a more affordable Sony noise-canceller, we’d highly recommend this pair.

Reviewer: Kob Monney
Full Review: Sony WH-1000XM4

Sony LinkBuds S

Best affordable Sony wireless earbuds

Pros

  • Rich, expressive sound
  • Impressive noise cancellation for the price
  • Good comfort levels
  • Compact, lightweight design

Cons

  • Average battery life
  • Mixed call quality performance

The LinkBuds S are the Sony earphones that are more for the casual / lifestyle crowd who want a smart pair of wireless earbuds that are easy to use, but still provide excellent audio. The current price of the LinkBuds S puts them in the £120 / $120 range, much cheaper than the WF-1000XM5.

They are one of the lightest true wireless on the market at just 4.8g per bud. We found their compact design easy to get a good fit with. Made from recycled plastics, the LinkBuds S’ build quality is tough enough, though a drop on concrete did result in a small chip in our review sample. IPX4 protection against sweat and water is included, which makes these earphones a good choice if you need a pair for exercise or gym.

The portable case actually stores less battery life than the LinkBuds, but battery life per charge is slightly more at six hours. We found that with real-world use, the battery is more towards five hours with the high-quality LDAC codec. We also found the strength of its wireless connection to be mostly good aside from a few jitters in busy places.

The noise-cancellation isn’t as comprehensive as either WF-1000XM4 or XM5, but we found the fit and seal created by the LinkBuds S helped to minimise traffic noise and heavily reduce the impact of environmental sounds. The transparency mode picks up a little noise, but nothing that becomes a bother. There are smart features in Spotify Tap and Endel, the latter offers personalised soundscapes for relaxation and sleep though you have to pay for the full service.

We felt that the sound quality was very reminiscent of the WF-1000XM4. The midrange is rich in tone but well detailed, the soundstage described in wide and spacious terms. Bass carries more of an impact than it does on the original LinkBuds. The top end of the frequency spectrum isn’t as bright or as defined as we’d like, though.

Reviewer: Kob Monney
Full Review: Sony LinkBuds S

Sony WH-CH720N

Best affordable Sony ANC headphones

The WH-CH720N are Sony’s most affordable noise-cancelling headphones, putting in a performance we feel is strong for its sub-£100 / $100 price.

The headphones are mostly constructed from recycled plastic, and the quality with no noticeable creaks or groans when we bent the frame. The use of plastic keeps the headphones lightweight at 192g, and the CH720N felt comfortable to wear thanks to the padding on the headband and earcups.

When we tested the battery life we found it could go as far as 40 hours with noise-cancelling on. Features for a headphone of this price are surprisingly extensive, with features includes active noise-cancellation and transparency mode, as well as Bluetooth multipoint, app support (for more customisation) and voice assistant support in Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.

Noise-cancellation is rarely stronger than more expensive headphones, but it’s solid at this price. It focuses on reducing low frequency sounds and clearing away ambient noise, making the daily commutes and journeys more tolerable.

The sound quality is similar to the WH-CH520 on-ears with it’s smoothness with an emphasis on bass. The bass performance is punchy, the midrange described with clarity and detail, while treble is bright and clear enough to impact. They’re certainly not in the same league as the WH-1000XM4, but these headphones were never going to be. For those whose budget can’t stretch to a purchase of these headphones, the CH720N is our recommendation for the best affordable ANC headphones from Sony.

Reviewer: Kob Monney
Full Review: Sony WH-CH720N

Sony Inzone H7

Best Sony gaming headphones

Pros

  • Immensely comfortable
  • Superb passive noise isolation
  • Detailed audio
  • Great battery life

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Middling mic performance
  • Fiddly software
  • No option for a wired connection

If you’re in the market for a wireless gaming headset, we suggest you look no further than Sony’s Inzone H7. InZone is a new range of peripherals from Sony, a range made up of three pairs of gaming headsets, with the H7 sitting in the middle. 

The design borrows cues from the WH-1000XM5, with a smooth and clean appearance that also borrows from the aesthetic of the PlayStation 5. At 325g, they’re lighter than the Turtle Beach Stealth 700 Gen 2 Max and we found them to be very comfortable to wear during our gaming sessions. 

The headphones offer some of the best passive noise isolation we’ve experienced on a gaming headset, blocking out music from a room over and loud neighbours with ease, though anyone after noise cancellation should look at the more expensive H9 model. 

The playback controls are thoughtfully placed on the headphone and compatibility is good as you’re able to connect to a PC or PS5 using Bluetooth or the bundled USB receiver. Unsurprisingly there’s no Xbox Wireless compatibility, nor is there a headphone jack to support wired connections. 

The InZone H7 offered refined and detailed audio with good tonal balance. The soundstage is wide, which makes it possible to pinpoint enemies based on their speech, though we did think the low end could be more tightly defined as it occasionally drowned out more subtle sounds in horror games. 

At $229 / £199, the H7 isn’t among cheaper gaming headsets but the design is comfortable, the sound is detailed and the battery life is great. 

Reviewer: Reese Bithrey
Full Review: Sony Inzone H7

Sony WH-CH520

Best affordable Sony headphones

Pros

  • Lightweight design
  • Very good call performance
  • Good feature set and customization options
  • Robust wireless performance

Cons

  • On-ear design can pinch
  • SoundMagic pair offers greater clarity and detail

The WH-CH520 are one of the cheapest pairs of Sony headphones we’ve reviewed in recent years. At just £50 / €70, they’re in the impulse buy column if you’re looking for a new pair of on-ear headphones.

We found they were comfortable to wear, though the on-ear design can pinch on the earlobes and passive noise isolation isn’t as good as the true wireless and over-ear pairs, so external sounds mesh with music. The build quality is predominantly plastic, but it does keep the weight down to just 147g, making them rather light to wear on our heads. There’s no carry case so you’ll either need to wear them around your neck or stuff them in a bag when you’re not using them.

Of all the headphones on this list, the WH-CH520 doesn’t have access to the same level of features through the Sony Headphones Connect app, but what it does offer is very good for its price and for on-ears in general. Battery is rated at 50 hours and in our testing we found that the battery can indeed go for a very long time. A nine-hour battery drain didn’t result in any loss of battery whatsoever, which is impressive.

There is Sony’s 360 Reality Audio format for immersive audio, and Bluetooth support equates to SBC and AAC codecs. The wireless connection with our phone was great during testing with no stutters or dropouts even in busy areas. Call quality is also very good in terms of clarity, though in busy areas it can become harder for the other person to hear what’s said.

In terms of their sound quality we found these headphones to be a smooth listen, but they don’t offer as finessed a performance as other similarly priced headphones, with a slight lack of definition and sharpness to instruments and voices not helped by a soundstage that sounds small. Bass is decent for an on-ear and there’s some nice brightness to high frequencies, while the midrange is handled in a smooth, clear manner. A solid, enjoyable pair of headphones.

Reviewer: Kob Monney
Full Review: Sony WH-CH520

We also considered…

FAQs

Why don’t the Sony WH-1000XM5 fold anymore?

Sony has taken away the foldable design to improve the noise cancelling performance on its flagship headphones series.

How waterproof are the headphones in this list?

The WF-1000XM4 are water resistant up to IPX4. The other headphones in this list have no IP rating.

What is Sony 360 Reality Audio

Sony 360 Reality Audio is an audio format that places you in the midst of the audio, making it sound more immersive. You can read more about it in our guide.

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Harmony Evans is an award-winning author of Harlequin Kimani Romance, African-American romance, and so on. Harmony Evans is an award-winning author for Harlequin Kimani Romance, the leading publisher of African-American romance. Her 2nd novel, STEALING KISSES, will be released in November 2013. Harmony is a single mom to a beautiful, too-smart-for-her-own-good daughter, who makes her grateful for life daily. Her hobbies include cooking, baking, knitting, reading, and of course, napping and also review some of the best-selling and popular brands and services in the market and also write comprehensive blogs.

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