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The best Sony headphones in 2021

Best Sony headphones
(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

The best Sony headphones show one of the most established audio manufacturers at the top of its game. Whether it’s a compact pair of wireless earbuds or a noise-cancelling model that can tangle with the best over-ear headphones on the market, these are Sony’s greatest success stories. Or the ones it currently has on sale, anyway.

There are more exciting products on the way, like the Sony WF-1000XM4, but for now we’ve brought together all of the best Sony headphones and earbuds that we’ve tested. If you want an alternative to Bose, Sennheiser or even Apple, read on to learn more about these top picks.

What are the best Sony headphones?

The top dog is undoubtedly the Sony WH-1000XM4, a pair of over-ear, active noise-cancelling (ANC) headphones that has the company at the top of its sound and comfort game. While the previous generation’s WH-1000XM3 are still good enough to warrant a spot further down the list, the WH-1000XM4 are a step up, especially on the effectiveness of noise-cancelling.

Second in line is the Sony WF-1000XM3, which take a similar high-quality, ANC-focused approached and apply it to a pair of sweet-sounding wireless earbuds. There are plenty more affordable models down the line, too.

Best Sony headphones: Sony WH-1000XM4

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

1. Sony WH-1000XM4

The best Sony headphones overall

Specifications
Size and weight: 9.9 x 3 x 7.3 inches, 9 ounces
Battery life (rated): 30 hours (ANC on), 38 hours (ANC off)
Bluetooth range: 40 feet (12 meters)
Digital assistant support: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Superb sound quality+Effective ANC+Customizable through the app+Multiple connectivity options (Bluetooth, NFC, Multipoint Technology)
Reasons to avoid
-Call quality could be higher

Top-quality ANC? Personalized audio via the Sony Headphones Connect app? Outstanding battery life? The Sony WH-1000XM4 has all these and more, for a lower price than its rivals: the Bose 700 and Apple AirPods Max

Sound quality in general is rich, deep and detailed, as you’d expect from the successor of the WH-1000XM3 headphones. Sony has fine-tuned the sound signature even more for this latest model, and integrated a motion sensor into the left ear cup for smart gesture controls. It’s a brilliantly complete package, and easily the best headphones Sony has ever made. There's a stylish, limited-edition white model coming soon as well.

Read our full Sony WH-1000XM4 review.
  

Best Sony headphones: Sony WF-1000XM3

(Image credit: Sony)

2. Sony WF-1000XM3

The best Sony true wireless earbuds

Specifications
Size and Weight: 0.9 x 0.9 x 1.2 inches, 0.3 ounces
Battery Life (Rated): 8 hours, 24 hours (with charging case)
Bluetooth Range: 30 feet (9 meters)
Digital Assistant Support: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Remarkable sound profile+Excellent noise cancellation for true wireless buds+Extended battery life+Classy, sharp-looking design
Reasons to avoid
-Touch controls don't work well-Call quality needs work

Although the Sony WF-1000XM4 is likely on the way, it's absolutely still worth picking up Sony's current-gen flagship earbuds. It remains on our best wireless earbuds list for good reason.

The WF-1000XM3 blends together spacious sound with the feature we once never thought could be done properly on a truly wireless model: noise cancellation. Sony adding a second mic to each bud helps optimize noise neutralization for peaceful listening on the go. Screeching train tracks and shouting passengers will go unheard. Crisp, full-bodied sound will channel through the ear canal. The buds are even capable of improving the fidelity on low-res recordings. Up to 6 hours of battery life with noise cancellation on is a blessing, too, while disabling the feature allows an extra 2 hours of use.

Read our full Sony WF-1000XM3 review.

Best Sony headphones: Sony WF-SP800N

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

3. Sony WF-SP800N

A long-lasting pair of workout earbuds

Specifications
Size and Weight: 1 x 0.8 x 1 inches, 0.3 ounces
Battery Life (Rated): 9 hours (ANC on); 13 hours (ANC off)
Bluetooth Range: 30 feet (9 meters)
Digital Assistant Support: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Good battery life+IP55 water resistance+Active noise cancellation+Loads of app features
Reasons to avoid
-Can be buggy-Bulky design

While its ANC effective doesn’t match that of the  WF-1000XM3, the WF-SP800N could still be the better option if you want something sporty and long-lasting. Very long-lasting indeed: Sony rates them for 9 hours of ANC playback, and we got 8.5 hours in our testing. That’s an excellent performance considering most true wireless earbuds tap out around 4-5 hours with noise cancelling on.

The IP55 rating also ensures enough water resistance and sweat-proofing for strenuous exercise, and there are plenty of other features besides, from digital assistant support to Sony’s 360 Audio: a kind of digital surround sound effect.

Read our full Sony WF-SP800N review.

Best Sony headphones: Sony WH-XB900N

(Image credit: Sony)

4. Sony WH-XB900N

Affordable noise cancellation with signature Sony sound

Specifications
Size and Weight: 9.5 x 7.9 x 3.5 inches, 9 ounces
Battery Life (Rated): 30 hours (NC On); 32 hours (NC Off)
Bluetooth Range: 30 feet (9 meters)
Digital Assistant Support: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Boomy sound profile+Effective noise cancellation+Personalized sound via Sony Headphones app+Several listening modes
Reasons to avoid
-Doesn't feel as premium as higher-priced Sony models -Bass can get out of control at max volume

The WH-XB900N crosses that fine line between an entry-level and luxury headphone, packaging all of Sony's beloved sound technologies into a slightly cheaper bundle. It's a model designed for bass lovers who love their sound on the warm side – maybe too much. Using the Sony Headphones app helps tweak the sonics to suit your personal taste and gives you the option to adjust ambient listening modes to hear your surroundings more clearly. Noise cancellation won't match what other in-class leaders offer, but it's strong enough here to hush neighboring uproars.

Best Sony headphones: Sony MDR-Z7M2

(Image credit: Sony)

5. Sony MDR-Z7M2

Sony's best wired over-ear headphones

Specifications
Size and Weight: 8.6 x 6.2 x 9.3 inches, 16 ounces
Battery Life (Rated): None
Bluetooth Range: None
Digital Assistant Support: None
Reasons to buy
+Stellar audio reproduction+Highly comfortable on the ears+Includes 4.4mm balanced connection cable that works with amps+Superb build quality
Reasons to avoid
-Very expensive-Very heavy

The saying "you pay more for quality" is one that applies to few high-end headphones. Add the Sony MDR-Z7M2 to that list. A wired sonic powerhouse designed mostly for home stereo listening, these closed-back cans are engineered to help you enjoy spacious, articulate sound across multiple devices, from hi-res MP3 players to the market's best smartphones. Lows have a surreal quality to them when you're jamming out to bass-heavy songs, whereas mids and highs shine. Its large frame and high price won't appeal to everyone, but a true audiophile won't regret splurging on the MDR-Z7M2 for its sonic excellence alone.

Best Sony headphones: Sony WF-1000X

(Image credit: Sony)

6. Sony WF-1000X

Decent noise cancellation in true wireless form

Specifications
Size and Weight: 1.7 x 1.1 x 4.1 inches, 0.7 ounces
Battery Life (Rated): 9 hours, 24 hours (with charging case)
Bluetooth Range: 100 feet (30 meters)
Digital Assistant Support: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Well-balanced audio+Compatible with Sony Headphones app+Lightweight, customizable design+Decent noise cancellation
Reasons to avoid
-Short battery life-Subpar connectivity

Sony's first crack at noise-cancelling true wireless earbuds is an admirable one that brings forth detailed audio and fair noise cancellation. The WF-1000X has a neutral frequency range, which makes mids and highs more transparent over strong bass reproduction. The Sony app enhances the listening experience by letting you fine-tune the EQ to your liking. As a first-gen model, Sony's Smart Noise-Canceling technology doesn't exactly live up to the brand's standards, but it's still useful for muting nearby conversations.

Best Sony headphones: Sony WI-1000X

(Image credit: Sony)

7. Sony WI-1000X

Around-the-neck earphones with smart features

Specifications
Size and Weight: 7.6 x 2.4 x 9.7 inches, 2.5 ounces
Battery Life (Rated): 10 hours (NC on), 13 hours (NC off)
Bluetooth Range: 100 feet (30 meters)
Digital Assistant Support: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Smart noise cancellation+Adjustable sound+Alexa and Google Assistant integration+Supports numerous codecs including SBC, AAC, LDAC, aptX and aptX HD
Reasons to avoid
-Not very comfortable-Underperforming battery life

Fans of wrap-around buds will appreciate the WI-1000X's versatile performance. Sony did a fantastic job designing these buds to work across several audio codecs, which compress music files superbly so that you can hear your favorite tracks in high fidelity. The noise cancellation is impressive as well, with the technology adapting to your surroundings to quiet specific external rumblings; you'll be able to shut out noisy co-workers and street traffic. Access to the Sony Headphones app allows you to personalize noise cancellation and sound. The bulky control module does create some discomfort and the battery dies a lot faster than expected (especially with NC on), but those are minor drawbacks when compared with the buds' audio prowess.

Best Sony headphones: Sony WH-1000XM3

(Image credit: Sony)

8. Sony WH-1000XM3

Best Sony headphones overall

Specifications
Size and Weight: 10.4 x 7.3 x 2.9 inches, 9 ounces
Battery Life (Rated): 30 hours (NC on); 38 hours (NC off)
Bluetooth Range: 30 feet (9 meters)
Digital Assistant Support: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Exceptional sound quality+Top-tier noise cancellation+Stronger battery life than Bose ANC models+Intuitive features and touch controls
Reasons to avoid
-Weak call quality-Aesthetics don't seem premium

Since they've been replaced by the outstanding Sony WH-1000XM4, the WH-1000XM3 can no longer claim the top spot, but it's still a great set of cans that pumps out well-balanced sound highlighted by dynamic bass response. You're also given the option to customize the sound profile via the Sony Headphones app, though we're confident you'll enjoy the default sound setting. 

The inclusion of Sony's QN1 processor elevates not only sonic performance but also noise cancellation, effortlessly silencing most high-frequency noises such as crying babies and police sirens. One of its most underappreciated features is the touch panel on the right ear cup, which operates responsively through the use of slide gestures. Lastly, the cans spoil you with a solid 30 hours of wireless listening with noise cancellation on. 

Read our full Sony WH-1000XM3 review.

Best Sony headphones: Sony WF-SP700N

(Image credit: Sony)

9. Sony WF-SP700N

True wireless earbuds for fitness lovers

Specifications
Size and Weight: 2.3 x 1.5 x 2.4 inches, 0.3 ounces
Battery Life (Rated): 3 hours, 9 hours (with charging case)
Bluetooth Range: 30 feet (9 meters)
Digital Assistant Support: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Kicks out plenty of bass+Sporty, secure design+Works with the Sony Headphones app +Voice assistant support (Alexa and Google Assistant)
Reasons to avoid
-Poor noise cancellation-Battery life is lower than competitors'

Truly wireless sports earbuds are an expanding category, but there's only one model programmed with digital noise cancellation: the Sony WF-SP700N. These buds carry an IPX4 rating to prevent sweat or water damage. Despite satisfactory overall sound, the WF-SP700N's greatest strength proves to be its energetic bass response, which levels your eardrums with hard-hitting lows to jump-start your workouts. Bear in mind that exercising in loud settings will hinder sound performance, as noise cancellation doesn't silence much. The buds' 3-hour battery life also means you'll have to keep the charging case attached to your gym bag.

The best Sony headphones: Sony WI-XB400

(Image credit: Sony)

10. Sony WI-XB400

Budget in-ear buds with big bass

Specifications
Size and Weight: 3.6 x 1.6 x 7.1 inches, 0.7 ounces
Battery Life (Rated): 15 hours
Bluetooth Range: 30 feet (9 meters)
Digital Assistant Support: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Fantastic sound+Long battery life with quick-charge support+Great mic intelligibility+User-friendly controls
Reasons to avoid
-Poor noise isolation-Not the best option for listeners with small ears

Sony’s newest budget buds are a nice upgrade for anyone who wants dependable performance at a low cost. The 12mm drivers don’t hold back on bass, dishing out powerful lows that blend nicely with mids and highs to maintain a well-balanced signature. You’re given plenty of juice with up to 15 hours of playback, perfect for a week’s worth of commuting. One downside is the buds aren’t properly designed to fit small ears. Isolation isn’t great either, as loud external noises tend to leak into the soundscape.