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The best Sony headphones in 2021

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

The best Sony headphones aren’t just its most expensive over-ear cans. From wired to wireless, noise-cancelling to sub-$30 budget buds, Sony has produced an impressive diverse range of top-quality headphones.

We’ve tested the brand’s biggest models, and have ranked them here for your convenience. Whatever suits your needs best, you can expect a winning combination of booming sound, high-tech ingenuity and robust craftsmanship, so without further ado let’s jump into the best Sony headphones.

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 noise cancelling headphones: Sony WH-1000XM4

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

1. Sony WH-1000XM4

The best Sony headphones overall

Size and weight: 9.94 x 3.03 x 7.27 inches, 8.95 ounces | Battery life (rated): 30 hours (ANC on), 38 hours (ANC off) | Bluetooth range: 40 feet (12 meters) | Digital assistant support: Yes

Superb sound quality
Effective ANC
Customizable through the app
Multiple connectivity options (Bluetooth, NFC, Multipoint Technology)
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. 

Read our full Sony WH-1000XM4 review.
  

(Image credit: Sony)

2. Sony WF-1000XM3

The best Sony true wireless earbuds

Size and Weight: TBD, 0.3 ounces | Battery Life (Rated): 8 hours, 24 hours (with charging case) | Bluetooth Range: 30 feet (10 meters) | Digital Assistant Support: Yes

Remarkable sound profile
Excellent noise cancellation for true wireless buds
Extended battery life
Classy, sharp-looking design
Touch controls don't work well
Call quality needs work

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.

The best Sony headphones: Sony WF-SP800N

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

3. Sony WF-SP800N

A long-lasting pair of workout earbuds

Size and Weight: 1 x 0.8 x 1 inches, 0.33 ounces | Battery Life (Rated): 9 hours (ANC on); 13 hours (ANC off) | Bluetooth Range: 30 feet (10 meters) | Digital Assistant Support: Yes

Good battery life
IP55 water resistance
Active noise cancellation
Loads of app features
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.

The best Sony headphones: Sony WH-XB900N

(Image credit: Sony)

4. Sony WH-XB900N

Affordable noise cancellation with signature Sony sound

Size and Weight: 9.5 x 7.86 x 3.5 inches, 8.96 ounces | Battery Life (Rated): 30 hours (NC On); 32 hours (NC Off) | Bluetooth Range: 30 feet (10 meters) | Digital Assistant Support: Yes

Boomy sound profile
Effective noise cancellation
Personalized sound via Sony Headphones app
Several listening modes
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.

The best Sony headphones: Sony MDR-Z7M2

(Image credit: Sony)

5. Sony MDR-Z7M2

Sony's best wired over-ear headphones

Size and Weight: 8.56 x 6.22 x 9.28 inches, 16 ounces | Battery Life (Rated): None | Bluetooth Range: None | Digital Assistant Support: None

Stellar audio reproduction
Highly comfortable on the ears
Includes 4.4mm balanced connection cable that works with amps
Superb build quality
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.

The best Sony headphones: Sony WF-1000X

(Image credit: Sony)

6. Sony WF-1000X

Decent noise cancellation in true wireless form

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

Well-balanced audio
Compatible with Sony Headphones app
Lightweight, customizable design
Decent noise cancellation
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.

The best Sony headphones: Sony WI-1000X

(Image credit: Sony)

7. Sony WI-1000X

Around-the-neck earphones with smart features

Size and Weight: 7.64 x 2.36 x 9.69 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

Smart noise cancellation
Adjustable sound
Alexa and Google Assistant integration
Supports numerous codecs including SBC, AAC, LDAC, aptX and aptX HD
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.

The best Sony headphones: Sony WH-1000XM3

(Image credit: Sony)

8. Sony WH-1000XM3

Best Sony headphones overall

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 (10 meters) | Digital Assistant Support: Yes

Exceptional sound quality
Top-tier noise cancellation
Stronger battery life than Bose ANC models
Intuitive features and touch controls
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.

The best Sony headphones: Sony WF-SP700N

(Image credit: Sony)

9. Sony WF-SP700N

True wireless earbuds for fitness lovers

Size and Weight: 2.3 x 1.5 x 2.4 inches, 0.27 ounces | Battery Life (Rated): 3 hours, 9 hours (with charging case) | Bluetooth Range: 30 feet (10 meters) | Digital Assistant Support: Yes

Kicks out plenty of bass
Sporty, secure design
Works with the Sony Headphones app 
Voice assistant support (Alexa and Google Assistant)
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

Size and Weight: 3.6 x 1.6 x 7.1 inches, 0.7 ounces | Battery Life (Rated): 15 hours | Bluetooth Range: 30 feet (10 meters) | Digital Assistant Support: Yes

Fantastic sound
Long battery life with quick-charge support
Great mic intelligibility
User-friendly controls
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.