We've currently tested 40 pairs of Sony headphones. They're a versatile brand that makes a wide range of headphones at various price points. They have lots of affordable headphones for mostly casual listening, but also have some pricier models that are more feature-packed.
The best Sony headphones we’ve tested are the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless. These comfortable, well-built over-ears are the upgraded version of the Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless, and they offer multi-device pairing, a longer continuous battery life, and new touch-sensitive control features. For example, the Quick Attention feature lets in ambient sound when you cover the right ear cup with your hand, so you can easily chat with a coworker without having to remove the headphones. They have a slightly bass-heavy sound profile that adds extra thump and punch to your mixes, and you can also customize their sound using the graphic EQ and presets in the Sony | Headphones Connect app. Also, they have outstanding noise isolation, so you aren't distracted by background noises during your commute or while working in a busy office.
Unfortunately, their integrated microphone has a disappointing recording quality, so your voice can sound thin, muffled, and lacking in detail to whoever's on the other end of the line. Your voice may also be drowned out the background noises if you're calling from a loud or crowded setting. Also, like most over-ears, they're a bit bulky, although they do fold into a more compact format. That said, these versatile, premium over-ears still rank among the best wireless Bluetooth headphones we've tested.
The best in-ear Sony headphones we’ve tested are the Sony WF-1000XM3 Truly Wireless. These well-built in-ears come with lots of different sizes of earbud tips to help you find the best possible fit. Out-of-the-box, they have a fairly neutral sound profile that's suitable for listening to lots of different types of audio genres, but with a little extra warmth in the bass that can also please fans of bass-heavy genres. If you prefer a different sound, there's a graphic EQ available in the Sony | Headphones Connect app. You can also use the app to turn on their ANC feature, which does a decent job blocking out background noises. If you're working in an office, it can help block out the sounds of coworkers chatting around you as well as the hum of nearby AC units.
Unfortunately, even with the ANC feature turned on, these headphones still struggle to block out bass-heavy background noises like bus and plane engines, so they aren't as suitable for use during your commute. Also, their microphone really struggles to separate your voice from background noises, so whoever's on the other end of the line may have trouble understanding you if you're calling from a loud environment. They also only last for about seven hours off of a single charge, which may not be enough to get you through your workday. Fortunately, their portable charging case offers around three extra charges, so you can easily power up while on the go.
The best Sony headphones for mixing and mastering we've tested are the Sony MDR-7506. They've been the industry standard for decades, and there's no surprise as to why. Their frequency response is very well-balanced, resulting in a neutral sound profile ideal for mixing. They're lightweight for long studio sessions and can fold up into a more compact format, so they don't take up too much space in your bag. They're also a good deal cheaper than most competing studio monitor headphones on the market, so you can get a few extra pairs to make sure everyone in your studio is properly equipped without breaking the bank.
Unfortunately, their lower price is reflected in their build quality. Their ear cup padding is notoriously cheap, and the headband can stretch out over time, especially with heavy use. While their long coiled cable is pretty durable, it isn't detachable. If it breaks, you'll have to replace them altogether. Thankfully, it doesn't cost an arm and a leg to replace them, and they should still last for a decent while.
The best Sony headphones for sports that we've tested are the Sony WF-SP800N Truly Wireless. These comfortable, well-built in-ears have a very stable fit, so they shouldn't fall out of your ears while you're working out. They even come with several different sizes of earbud tips and stability fins to help you get the best possible fit. Their bass-heavy sound profile can help you stay motivated during your toughest workouts, and if you prefer a different sound, there's a graphic EQ available in the Sony | Headphones Connect app. They can last for over nine hours off of a single charge, which should be more than enough to get you through a long run. Their portable charging case can also help you recharge on the go, which is nice.
Unfortunately, they don't support multi-device pairing, which can be annoying if you like to switch your audio sources frequently. Also, while they have an ANC system, it's just okay for noise isolation. The ANC feature performs about the same as their passive noise isolation, and you can still hear bass-heavy background noises like bus and plane engines. However, some listeners may actually prefer this design feature since it can help you stay aware of your surroundings if you're running outdoors.
The best Sony headphones we've tested in the budget range are the Sony WI-C310 Wireless. These cheap wireless in-ears are decently comfortable, and they should be stable enough for light exercise. They have a neckband design with in-line controls that make it easy to adjust the volume when you're on the go. Overall, they have a balanced sound profile with a little extra kick in the bass that's suitable for lots of different audio content. They don't leak a lot of noise, and escaping audio sounds very thin, so it shouldn't disturb anyone around you in a typical office setting. Also, they last about seventeen hours off of a single charge, so they're well-suited for long listening sessions.
Unfortunately, like many options in this price range, they don't have the best build quality. They lack a lot of features, so you can't customize their sound profile or activate a noise cancellation feature. If you're commuting, you may be distracted by bass-heavy background noises like bus and plane engines. Also, their in-line microphone has a sub-par recording quality, so they're only an okay choice for making phone calls.
Overall, Sony has a wide range of headphones for different needs. Their top performers are quite expensive, but provide good value for those who want the best of the best. Unfortunately, quality varies across models and their less pricey options are still generally rather expensive for what you get. Noise cancelling can be especially a bit hit-or-miss, but their more premium models generally get it right.
Sony has a couple of different headphone lineups but their naming strategy isn't always very clear. Some of their more feature-packed headphones with Bluetooth or active noise cancelling might appear to be in the same family as their basic wired headphones, which can be confusing. Their most consistent naming conventions are:
However, their MDR lineup includes both wired over-ears and in-ears, as well as wireless over-ears and on-ears; SP includes some, but not all, of their sports models; and it's unclear what the many other common naming schemes, like CH or ZX, represent.
Apr 16, 2021: No changes in product picks after verifying their accuracy and availability.
Sony makes a wide variety of headphone models that are geared for all kinds of listeners. Most of their models deliver reliable sound quality with either more bass-heavy or neutral-sounding options to choose from. Their best-performing headphones come at a premium price, though, as their cheaper models can be hit-or-miss. That said, their higher-end models are among some of the best headphones we've tested and are easy to recommend.
If you're a fan of Sony's noise cancelling models, you'll also want to check out our recommendations for the best headphones for commuting.