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The 5 Best Sony Headphones of 2021 Reviews

Updated
Best Sony Headphones

We've currently tested 41 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 casual listening, but also have some pricier models that are more feature-packed.

Updates

Best Sony Headphones


  1. Best Sony Headphones

    7.1
    Neutral Sound
    8.1
    Commute/Travel
    7.2
    Sports/Fitness
    7.7
    Office
    5.8
    Wireless Gaming
    7.4
    Wired Gaming
    6.7
    Phone Calls
    Type Over-ear
    Enclosure Closed-Back
    Wireless Yes
    Noise Cancelling Yes
    Mic Yes
    Transducer Dynamic

    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 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 in background noises if you're calling from a loud or crowded setting. Also, like most over-ears, they're a bit bulky, although they fold into a more compact format. That said, these versatile, premium over-ears still rank among the best wireless Bluetooth headphones we've tested.

    See our review

  2. Best In-Ear Sony Headphones

    6.5
    Neutral Sound
    7.9
    Commute/Travel
    8.2
    Sports/Fitness
    7.1
    Office
    5.5
    Wireless Gaming
    5.3
    Wired Gaming
    6.4
    Phone Calls
    Type In-ear
    Enclosure Closed-Back
    Wireless Truly Wireless
    Noise Cancelling Yes
    Mic Yes
    Transducer Dynamic

    The best in-ear Sony headphones we've tested are the Sony WF-1000XM4 Truly Wireless. These well-built in-ears are the next generation of the Sony WF-1000XM3 Truly Wireless and have a significantly better noise isolation performance as well as a more comfortable fit. Thanks to their ANC, they can block out a great amount of ambient noise around you, like the low rumble of bus or plane engines, which is nice if you travel a lot. They also have longer continuous battery life at over 10 hours, and their carrying case holds an additional two charges if you need it. Although this generation doesn't support NFC pairing, you can still connect them to supported devices using Google Fast Pair or Windows 10 Swift Pair, though we don't currently test for this.

    Unfortunately, their integrated mic has a disappointing recording quality, so it sounds thin and somewhat distorted. While some users may prefer their smooth and warm sound profile, others may find that it sounds dark and lacking in low-bass. Luckily, their companion app has graphic EQ and presets, so you can customize their sound to your liking.

    See our review

  3. Best Sony Headphones For Mixing And Mastering

    7.9
    Neutral Sound
    4.6
    Commute/Travel
    5.1
    Sports/Fitness
    5.2
    Office
    4.3
    Wireless Gaming
    6.3
    Wired Gaming
    2.0
    Phone Calls
    Type Over-ear
    Enclosure Closed-Back
    Wireless No
    Noise Cancelling No
    Mic No
    Transducer Dynamic

    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.

    See our review

  4. Best Sony Headphones For Sports

    7.0
    Mixed Usage
    6.5
    Neutral Sound
    7.5
    Commute/Travel
    8.2
    Sports/Fitness
    6.7
    Office
    5.4
    Wireless Gaming
    5.3
    Wired Gaming
    6.3
    Phone Calls
    Type In-ear
    Enclosure Closed-Back
    Wireless Truly Wireless
    Noise Cancelling Yes
    Mic Yes
    Transducer Dynamic

    The Sony WF-SP800N Truly Wireless are the best Sony headphones for sports that we've tested. These comfortable in-ears have a very stable fit and shouldn't fall out of your ears during a run in the park or at the gym. They're also well-built and are rated IP55 for dust and water resistance, although we don't currently test for it. Fans of EDM and hip-hop may especially enjoy their bass-heavy sound profile, which delivers extra thump, punch, and boom to help keep you pumped up during your workout. That said, their companion app offers a graphic EQ and presets if you want to customize their sound to your liking. They also have over nine hours of continuous playback time, and their carrying case has an additional charge if you need it.

    However, while they have an ANC system, it performs very similarly to the headphones' passive noise isolation capabilities and barely cuts down bass-heavy sounds like the rumble of bus engines. They also don't support multi-device pairing, so you won't be able to connect them to your smartphone and laptop at once. If you're looking for something you can use for sports and physical activity, their comfortable and very stable fit make them a suitable choice.

    See our review

  5. Best Budget Sony Headphones

    7.1
    Mixed Usage
    7.3
    Neutral Sound
    7.5
    Commute/Travel
    8.0
    Sports/Fitness
    6.8
    Office
    5.4
    Wireless Gaming
    5.3
    Wired Gaming
    6.5
    Phone Calls
    Type In-ear
    Enclosure Closed-Back
    Wireless Yes
    Noise Cancelling No
    Mic Yes
    Transducer Dynamic

    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 suitable for lots of different audio content. They don't leak much 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 many 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.

    See our review

Compared to other brands


  • Headphone variety. Sony makes everything from open-back sports earbuds to noise cancelling RF wireless TV headphones at all kinds of different price points. We've yet to review their entire line-up, but they generally have something for everyone.
  • Different sound profile options. Sony's headphones generally fall into two sound profile options: neutral or bass-heavy. This helps them cater to a wider range of listeners since some people find a neutral sound too flat or boring, but others find too much bass overwhelming.
  • Great mobile app. Many of their Bluetooth headphones are compatible with the Sony | Headphones Connect app. You get a good graphic EQ with most models, but with more premium models, it provides many virtual soundstage options.
  • Inconsistent noise cancelling performance. Although Sony have a few models that block a phenomenal amount of noise, like the Sony WH-1000XM4, most of their models' noise cancelling is only decent.
  • Premium price for good headphones. Sony's best headphones might be industry leaders, but they'll also set you back a pretty penny. Their cheaper options usually have poor build or sound quality, especially compared to models from dedicated budget brands.
  • Some features missing. While Sony have many feature-packed models, even some of their most premium Bluetooth headphones are missing features that are taken for granted with other brands; these include microphone controls, multi-device pairing, audio while charging, or an auto-off timer.

Overall, Sony has a wide range of headphones for different needs. Their top performers are 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 especially be a bit hit-or-miss, but their more premium models generally get it right.

Lineup

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:

  • WH = Wireless over-ears and on-ears.
  • WI = Wireless in-ears and earbuds.
  • WF = Truly wireless headphones.
  • IER = In-ear monitors.
  • XB = Extra Bass, headphones with a more bass-heavy sound signature.

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.

Recent Updates

  1. Jul 15, 2021: Replaced the Sony WF-1000XM3 Truly Wireless with the Sony WF-1000XM4 Truly Wireless.

  2. Apr 16, 2021: No changes in product picks after verifying their accuracy and availability.

Conclusion

Sony makes a wide variety of headphone models 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.

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