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The 5 Best Sony Headphones of 2020
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Best Sony Headphones

We've currently reviewed 34 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.

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Best Sony Headphones


  1. Best Sony Headphones

    7.4
    Mixed Usage
    7.2
    Neutral Sound
    8.0
    Commute/Travel
    7.2
    Sports/Fitness
    7.6
    Office
    5.9
    Wireless Gaming
    7.6
    Wired Gaming
    7.0
    Phone Calls
    Type Over-ear
    Enclosure Closed-Back
    Wireless Yes
    Noise Cancelling Yes
    Mic Yes
    Transducer Dynamic

    The best Sony headphones we’ve reviewed so far are the Sony WH-1000XM3. These Bluetooth over-ears are very well-built and extremely feature-dense, which befits their position in the upper reaches of Sony’s large product lineup. They deliver a punchy, bass-heavy listening experience out the box, but that can be adjusted to your heart’s content through a graphic EQ in the excellent Sony| Headphones Connect app if you aren’t happy with it. Their ANC performance is among the best we’ve seen on any pair of headphones we’ve tested so far, as it does an outstanding job of blocking out everything from the rumble of bus engines to the high-pitched hum of AC units. At 27 hours, battery life is excellent and should see you through a couple of instances of the daily grind without needing a charge, though they can be used with an audio cable if you forget.

    On the downside, their touch-sensitive control scheme, while quite intuitive and snappy in warmer climates, provides frustratingly inconsistent responses when the temperature drops below zero. They also lack an auto-off timer, so they can continue to drain their battery if they’re in range of a connected device. If that doesn’t bother you, their plethora of customization options and premium build quality means that they’re among the best Bluetooth headphones we’ve tested so far.

    See our review

  2. Best In-Ear Sony Headphones

    7.3
    Mixed Usage
    7.4
    Neutral Sound
    7.7
    Commute/Travel
    8.0
    Sports/Fitness
    6.9
    Office
    5.8
    Wireless Gaming
    5.7
    Wired Gaming
    6.6
    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 so far are the Sony WF-1000XM3. These truly wireless in-ears look and feel very premium, with high-grade plastic construction and metal accents. Their sound profile is mostly even and versatile enough for most musical genres, although some fans of EDM and hip hop might prefer a little more thump and rumble. Thankfully, that can be customized with a graphic EQ or presets in the feature-packed Sony| Headphones Connect app, which also allows you to remap their touch-sensitive control scheme for everything from playback functions to activating your phone's voice assistant. The continuous battery life of just under 7 hours with ANC activated is decent, and their carrying case provides an additional 3 charges.

    On the downside, they’re pretty bulky for truly wireless headphones and need to enter the ear canal pretty deeply to get a stable fit. This is further complicated by an included selection of ear tips that are unusually large and might not provide an airtight seal for most ears, which in turn has a negative impact on their noise isolation and audio leakage performance. The Sony WI-1000X Wireless will provide a more consistent listening experience thanks to their smaller earbuds, but their neckband design isn't nearly as portable.

    See our review

  3. Best Sony Headphones For Mixing And Mastering

    5.4
    Mixed Usage
    7.5
    Neutral Sound
    4.7
    Commute/Travel
    5.1
    Sports/Fitness
    5.4
    Office
    4.2
    Wireless Gaming
    6.3
    Wired Gaming
    2.1
    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 so far 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.

    On the downside, 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 the headphones 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

    6.9
    Mixed Usage
    6.4
    Neutral Sound
    7.4
    Commute/Travel
    7.9
    Sports/Fitness
    6.6
    Office
    5.3
    Wireless Gaming
    5.2
    Wired Gaming
    5.9
    Phone Calls
    Type In-ear
    Enclosure Closed-Back
    Wireless Yes
    Noise Cancelling Yes
    Mic Yes
    Transducer Dynamic

    The best Sony headphones for sports are the Sony WI-SP600N. These wireless earphones have a stable in-ear fit for running and working out. They're well-built, with an IPX4 rating for light water resistance, and their in-line remote provides all the necessary controls you'll need while exercising. They even have an active noise cancelling feature to help block out disruptive gym chatter and don't leak much sound so you can turn up the volume to get pumped without bothering those around you.

    Unfortunately, their battery only lasts for just over 5 hours. This should be enough to get through your workout but might not make it through a marathon. They also have a very bass-heavy, boomy sound that won't be for everyone. You can tone down their bass a bit with the EQ in their app, but you might not be able to reduce it enough to suit your tastes if you prefer a more neutral sound. That said, if you love deep, thumping bass while working out, they're a good 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. They provide very good value for the price, thanks to their simple, straightforward design, very well-balanced sound profile, and impressive battery life. They pack a bit of an extra punch in the bass range without overpowering vocals and instruments, which makes them versatile for all kinds of music. They also last an impressive 17 hours on a charge, which is better than what some of the most expensive wireless earbuds can do, so you shouldn't have to worry about needing to charge them too often.

    Unfortunately, they look and feel like pretty cheap headphones. Their in-line remote is easy-to-use, but the buttons feel rather mushy and the cables are very thin. Fortunately, the earbuds have magnetic backings that snap together, which helps keep them from falling off when around your neck. They might not be the most premium earbuds, but for the price, they still deliver a performance that's surprisingly solid overall.

    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. With most models, you get a good graphic EQ, but with more premium models it provides a bunch of virtual soundstage options, which really make it stand out.
  • Inconsistent noise cancelling performance. Although Sony have a few models that block a phenomenal amount of noise, like the WH-1000XM3, 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, like 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 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 especially can be 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, such as CH or ZX, represent.

Conclusion

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 reviewed 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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