We've currently tested over 40 pairs of Sony headphones. They're a versatile brand that makes a wide range of headphones at various price points. They have many affordable headphones for 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 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 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.
The best Sony earbuds 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 it sounds dark and lacking in low-bass. Luckily, their companion app has graphic EQ and presets, meaning you can customize their sound to your liking.
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 Sony WF-SP800N Truly Wireless are the best Sony earphones for sports that we've tested. Their small, lightweight, and portable design make it easy to toss them into your pocket or bag when you're on the go. They also have a comfortable and stable in-ear fit thanks to their stability fins, so they shouldn't move around during intense workouts. They're certified IP55 for protection against dust and direct water contact too. These in-ears have a very bass-heavy sound profile that delivers extra thump, rumble, and boom to help keep you pumped up at the gym. If you prefer a different sound, their companion app has a graphic EQ and presets to help you adjust their sound to suit your tastes. Their battery delivers over nine hours of continuous playback time, and their carrying case supplies an extra charge, which is handy in a pinch.
While they have an ANC system, it doesn't offer that much improvement compared to their passive isolation capabilities. As a result, they have a hard time blocking out the low rumble of bus and plane engines. You also can't use one bud while the other one charges, which is a little disappointing. That said, if you're looking for sports-oriented headphones, they have a comfortable, stable fit as well as a robust build, making them a solid choice for most users.
The Sony WI-C310 Wireless are the best Sony headphones that we've tested in the budget range. These affordable in-ears have a rubberized neck cable design with in-line controls so that you can answer calls or manage your audio when you're on the move. The buds don't stick out of your ears too much, and they have a decently comfortable and stable fit. Their bass-rich sound profile also adds a touch of extra body and boom to mixes. However, it shouldn't overwhelm vocals or lead instruments, making them a suitable choice for most kinds of audio content. They have roughly 17 hours of continuous playback time, which should be enough for long days at the office.
Unfortunately, their build quality is a weak point of their design. They don't feel very durable, and parts of the headphones feel like they could easily break or rip. They also lack active noise cancelling, and their passive isolation capabilities aren't enough to block out the low rumble of bus and plane engines. Their in-line mic offers a sub-par recording quality, which can be frustrating if you take a lot of calls. That said, they do a better job of separating speech from ambient noise, so your voice is heard more clearly, even if you're talking from a busy street.
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 generally rather expensive for what you get. Noise cancelling can especially be a bit hit-or-miss, but their more premium models 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.
Oct 13, 2021: We've made minor updates to the text and checked for product availability. There hasn't been a change in our recommendations.
Jul 15, 2021: Replaced the Sony WF-1000XM3 Truly Wireless with the Sony WF-1000XM4 Truly Wireless.
Apr 16, 2021: No changes in product picks after verifying their accuracy and availability.
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.