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The 5 Best Sony Headphones of 2023 Reviews

Updated
Best Sony Headphones

We've tested over 50 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.

Updates

Best Sony Headphones


  1. Best Sony Headphones

    The best Sony headphones we've tested are the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless. These over-ears are the previous generation of the Sony WH-1000XM5 Wireless. However, they feel sturdier and offer a better noise isolation performance than the latest version, especially for bass-range noise like rumbling engines. The ANC does a better job of blocking ambient sound than their competitor, the Bose QuietComfort 45/QC45 Wireless, making them the best Sony noise cancelling headphones we've tested. They also have better, springier padding than the WH-1000XM5 and offer a more comfortable fit for most people, especially if you have a smaller head.

    Their slightly bass-heavy sound profile 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. They're sturdy and have a long continuous battery life of about 37 hours. They aren't ideal for phone calls, though, since the integrated microphone has a disappointing recording quality, and your voice may be drowned out by background noise if you're calling from a loud or crowded setting. On the other hand, the WH-1000XM5's mic has an excellent noise handling performance and an improved recording quality, making the newer model a better option for calls.

    See our review

  2. Best Sony Earbuds

    If you're looking for light, portable earbuds rather than over-ears, the best earbuds we've tested from Sony are the Sony LinkBuds S Truly Wireless. These earbuds are the closed-back, more conventional sibling of the Sony LinkBuds Truly Wireless. The original LinkBuds have an open design that lets in ambient sound, while the S have an ANC feature to block out sound and an ambient mode for when you want to hear your surroundings. The ANC does an excellent job of blocking noise, including bass-range noise like rumbling plane engines. With ANC on, they have a solid seven-hour continuous battery life, and the portable charging case holds a couple of additional charges.

    Their sound profile is more neutral than other Sony earbuds like the Sony WF-1000XM4 Truly Wireless. Fans of genres like EDM and hip-hop may miss the extra thump and rumble, but their more neutral sound is still versatile enough for most audio genres. Like our over-ear recommendation, they work with the Sony | Headphones Connect app, which offers an EQ for sound customization. They work with Sony 360 Reality Audio, which can help make audio more immersive if you're using a compatible streaming service. They also support Sony's LDAC codec for hi-res audio over Bluetooth.

    See our review

  3. Best Budget Sony Headphones

    If you're not looking for premium headphones or a high-end price point, the Sony WI-C310 are the best Sony wireless headphones in the budget range that we've tested. These in-ears have a neck cable design, so a cable connects the earbuds, allowing you to wear them around your neck when not in use. Because of this, some may find them cumbersome compared to truly wireless buds, but the cable is light and flexible. They aren't as sturdy as the Sony LinkBuds S Truly Wireless, which isn't surprising given their much smaller price tag. However, they have a decently comfortable fit and a long continuous battery life of nearly 17 hours.

    Their warm sound profile makes vocals and instruments sound present, detailed, and cozy, well-suited for genres like jazz and folk. Unlike the previous picks, they don't have an app or sound customization features. They also lack ANC and rely on their design to passively block out ambient sound. That means they won't do much to reduce the low rumble of bus and plane engines, but on the plus side, they manage to block out an impressive amount of mid-range noise like ambient chatter.

    See our review

  4. Best Sony Studio Headphones

    The best headphones from Sony for studio use we've tested are the Sony MDR-7506. Unlike the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless, these over-ears aren't for casual use or daily listening on the bus or at the office. However, thanks to their well-balanced sound, they've been around for years and have been the standard for mixing and recording. Vocals and lead instruments are clear, accurate, and detailed in mixes. They also deliver audio consistently across reseats and come with an adapter so you can connect with an amp or mixer out-of-the-box. They're also suitable for podcast recording since they don't leak much audio.

    They have a comfortable and lightweight fit that's well-suited for long sessions in the studio. They also fold up to help conserve space if you want to toss them in your bag. However, the build quality feels somewhat cheap, meaning wear and tear is more likely depending on how often you travel with them. The coiled audio cable isn't detachable, which is inconvenient, but it extends over four feet, giving you more room if you like to move around.

    See our review

  5. Best Sony Gaming Headphones

    If you're looking for dedicated gaming headphones, try the Sony INZONE H9 Wireless. They're the highest-end headphones of Sony Electronics' INZONE lineup and are designed with the PS5 in mind, although you can also use them on PC. Unfortunately, Xbox users must look elsewhere for compatible wireless gaming headphones. They have low latency thanks to their wireless USB dongle, but they also support Bluetooth, meaning you can stay connected to your smartphone and console simultaneously. They even have an ANC system, and while it doesn't outperform that of the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless, it can still block out noise like ambient chatter and the hum of a standing fan well. With their ANC on and when connected to two devices at a time, they last over 22 hours continuously.

    These decently comfortable over-ears have a boomy sound profile when using the dongle. This sound helps emphasize sound effects like footsteps in your gameplay. If you're using a PC, you can access their app's graphic EQ and presets to help you customize their sound to suit your tastes. If you like to game with others, their boom mic has a decent recording quality. Although there's some distortion present in speech, you'll still be intelligible. The mic can also separate your voice from ambient noise, ensuring you're heard clearly, even in noisy environments.

    See our review

Compared to other brands


  • Variety. Sony makes everything from open-back earbuds to RF wireless TV headphones at various 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 neutral or bass-heavy sound profile options. It 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. The best Sony earphones might be industry leaders, but they'll 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 has many feature-packed models, even some of their most premium Bluetooth headphones are missing features taken for granted with other brands; these include microphone controls, multi-device pairing, audio while charging, or an auto-off timer.

Sony vs Bose

Sony and Bose are often compared, especially regarding noise cancelling. Although Bose focuses primarily on noise cancelling performance, their products also tend to sound more neutral, which some users may prefer. They also have a small but diverse lineup, including aviation headsets and speaker sunglasses. In comparison, Sony headphones usually offer more robust sound customization features, including 360 Reality Audio, and tend to have more bass-heavy sound profiles. Their lineup is large too, and there's something for everyone at each price point. To see the best options at each price point, see our list of the best Bose headphones.

Sony vs Apple

Sony and Apple are both well-recognized brands with fantastic casual-use wireless products. To get the most out of Apple headphones, you must be an iOS/iPad user, as many features like Spatial Audio are only accessible within their native ecosystem. Their noise cancelling headphones also tend to rival Sony's, though Sony still has the edge in this regard. Apple also doesn't offer nearly the same level of product diversity as Sony. To see the best Apple offers, check out our picks for the most worthwhile Apple headphones.

Sony vs Sennheiser

Sennheiser specializes in audiophile headphones, so the brands generally cater to people and different needs. However, like Sony, they also make high-end noise cancelling earbuds and over-ears intended for more casual use. They tend to offer fairly neutral sound profiles and sound customization features, but Sony's better ANC headphones offer a superior noise cancelling performance. If you might be interested in audiophile headphones or want to see Sennheiser's more casual products, check out our recommendations for the best options.

Sony vs Anker

Like Sony, Anker makes a variety of wireless over-ear headphones and earbuds for casual use. Their best ANC headphones rival Sony's pricier noise cancelling products, and some Anker headphones even support LDAC, Sony's proprietary codec for hi-res audio. Sony makes a bigger variety of headphones with different designs, like open-back earbuds and gaming headsets. Sony has more options if you're looking for headphones with premium build quality. Still, try our list of the best Anker headphones, especially if you're on a budget.

Sony is known for its product variety, from the top-of-the-line, casual-use WF-1000X and WH-1000X series to the PlayStation-focused INZONE gaming headsets. However, the best headphones from Sony are often expensive but provide good value for those who want the best. Quality varies across models, and their less pricey options generally have few extra features. Noise cancelling can especially be a bit hit-or-miss, but their more premium models get it right.

Lineup

Sony has a few different 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 in the same family as their basic wired headphones, which can be confusing. Their most consistent naming conventions are:

  • MDR = Audiophile headphones, which include over-ears, in-ears, and earbuds. In the case of in-ears and earbuds, these headphones differ from the IER lineup as they're not professional-grade.
  • IER = Reference-quality in-ear monitors.
  • INZONE = Over-ear gaming headphones with a boom mic.
  • WF = Casual use truly wireless headphones.
  • WI = Casual use in-ears. This includes neckband headphones.
  • WH = Casual use over-ears and on-ears.

In addition to these broad lineups, further sub-categories follow the lineup name. Unfortunately, it's unclear what some names, like CH or ZX, represent, but here are the most common ones:

  • 1000 = Top-of-the-line wireless headphones with noise cancelling. This includes the WH-1000XM5 and the WF-1000XM4.
  • AS/SP = Sports oriented. AS is normally connected to MDR, while SP is connected to WI. 
  • XB = Extra Bass, headphones with a more bass-heavy sound profile.
  • RF = Stands for radio frequency and are designed for home theatre use.
  • LP = Discontinued. Used for wired earbuds (which sit outside the ear canal) and on-ears.

Some models like the Sony WH-CH700N Wireless also end in 'N', which denotes noise cancelling. However, this is only for headphones outside the WH-1000, WF-1000, and LinkBuds lineup.

Finally, there are a couple of exceptions to this lineup system. The Sony LinkBuds Truly Wireless (also known as the WF-L900) and Sony LinkBuds S Truly Wireless are among the few current offerings that don't follow this naming scheme. Although they are opposites from one another when it comes to noise isolation, their lineup is designed with ambient sound in mind. There's also the new Sony Float Run Wireless, open-ear sports earbuds.

They also offer a few dedicated PlayStation headphones. These headphones, which include the PlayStation Platinum Wireless Headset and Sony Pulse 3D Wireless, are produced directly by PlayStation (owned by Sony) and not Sony Electronics, which manufactures the above products. That means you won't find these headsets on Sony's headphones website.

Recent Updates

  1. May 23, 2023: We've checked our picks for availability and accuracy. However, there hasn't been in a change in our recommendations.

  2. Mar 22, 2023: Added comparisons to Anker and Sennheiser.

  3. Feb 01, 2023: We've added the Sony INZONE H9 Wireless as the 'Best Sony Gaming Headphones' and added Bose and Apple brand comparisons. We've also expanded the information regarding Sony's lineup. There hasn't been a change in our recommendations.

  4. Nov 14, 2022: Replaced the Sony WF-1000XM4 Truly Wireless with the Sony LinkBuds S Truly Wireless and removed the Sony WF-SP800N.

  5. Jun 29, 2022: Checked that picks represent the best recommendations and that the products are in stock.

Conclusion

Sony makes a wide variety of models geared for all kinds of listeners. Most of their models deliver reliable sound quality with either more bass-heavy or neutral-sounding options. Their best-performing headphones come at a premium price, as their cheaper models can be hit-or-miss. Their higher-end models are among the best headphones we've tested and are easily recommended.

Test results