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Best Sony Headphones: Our favourite wireless headphones and earbuds

Sony are one of the biggest, most well-known names in the audio market, so if you’re looking for a new pair of headphones, it’s more than likely you’ll be encountering a pair from on your search.

But of all the headphones that Sony brings to market, which is the right pair for you? You’re in luck as we’ve put this guide of the best Sony headphones together, from the best wireless over-ears to the best wireless earbuds and the best gaming headsets. 

So whether you’re a Sony user looking to upgrade your cans or someone defecting from another brand, you’ll find our latest recommendations right here. 

Each pair of headphones has been thoroughly tested and reviewed in real-world environments. We take into account everything from design and features to battery life and performance in our reviews and listen to a variety of genres, judging the headphones’ value before settling on a final score.

Scroll down to discover our favourite Sony headphones or if you’re looking for a wider selection of headphones, visit our other audio best lists to explore broader categories, such as the best headphones, the best over-ears, the best wireless earbuds and the best noise-cancelling headphones.

Best Sony headphones at a glance

How we test

Learn more about how we test headphones

Not just anybody can review a pair of headphones. You don’t need superhuman hearing to tell what’s good, but you do need to know what to listen out for.

Our headphone tests are done by some of the best and most prolific reviewers in the industry, with years of experience listening to everything from the plasticky freebie earbuds that come with your smartphone, to five-figure beasts of glass and marble. We love music and we want your tunes to sound good, too.

So we listen every pair of headphones we can get on or in our ears. We use a variety of sources, from basic MP3s playing on a laptop to high-quality tracks on dedicated hi-res audio players.

Our test tracks are wide-ranging to give headphones a thorough challenge. They’re also familiar, so we know every track backwards, and we know which bits might trouble the lesser performers.

We listen again and again, and we do that for weeks in case the sound changes – because it usually does. Then we’ll listen to similarly priced rivals and come up with a verdict that reflects the performance and features for the money.

Sony WH-1000XM5

Best Sony wireless headphones
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  • Excellent comfort
  • Musical, rich audio performance
  • Impressively clean and natural noise cancellation
  • Superb Ambient Mode
  • Great call quality


  • Non-foldable design
  • Connection gets choppy in busy areas

The Sony WH-1000XM5 aren’t just our favourite pair of Sony headphones, we rate them as the best headphones you can buy right now. 

The headphones are an evolution of the WH-1000XM4, taking a more modern look and eking out a slightly more comfortable fit. The headphone’s design no longer folds flat like previous generations, a design choice that mirrors the likes of the Bose NC 700 and Apple AirPods Max, the reason being to improve noise cancelling performance by reducing the surface area that could cause wind noise.

Testing out the ANC, we did find that the XM5 were more adept at suppressing high frequency sounds than the XM4 although we didn’t find them be quite as good at dealing with voices. That said, the headphones perform an excellent job in a variety of settings, plus with the clear and detailed Transparency Mode you can hear what’s around in crystal clear clarity. 

Features like Speak-to-Chat and Quick Attention mode make it possible to hold conversations while still wearing the headphones, and built-in voice assistance offers convenience for hands-free operation of the headphones. The Adaptive Sound Control builds custom sound profiles based on the locations you frequent most, and there’s 3D sound support with Sony’s 360 Reality Audio

The battery life is 30 hours, and we managed to get through a week without requiring another charge when listening for a few hours a day. Battery life is better than the Bose QuietComfort 45 but the same as the older model despite the new, improved V1 processor that features on this model. Where the processor granted longer battery on the WF-1000XM4, through various reasons that couldn’t be done here. Perhaps we’ll have to wait until the WH-1000XM6 for longer endurance.

Of course, audio quality is the most important aspect here and the XM5 build on the foundation of the XM4 model, with even more texture and depth in the bass frequencies, a richer and more detailed midrange, and slightly more expressive high frequency performance. There are potentially more accurate-sounding headphones like the B&W Px7 S2, but few that are as fun to listen to as the Sony.

Reviewer: Kob Monney
Full Review: Sony WH-1000XM5

Sony WF-1000XM4

Best Sony in-earphones
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  • Impressively rich sound
  • Excellent noise cancellation
  • Compact design
  • IPX4 rating
  • Comprehensive feature set


  • Beaten by Bose for noise cancellation
  • More expensive than before
  • Call quality suffers in noisy areas

Like the WH-1000XM5, the WF-1000XM4 take on a different look from their predecessor. They’re smaller and more ergonomically-shaped than the WF-1000XM3, offering a more secure and comfortable fit, and the charging case is more pocketable too. 

The XM4 are powered by Sony’s new V1 processing chip that is responsible for its noise cancellation and wireless performance. It ekes out a more efficient performance from the battery, as the XM4 carries the the same battery life as the XM3 with ANC on despite the much smaller charging case. The total battery life is 24 hours, or 36 hours with ANC off. 

The ANC has also seen improvements, though we still found the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds to be more effective. Virtually all the features found on the over-ear models have been transplanted here, with Adaptive Sound Control, Speak-to-Chat, Quick Attention Mode and Alexa and Google Assistant built-in, as well as fast pairing for Android devices and EQ customisation in the Headphone app. 

As far as audio quality goes, the XM4 are the best sounding earbuds we’ve reviewed so far. They’re as versatile as the XM3 in the music genres they can handle, offering a natural and balanced presentation that’s supplied with plenty of energy and subtlety. We found they offered more dynamism, flow and width than the Bowers & Wilkins PI7, and a richer tone the Bose earphones, so if you’re after the best sounding earbuds, we’d recommend this Sony pair.

Reviewer: Kob Monney
Full Review: Sony WF-1000XM4

Sony WH-1000XM4

Best mid-range Sony wireless headphones
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  • Superb audio
  • Impressive noise cancellation
  • Lightweight and comfortable
  • Useful smarts


  • No IP resistance

The WH-1000XM4 over-ears were replaced by the WH-1000XM5, but they’re still hanging about and act as a more affordable mid-range option if you find the XM5 too expensive. 

They look very similar to the WH-1000XM3 (which are also still available), but Sony tightened the design and improved on the already great sound. From a design perspective, we found that small tweaks reaped big benefits. While they’re only a gram lighter, they feel comfier with the earpads softer and the headband structure redesigned to distribute weight better. The pressure they exert is minimal, which makes them perfect for both casual wear or long-distance travel. One advantage over the new XM5 model is that these can be folded and collapsed for travel.

The noise-cancelling was the strongest we’ve heard from a Sony headphone until the WH-1000XM5, but they still manage to hold their own against newer ANC headphones from other brands three years on from launch. We found they kept outside sounds at bay effectively, hushing voices more effectively than the XM5 does, although it does do this with a slight noise-cancelling tone. 

Combined with its smart features, which allow you to speak to other people without taking the headphones off, as well as Adaptive Sound Control that learns the places you frequent most often and tailors the ANC performance for that location, these Sony headphones are one of the smartest on the market. 

The sound improved immeasurably over the XM3: more refined, less noisy and as confident as ever. They’re more musical in their approach, adding an extra layer of refinement and detail for a more articulate performance. They extract more detail from mid-range , with instruments better defined, and the separation of elements within a track is clearer, the result is a performance with greater fidelity than the XM3. We also found the DSEE Extreme feature was impressive in how much noise it removed from older tracks, making recordings much easier on the ears than the XM3.

The WH-1000XM4 still impresses and remains one of the finest noise-cancelling headphones on the market. While we do think the WH-1000XM5 are slightly better in terms of noise-cancelling and sound quality, if you’re after a more affordable Sony noise-canceller, we’d highly recommend this pair.

Reviewer: Kob Monney
Full Review: Sony WH-1000XM4

Sony LinkBuds S

Best mid-range Sony true wireless
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  • Rich, expressive sound
  • Impressive noise cancellation for the price
  • Good comfort levels
  • Compact, lightweight design


  • Average battery life
  • Mixed call quality performance

If the WF-1000XM4 are for the audio purist, the LinkBuds S is more for the lifestyle crowd who want a smart pair of wireless earbuds that are easy to use, but still provide excellent audio.

The price of the LinkBuds S puts them within the midrange of the true wireless market, and since their launch in the UK they’ve been as affordable as their sister buds, the LinkBuds, with prices averaging around £140. This is much cheaper than the £180/£200 the WF-1000XM4 goes for.

They are one of the most lightest true wireless on the market at just 4.8g per bud. We found their lightweight and compact design made them easy to get a good fit. Made from recycled plastics the LinkBuds S’ build quality is tough enough, though a drop on concrete did result in a small chip in our review sample. IPX4 protection against sweat and water is supported, which makes these earphones a good choice if you need a pair for exercise or the gym.

The portable case actually stores less battery life than the LinkBuds, but battery life per charge is slightly more at six hours. We found that with real-world use, the battery is more towards five hours streaming in the high-quality LDAC codec. We found the strength of its wireless connection to be mostly good aside from a few jitters in busy places.

The noise-cancellation isn’t as comprehensive as the WF-1000XM4, but we found the fit and seal created by the LinkBuds S helps to minimise traffic noise and heavily reduce the impact of environmental sounds. The transparency mode picks up a little noise, but nothing that becomes a bother. There are smart features in Spotify Tap and Endel, the latter offers personalised soundscapes for relaxation and sleep though you have to pay for the full service.

We felt that the sound quality was very reminiscent of the WF-1000XM4. The midrange is rich in tone but well detailed, the soundstage described is wide and spacious, while bass has more of an impact than it does on the original LinkBuds. If there’s an area we’re less confident about, it’s the top end of the frequency spectrum, which isn’t as bright or as defined as we’d like.

Reviewer: Kob Monney
Full Review: Sony LinkBuds S

Sony Inzone H7

Best Sony gaming headphones
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  • Immensely comfortable
  • Superb passive noise isolation
  • Detailed audio
  • Great battery life


  • Expensive
  • Middling mic performance
  • Fiddly software
  • No option for a wired connection

If you’re in the market for a wireless gaming headset, we suggest you look no further than Sony’s Inzone H7. InZone is a new range of peripherals from Sony, a range made up of three pairs of gaming headsets, with the H7 sitting in the middle. 

The design borrows cues from the WH-1000XM5, with a smooth and clean appearance that also borrows from the aesthetic of the PlayStation 5. At 325g, they’re lighter than the Turtle Beach Stealth 700 Gen 2 Max and we found them to be very comfortable to wear during our gaming sessions. 

The headphones offer some of the best passive noise isolation we’ve experienced on a gaming headset, blocking out music from a room over and loud neighbours with ease, though anyone after noise cancellation should look at the more expensive H9 model. 

The playback controls are thoughtfully placed on the headphone and compatibility is good as you’re able to connect to a PC or PS5 using Bluetooth or the bundled USB receiver. Unsurprisingly there’s no Xbox Wireless compatibility, nor is there a headphone jack to support wired connections. 

The InZone H7 offered refined and detailed audio with good tonal balance. The soundstage is wide, which makes it possible to pinpoint enemies based on their speech, though we did think the low end could be more tightly defined as it occasionally drowned out more subtle sounds in horror games. 

At $229 / £199, the H7 isn’t among cheaper gaming headsets but the design is comfortable, the sound is detailed and the battery life is great. 

Reviewer: Reese Bithrey
Full Review: Sony Inzone H7

Sony WH-CH520

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  • Lightweight design
  • Very good call performance
  • Good feature set and customization options
  • Robust wireless performance


  • On-ear design can pinch
  • SoundMagic pair offers greater clarity and detail

The WH-CH520 are one of the cheapest pairs of Sony headphones we’ve reviewed in recent years. At just £50 / €70, they’re in the impulse buy column if you’re looking for a new pair of on-ear headphones.

We found they were comfortable to wear, though the on-ear design can pinch on the earlobes and passive noise isolation isn’t as good as the true wireless and over-ear pairs, so external sounds mesh with music. The build quality is predominantly plastic, but it does keep the weight down to just 147g, making them rather light to wear on our heads. There’s no carry case so you’ll either need to wear them around your neck or stuff them in a bag when you’re not using them.

Of all the headphones on this list, the WH-CH520 doesn’t have access to the same level of features through the Sony Headphones Connect app, but what it does offer is very good for its price and for on-ears in general. Battery is rated at 50 hours and in our testing we found that the battery can indeed go for a very long time. A nine-hour battery drain didn’t result in any loss of battery whatsoever, which is impressive.

There is Sony’s 360 Reality Audio format for immersive audio, and Bluetooth support equates to SBC and AAC codecs. The wireless connection with our phone was great during testing with no stutters or dropouts even in busy areas. Call quality is also very good in terms of clarity, though in busy areas it can become harder for the other person to hear what’s said.

In terms of their sound quality we found these headphones to be a smooth listen, but they don’t offer as finessed a performance as other similarly priced headphones, with a slight lack of definition and sharpness to instruments and voices not helped by a soundstage that sounds small. Bass is decent for an on-ear and there’s some nice brightness to high frequencies, while the midrange is handled in a smooth, clear manner. A solid, enjoyable pair of headphones.

Reviewer: Kob Monney
Full Review: Sony WH-CH520

We also considered…

We’ve reviewed

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Why don’t the Sony WH-1000XM5 fold anymore?

Sony has taken away the foldable design to improve the noise cancelling performance on its flagship headphones series.

How waterproof are the headphones in this list?

The WF-1000XM4 are water resistant up to IPX4. The other headphones in this list have no IP rating.

What is Sony 360 Reality Audio

Sony 360 Reality Audio is an audio format that places you in the midst of the audio, making it sound more immersive. You can read more about it in our guide.

Comparison specs

IP rating
Battery Hours
Wireless charging
Fast Charging
Release Date
First Reviewed Date
Model Number
Audio Resolution
Driver (s)
Noise Cancellation?
Frequency Range
Headphone Type
Voice Assistant

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