Sony has lots of great offerings when it comes to the best headphones — they are one of the world’s leading tech brands after all. Because of this, it can be hard to decide which ones to buy. Our top pick goes to the Sony WH-1000XM5. These outstanding cans feature class-leading active noise cancelation (ANC) and come with great sound, battery life, and comfort. Jam out to your favorite tunes, talk to Alexa, and even take a phone call without ever having to take your headphones off. Sony has built its reputation on high-end headphones, and these are the best Sony headphones you can buy.
It’s hard to find fault with the WH-1000XM5, particularly because they follow the outstanding performance of their predecessors in the WH-1000XM4, over-ear cans that simply serenaded us in our own review. The guts that made those so good remain in great standing with these headphones, including how Sony’s QN1 processor and dual noise sensor deliver class-leading ANC performance. Does it get even better with these cans? You bet.
Sony chose not to make any drastic changes to the sound, though you will find these are tuned better out of the box. Better ANC and an excellent equalizer in Sony’s Connect app are the tools to help give you the sonic ability you would expect from headphones of this caliber.
Improved microphones pay dividends in more ways than one. Not only do they cancel out more noise, but they also add extra clarity to phone calls, making it easier to chat with someone with ambient noise or wind around you. You can still pair with two devices simultaneously to listen to music on one device and take calls on another.
Since the WH-1000XM5 won’t work quite as hard, battery life gives you up to 30 hours per charge (depending on volume level and ANC use). Fast charging is there when you need it. Too bad you still can’t plug in to listen and charge at the same time.
Sony didn’t have to rethink its approach with the WH-1000XM4 because the previous WH-1000XM3s were already among the best in the industry, topping some of our own lists. The two biggest reasons were the audio quality and ANC performance, which got decent upgrades with the WH-1000XM4, as we noted in our review. Sony put in its QN1 processor and dual noise sensor to further improve blocking ambient sound. While it’s highly debatable that the results are a giant leap forward from their predecessors, they get help from other areas.
Sony could’ve chosen to make these sound a little different, but instead opted not to mess with the sound signature all that much, sticking with the same bass-heavy balance that can sometimes overpower the mids and highs. This is where Sony’s Connect app, with its equalizer, can come in handy. You can tinker with it however you like to control mids, bass, and highs, so you’ve got some runway to get more out of these superb cans.
The sonic improvements also extend to phone calls, which required some help. Callers will come through clearer and have an easier time hearing you as well. It’s mainly due to Sony’s Precise Voice Pickup and Speak to Chat features that optimize sound and volume during conversations. You can also finally pair with two devices simultaneously, so you can listen to music on one device while taking calls from another.
If you’re wondering about comfort, Sony did very little to change the design. They not only look almost identical, but should basically feel that way, too. It should be good news as long as they’re comfortable, considering the 32 hours per charge the battery can turn out, depending on volume and ANC. Fast charging can get them playing again; just plug them in for 10 minutes and get up to five hours of playback. However, you can’t charge and listen at the same time.
When you have yourself to beat to attain a different level of excellence, you’re in a good spot. That’s Sony’s earbuds in a nutshell. The WF-1000XM4 are top-class successors to the already superb WF-1000XM3, putting them right in line as one of the best pairs of earbuds your money can buy right now. Granted, they may not be the prettiest available, but that’s a small price to pay for the performance you get.
Sony chose only to touch the sound profile, but the impact is minor, and with good reason. It maintained a more neutral soundstage, giving you additional opportunities to customize it to your liking using the equalizer in the Headphones Connect app. The mids get the most out of this arrangement, and they complement the extra bass and highs you can easily pull out through the EQ. Of course, if there’s not enough of a thump, you can always toggle on the Extra Bass feature to ramp up the bass some more. The 360 Reality Audio feature is also pretty good for listening to content with a spatial effect, as we discovered when we tested these headphones. And if you’re into hi-res audio, these earbuds also support Sony’s LDAC codec.
It will matter how well they fit, though. Sony tried to trim some fat to make them easier to wear for a greater variance of ears, but you may or may not like how they’ve done it. If you can get good passive noise isolation, the ANC only improves, keeping these earbuds as elite noise cancelers. The downside is that features like Adaptive Sound Control don’t feel like they’ve taken a big step forward. And while the IPX4 rating does offer better water and sweat resistance this time, you should still steer clear of too much water and keep them clean after you sweat on them.
Battery life gets a decent boost at up to eight hours per charge with an extra three charges from the case. That’s even better when you also have a smaller case to carry around than before. It also works with wireless charging, which is convenient. USB-C will charge it faster, including fast charging. Plug it in for 10 minutes, and the earbuds can play for up to 90 minutes.
Wireless headphones aren’t always the best route, especially if you’re chasing sound quality specifically. It’s no secret that wired audio sounds better than wireless audio and the Sony MDR-7506 are a clear indication of that. These classic headphones have slightly boosted bass, which gives you a warmer sound signature. The mids are balanced, and the treble is somewhat boosted, giving them a consumer-friendly sound.
The MDR-7506 are also extremely comfortable. The ear cups are large, and the padding over the head is decent. However, the leather material used is susceptible to wear and tear. Also, while the ear cups are large, they don’t extend too far, making them uncomfortable for those who have wider ears.
In terms of portability, the MDR-7506 are excellent. They don’t fold sideways, but they do fold into themselves, effectively reducing the footprint by half when stowed away. Unfortunately, the included cable is non-detachable, which means that you’ll have to replace them entirely if the cable starts to break. Fortunately, the MDR-7506 terminates in 3.5mm, which is the most widely used audio connector. The cable is also coiled, which will help reduce the likelihood of the cable tearing.
Sony’s headphones are known for being bass-heavy, and the WH-XB900N are no exception. In fact, the WH-XB900N are part of Sony’s “Extra Bass” collection, which aims to pump even more bass than usual into your ears. The WH-XB900N are low-end-forward, with a midrange and treble that is slightly recessed, giving the headphones an overall darker sound signature.
Beyond the bass, the WH-XB900N over-ear headphones are incredibly comfortable. The ear cups are big and extend deep, and the headband feels like a pillow, making them comfortable to wear for hours. In addition, the clamping force isn’t too strong, so it won’t feel like the headphones are crushing your head.
Battery life is excellent with up to 30 hours of uptime, matching their ANC brother the WH-1000XM3. That’s not the only component the WH-XB900N shares with the WH-1000XM3; the XB900N also have USB-C for charging. You’ll also get quick charging which will net you 60 minutes of listening time with a 10-minute charge.
Neckbuds are great for those who want earbuds that you don’t have to worry about losing because they’ll sit comfortably around your neck all day. Enter the WI-C400, the best neckbuds Sony makes, as we discovered in our review.
The WI-C400 are super comfortable, thanks to their lightweight design. They also come with several ear tip sizes in the box, which will help tremendously with the fit. Another great feature is their battery life, netting up to 20 hours on a single charge. While battery life is great, they, unfortunately, use the aging Micro-USB connector for charging.
When it comes to sound quality, the WI-C400 are decent. However, bass response is underemphasized and essentially non-existent. The midrange is a bit bizarre and can sound unnatural. The treble is boosted a substantial amount which gives it a slightly piercing and sharp sound. However, the WI-C400 are excellent for phone calls as their microphones are above-average and can block out a decent amount of background noise without making your voice sound robotic.
The Sony WF-C500 hold up surprisingly well considering their price point, especially in how they balance their sound and comfort. You can expect a nice, comfortable fit when putting them on, which is super important because you don’t get ANC support here at all. The only you’ll be blocking out any noise is if these buds plug your ears well enough. While nice and snug, they’re not all that durable with their IPX4 rating. You can work out in them, but they need to wiped clean afterward.
Sony engineered the sound to be more crowd-pleasing than anything else, so while you won’t get the kind of sonic prowess in its more expensive earbuds, you should feel pretty satisfied with the results for what you pay to listen to them. The good news is you can use Sony’s Headphones Connect app to customize the sound within the included equalizer, as well as access 360 Reality Audio for any content that supports it. They are limited to only the SBC and AAC codecs, in case you’re concerned about that.
Battery life exceeded expectations with up to 10 hours per charge, which is higher than most pairs out there, on average. With no ANC to drain the battery further, volume level is really the biggest drainer, but even then, you should routinely hit nine hours or more. The included USB-C charging cable can get you back and playing fairly quickly. The case only gives you one extra charge, so you will need to charge them more often if you listen to them on a daily basis.
If Sony is what you’re looking for…
It’s no real surprise the Sony WH-1000XM5 make the top of our top Sony headphones list. They have stood out as the best wireless headphones and best noise-canceling headphones on the market with their solid mix of audio quality and integrative features.
The WH-1000XM5 also benefit from an excellent app that supports them with customizable sound, plus improved call quality, strong battery life that lasts up to 30 hours on a single charge (with fast charging and USB-C), and a comfortable fit that should suit most people’s noggins. You also get high-definition audio over Bluetooth and a wired 3.5mm option if you’ve still got a smartphone with a headphone jack.