The best Sony headphones and earbuds bring together many of the brand’s top hallmarks. We’re talking high-end audio, outstanding active noise cancellation (ANC), premium craftsmanship, strong battery life, and endless features. Many of these headphones and earbuds are also compatible with other Sony products, extending functionality to Bravia TVs, hi-fi digital players, and much more.
Sony has done a remarkable job of modernizing the headphone category every decade. So have their rivals. Bose continues to dominate the ANC market with impeccable over-ear noise-cancelling headphones like the Bose 700 and Bose QuietComfort 45, while Apple runs the true wireless show with their AirPods collection. Even industry favorites like Sennheiser are gaining ground with strong releases like the Momentum True Wireless 3 and the upcoming Momentum 4.
Despite their competitors’ achievements, Sony is the name that constantly gets brought up in every headphone conversation. Why? One word: Quality.
Our team of experts have tested every major release and ranked the brand’s best based on category, performance, and value. From noise-cancellers to sporty buds to true wireless gems, here is Laptop Magazine’s list of the best Sony headphones and earbuds available.
- 1 What are the best Sony headphones and earbuds?
- 2 The best Sony headphones and earbuds you can buy today
- 2.1 2. Sony WF-1000XM4
- 2.2 3. Sony WH-1000xM4
- 2.3 4. Sony LinkBuds S
- 2.4 5. Sony WH-1000XM3
- 2.5 6. Sony WF-SP800N
- 2.6 7. Sony WF-1000XM3
- 2.7 8. Sony WH-1000XM2
- 3 How to choose the best Sony headphones and earbuds for you
- 4 How we test the best Sony headphones and earbuds headphones
What are the best Sony headphones and earbuds?
At the top of our list of the best Sony headphones and earbuds is the WH-1000XM5. The latest entry in the over-ear Mark Series stands out as the brand’s top noise-canceller, featuring adaptive ANC that nearly rivals Bose’s technology. Hardware upgrades such as dual processors, extra microphones, and a carbon-fiber 30mm driver elevate both sound and call quality. You then have Sony staples like 360 Reality Audio, Digital Sound Enhancement Engine (DSEE) Extreme, and LDAC that push music and movies to a higher sonic level.
In second place is the WF-1000XM4, the market’s best noise-cancelling earbuds overall. Our editor-in-chief, Sherri Smith, gave it a perfect 5-star rating, noting that “Sony managed to squeeze a lot of big ideas into an incredibly small package.” Seeing the V1 processor merge with the Mark Series adaptive noise-cancelling circuitry and nearly every proprietary Sony technology is something to behold. We can’t forget that handsome redesign either.
Coming in at No. 3 is the WH-1000XM4, a model that isn’t too far off from its successor and offers plenty of value for the price. Sound is top tier, offering a little more bass than the WH-1000XM5. Noise cancellation still ranks among the category’s best and the 20-level ambient listening mode is unbeatable. These headphones also come equipped with 360 Reality Audio, DSEE, LDAC, and several other sound-tuning features.
Those in search of fantastic mid-range wireless earbuds should strongly consider the LinkBuds S. The number of features combined with great ANC and audio performance make this a noteworthy option. We hold the sporty WF-SP800N in the same regard. Durable aesthetics and robust feature set make these some of the best running headphones available.
We can go on and on, but our rankings should provide you with all the knowledge to determine the best Sony headphones and earbuds for your needs.
The best Sony headphones and earbuds you can buy today
The WH-1000XM5 is nearly flawless with noise cancellation, sound, and special features that perform at the highest level. Sony engineered the headphones with adaptive ANC, so they will automatically adjust to your environments and block out vast amounts of incidental sounds. The smaller drivers pump out fiery, well-balanced sound that’s free of distortion. Battery life has been given a minor boost (40 hours max with ANC off). Numerous smart controls also come part of the package.
Our only complaint about Sony’s flagship headphones is the redesign, which lacks the premium feel and look of all models that came before it.
Read our full Sony WH-1000XM5 review.
The WF-1000XM4 comes with an incredibly powerful spec sheet, which is highlighted by the V1 chip and numerous high-end features like 360 Reality Audio, DSEE, and smart ANC. Sound is second to none, blessing your ears with dynamic, well-defined audio that complements all media formats (e.g., music, movies, podcasts). Audiophiles that want more bass or clarity from the soundstage can personalize sound through the companion app. Adaptive noise cancellation blocks out background interference better than most models in the category. There are also 20 levels of adjustable ambient listening, giving users full control over the amount of noise they want to hear.
At $279, the WF-1000XM4 is expensive, but still worth the investment. However, we feel a price tag this high should at least include a Find My Earbuds mode.
Read our full Sony WF-1000XM4 review.
Sony made subtle changes to its latest flagship headphones, and that was enough to crown the Sony WH-1000xM4 the market’s best headphones. You’re still getting the same warm, detailed sound and responsive touch controls that were present in the WH-1000xM3, along with slightly advanced ANC that challenges what Bose has to offer. What you’ll appreciate most about these headphones are the plethora of features, from the sound customization via Sony Headphones Connect app to the versatile wireless performance, which includes Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, and multipoint technology to connect to two devices simultaneously.
Not much has changed in terms of design, except for the slimmer headband and soft rubberized finish that gives the WH-1000xM4 a more premium feel; it’s a step up from the plastic chassis featured on its predecessor. Sony did enhance its microphone system, which makes the digital assistant and voice memos easy to execute, though it doesn’t work as well for phone calls.
See our full Sony WH-1000xM4 review.
More of a redo than a follow-up, the LinkBuds S takes the series back to basics by adopting a traditional in-ear design and focusing more on performance than aesthetics. Sony’s all-new 5mm driver with high-compliance diaphragm produces powerful, well-defined sound that gives music more clarity and depth. ANC is highly effective in loud environments and will allow you to enjoy music peacefully. Compatibility with the Sony Headphones Connect app extends functionality across all major categories (e.g., battery life, controls, sound).
While a single charge holds between 6 and 9 hours, depending how you use the buds, the 20 additional hours offered by the charging case falls short of the industry standard (24 hours).
Read our full Sony LinkBuds S review.
Combine best-in-class sound with resilient noise cancellation and lots of smart features, and you have the Sony WH-1000xM3. These wireless cans are the company’s best creation to date, powered by the all-new QN1 HD Noise Cancelling Processor, which enhances both audio processing and noise cancellation; music simply sounds serene. ANC is up there with the Bose 700, filtering out high levels of background noise without compromising sound. The Sony Headphones app also opens up functionality to the user by allowing them to personalize sound as they please via EQ or music presets.
One feature you’ll definitely want to take advantage of is Adaptive Sound Control to adjust the amount of ambient sound you want to hear. Those who plan on binging The Boys should feel happy knowing they’ll get 30 hours of playtime with ANC on.
Arguably the best noise-cancelling sporty earbuds available, the WF-SP800N stuffs numerous Sony features into a durable, sweat-resistant design. Fit is what matters most, and Sony’s tips and wings keep the buds locked in place. The boom-filled soundstage should fuel your workouts. Features like 360 Reality Audio and DSEE are available, though the latter works best and helps upscale lo-fi recordings. Getting up to 9 hours on a full charge is also impressive.
We don’t recommend using the buds for voice or video calls since the mics aren’t great at picking up vocals. Keep in mind too that bass levels can become overly aggressive on certain tracks.
Read our full Sony WF-SP800N review.
If you’re the type who looks to enjoy their Apple Music library with fewer outside distractions, then it’s the Sony WF-1000xM3 you want. These aren’t just the best wireless earbuds for noise cancelation – they happen to be one of the best-sounding models as well. The combination of a dual-mic system and Sony’s HD Noise Canceling Processor QN1e neutralizes noise from all angles. Those who want to be more mindful of their surroundings can enable the Ambient Sound Control option, which can be adjusted in the companion app to let in as much background noise as you want.
Bass remains at the heart of Sony’s sound signature, and while it’s boomy, it creates enough room for detailed mids and highs to serenade your ears. Multiple presets are programmed into the app that you can select; each one is fine-tuned and complements their respective music genres. With ANC known for sucking up lots of power, the WF-1000xM3 holds an impressive 6-hour charge (8 hours with ANC off), which is perfect for round-trip flights. If you’re thinking about holding out for the rumored WF-1000xM4, you may want to reconsider, as reports of the WF-1000xM3 receiving aptX HD support continue to heat up, extending the shelf life of these awesome ANC in-ear monitors.
Dynamic active noise-canceling technology and sound quality packed into a comfy, business-class design, the Sony WH-1000xM2 delivers a great personalized listening experience. Two modes are programmed into these cans – Ambient and Noise Cancellation – each capable of drowning out environmental noise at high efficiency. Long battery life and smart features like Google Assistant are also highlights. However, the real sonic kicker lies in Sony’s Connect App, which grants users the luxury of adjusting the sound profile to their liking.
How to choose the best Sony headphones and earbuds for you
Sony’s legacy is based on sound, therefore, that should be your main priority when shopping for the best Sony headphones or earbuds. See which ones come with strong drivers and Sony Headphones Connect app compatibility, which lets you personalize audio. Bass lovers will want to see what models come with Extra Bass technology for stronger music output.
Not all Sony headphones and earbuds feature ANC, but those that do will either provide standard or advanced noise cancellation. The latter is something you’ll find on more recent models and has adaptive capabilities to optimize performance based on your surroundings. You should also be getting 20 levels of adjustable ambient listening. Models that don’t come with ANC should at least be designed to passively block out noise at a moderate level.
Battery life is also crucial. The industry standard playtime is 20 hours for noise-cancelling headphones and 5 hours (per charge) for noise-cancelling earbuds. Most Sony headphones and earbuds meet the criteria. Quick charging is another feature worth mentioning since it allows listeners to generate more playtime within a limited time frame: a 10-minute charge often nets you 1 hour of use.
Features are a Sony specialty, and lucky for us, most of their headphones and earbuds come heavily stocked with them. Features like ANC, DSEE, LDAC, and 360 Reality Audio are a given. However, you’ll want to see what headphones and earbuds offer a customizable EQ, Google Assistant/Alexa integration, the latest Bluetooth 5.0 version, multipoint technology, and some of Sony’s newer smart features like Speak-to-Chat and Quick Attention.
How we test the best Sony headphones and earbuds headphones
Our process for testing the best Sony headphones and earbuds consists of evaluating several factors, including design, comfort, sound, and value. Every selection is compared to similar products in their category in terms of features, fit, and pricing.
Sony headphones and earbuds are worn over the course of a week for 2 to 3 hours daily. During this period, our reviewers assess comfort, ease of use, and audio quality. They then listen to sample tracks across several music genres, including hip-hop, rock, jazz, and classical, while analyzing clarity, depth, imaging, and volume. Audiobooks, games, podcasts, and videos are also accounted for.
Any models featuring the latest audio codecs (e.g., aptX, LDAC) and spatial audio are tested using compatible hi-res streaming services (e.g., Apple Music, Deezer, Tidal).
If you want to learn more about how these services can improve the sound quality on your laptops and mobile devices, refer to this expert audio codec FAQ on everything you should know about FLAC files, MP3s, and all other audio file codecs.
When testing is completed, we rate these models based on our five-point system (1 = worst, 5 = best). Any product that is truly exemplary is awarded an Editor’s Choice.