Sony’s WH-1000XM3 are easily the best headphone the company makes. They’ve managed to create a headphone that not only includes class-leading ANC tech, but also great sound, battery life, and comfort.
Best Overall: Sony WH-1000XM3
Without a doubt, the WH-1000XM3 are the pinnacle of innovation at Sony when it comes to headphones. They feature class-leading ANC tech, strong battery life at 30 hours with ANC enabled, and excellent sound quality. Battery life isn’t the best but it’s close, and it includes fast charging as well. The only downside when it comes to battery is that you can’t listen and charge simultaneously.
So let’s start with active noise cancelation, the biggest reason to get the WH-1000XM3 over any other set of Sony headphones. They feature class-leading ANC by a large margin. The WH-1000XM3 virtually blocks out all noise when you have them on. Wearing the headphones while flying will sound like you’re sitting at home in your living room watching TV. They do a stellar job of blocking out low-end noise, and decently well with mid-range and treble noise, especially when you have audio playing.
Audio quality is also good. If you’re a bass head, the WH-1000XM3 won’t disappoint. Even if you’re not, you’ll still likely love the WH-1000XM3 as it features a built-in EQ with the companion smartphone app. The out-of-box sound signature has some serious punch but also has a tendency of drowning out the mids and treble quite a bit.
In terms of comfort, the WH-1000XM3 are one of the best out there. They’re not as comfortable as the Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700, but it’s close.
- Great sound quality and EQ settings
- Comfort is great for most
- Excellent battery life
- Unmatched ANC
- Can’t charge and listen simultaneously
- Can only connect to one device at a time
The Sony WH-1000XM3 feature class-leading ANC, excellent battery life, and a ton of customizability.
Best Truly Wireless: Sony WF-1000XM3
The WF-1000XM3 are Sony’s newest true wireless headphones, and they’re incredible. The true wireless market has exploded over the last few years and Sony is finally responding with its own offering. The WF-1000XM3 feature the same great ANC as its bigger brother the WH-1000XM3, but in a true wireless form.
In terms of sound quality, the WF-1000XM3 perform surprisingly well. Unlike most other Sony headphone products, the WF-1000XM3 actually have a neutral sound signature. Dynamic range and soundstage are not quite as robust as larger headphones, but that’s expected when it comes to truly wireless earbuds. Of course, the sound can be adjusted through the smartphone app.
Battery life is solid as well with up to 6 hours of uptime per earbud, and each one can be used independently to double that output if you so desire. And with the included charging case, you’ll get up to 18 additional hours of listening time. When dead, the WF-1000XM3 are able to get 90 minutes of listening in a 10-minute charge, which thankfully uses USB-C.
Comfort is decent on the WF-1000XM3. Both buds are rather large and have a bit of heft to them. The ear tips that come in the box are large as well, with the smallest tip being bigger than most buds’ medium-sized tips. Fortunately, they use the standard driver sizes, so if the buds that come in the box is a bit too big for you, you can replace them with smaller tips. However, if you can find the right ear tip for your ears, the WF-1000XM3 will be super comfortable.
- Solid, neutral sound
- Customizable sound
- Great ANC
- Buds are large in size
- Expensive for true wireless earbuds
Best Truly Wireless
Truly wireless earbuds that pack a ton of features. However, it does come at a cost—size and weight.
Best Over-Ear: Sony MDR-7506
Wireless headphones aren’t always the best route especially if you are 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 giving you a more warm sound signature. The mids are neutral, and the treble is slightly boosted giving an overall V-shaped sound. While dynamic range is excellent, the overall soundstage is pretty poor for an over-ear, closed-back wired headphone.
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. And while the ear cups are large, they don’t extend that deep making it uncomfortable for those who may 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. The included cable is non-detachable which means if the cable starts to break you’ll have to replace the headphone entirely. Fortunately, the MDR-7506 terminate 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.
- Sturdy, 3.5mm cable
- Solid V-shaped sound
- Large ear cups will fit a variety of ears
- No need to worry about batteries
- Ear cups aren’t as deep
- Non-detachable cable
The Sony MDR-7506 are a fantastic pair of cans with great comfort and sound as long as your ears fit the ear cups.
Best Bass: Sony WH-XB900N
Sony’s headphones are known for being bass heavy and the WH-XB900N is no exception. In fact, the WH-XB900N are part of Sony’s "Extra Bass" collection, which aims to pump even more than usual. To nobody’s surprise, the WH-XB900N are low end-forward, with a midrange and treble that is slightly recessed, giving the headphones an overall darker sound signature. Dynamic range is good, but soundstage is rather poor, but that’s to be expected as the WH-XB900Ns are closed-back headphones and are relatively cheap.
Comfort wise, the WH-XB900N perform exceptionally well. The ear cups are big and extend deep and the headband feels like absolute pillows, making them comfortable to wear for hours. Clamping force isn’t too strong so it won’t feel like the headphone is crushing your head. Overall, you’ll find that these are comfortable for long periods of time, and will cause no fatiguing or pain.
Battery life is excellent with up to 30 hours of uptime, matching its ANC brother the WH-1000XM3. But that’s not the only component the WH-XB900N share with the WH-1000XM3; the XB900Ns 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.
- Dark, bass-heavy sound signature
- Super long battery life
- USB-C charging
- Big and deep ear cups
- Soundstage is narrow
All ’bout that bass
The Sony WH-XB900N pack a ton of bass, great battery life, and comfortable design.
Best Neckbuds: Sony WI-C400
Neckbuds are great for those who are looking for 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 that Sony makes.
First and foremost: comfort. 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 of the WI-C400 is its battery life, netting up to 20 hours of battery life 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. Bass response is underemphasized and essentially non-existent, while the mid-range has an odd V-shaped going from low-mids to upper-mids and 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.
- Microphone quality
- Super comfortable and light
- Long battery life
- Sound quality is mediocre
- Micro-USB for charging
The WI-C400 from Sony offer exceptional microphone quality, battery life, and comfort for a ridiculously low price.
Best Workout Buds: Sony WI-SP600N
When working out you need three things from your earbuds: great comfort, portability, and easy access to music controls to skip that slow song that occasionally shows up. Fortunately, the WI-SP600N are great at all three of those things.
While the WI-SP6000N does feature great comfort, the media controls coming out of the left bud does tug that side a little bit, making it slightly uncomfortable after long periods of time. However, the media controls are tactile and follow the standard "iPod" scheme to control your audio.
As expected, the sound signature is bass boosted, the mid-range is flat but slightly recessed, and the treble is bizarre and uneven. The low-treble is recessed, while the upper treble is boosted, creating a V-shaped sound that will sound piercing and sharp to some.
Battery life is where the WI-SP600N fall short, only offering up to 6 hours of battery life on a single charge. They charge over the older Micro-USB standard which isn’t ideal as users are continuing to upgrade their devices which likely have the more modern USB-C connector.
- Fun, V-shaped sound
- Great comfort
- Awesome media controls
- Left earbud can feel heavy due to media control heft
- Micro-USB for charging
- Treble can be a bit piercing for some
Best Workout Buds
The WI-SP600N are great for fitness due to its great fit, fun sound signature, and decent 6-hour battery life.
Best Value: Sony WI-C310
The Sony WI-C310 do surprisingly well considering their price point, especially in the sound quality department. The WC-310 have bass and mids that are neutral and flat, while the treble is mostly flat with a small bump in the mid-treble that will make some tracks sound sibilant and sharp to some ears.
Comfort is excellent. They rest on your ear versus being shoved in your ear canal. Included in the box are several bud tips that come in various sizes which helps with sizing and fit. The only real annoyance some may notice is that the cable between the two buds is slightly longer than other earbuds.
Battery life exceeded our expectations with up to 15 hours on a charge, which is roughly double most other wireless earbuds. But that’s not all, Sony took it a step further and included USB-C charging. Most earbuds and headphones at this price point (and some that are much more expensive) use Micro-USB for charging. To top it all off, the WI-C310 are capable of fast charging with 60 minutes of audio playback with a 10-minute charge.
The only downside here is that while they do include media controls, the buttons are rather mushy and often hard to press.
- Long battery life for its size
- Super comfortable
- Neutral sound signature
- USB-C for charging
- Mushy media controls
The package the Sony WI-C310 offer is unbeatable, especially for the price.
Not only that, the WH-1000XM3 also feature a highly customizable sound, strong battery life that lasts up to 30 hours on a single charge (with fast charging and USB-C), and comfort and fit that’ll suit most people’s heads. You also get high-definition audio over Bluetooth and a wired 3.5mm option if you’ve still got a smartphone that supports that.
How to choose the best Sony headphones
Sony makes a ton of headphones in various shapes and sizes, making it sometimes difficult to decide which set of headphones you want to pick up. If you’re looking for wireless headphones, for example, you’ll likely be looking at battery life, sound customizability, and portability.
If you don’t mind the cord, portability will likely still play a big role, but soundstage, sound quality, and comfort are likely high up on your list. That, and whether or not the headphone has a detachable cable or not.
Sound quality should be the top priority for potential headphone buyers. It doesn’t matter if they’re super comfortable or look pretty if your headphones sound bad. If you’ve decided you want Sony headphones, you’re basically locking yourself into bass-heavy sound that muddies out the rest. Though, Sony is showing signs that they’re wanting to change that with some of their more recent products.
A clear indication of that is the WF-1000XM3 which have a neutral and flat sound signature, with only a few minor inconsistencies that most people won’t hear. If you’re looking for the best sound in terms of pure sound signature, the WF-1000XM3 takes the cake.
Our second pick easily goes to the Sony WH-1000XM3. The sound signature you get out of the box is great for those who love and adore bass. Fortunately, you can modify the sound signature in the app to achieve a more neutral sound signature or any sound signature your heart desires.
The next two picks on our list are wired headphones and they’re much lower on the list because they don’t offer any sort of sound customizability which means what you hear initially is what you’re stuck with. And unfortunately, that means overly bass-heavy headphones that drown out everything else.
Best active Sony headphones, ranked by sound quality
- Sony WF-1000XM3
- Sony WH-1000XM3
- Sony MDR-7506
- Sony WI-C310
- Sony WH-XB900N
Obviously, no headphone manufacturer wants to create an uncomfortable headphone, though sometimes that’s just the end result. Whether it’s material choice, heft and weight, or something else entirely, it’s all subjective.
The Sony WH-1000XM3 make the top of the list because they are designed to be comfortable for long term use while on long flights or commutes. The ear cups are large and extend deep so they’ll fit most people’s ears without issue. And the headband is super soft and extend wide.
Our next three picks are all earbuds in one fashion or another. Typically, earbuds nail comfort right out of the gate as they’re designed to be lightweight and portable, and the only real point of failure is the bud itself. So it’s no surprise that the WI-C400, WI-C310, and WF-1000XM3 are among the best when it comes to comfort.
Best Sony headphones, ranked by comfort
- Sony WH-1000XM3
- Sony WI-C400
- Sony WI-C310
- Sony WF-1000XM3
- Sony MDR-7506
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Peter Cao has an undeniable love for music whether its listening, analyzing, or producing. When he’s not on the clock, you can often catch him playing video games or playing basketball.
October 9, 2019 at 11:57AM