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The 6 Best Sony Headphones on Earth Today

Sony Headphones: Your Guide to the Best Models in 2023

When it comes to high-quality headphones, Sony is a brand that consistently tops best-of lists and earns rave reviews from audiophiles and everyday music lovers alike. With a reputation for state-of-the-art noise canceling, immersive sound, and innovative features, Sony headphones deliver an exceptional listening experience.

As a self-professed audio geek, I‘ve tested just about every pair of Sony headphones on the market. Whether you‘re looking for premium over-ear headphones, true wireless earbuds, or affordable-yet-impressive options, Sony offers compelling choices for every preference and budget.

To help you choose the perfect pair, I‘ve put together this ultimate guide to the best Sony headphones available in 2023. I‘ll highlight the standout models in each category, dive into their key features and technologies, and offer my honest take on their strengths and weaknesses.

By the end of this post, you‘ll have all the information you need to confidently pick the Sony headphones that will let you hear your music like never before. Let‘s get started!

Best Overall: Sony WH-1000XM5
When it comes to premium wireless headphones, the Sony WH-1000XM5 are in a class of their own. Released in May 2022 as the successor to the wildly popular WH-1000XM4 (more on those later), the XM5 deliver an unbeatable combination of noise canceling, sound quality, and features.

The headline upgrade on the XM5 is the new 8-microphone noise canceling system, controlled by two dedicated processors. This industry-leading setup can automatically adapt to your surroundings to block out everything from airplane engines to coffee shop chatter. The end result is a peaceful, private listening environment where your music takes center stage.

And what stunning music it is. The 30mm drivers in the XM5 are powered by Sony‘s new Integrated Processor V1, which brings out intricate details in your favorite songs while maintaining a full, balanced sound from the deepest bass to the highest trebles. You can even customize the EQ using the Sony Headphones Connect app.

The XM5 look as great as they sound, with a sleeker design that‘s lighter and more comfortable than ever thanks to a softer headband and synthetic leather ear cups. An impressive 30-hour battery life keeps the tunes flowing all day long, with a quick 3-minute charge adding another 3 hours of playtime.

Other handy features include multi-device pairing to connect to your phone and laptop simultaneously, support for voice assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant, and automatic play/pause when you remove the headphones. The Sony WH-1000XM5 really can do it all.

Pros:

  • Phenomenal noise canceling and sound quality
  • 30-hour battery life with fast charging
  • Comfortable redesigned chassis
  • Packed with premium features

Cons:

  • Pricier than previous generation
  • No water resistance rating
  • Touch controls can be finicky

Best True Wireless Earbuds: Sony WF-1000XM4
If you prefer the compact convenience of true wireless earbuds, the Sony WF-1000XM4 are the cream of the crop. Like their over-ear cousins, the WF-1000XM4 offer exceptional noise canceling that can block out the world around you.

The secret weapon is Sony‘s Integrated Processor V1, which works with the dual noise sensor microphones in each earbud to continuously analyze and adapt to your environment. Noisy streets and bustling offices are no match for these intelligent buds.

Sony has also leveled up the audio on the WF-1000XM4 with redesigned 6mm drivers and a new high compliance diaphragm. The result is richer, clearer sound across all genres. Support for High-Resolution Audio Wireless via Sony‘s LDAC codec is just icing on the cake for demanding audiophiles.

I found the WF-1000XM4 supremely comfortable to wear for extended periods thanks to their updated ergonomic surface design and multiple sizes of polyurethane ear tips. An IPX4 rating means they can withstand sweat and splashes too, making them ideal for workouts.

Battery life clocks in at a solid 8 hours per charge, with another 16 hours in the wireless charging case. And here‘s a feature I love: the buds can automatically pause your music when you start speaking and resume playback when you‘re done. It‘s brilliant for quick conversations without taking out your earbuds.

Pros:

  • Class-leading noise canceling
  • Immersive, high-resolution sound
  • Secure, comfortable fit
  • Intelligent features like Speak-to-Chat

Cons:

  • Pricier than many true wireless earbuds
  • No multi-device pairing
  • Slightly bulky charging case

Best for Comfort: Sony WH-CH720N
Prefer to listen in lightweight comfort without breaking the bank? The Sony WH-CH720N have you covered. At just 7.6 ounces, these on-ear headphones are Sony‘s lightest noise-cancelers yet. The well-cushioned headband and soft oval earpads make it easy to forget you‘re wearing headphones at all.

Of course, you‘ll definitely remember you‘re wearing them when you press play. The WH-CH720N sound fantastic, with punchy bass and crisp, detailed highs. Sony‘s Digital Sound Enhancement Engine analyzes the music in real-time to bring out the best in every track.

The noise canceling on offer here is also seriously impressive for the price. Dual microphones on each earcup work together to block out a wide range of frequencies, from the rumble of a train to the din of a busy office. An Ambient Sound mode is also available when you need to hear your surroundings.

You can expect around 35 hours of battery life from the WH-CH720N, more than enough for a couple long haul flights. Quick charging provides another 60 minutes of playtime from just 3 minutes of charging. And like other Sony headphones, the WH-CH720N pause the music automatically when you take them off.

Pros:

  • Extremely lightweight and comfortable
  • Excellent sound quality for the price
  • Very good noise canceling
  • 35-hour battery life

Cons:

  • On-ear design not as immersive as over-ear
  • Plastic build not as premium as pricier headphones
  • Lacks some bells and whistles like wearing detection

Best on a Budget: Sony WH-CH520
Think you need to spend a fortune for great-sounding wireless headphones? The Sony WH-CH520 are here to change your mind. Priced under $60, these Bluetooth headphones deliver the essentials exceptionally well.

Let‘s start with the sound quality, because it‘s far better than you‘d expect at this price. The WH-CH520 sport sizable 30mm drivers tuned for a balanced, natural sound with satisfying bass impact. Sony‘s Digital Sound Enhancement Engine is also on board to upscale compressed audio files in real-time.

The headphones connect wirelessly to your phone via Bluetooth and support both AAC and SBC codecs. The connection was stable and reliable in my testing, with minimal audio sync issues when watching videos. There‘s also a headphone jack if you want to plug in the old fashioned way.

In terms of design, the WH-CH520 are straightforward but well-built and comfortable. The adjustable headband is lined with soft padding, as are the earcups which swivel flat for easier storage. Controls on the right earcup allow you to adjust volume, control playback, and activate your phone‘s voice assistant.

Battery life is frankly outstanding for cheap wireless headphones, with the WH-CH520 lasting up to 50 hours on a single charge. A full charge takes around 3 hours, but you can get another 1.5 hours of playback from just 3 minutes of charging if the battery is low.

Pros:

  • Unbeatable value for money
  • Enjoyable, well-balanced sound
  • Solid build quality and ergonomics
  • Epic 50-hour battery life

Cons:

  • No noise canceling technology
  • All-plastic construction
  • Lacks advanced features and codecs

Best for Small Ears: Sony LinkBuds S
Got small ears? Sony hears you. Their LinkBuds S are the smallest and lightest wireless earbuds in the company‘s lineup, weighing in at a minuscule 4.8 grams per bud. The compact form factor and soft silicone eartips make for a comfortable, low-profile fit.

But don‘t let the small size fool you – these earbuds are big on features. The LinkBuds S boast the same Integrated Processor V1 as Sony‘s flagship WF-1000XM4, powering smart features like Adaptive Sound Control which automatically adjusts ambient sound settings based on your location and activity.

There‘s also active noise canceling on board, and it works remarkably well for such tiny earbuds. Sony‘s noise isolation earbud tips create a tight seal to block out external noise, while feedforward and feedback mics work together to cancel out a wide range of frequencies.

When you do want to hear your surroundings, just tap the left earbud to activate Ambient Sound mode. This uses the built-in mics to pipe in external audio, handy for a quick chat or hearing travel announcements. And if you start speaking, Speak-to-Chat will automatically pause your music and switch to ambient mode.

Sound quality on the LinkBuds S is very good overall, with well-defined bass and detailed highs. The 5mm drivers and Sony‘s Digital Sound Enhancement Engine deliver a spacious, engaging listen. I do wish Sony included their LDAC codec for lossless audio – you‘ll have to make do with AAC and SBC here.

Battery life is rated at 6 hours with noise canceling on, or 9 hours without. The compact charging case provides another 14 hours of juice, for 20 hours of total playtime. And if you‘re in a rush, a 5-minute quick charge gives you another 60 minutes of listening.

Pros:

  • Incredibly small and light
  • Secure, comfortable fit
  • Impressive noise canceling for the size
  • Smart Adaptive Sound Control feature

Cons:

  • No LDAC or aptX support
  • 6-hour battery life just average
  • Pricey for non-flagship earbuds

Top Pro Pick: Sony WH-1000XM4
The Sony WH-1000XM5 may be the new kid on the block, but don‘t count out their predecessor just yet. The Sony WH-1000XM4 were our previous pick for the best headphones on the market, and they still hold up remarkably well in 2023.

Yes, the XM5 have a slight edge in noise canceling and a sleeker design. But the XM4 come very close in both respects while costing significantly less. You get the same outstanding sound quality, 30-hour battery life, and premium features in a package that‘s hundreds of dollars cheaper.

At the heart of the WH-1000XM4 is Sony‘s HD Noise Canceling Processor QN1, which uses a dedicated noise canceling algorithm to block out a wide range of frequencies. The headphones also feature an Atmospheric Pressure Optimizing function that fine-tunes the noise canceling based on the air pressure around you, great for flights.

The sound quality is frankly hard to top, with 40mm drivers and Sony‘s DSEE Extreme audio processor working together to upscale compressed audio and bring out rich details in your music. The result is a spacious, dynamic listen with deep bass impact and sparkling highs.

Like the XM5, the XM4 are packed with handy features like Speak-to-Chat, wearing detection for auto-pause/play, and support for voice assistants. You also get both Google Fast Pair and Windows Swift Pair for easier Bluetooth connections to your devices.

If you‘re a frequent flyer, the WH-1000XM4 have a couple tricks up their sleeve just for you. The headphones can adjust the sound pressure based on your altitude, maintaining optimal sound delivery. They can also selectively let in important travel announcements while keeping everything else quiet.

Pros:

  • Still among the best ANC headphones
  • Excellent sound quality with DSEE Extreme
  • 30-hour battery with fast charging
  • Helpful travel-friendly features

Cons:

  • Slightly bulkier design vs XM5
  • Upgrades in noise canceling and sound vs XM5 are minor
  • No water resistance

How to Choose the Right Sony Headphones
With so many great Sony headphones to choose from, how do you pick the perfect pair? Here are the key factors to consider:

Headphone Style
Are you looking for full-size over-ear headphones, on-ear headphones, or true wireless earbuds? Over-ear designs like the WH-1000XM5 offer the most immersive sound and highest noise isolation. On-ear models like the WH-CH720N are lighter and more compact, but less immersive. True wireless earbuds like the WF-1000XM4 are the most portable option.

Noise Canceling
If you plan to use your headphones in noisy environments like offices, commutes or flights, active noise cancellation (ANC) is a must-have. Sony‘s flagship models like the WH-1000XM5 and WF-1000XM4 have the most advanced ANC, but cheaper models like the WH-CH720N are no slouch either.

Sound Quality
All of Sony‘s headphones deliver great sound for the money, but some definitely sound better than others. The WH-1000XM5 and WH-1000XM4 offer the most detailed, dynamic listen, followed closely by the WF-1000XM4 earbuds. Budget models like the WH-CH520 still sound very good, but with less precision and soundstage.

Battery Life
Wireless headphones are only as good as their battery life. Sony‘s over-ear headphones like the WH-1000XM5 and WH-CH720N offer the longest stamina at 30-35 hours. True wireless earbuds naturally have shorter battery life, but the WF-1000XM4 are impressive at 8 hours per charge.

Extra Features
Do you want to use your voice assistant hands-free? Connect to multiple devices simultaneously? Customize the EQ to your preferences? Sony‘s flagship headphones tend to offer the most bells and whistles, while cheaper models stick to the basics. Consider which extra features are must-haves for you.

Price
Finally, consider your budget. Sony offers great-sounding headphones at every price point, from the premium $400 WH-1000XM5 to the entry-level $60 WH-CH520. Deciding how much you‘re willing to spend can help you quickly narrow down your options.

The Bottom Line
As an audio aficionado, I can confidently say that Sony makes some of the best headphones on the market today. From industry-leading noise canceling to impeccable sound quality to cutting-edge features, Sony consistently pushes the envelope of what‘s possible in personal audio.

Whether you‘re looking for an immersive over-ear listen, a workout-friendly pair of true wireless buds, or just great sound that doesn‘t break the bank, there‘s a pair of Sony headphones that will exceed your expectations.

My current top pick is the Sony WH-1000XM5 for their phenomenal all-around performance, but the WF-1000XM4, WH-CH720N and WH-CH520 are all stellar options depending on your needs and budget.

I hope this guide has helped you better understand the Sony headphone lineup and feel equipped to choose the perfect pair for you. No matter which model you spring for, you‘ll be getting world-class sound and features from one of the most respected names in audio. Happy listening!