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The best Sony headphones 2020: 10 models to appeal to your inner audiophile

best sony headphones

Are you looking to buy the best Sony headphones? You're in the right place.

Over the years, Sony has become well-known for its high-quality noise-cancelling headphones and wireless earphones. Even some of the brand’s cheaper options are solid choices if you need to buy headphones on a budget. 

Having said that, we’ve been most impressed by Sony’s over-ear headphones recently. Many of these offer outstanding noise cancellation, not to mention stunning levels of audio quality.

And now, there's a new model in the top spot of this guide; the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Headphones are the follow-up cans to the class-leading XM3s, and they're quite simply the best headphones you can buy in 2020, hands-down. 

However, it’s not just the over-ears that impress us. Sony also tops our list of the best true wireless earbuds in 2020, with the Sony WF-1000XM3s. These blew us away with their sophisticated noise cancellation and their fist-pumping sound.

While Sony excels in over-ear headphones, it's becoming a big player in the field of true wireless too. This is good news for music-lovers but makes it harder than ever to pick the best Sony headphones for you.

If you’re thinking of buying a pair of the best headphones on the market, read on for our roundup of all the Sony cans and buds we've reviewed, ranked from our favorites to the ones we're not so keen on. 

The best Sony headphones of 2020

sony wh-1000xm4

(Image credit: Sony)

1. Sony WH-1000XM4

The best Sony headphones have a new winner

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 8.95 oz | Cable length: 3.94 ft | Frequency response: 4Hz to 40kHz | Drivers: 1.57-inch | Driver type: Dome-type | Sensitivity: 104.5 dB | Impedance: 47 ohm | Battery life: 30 hours | Wireless range: 30 meters (98ft) | NFC: Yes

Improved noise-cancellation
DSEE Extreme audio upscaling
Multipoint pairing
Not water-resistant

The Sony WH-1000XM4 deliver excellent noise-cancellation and surprising sound quality all in a lightweight, comfortable design. 

While they don't look significantly different from their predecessors, the Sony WH-1000XM3, a number of new features including multipoint pairing, DSEE Extreme upscaling, conversational awareness and auto-play/pause using a built-in sensor all help the WH-1000XM4 claim the title of best headphones in 2020.

By every possible metric, the Sony WH-1000XM4 is a wonderful pair of wireless noise-cancelling headphones. They deliver exactly what they promise and then some thanks to their exceptional noise cancellation and cutting-edge codec support.

On top of the adjustments listed above, the Sony WH-1000XM4 support Sony’s 360 Reality Audio format that enables spatial audio on stereo headphones plus the LDAC codec that can send a bitrate of up to 990 kbps. The unfortunate bit there, though, is that it no longer supports aptX or aptX HD, so your Hi-Res Audio support mileage may vary.

Read more: Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Headphones review

(Image credit: Sony )

2. Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless Headphones

A close runner up

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: .8.99 oz | Cable length: 3.94 ft | Frequency response: 4Hz to 40kHz | Drivers: 40mm Dual-Layered Diaphragm | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: 104.5 dB | Impedance: 47 ohm | Battery life: 30 hours | Wireless range: 30 meters (98ft) | NFC: Yes

Outstanding noise cancellation
Fantastic sound quality
30-hour battery life
Mediocre call quality

The Sony WH-1000XM3 are our overall favorite headphones, wireless headphones, and noise-cancelling headphones two years in a row – and not just because they're excellent at blocking out environmental noise. 

They're great for audiophiles, thanks to aptX HD and Sony's LDAC, two of the best ways to listen to Hi-Res Audio, and as they're wireless, you don't need to mess around with cumbersome wires. 

The WH-1000XM3's also come with Google Assistant integration, and as of 2019, Amazon Alexa integration, which means you have instant access to a voice assistant wherever you are. 

This alongside the stellar noise-cancellation capabilities makes the WH-1000MX3s perfect for commuting, whether you need a pair of cans to get your through your daily journey to work, or a long haul flight. 

Read more: Sony WH-1000XM3 review

Sony WF-1000XM3

(Image credit: Sony)

3. Sony WF-1000XM3 True Wireless Earbuds

Noise-cancelling true wireless headphones that made our dreams come true

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 70g | Frequency response: 20-20,000Hz | Drivers: 6mm | Driver type: Dome Type | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life (on-board): 6 hours | Battery life (charging case): 18 hours | Wireless range: 30ft | NFC: Yes

Efficient noise-cancellation
Inconspicuous looks
No volume control on earbuds
Not suitable for sports

Considering it's still rare to get noise-cancellation in wired earbuds at all, the fact that Sony has managed to pack it into a pair that are not only wireless, but true wireless is very impressive indeed. 

The Sony WF-1000XM3 manage to offer a level of noise-cancellation that's very good for a pair of earbuds – they won't offer the same isolation as a pair of over-ear cans, but if you're after a sleek form factor then the compromise is worth it. 

That being said, in spite of a few minor problems we feel that Sony has knocked the ball out of the park with the WF-1000XM3. Not only are these hands down the best-looking true wireless earbuds out there, but they combine serious noise cancelling tech with fist-pumping musicality.

If you don’t want the inconvenience of carrying full-size cans, they’re a persuasive alternative, and they're still the best true wireless earbuds in spite of competition from the AirPods Pro.

Battery life is above average, and that compact charging case is pretty slick too. On-ear volume controls similar to the PowerBeats Pro would've been nice, but again, that's really not a deal-breaker in our books.

Read more: Sony WF-1000XM3 review

sony headphones

(Image credit: Sony)

4. Sony WH-1000XM2 Wireless Headphones

Still a great pair of noise-cancelling headphones

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 23g | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: N/A | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: N/A | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life: 10 hours | Wireless range: 33 ft | NFC: Yes

Superb noise-cancelling
Great-sounding audio
30-hour battery life
Hinges are fragile

If you can still find these headphones, the previous generation of Sony's noise-cancelling cans are still brilliant – and you may be able to find them slightly cheaper than the current model, the WH1000-XM3s. 

At around the same price as the Bose QC35s, the Sony WH-1000XM2 offer better features, including an ambient noise mode that only lets in mid-to-high frequency tones (announcements over a loudspeaker, for instance) and Quick Attention mode that allows you to let in all outside noise without taking off the headphones.

Like the WH-1000XM3s, they also support aptX HD and LDAC for Hi-Res Audio – in fact, all of the features mentioned above can also be found in the most recent model.

Aside from a few cosmetic changes, the main difference between the two is that the WH-1000XM2s don't come with voice assistant integration – so if that's important to you, stick to the the WH-1000XM3s or the newer XM4s. 

Read more: Sony WH-1000XM2 review

sony wf-sp800n

(Image credit: Sony)

5. Sony WF-SP800N

Spatial audio and noise-cancelling smarts

Acoustic design: closed | Weight: 9.3g | Frequency response: N/A | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life: 18 hours (with case) | wireless range: N/A | NFC: N/A

Basic noise cancellation
Water-resistant and sweatproof
Support for 360 Reality Audio
Tight in the ear

Sony's latest true wireless earbuds, the Sony WF-SP800N, are a triple-threat. They’re IP55-rated to be sweatproof and dustproof, but they’re also pretty good for commuters because they have active noise cancellation built in – which is rare for a workout pair of earbuds – and work well for demanding music lovers thanks to their support for Sony’s new spatial audio format, 360 Reality Audio.

They can be a little uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time, however, and the bass is bit muddy for our liking – still, these true wireless earbuds are well worth a look.

Read more: Sony WF-SP800N review

sony headphones

(Image credit: Sony)

6. Sony MDR-1000X Wireless Headphones

Sony's first-gen noise-cancelling cans still hold their own

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 275g | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: 4Hz-40,000Hz | Drivers: 40mm dome type | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: 103dB/mW (1kHz) | Impedance: 16 ohm (1kHz) | Battery life: 20 hours | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: No

Quick Attention mode
Noise cancellation
Lengthy battery life
Finicky Ambient Noise mode

Despite the fact they're now a few years old, they're still a top option for noise-cancelling headphones – even if Sony has upgraded its headphones a few times since.

Like the newer models, they support Hi-Res Audio, and sport features like Quick Attention mode, ambient noise mode (although we did find it can be temperamental), and are very adept when it comes to noise-cancellation. 

So, why would you buy the oldest generation of Sony's noise-cancelling cans? Well, you'll likely find that retailers have cut the prices since the newer models launched, which means you could get yourself a fantastic deal on a still very capable pair of Sony headphones – if you don't mind losing the inbuilt voice assistant and quality of life updates offered by the WH-1000MX3s and the WH-1000XM4s. 

Read more: Sony MDR-1000X review

sony headphones

(Image credit: Sony)

7. Sony MDR-ZX770BT Wireless Headphones

Affordable wireless headphones

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 248g | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: 20Hz-20,000Hz | Drivers: 40mm dome type | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: 2.2 ohm (1kHz) | Battery life: 20 hours | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: No

Comfortable fit
Cramped soundstage
Light on bass

Although these wireless headphones are a couple of years old now, they still offer good value for money – and chances are, you'll be able to find them for cheaper since Sony has released more recent models.

When we tested them, we were impressed by their sport, sturdy design, and decent battery life. 

The slightly cramped soundstage probably won't appeal to audiophiles, but a reliable Bluetooth connection and affordability means these wireless headphones could be a good choice if you're looking for cable-free listening for under $150 / £150 (around AU$270).

Read more: Sony MDR-ZX770BT review

sony headphones

(Image credit: Sony)

8. Sony WF-1000X true wireless earbuds

Noise-cancellation meets true wireless

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 6.8g | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: 20Hz-20,000Hz | Drivers: 6mm dome type | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life: 9 hours | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: No

Noise-cancelling is impressive
Rich sound
NFC pairing
No volume control on earbud
A little bulky
Some minor connectivity issues

These true wireless buds may be a little bulky, but this is offset by their noise-cancelling prowess and relatively long battery life. 

When we reviewed them, the WF-1000Xs did an admirable job at cancelling out most ambient noise. Like other noise-cancelling headphones, this effect is most pronounced on low frequency rumbling, making them a good choice if you are looking for buds to take on public transport. 

The audio quality provided by the WF-1000Xs is decent, with a generally well-balanced sound across the high, mid, and low frequencies – however, they've been somewhat outshined by the Sony WF-1000XM3s.

Read more: Sony WF-1000X review

sony headphones

(Image credit: Sony)

9. Sony WI-1000X wireless earphones review

Audiophile wireless earbuds for commuters

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 71g | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: 3Hz-40,000Hz | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: Hybrid | Sensitivity: 101 dB | Impedance: N/A | Battery life: 10 hours | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: No

Audiophile wireless sound
Good noise cancellation
Average battery life
Adaptive Sound Control is slow

If you don't like wired headphones but want the security of a neckband , the Sony WI-1000X are a great in-ear alternative.

The inclusion of aptX HD support makes the Sonys one of the best wireless headphones we’ve heard, and they provide a good level of noise-cancellation, making them a good choice for commuting. 

While battery life may just be average at 10 hours, the WI-1000X are a great set of headphones for audiophiles on the go.

Read more: Sony WI-1000X review

sony headphones

(Image credit: Sony)

10. Sony MDR-ZX330BT On-Ear Headphones

Light in more ways than one

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 150g | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: 20Hz-20,000Hz | Drivers: 30mm dome type | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life: 30 hours | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: No

Aesthetically pleasing
Light and comfy
Fragile with poor plastic
No noise isolation

With a low price, long battery life, and lightweight feel, there's a lot that these headphones do right, but subpar audio performance and a flimsy-feeling build means that the MDR-ZX330BT don't quite make the list of the best mid-range headphones. 

Still, if you need a low cost, light pair of headphones with a long battery life for commuting, they could be a good choice – just don't expect to be blown away by the audio quality. 

Read more: Sony MDR-ZX330BT review