Best Sony headphones 2022, for all budgets

We rank the best Sony headphones for work and play, from high-end noise-cancellers to cheap Sony earbuds

Sony WH-1000XM4 worn by woman walking in a city
(Image credit: Sony)

The best Sony headphones are the ones that suit your lifestyle. Sony is now famous for its true wireless headphone and active noise-cancelling prowess – though studio pros will tell you that the company still has a big presence there too, not just in the ears of commuters.

Despite the quality of the best Sony headphones, you don't need to empty your wallet to get a great buy. If you don’t want to spend the earth, you can still get a brilliant set of earbuds for the gym, over ears for long journeys, or even earbuds with a hole over your ear canal for the opposite of noise cancelling.

Of course, you can spend more on fantastic premium Sony headphones. Both our best wireless earbuds and best noise cancelling headphones have Sony as the cream of the ANC crop, successfully elbowing Bose out of the way for the top spot. It's just that Sony also makes a lot of the models in our list of the best cheap headphones and best cheap wireless earbuds – there's something for everyone.

We’ve broken down the best Sony headphones you can buy right now at all budgets and the best prices for each one will always be listed with our constantly updated widgets. Plus, if you’re looking for the best prices, don’t miss our best cheap noise cancelling headphones deals page where we keep up to date with all the most competitive bargains.

Best Sony headphones 2022: the list

Sony WH-1000XM4 on white backgroundT3 Best Buy badge

(Image credit: Sony)
The best Sony headphones. Period

Specifications

Battery life: 30hrs
Wired option: Yes
AptX: No
AAC: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
 World-class noise cancellation 
+
 Detailed audio 
+
Great comfort and battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
 No aptX or aptX HD  

Let’s face it, at T3, we’re running out of ways to praise the Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones. Not only have we awarded Sony’s exceptional cans five stars and a T3 Platinum Award but they were also the winners of the Best Noise Cancelling Headphones gong at the T3 Awards 2021. 

But why? Well Sony has taken everything good about the already excellent WH-1000XM3s and somehow made an even better set of headphones. The build quality feels luxurious, the audio is exceptional – in fact, in our Sony WH-1000XM4 review we even went as far as to say that it “SLAYS” – and the active noise-cancelling is the best on the market. 

There’s also a lovely set of extra features including speak-to-chat which means the headphones will learn your voice and know to pause when you order a coffee or meet someone on the street. Plus there’s now a built-in proximity sensor that knows to turn off your tunes when you’ve taken them off.     

Sony WF-1000XM4 on white backgroundT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Sony)
The best Sony wireless earbuds with active noise cancellation

Specifications

Battery life: 8hrs (buds); 24hrs (case included)
Wired option: No
AptX: No
AAC: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
 Expressive audio 
+
 Great app 
+
 Call quality is brilliant 

Reasons to avoid

-
Battery life could be improved

It’s almost unfair at this point that Sony has both the best over ear headphones and true wireless earbuds. If you want something a little more subtle than a headband but don’t want to sacrifice a suite of neat extra features, great audio quality or ANC, the Sony WF-1000XM4 buds are the perfect solution. 

Another T3 Platinum Award winner, these buds cram in excellent audio quality as well as speak to chat functionality and intuitive touch controls that can be customised in a connected app. And call quality is second to none too. A combination of mics and bone conduction mean that your voice will always get through and there’s a nifty auto muting function on the feed-forward mics when there’s wind noise. 

As we note in our Sony WF-1000XM4 review, you can pay more and get slightly better audio from other more expensive offerings, but the full package here means these are the stylish buds to beat.   

Sony WF-C500 in coral orange on a white backgroundT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Sony)
The best cheap Sony wireless earbuds

Specifications

Battery life: 10hrs (buds); 20hrs (case included)
Wired option: No
AptX: No
AAC: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
 Brilliant sound quality 
+
 Manual EQ 

Reasons to avoid

-
 No ANC 
-
 Battery life only average 

If you’re looking for a set of true wireless buds that sound great without costing hundreds, pay attention to the Sony WF-C500. Sitting well below the £100/$100 mark, these don’t have active noise cancellation, but make up for it with impressive audio. 

As we say in our Sony WF-C500 review, they  “sound surprisingly good for such an inexpensive pair of wireless earbuds – they are balanced with a wide soundstage, tonnes of detail and plenty of energy.” 

A snug fit for noise isolation means that ANC isn’t as vital as it could be and sometimes it can be a lot more attractive to hear the world around you, like with Apple’s AirPods. The connected app has plenty of EQ settings to play with and the call quality is loud and clear for those all-important meetings on the go. 

Sony WH-1000XM3 on white backgroundT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Sony)
The best Sony headphones for premium features at a medium price

Specifications

Battery life: 30hrs
Wired option: Yes
AptX: No
AAC: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
 Exceptional active noise cancelling 
+
 Impressive audio 
+
 Intuitive controls 

Reasons to avoid

-
 Not the newest model  

They might have been usurped by the Sony WH-1000XM4s, but that doesn’t mean Sony’s previous ANC cans are ready for the scrapheap. Indeed, the fact that the Sony WH-100XM3 is the previous generation makes these cans even more affordable at plenty of retailers – you can find them ridiculously cheap during sales. 

These are still five star T3 Platinum Award winning headphones with incredible audio and the kind of active noise cancellation that means you no longer dread red-eye flights. 

As we say in our Sony WH-1000XM3 review, “even with no music playing, the moment you put them on, it’s like entering another world.” With music playing it gets even better with a rich bass performance that’s not overwhelming and a great attention to detail. 

The controls are touch based, there’s an app for any EQ tweaks, and the design and build quality is typical Sony solid and functional. Go for the upgrade if you can’t live without speak to chat but the WH-1000XM3 headphones are still incredible for day to day use.    

Sony WH-CH510 on white backgroundT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Sony)
The best cheap Sony headphones, and with brilliant battery life

Specifications

Battery life: 35hrs
Wired option: No
AptX: No
AAC: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
 Excellent battery life 
+
 Strong sound 

Reasons to avoid

-
 Plastic feels budget 

There’s something exceptionally attractive about a set of fuss free wireless headphones that you don’t need to constantly worry about charging. The Sony WH-CH510 are ultra light with surprisingly good audio at a budget £50/$60 price, and a frankly ludicrous battery life of 35 hours of music or 30 hours of call time. 

And there’s no holding back when it comes to their 30mm drivers. As we say in our Sony WH-Ch510 review, “they make a decently detailed sound, with pertinent observations to make about the harmonic variances in a tune even as they absolutely launch it towards your ears.” 

The physical buttons are ideal for those who hate the sometimes unpredictability of touch controls, call quality is good, and there’s a dedicated button for those times you just need Siri or Google to come to the rescue. Overall, these are a brilliant budget package. 

Sony WH-XB910N review: black headphones on a white backgroundT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Sony)
The best Sony headphones with 'extra bass'

Specifications

Battery life: 30hrs
Wired option: Yes
AptX: No
AAC: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
 30+ hours of battery
+
Energetic sound
+
Fantastic noise-cancelling

Reasons to avoid

-
Not waterproof 
-
Made entirely from plastic 

If the Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones are a bit out of your price range, then the Sony WH-XB910N could be a good alternative because the ANC is just as effective and the sound quality is fantastic, but it all comes in a much cheaper package. 

Granted, you won't get quite as many features and the design is a lot simpler but they're not miles apart either. 

If you listen to a lot of upbeat tunes then these will be perfect for you because the sound has so much energy, it packs a serious punch. You also get loads of control thanks to the five-band equaliser in the app and there's a choice of a few preset sound modes if you're less savvy. 

You'll rarely need to remember to charge them because the battery will last a huge 30 hours with ANC switched on, and that goes up to 50 hours with it off. Want to know more? Read the Sony WH-XB910N review

Sony LinkBuds wireless earbuds on white backgroundT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Sony)
The best Sony earbuds for the office

Specifications

Battery life: 6hrs (buds); 18hrs (case included
Wired option: No
AptX: No
AAC: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
 Light and comfortable 
+
 Great controls 

Reasons to avoid

-
 Call quality not perfect
-
 Light on bass  

Most sets of earbuds are about blocking out the sounds of day to day existence. Manufacturers spend years crafting the ultimate snug fit from the perfect materials to make the world disappear. The Sony LinkBuds… well, they’re not like that. In fact, they’ve got a hole over your ear canal. But this, miraculously, doesn’t stop the LinkBuds from delivering excellent sound once you get used to actively listening to everything else too. 

As we say in our Sony LinkBuds WF-1900 review “They create a generous soundstage, give competing elements on it plenty of elbow-room in which to do their individual thing. And they organise it well, too – it’s not at all difficult to understand an individual musician’s position relative to the others, even if you’re talking about a full-on symphony orchestra.”

That the LinkBuds can deliver on audio as well as letting you know when your fellow office humans want your attention makes these a truly unique product.  

Sony WF-SP800N on white backgroundT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Sony)
The best budget Sony earbuds for the gym

Specifications

Battery life: 9hrs (buds); 18hrs (case included)
Wired option: No
AptX: No
AAC: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
 Detailed sound 
+
 Great build quality 

Reasons to avoid

-
 Battery life isn’t great 
-
 Chunky 

Spending the earth on a set of earbuds you’re going to take to the gym can feel counterintuitive. Why spend hundreds on something you’re going to sweat all over? Well the good news is that the Sony WF-SP800N are an affordable option that doesn’t mean making sacrifices when it comes to audio quality. 

Another set of T3 Platinum Award winning buds, these have a chunky design and snug fit to make sure there are no unfortunate treadmill meets electronics incidents. These earbuds definitely aren’t subtle, but they are feature-rich with intuitive touch controls and voice control added in for good measure.

Regardless, the sound here is impressive and as we say in our Sony WF-SP800N review “the Sony WF-SP800N aren’t perfect, but they do get an awful lot right in terms of sound, build quality and how smoothly they work.”    

Louise Blain is a journalist and broadcaster specialising in technology, gaming, and entertainment.  She has a weekly consumer tech slot on BBC Radio Scotland and is the presenter of BBC Radio 3's monthly Sound of Gaming show. She can also regularly be found on BBC Radio 4, BBC Five Live, and The Evolution of Horror podcast as well as writing for GamesRadar and NME. Louise loves finding ways that tech can make our lives better every day and no, she doesn't have enough smart lighting yet.