8 Best Sony Headphones of 2020

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Sony has one of the most extensive headphone catalogs, offering most headphone types, including truly wireless headphones, sports headphones, and neckband headphones. While they can be inconsistent in comfort, Sony headphones generally excel in audio performance and build quality. Moreover, those that are supported by the Sony Headphones Connect app also get a good amount of customization options for a more personalized experience.

It’s nice to have so many different options to choose from, but it also makes for a more confusing and time-consuming shopping process, especially if you have a wide budget range. If you’re shopping for the best Sony headphones but are having trouble narrowing down your choices, this product guide is exactly what you need. In this product guide, you’ll find the best options in Sony’s current headphones lineup, including a budget-friendly option and an extremely high-end option for audiophiles.

Budget
best-budget-sony-headphones
Sony WI-C310
3.8/5.0
Type: Wireless in-ear
ANC: No
Magnetic earpieces for cable management.
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Best Value
best-value-sony-headphones
Sony WF-1000XM3
4.4/5.0
Type: Truly wireless in-ear
ANC: Yes
Great sound isolation and smart pause feature.
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Top Pick
top-value-sony-headphones
Sony WH-1000XM4
4.7/5.0
Type: Wireless over-ear
ANC: Yes
Customizable sound and foldable design.
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Sony Headphones Comparison Table

ModelRatingTypeANCMicrophoneConnectivityPrice
Sony WH-
1000XM4
4.7Wireless
over-ear
YesIntegrated
mic
Bluetooth
5.0, 3.5 mm
analog
Check Price
Sony WI-
C310
3.8Wireless in-
ear
NoIn-line micBluetooth 5.0Check Price
Sony WF-
1000XM3
4.4Truly
wireless in-
ear
YesIntegrated
mic
Bluetooth 5.0Check Price
Sony MDR-
7506
4.0Wired over-
ear
NoNo mic3.5 mm
analog, 6.3
mm analog
Check Price
Sony Gold
Wireless
Headset
(2018)
3.9Wireless
over-ear
NoIntegrated
mic
USB wireless
transmitter,
3.5 mm
analog
Check Price
Sony WF-
SP800N
4.1Truly
wireless in-
ear
YesIntegrated
mic
Bluetooth 5.0Check Price
Sony WI-
1000XM2
4.2Wireless in-
ear
YesIn-line micBluetooth
5.0, 3.5 mm
analog
Check Price
Sony IER-
Z1R
4.6Wired in-earNoNo mic3.5 mm
analog, 4.4
mm analog
Check Price

1. Top Pick: Sony WH-1000XM4

Sony WH-1000XM4View on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.7/5

The WH-1000XM4 are the best Sony headphones currently out. They are all-around headphones that are excellent for casual everyday use. In addition to their active noise cancellation (ANC), they have a bunch of other useful features, including multipoint support, NFC pairing, smart pause, and adjustable ambient mode. While Sony also offers more affordable noise-canceling over-ear headphones, it’s much better to save up for the WH-1000XM4, which normally sell for around $350.

Design & Features

Featuring a foldable design for better portability, the WH-1000XM4 are wireless headphones that are well-designed from top to bottom. Their build quality is good; their ear cups are made of high-quality plastic while their headband is reinforced with metal for a stronger frame. They are lightweight due to their mostly plastic build and have ear cups that can rotate to a flat position, making them easier to wear around your neck when not in use.

There are four accessories included with the headphones: a charging cable, an audio cable, an airplane adapter, and a carry case, with the latter two being especially useful for frequent travelers. The charging cable has a USB Type-C connector on one end and a USB Type-A connector on the other end while the audio cable terminates in a 3.5 mm analog plug for easy compatibility with most devices.

With their lightweight frame and thick earpads, the WH-1000XM4 are comfortable to wear for long hours. This makes them suitable for long flights and extended hours at the office. Their closed ear cups are large, spacious, and decently breathable while their headband is flexible. Their clamp is tight enough to ensure a secure and stable fit without being fatiguing on the head during extended listening.

The WH-1000XM4 have a good on-cup control scheme composed of a touchpad on the right and two buttons on the left. Occupying the entire back panel, the responsive touchpad is for call and music management and volume control. The buttons on the left ear cup are composed of a power/Bluetooth button and a Custom button used for either cycling between ANC and ambient mode or activating your assigned voice assistant.

If you want to have a quick conversation with someone while still wearing your headphones, you can simply cover the touchpad to turn the volume down and enable ambient sound mode. The WH-1000XM4 also have a Speak-to-Chat feature, which automatically pauses the music and activates ambient sound mode when you start talking. Furthermore, they have a smart pause feature that pauses the music playback when you take them off; the music resumes when you wear them again.

Performance

The WH-1000XM4 are great in most performance categories, with their average mic quality being the only notable blemish. They sound good, with a bass-heavy sound profile that many consumers prefer, and have a great wireless range. They can connect with up to two devices at once, allowing you to listen to music and take calls from two different devices. Moreover, they support NFC and Google Fast Pair for hassle-free pairing with compatible devices, but the latter is limited to Android devices.

Of the noise-canceling headphones in this guide, the WH-1000XM4 are the best in noise isolation. In fact, their ANC is one of the best in the business. They are excellent at blocking out all types of noise, including background chatter and the sound of airplane engines. This makes them ideal for office use and traveling. Sound leakage is also low, which is beneficial for the people around you. If you need to temporarily monitor your environment, you can enable the ambient sound mode.

The WH-1000XM4 have great battery performance. They can run up to around 30 hours in wireless mode with ANC enabled and up to an even more impressive 38 hours with ANC turned off – both marks are some of the best among noise-canceling Bluetooth headphones. If your headphones run out of power at an inopportune time, you can charge them for 10 minutes to get five hours of playback. Alternatively, if you want to conserve power, you can switch to wired mode using the audio cable.

With the Sony Headphones Connect app – one of the best headphone apps out there – you can modify many aspects of the WH-1000XM4. You can customize the sound profile, change the Custom button function, adjust the auto-off timer, manage your connected Bluetooth devices, and adjust the ANC and ambient mode settings, among other things. For sound customization, you can use the built-in graphic equalizer or simply switch to one of the preset sound profiles.

Wrap-up

The WH-1000XM4 are some of the best noise-canceling headphones currently out, regardless of brand or price range. They are versatile headphones that are suitable for office use, travel, and commuting; for the latter two usages, their excellent noise isolation, comfortable design, and long battery life are especially beneficial. Their overall design and performance are both great while their list of features is the most impressive among the best Sony headphones in this guide. Overall, the WH-1000XM4 is definitely one of those premium products that you won’t regret buying even at full price.

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Tech Specs
Type: Wireless over-ear
ANC: Yes
Microphone: Integrated mic
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0, 3.5 mm analog
Pros
Excellent noise cancellation
Customizable sound
Great battery performance
Foldable design
Speak-to-Chat and smart pause features
Adjustable auto-off timer
Multipoint and NFC support
Cons
Expensive
Unimpressive mic quality

2. Budget: Sony WI-C310

Sony WI-C310View on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 3.8/5

Sony offers several budget-friendly options under $100, including wireless headphones. Among them, the WI-C310 are the best option. They are wireless in-ear headphones normally selling for around $40, with their price sometimes dropping to just around $20. Their list of features doesn’t really jump off the page, but they are versatile headphones that are good for office use, commuting, and sports.

Design & Features

The WI-C310 are neckband earphones with an audio cable connecting to their two earpieces, which means they are not totally cable-free like the WF-1000XM3. But unlike the WI-1000XM2, they lack a collar module, making them more pocket-friendly than typical neckband headphones. They have magnetic earpieces for better cable management when they are not in use and simply hanging around your neck. Their build quality is decent for a budget product, with an IPX4 rating for water resistance.

In general, the WI-C310 are decently comfortable to wear, with their ear tips not entering your ear canals too deeply. They are extremely lightweight and breathable due to their in-ear design, and they stay securely in your ears despite lacking stability fins. But as with all other in-ear headphones, the comfort level depends on getting the right fit with the ear tips. There are three different pairs of silicone ear tips included in the box – a typical set for earphones.

Like other similarly designed neckband earphones, the WI-C310 have a basic in-line remote for the controls. Located on the left side, the remote has three buttons for call and music controls and volume adjustment. You can also use the middle multi-function button to activate your assigned voice assistant. While limited in functions, the in-line controls are straightforward and easy to use, with responsive buttons that are not too stiff.

Performance

The WI-C310 are good-sounding earphones with a bass-heavy sound profile, which is either good or bad depending on your personal taste in music. They sound clear and detailed and are not too harsh at high volume levels. They are suitable for listening to music and podcasts and for watching movies, but they are not recommended for gaming due to their high latency.

Although the WI-C310 lack features like multipoint and NFC pairing, their Bluetooth connectivity is good. They are easy to pair with compatible devices and have a good 30-foot wireless range. Their in-line mic is also decent for phone calls and video conferences in a quiet setting, but not for important business calls, especially while outdoors.

With their tight in-ear seal and closed-back design, the WI-C310 are good at passively blocking out background noise. They are especially great at blocking out the sound of fans and air conditioning units. They also reduce a good amount of ambient chatter in offices and public transport. Additionally, their sound leakage is low even at high volume; this means you can increase the volume for better noise isolation without worrying about disturbing people around you.

Among neckband earphones, the WI-C310 are some of the best in battery performance. On a single charge, they can last up to an impressive 15 hours, which is more than enough for everyday use for most people. They require approximately three hours of charging time and include a more modern USB-C charging cable, which has a USB Type-A connector on the other end. As with other similarly designed neckband earphones, there is no option to switch to wired mode.

Wrap-up

If your budget is limited to around $50, the WI-C310 are the best option among Sony wireless headphones – their sound quality, passive noise isolation, and battery life are good while their build quality and controls are decent. They are extremely portable due to their compact and lightweight design and have magnetic earpieces for cable management. Although their list of features is far from exciting, they are good headphones for casual everyday use.

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Tech Specs
Type: Wireless in-ear
ANC: No
Microphone: In-line mic
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0
Pros
Magnetic earpieces for cable management
Voice assistant support
Good passive noise isolation
Low sound leakage
15-hour battery life
USB-C charging port
Cons
No auto-off timer
Limited connectivity features
No travel case or pouch

3. Best Value: Sony WF-1000XM3

Sony WF-1000XM3View on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.4/5

The WF-1000XM3 are some of the best truly wireless headphones currently out. They are excellent for casual everyday use, with their noise cancellation and extremely portable design making them ideal as office and travel headphones. They normally sell for around $230, but their price often drops to under $200, which makes them even more appealing.

Design & Features

Featuring a premium build with touchpads on both earpieces, the WF-1000XM3 are truly wireless headphones with an in-ear design. They include a charging case with a USB-C charging port and magnetic docks to keep the earphones more secure inside. The build qualities of the earphones and the case are good, but both lack an official IP rating for water resistance. Both are also bulkier than usual, but they are still extremely portable and easier to carry for everyday use than other types of wireless headphones, including neckband headphones.

Not everyone will find the WF-1000XM3 comfortable to wear, especially for long hours. Their ear tips are larger than usual, making it more difficult to get the right fit, which is important for in-ear headphones. The good news is that there are seven pairs of ear tips included in the box – four silicone sizes and three foam sizes – giving you more options. If you get a good fit with any of the ear tips, the benefits include better comfort, better stability, better sound isolation, and better sound quality. If none of the included ear tips is a good match for your ears, then you’ll need to look into third-party ear tips.

As mentioned above, the WF-1000XM3 have a touchpad on each earpiece. Using these touch-sensitive surfaces, you can manage your calls and music, activate your voice assistant, and switch between ANC and ambient sound mode. If the default controls are not to your liking, you can customize them on the Sony Headphones Connect app, with the option to add volume controls.

Covering the left touchpad with your finger also activates the Quick Attention feature, which turns the volume down and enables ambient sound mode. This allows you to quickly monitor your surroundings or have a conversation with someone without removing your earphones. If you prefer to remove one of the earpieces for better situational awareness in some situations, the WF-1000XM3 also have a smart pause feature – the music playback automatically pauses when you take out one unit; once you put it back into your ears, the music resumes.

Performance

The overall performance of the WF-1000XM3 is great. They are some of the best-sounding truly wireless headphones, with a balanced and detailed sound suitable for different music genres and for general media consumption. They support NFC pairing and have a stable Bluetooth connection and a great wireless range. Their mic quality is also decent for truly wireless headphones, but if you need a clearer mic with significantly better noise reduction, there are much better options out there.

If you can get a good seal with the ear tips, the noise isolation of the WF-1000XM3 is one of the best among noise-canceling earphones. They are effective at blocking out background chatter and the sound of fans and airplane engines. Their sound leakage is also low, which means people around you won’t hear your loud music, especially in the office and during flights. If you want to listen to your surroundings without removing your earphones, you can enable the ambient sound mode, which lets background noise in.

Using the Sony Headphones Connect app, you can adjust the noise cancellation and ambient sound settings of the WF-1000XM3. For the latter, you can adjust how much background noise you want to hear. If you don’t like the default sound profile of the earphones, you also have the option to manually modify it using the app’s graphic equalizer. Furthermore, the app allows you to customize the touch controls, manage your Bluetooth connections, and update the firmware.

Among truly wireless headphones, the WF-1000XM3 are some of the better ones in battery performance. When ANC is enabled, they can run up to six hours per charge; without ANC, the single-charge battery life increases to eight hours. With the three additional charges in the case, the total battery life with ANC is an impressive 24 hours, one of the best marks among truly wireless headphones. Unlike our budget pick, the WF-1000XM3 also have an auto-off timer, which can be adjusted on the companion app.

Wrap-up

Excelling in most design and performance categories, the WF-1000XM3 are the best among Sony’s lineup of wireless earphones. They also make a strong case for the best truly wireless headphones on the market; their sound quality is one of the best in their category while their build quality, touch controls, battery performance, and app support are good. Their noise isolation is also great if you can get a tight seal with the default ear tips. Out of all the Sony headphones listed here, they are some of the most portable – with or without their charging case.

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Tech Specs
Type: Truly wireless in-ear
ANC: Yes
Microphone: Integrated mic
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0
Pros
Great sound quality
Customizable touch controls
24-hour total battery life with ANC
Great sound isolation
Smart pause feature
Adjustable auto-off timer
NFC pairing support
Cons
Short battery life per charge
No official IP rating
Large ear tip sizes

4. Sony MDR-7506

Sony MDR-7506View on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4/5

The popular MDR-7506 are the best Sony headphones for all-around professional studio use. They are recommended if you need budget-friendly closed-back headphones for mixing and mastering and for recording tracks in the studio. They are also good DJ headphones. You can get them for less than $100, which makes them some of the most affordable professional headphones on the market.

Design & Features

The MDR-7506 are wired headphones with an over-ear design, closed-back ear cups, and a non-detachable coiled cable, which can extend up to around 9.8 feet and has a 3.5 mm analog plug. Their accessorization is minimal; aside from the 6.3 mm adapter, the only other item included in the box is a soft pouch. Their build quality is decent for the price, with a sturdy, metal-reinforced headband frame covered with artificial leather padding. Their ear cups and yokes are made of plastic while their audio cable is rubberized.

With their lightweight frame and decently breathable earpads, the MDR-7506 are comfortable to wear for long hours in the studio. They have a flexible headband with a loose clamp, which makes them more comfortable for extended listening if you have a large head. However, their earpads are very shallow, making them feel like on-ear headphones instead of over-ear headphones on some ears. In addition, their earpads are covered with a cheap-looking material that has peeling issues.

Although their non-detachable audio cable can be cumbersome, the MDR-7506 are quite portable for over-ear headphones. They can be folded into a more compact form, allowing them to take up less space in your bag. As mentioned above, they come with a soft pouch, which protects them from dust and scratches, but it’s much better to invest in a hard-shell carry case for better protection against physical damage and water spills.

Performance

The MDR-7506 are good-sounding headphones with a neutral sound profile, which is beneficial for professional studio use but can be undesirable for casual listening. They sound clear and detailed and have a natural-sounding bass. They can clearly reproduce vocals and instruments, but their treble can be harsh in some tracks. For simply listening to music at home, you may find them too dull or boring, unless you actually prefer a more clinical sound.

In addition to being good closed-back headphones for mixing and mastering, the MDR-7506 are also suitable for recording tracks in the studio. Their sound leakage is low, which means the live feedback won’t be picked up by your mic, preventing the recording from being ruined. Their passive noise isolation is also decent; they are effective against background chatter and high-frequency noises, which is more than enough for both studio use and home use.

Unlike some professional headphones, the MDR-7506 are easy to drive and don’t really need an amplifier. Their 3.5 mm analog plug allows for easy compatibility with most devices, including portable music players and computers. If you intend to use them for gaming, their wired connectivity is also beneficial, as it eliminates latency issues. However, their coiled audio cable can be annoying for non-studio use.

Wrap-up

All in all, the MDR-7506 are great headphones for professional use, with their foldable design making them easy to pack if you need to work while traveling. Although their build quality is not the best, their audio performance is good. They are easy to drive and have a neutral sound signature for mixing and mastering. Their low sound leakage is also beneficial for recording tracks, which makes them some of the most versatile studio headphones under $100.

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Tech Specs
Type: Wired over-ear
ANC: No
Microphone: No mic
Connectivity: 3.5 mm analog, 6.3 mm analog
Pros
Neutral sound profile
Foldable design
Sturdy headband frame
Low sound leakage
Easy to drive
Cons
Cheap earpads coating
Shallow ear cups
Non-removable audio cable

5. Sony Gold Wireless Headset (2018)

Sony Gold Wireless Headset (2018)View on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 3.9/5

For gaming, the 2018 Gold Wireless Headset is the best Sony headset, edging out the more premium Platinum model and the old Gold model. It comes with a USB transmitter for low-latency wireless connectivity on PS4 and PC, but its entire feature set is only available for the former. An audio cable is also included for wired connectivity on mobile devices and other consoles. It sells for around $100, which makes it one of the more affordable wireless gaming headsets on the market. It offers better value for the money than the Platinum model, whose 3D audio is only supported by a few PS4 games.

Design & Features

The 2018 Gold Wireless Headset is an over-ear gaming headset featuring a sleek, low-profile design with circular ear cups and an integrated mic; the latter is especially notable since gaming headsets normally include a boom mic. Its build quality is good, with sturdy plastic ear cups and a metal-reinforced headband covered in artificial leather padding. Unlike the Platinum model, it doesn’t fold into a more compact form, but this makes for a more rigid frame with fewer moving parts.

Designed to fit with Sony’s PS VR virtual reality headset, the 2018 Gold Wireless Headset is generally comfortable to wear, with thick earpads that don’t trap too much heat. But out of the box, it has a rather tight clamp that can be unpleasant for long gaming sessions, especially if you have a large head. It becomes a much more comfortable headset once the clamp loosens with repeated use.

Among wireless headsets in the $100 price range, the 2018 Gold Wireless Headset has one of the most complete on-cup controls for gaming. In addition to the usual volume and mic mute buttons, it has separate buttons for toggling the virtual surround sound feature and for balancing the game and chat volumes on PS4 consoles. Its power switch is also used for switching between two audio modes, with the option to set a custom audio mode.

Performance

The 2018 Gold Wireless Headset is certainly not going to impress audiophiles, but its sound quality is decent for a gaming headset. It sounds clean and detailed and doesn’t have an overpowering bass that can be unpleasant in some games. Its proprietary virtual surround sound feature is also great and allows for better positional awareness in first-person shooters and open-world games. Out of the box, you can choose between two audio modes: standard and bass boost. But you can replace the latter with a custom audio mode downloaded from the companion app.

Unlike with the audio performance, there aren’t many positive things that can be said about the headset’s mic. The integrated mic is mediocre and not suitable for online multiplayer games, especially competitive games where team communication is important. It’s good at separating your voice from background noise, but its recording quality is bad. If mic quality is very important to you, get a gaming headset with a boom mic instead.

With its USB dongle, the 2018 Gold Wireless Headset allows for low-latency wireless connectivity on PS4 consoles and PC. It’s easy to set up out of the box and has a good wireless range. For gaming on PS VR, PS Vita, and other gaming devices not compatible with the USB dongle, you can use the audio cable, which has a 3.5 mm analog plug. In wireless mode, the headset lasts up to around eight hours per charge. This is a disappointing mark since there are many other wireless headsets that can run up to at least 10 hours per charge. On the bright side, you can still use the headset while it’s charging.

Wrap-up

The 2018 Gold Wireless Headset is a great headset for gaming on Sony’s PS4 consoles. Its build quality, onboard controls, and virtual surround sound are good while its sound quality in stereo mode is decent. It’s suitable for different kinds of games, but it’s not recommended for online multiplayer games due to its mediocre mic quality. Although its wireless connectivity is limited to PC and PS4 consoles, it’s also compatible with other gaming platforms through a wired connection, which makes it a versatile headset.

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Tech Specs
Type: Wireless over-ear
ANC: No
Microphone: Integrated mic
Connectivity: USB wireless transmitter, 3.5 mm analog
Pros
Metal headband frame
Good on-cup gaming controls
Great virtual surround sound
Custom audio modes
Includes audio cable for wired mode
Can be used while charging
Cons
Mediocre mic quality
Below-average battery life
No wireless mode for PS VR

6. Sony WF-SP800N

Sony WF-SP800NView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.1/5

The WF-SP800N are the best Sony headphones for sports use. They are truly wireless earphones with noise cancellation. But compared to the WF-1000XM3, they are more resistant to water and sweat and have a much more secure in-ear fit due to their stability fins. They are extremely portable and easy to carry for outdoor runs and daily gym sessions. While they are designed specifically for sports use, they are also decent earphones for office use and commuting.

Design & Features

Featuring an IP55 rating for dust and water resistance, the WF-SP800N are well-designed earphones with stability fins for a more secure fit, which is important for sports use. Their build quality is good, with durable earpieces that can easily survive accidental drops. Their charging case, which has a secure lid and a USB-C port, is also sturdy, but it lacks an IP rating for water protection.

Like the WF-1000XM3, the WF-SP800N are quite bulky for truly wireless earphones, which makes them easily noticeable in your ears. Their charging case is also bulkier than most charging cases and not the most pocket-friendly. But despite their bulkier design, they are still extremely compact and lightweight, significantly increasing their portability.

The WF-SP800N have a deep but comfortable in-ear fit that makes them suitable for long runs and extended gym sessions. They are extremely breathable and don’t put too much pressure on your ears despite their bulkier design. Their stability fins allow them to stay securely in your ears even during workouts with a lot of head movement. Furthermore, their completely cable-free design means there are no audio cables that can get caught into something while exercising. Four sizes of silicone ear tips and two sizes of stability fins are included with the earphones.

For controls, the WF-SP800N have touch-sensitive back panels, similar to the WF-1000XM3. In their default setup, the touch controls allow you to manage your calls and music, activate your voice assistant, and switch between ANC and ambient sound mode. Covering the left touchpad also activates the Quick Attention feature, which turns the volume down and enables ambient sound mode. If you want a different set of functions, you can modify the touch controls on the companion app.

Performance

The WF-SP800N have a bass-heavy sound profile, which is suitable for music genres that many people listen to when running and working out, such as hip hop, rap music, and dance music. Although they are not as detailed as the WF-1000XM3, they are good for general media consumption. If you prefer a different sound profile with less bass, you can modify the sound on the Sony Headphones Connect app, which has a graphic equalizer.

Compatible with Google’s Fast Pair for easy pairing with Android devices, the WF-SP800N have a great wireless range. They support Bluetooth 5.0 and have an easy pairing setup, but they lack connectivity features like NFC pairing and multipoint; the lack of multipoint means only one connected device can be active at any given time. Their integrated mic is also a mixed bag: it’s clear and detailed, but its noise reduction is mediocre, which makes it unsuitable for calls in a noisy environment.

Despite being noise-canceling earphones, the WF-SP800N are only decent in the noise isolation category, with their ANC barely complementing their already good passive seal. They are good at blocking out background chatter and reduce a decent amount of high-frequency noises, but they are not very effective against low-frequency noises. Their noise cancellation performance could improve with a future firmware update, though.

The WF-SP800N are versatile sports earphones. They are good at blocking out ambient noise in the gym. But if you prefer better situational awareness, especially during outdoor runs, you can enable the ambient sound mode, which is adjustable on the companion app. Their Quick Attention feature also allows you to have a quick chat with a fellow gym-goer without removing them from your ears.

Like the WF-1000XM3, the WF-SP800N are some of the better ones among truly wireless headphones regarding battery performance. They can run up to nine hours per charge with ANC enabled and up to 13 hours with ANC disabled – both are good marks for truly wireless headphones. They also have one additional full charge in the charging case, which means the most that you can get is 26 hours if you don’t really use the ANC feature.

Wrap-up

The WF-SP800N are some of the best sports headphones on the market. They have a completely cable-free design, a stable in-ear fit, and an IP55 rating – all of which are beneficial for running and working out. Their battery performance is also good while their extremely compact design makes them easy to carry for everyday use. They are great for working out in the gym and running outdoors, with their ambient sound mode allowing for better situational awareness as needed.

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Tech Specs
Type: Truly wireless in-ear
ANC: Yes
Microphone: Integrated mic
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0
Pros
Comfortable and stable in-ear design
IP55 rating for dust and water resistance
9-hour battery life with ANC
Customizable sound
Minimal sound leakage
Quick Attention feature
Cons
Relatively bulky case
No NFC and multipoint
Mediocre ANC performance

7. Sony WI-1000XM2

Sony WI-1000XM2View on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.2/5

The WI-1000XM2 are the best Sony headphones if you prefer wireless earphones in a neckband format instead of truly wireless. They are portable earphones that are great for casual everyday use, with their noise cancellation making them especially suitable for commuting and travel. They are well-designed earphones with plenty of useful connectivity features, but they are also some of the most expensive neckband earphones, normally selling for around $300.

Design & Features

Unlike the WI-C310, the WI-1000XM2 are typical neckband earphones, which means they have a collar module where the main electronics are located. They have thin audio cables connecting to their earpieces, which have an angled design for better stability and comfort. Their earpieces are magnetic for better cable management while their neckband is very flexible. Although they lack an official IP rating for water resistance, their build quality is good and significantly better than that of the WI-C310.

Among the wireless earphones listed here, the WI-1000XM2 have the most accessories included in the box. In addition to their USB-C charging cable, they include silicone and foam ear tips, a fabric-coated carrying case, an audio cable, and an airplane adapter. The included 3.5 mm analog audio cable is especially notable for neckband earphones, which usually don’t allow for passive playback.

The WI-1000XM2 are not as extremely compact and lightweight as truly wireless earphones, but they are still portable and easy to carry for everyday use. They are lightweight and have a very flexible neckband that allows them to collapse into a more compact form. If you want them to be easily accessible at all times, you can simply wear them around your neck when not in use, with their earpieces snapped together for cable management.

Located on the left cable, the in-line remote of the WI-1000XM2 is easy to use and has responsive buttons. With the remote, you can manage your calls and music, adjust the volume, activate your voice assistant, and switch between ANC and ambient sound mode. There is also one additional button on the neckband itself; this separate button is used for turning the earphones on or off and for initiating the Bluetooth pairing.

Performance

The WI-1000XM2 have good audio reproduction, with a warm sound profile that will satisfy most consumers. If you don’t like their default sound, you can modify it on the Sony Headphones Connect app. Their mic quality is also decent. They support NFC pairing and Google Fast Pair for hassle-free pairing with compatible devices. Moreover, they can connect with up to two devices at the same time and have a great wireless range.

With their ANC and tight in-ear seal, the WI-1000XM2 are great at blocking out noise. They are especially effective against ambient chatter and low-frequency noises, and they reduce a decent amount of high-frequency noises as well. Their sound leakage is also low even at high volume. Like all the other noise-canceling headphones listed here, they have an ambient sound mode, which allows you to monitor your surroundings without removing them from your ears. As with the sound, you can adjust the ANC and ambient sound settings on the companion app.

Regarding battery life, the WI-1000XM2 are not much better than the WF-SP800N, which is disappointing since neckband earphones usually have better battery performance than truly wireless earphones. They can last up to 10 hours with ANC enabled and up to 15 hours with both ANC and ambient sound mode disabled. If you need them to last longer, you can use them as regular wired earphones; in this setup, they can last up to 14 hours per charge with ANC enabled.

Wrap-up

Overall, the WI-1000XM2 are some of the best neckband earphones on the market, excelling in many design and performance categories. Their list of features – which includes ANC, ambient sound mode, multipoint, and NFC pairing – is impressive while their accessory set is one of the best among the headphones listed here. They are ideal for commuting, traveling, and office use, with their neckband design making them easy to carry with you at all times.

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Tech Specs
Type: Wireless in-ear
ANC: Yes
Microphone: In-line mic
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0, 3.5 mm analog
Pros
Portable neckband design
Magnetic earpieces for cable management
Customizable sound
Great noise isolation
NFC and multipoint support
Analog cable with airplane adapter
Cons
Expensive
Long charging time
Short battery life for a neckband

8. Sony IER-Z1R

Sony IER-Z1RView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.6/5

The IER-Z1R are the most premium and best-sounding headphones listed here. They are wired in-ear headphones considered as endgame earphones for serious audiophiles. They are top-of-the-line earphones with one of the best packagings you’ll ever see. Unboxing them is like opening an expensive jewelry box, making you feel excited about what you bought right from the start.

Design & Features

Compared to the other earphones in this guide, the IER-Z1R look more like jewelry than audio equipment due to their elegant silver finish. Their build quality is exceptional and easily the best among the earphones in this product guide; their shells are made of zirconium alloy while their inner housing is magnesium. They are closed earphones with nice, scale-like patterns on the backplates for styling.

The IER-Z1R have a detachable cable system, with Sony including two types of audio cables in the box: a regular 3.5 mm cable and a 4.4 mm balanced cable. Both are silver-coated, oxygen-free copper cables that are around four feet long and have non-magnetic MMCX connectors. Externally, both cables are silk-braided with flexible plastic on the outermost layer; this makes for a more durable and more secure design. The angled analog plugs of both cables are gold-plated and non-magnetic, similar to the MMCX connectors on the other end.

Sony also didn’t hold back on the accessories, complementing the IER-Z1R with an impressive set of accessories that stands out as one of the best among audiophile earphones. In addition to the two audio cables mentioned above, the IER-Z1R come with a carry case, a shirt clip, a cable holder, a cleaning cloth, seven sizes of silicone ear tips, and six sizes of foam ear tips. Yes, they include a whopping 13 ear tip options, which is the most among the earphones listed here.

But while the IER-Z1R are impressive in build quality and accessorization, they are a mixed bag in the comfort category. They have an over-the-ear fit, but the preformed hooks in their cables can’t fully support their heavy shells, making them less stable in your ears. In addition, they are not shaped to fit in your ears more naturally and can be really uncomfortable at first. You’ll need to spend some time experimenting with the positioning and the ear tips to get the most comfortable and stable fit, especially since the fit also affects noise isolation.

Performance

The IER-Z1R have a hybrid driver system composed of two dynamic drivers and one balanced armature driver. They are the best-sounding headphones listed here, but they need a significant amount of burn-in and require an amplifier to be at their best. They are exceptionally detailed earphones with a mild V-shaped sound signature.

Clean, tight, and well-extended, their bass is one of the best among earphones and will surely impress bass-heads. Their treble is smooth and amazingly detailed while their mid-range has excellent clarity, but it’s slightly recessed, which is noticeable in male vocals. Their soundstage is wide, though not on the same level as open-back headphones, while their instrument separation is excellent.

Although they are not recommended for critical listening or professional use, the IER-Z1R are fantastic for simply enjoying music at home. They are suitable for different music genres and don’t sound harsh at high volume levels. However, their true sound only comes out when using the silicone ear tips; with the foam ear tips, they sound a little different, with a narrower soundstage, a more subdued treble, and a generally warmer sound. They still sound great even with the foam ear tips, but if you want the full audio performance they were designed to deliver, you have to use the silicone ear tips.

Wrap-up

Without a doubt, the IER-Z1R are some of the best audiophile earphones on the market. Their audio reproduction is one of the best among earphones. Although their comfort and noise isolation are not consistent for everyone, their build quality and accessories are excellent. They will last a long time if given proper care and are highly recommended for audiophiles who are looking for top-of-the-line earphones for their endgame personal audio setup.

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Tech Specs
Type: Wired in-ear
ANC: No
Microphone: No mic
Connectivity: 3.5 mm analog, 4.4 mm analog
Pros
Exceptionally detailed sound
Wide soundstage
Precise imaging
Premium build quality
Detachable audio cable
Silicone and foam ear tip options
Cons
Extremely expensive
Hard to get a comfortable and stable fit
Heavy housings
0/50 ratings