Long a respected brand in the audio market, Sony makes some of the most popular headphones with a line that spans the gamut from premium noise canceling over-ear models to inexpensive on-ear headphones to excellent true-wireless earbuds in a variety of price ranges.
Like with all headphones, prices for Sony headphones tend to fluctuate and throughout the year you'll find discounts on most Sony models -- and sometimes pretty major discounts. While we can't keep track of all the deals on Sony headphones (there are a lot of them), we've put together a list pf current deals and pricing for the most popular -- and best -- Sony headphones. We also have lists forand in case you're interested in those brands's earbuds and headphones.
One of the most popular premium noise-canceling headphones available -- and one of the best -- Sony's WH-1000XM4 carries a list price of $350 but is regularly discounted to $278 or less. Released in 2020, we could see a new WH-1000XM5 in 2022.
All-time low price: $248
No earbuds are perfect and not everybody will love the fit of the Sony WF-1000XM4 buds or be able to afford their high price. But if you're looking for great-sounding earbuds with excellent noise canceling, solid voice-calling capabilities and good battery life, these buds check all the boxes. And unlike the earlier WF-1000XM3, these are water-resistant with an IPX splash-proof rating.
Bose's QuietComfort Earbuds also have top-notch noise canceling and sound quality, but the Sony is right there with the Bose for noise canceling. Some might even say it's a touch better in that department. The Sony offers better sound quality and has a more compact design, particularly for the case -- though the Sony buds certainly aren't small.
All-time low price: $218
The LinkBuds are, in a sense, Sony's answer to Apple's standard AirPods. While they don't sound as good as Sony's flagship WF-1000XM4 noise-isolating earbuds, they offer a discreet, innovative design and a more secure fit than the AirPods, as well as good sound and very good voice-calling performance.
Like the third-gen AirPods, their open design allows you to hear the outside world -- that's what the ring is all about. That makes them a good choice for folks who want to hear what's going around them for safety reasons or just don't like having ear tips jammed in their ears. They also have a few distinguishing extra features, including Speak to Chat and Wide Area Tap. Instead of tapping on a bud, you can tap on your face, just in front of your ear, to control playback.
They're IPX4 splash-proof and thanks to their fins -- Sony calls them Arc Supporters -- they lock in your ears securely and work well for running and other sporting activities.
All-time low price: $178
While the C500's design sensibility has more in common with the high-end WF-1000XM4 than their predecessor, the WF-XB700 Extra Bass, the C500 is not a noise-canceling model and is pretty basic as far as earbuds go, with no ear-detection sensors or transparency mode. But the buds are compact, lightweight, fit comfortably and sound good for an entry-level model. They list for $100 but frequently cost less than $70. Read our Sony C500 first take.
All-time low price: $58
As for the WH-XB910N, this is the step-down model from the WH-1000XM4. It's an Extra Bass model, so it does have a preponderance of bass. This updated version looks the earlier XB900N but offers improved noise canceling and multipoint Bluetooth pairing, so you can pair it with your phone and computer simultaneously. It also supports Sony's LDAC audio codec. It often sells for around $150 or slightly less. At that price, it's a decent value.
While improved, the noise canceling isn't quite up to the level of the WH-1000XM4. And the WH-XB910N doesn't have some of that model's extra features, such as Speak to Chat, wearing detection sensors and Sony's Precise Voice Pickup technology. However, it does have a Quick Attention Mode, which allows you to put your hand over the ear cup to go from noise canceling to an ambient-aware transparency mode. Also, this headphone now comes with a hard case like the WH-1000XM4. Battery life is rated at up to 30 hours at moderate volume levels -- that's the same as what you get from the WH-1000XM4.
All-time low price: $128
The WH-CH710N is Sony's entry-level noise-canceling headphones. At their list price of $200, they're grossly overpriced, but a lot more compelling when they go on sale, which they often do (look for them for less than $100 or ideally at $78, their low price). The set's sound and noise-canceling features are a big step below what you get with the WH-1000XM4, but these are overall competent headphones that are lightweight and comfortable to wear. In other words, this pair is far from the best but it's a good choice if you can't afford something higher-end. No carrying case is included.
All-time low price: $78
The Sony WHXB700 was released in 2019 and carries a list price of $130 but usually sells for around $80. It's solid if unspectacular on-model that's relatively comfortable for an on-ear headphone. There's no noise canceling but the headphones do connect with the Headphones Connect app for iOS and Android and since this is an Extra bass model, its not lacking bass. Android users can take note that WHXB700 does support wireless streaming using the AptX audio codec (AAC is supported for iOS users). You can use the headphones for making voice calls but don't expect business-class like performance on that front.
All-time low price: $78
Introduced way back in 1991, the Sony MDR-7506 has long been a favorite headphone of recording engineers and other sound professionals (yes, these are wired headphones). The origins of its design date even further back, since the MDR-7506 headphones are, in fact, a refresh of the Sony MDR-V6 that rolled out in 1985. Both models were designed for the pro sound market, but remain hugely popular with consumers.
While the two models have the same design and are very comfortable, they don't sound identical. Both offer very well-balanced sound and excellent clarity for their modest prices -- and both are great overall values. But the MDR-V6 headphones make a little more bass and sound more laid-back and mellow, while the 7506 headphones are leaner with a more accentuated treble range, which makes the sound a little crisper and livelier. Read our Sony MDR 7506 review.
All-time low: $70
The Sony MDR-Z7M2 may not be the flagship audiophile headphone in Sony's lineup (that would be MDR-Z1R), but it's still a high-end model that lists for $900 but has been on sale for just less than $600. I reviewed the earlier version of the Z7 (the M2 at the end stands for Mark 2, or second generation) and it sounded great and was comfortable. To be clear, this is an audiophile headphone and sounds best with the right audio equipment, which may include a headphone amplifier or a high-resolution portable music player (notice the Sony Walkman player, which isn't included, in the photo).
Al-time low: $570
If you're looking for a cheap on-ear wired headphone, the ZX Series is as good a bet as any. It costs $10 -- or $20 for the version with a microphone.
All-time low: $10
How we test headphones at CNET
We test headphones based on five key criteria, comparing similarly styled and priced models. These criteria include design, sound quality, features, voice-calling performance and value.
Evaluating design, we assess not only how comfortable the headphones or earbuds fit (ergonomics) but their build quality and how well the controls are implemented. For earbuds, we also look at water- and dust-resistance ratings.
We evaluate sound quality by listening to a set playlist of music tracks and comparing the headphones to top competing products in their price range. Sonic traits such as bass definition, clarity, dynamic range and how natural the headphones sound are key factors in our assessment.
Some great-sounding headphones aren't loaded with features, but we do take any extra features into account. These include everything from noise-canceling and transparency modes (ambient sound mode) to special sound modes to ear-detection sensors that automatically pause your music when you take the headphones off your ears.
When we test voice-calling performance, we make calls in the noisy streets of New York and evaluate how well the headphones reduce background noise and how clearly callers can hear your voice.
We determine value after evaluating the strength of the earbuds against all these criteria and what the headphone is able to deliver compared to other models in its price class.