Which headphone brand?
Sony headphones rated
By Daniel Nissenbaum
Article 6 of 6
Sony is a huge manufacturer with a range of headphones to match its size. Learn more about Sony headphones and if they’re right for you.
Almost everyone has heard of Sony. A consumer electronics giant, it produces everything from TVs to marine audio systems (handy for those boat parties you’re always having). Somewhere deep within this vast array of products lies Sony’s headphones range, and there are a fair few of them – more than 60 different pairs at the time of writing. Compare this with the Beats range, which numbers less than 10.
As you’d expect with such a large range, the quality does vary. We’ve tested fantastic Best Buy Sony models, awful Don’t Buys that we wouldn’t wish on anyone, and pretty much everything in between.
To see all the headphones we've tested, read our headphone reviews.
Before you spend your money on a pair of Sony headphones, make sure you’re getting the right pair, with crystal-clear sound and the features you need. We’ve rounded up some of the key information you should know about in the table below.
Only logged-in Which? members can view our exclusive ratings and verdicts in this table . If you're not yet a member, sign up for a £1 trial to get instant access.
|Sony headphones overview table|
|Number tested in last three years||32|
|Number of Best Buys|
|Average test score|
|Brand reliability rating|
|Should I buy Sony headphones?|
For more on the latest headphones from Sony, see our Sony headphone reviews.
How much do Sony headphones cost?
Not too much. Sony's in-ear pairs are very cheap - you can pick up some pairs for under £15. Unusually for a headphone brand, prices don't rise too much for on-ear pairs either. Most of the Sony pairs in shops cost less than £50. Sony still makes the all-singing, all-dancing over-ear pairs though. A wireless, noise-cancelling pair will set you back over £200.
Choosing the best Sony headphones
Sony makes headphones with a wide range of prices and features. Many of its models are wireless Bluetooth pairs. The non-wireless models usually feature a wired remote control, which allows you to control music on a smartphone without getting it out of your pocket. Beware though - you’ll need to have the right version depending on whether you own an iPhone or an Android device.
Many Sony models come proudly displaying the logo for ‘hi-res’ audio, which supposedly gives you a higher-quality form of digital music. It’s not always clear what this actually means though. The hi-res logo is plastered onto some of Sony’s wired headphones, but wired models don't actually deal in digital music - it's all been converted back into an analogue signal by the time it reaches them. It’s best not to worry about hi-res though – our testing hasn’t found a lot of difference between headphones with the branding and those without.
Sony’s headphones can be split broadly into two groups - in-ear models, which are often designed with sports in mind, and the more traditionally designed on-ear/over-ear models, which have a headband and ear pads.
Many of Sony’s in-ear models are designed specifically for sports use. These models generally have either a splash-proof or fully waterproof design, so you won’t have to worry about getting them sweaty or going for a run in the rain. Sports headphones also have to be extra secure in your ears so they don’t come out while you’re exercising. They tend to have extra hooks or loops to fit around your ears and keep them in place.
We’ve tested a range of sports headphones, from the incredibly cheap MDR-AS210AP to expensive pairs like the MDR-XB80s. Read our reviews to find out whether you’re better off paying more or whether a budget pair will serve you just as well.
Sony also makes a pair of wireless in-ear noise-cancelling headphones, the MDR-EX750BTs. Not only will they act as earplugs to block external noise like a normal pair of in-ear headphones, but they also include the same digital noise-cancelling technology that’s in Sony’s larger on-ear and over-ear headphones. This is a relatively rare combination, and could make them perfect for travelling light. Be sure to read our full review to find out how good they sound, and whether the noise cancelling is effective.
On-ear and over-ear
Sony makes a range of wireless headphones designed specifically for use at home. These use a radio transmitter base that you connect to your TV or hi-fi, leaving you free to wander around the house (within range). These are useful if you want to immerse yourself in TV or films but don’t want to bother your neighbours. They also come in handy for those who are hard of hearing – you won’t have to turn your TV volume up to the rafters to be able to hear it.
Quite a few of Sony’s on-ear and over-ear models have noise-cancelling technology. This, combined with the large, padded ear cups, make them a good choice for travelling. We’ve reviewed the top-of-the-range MDR-1000X, with adjustable noise cancelling and touch-sensitive ear pads. For those looking for something a bit cheaper we’ve also tested the MDR-ZX110NA. Available for less than £50, you won’t find noise-cancelling headphones for much less, but how did they do in our test lab? Read our full MDR-ZX110NA review to find out.