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Best Sony earbuds 2021: Sony in-ear headphones for every budget

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Best Sony earbuds Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-fi?'s round-up of the best Sony earbuds you can buy in 2021.

Ready to ditch the free earbuds that came with your smartphone? Sony makes some of the best earbuds capable of upgrading your audio experience without breaking the bank.

Whether you want wired earbuds that sound superb, Bluetooth buds with extended battery life, or the latest true wireless earbuds, we've rated the best Sony earbuds – including the new WF-1000XM4 – and assembled them below. Sony has also just announced the budget WF-C500 buds, which could be worth considering.

If you opt for wireless headphones, you'll be pleased to hear that all the Sony models below offer decent battery life, and some feature active noise-cancelling to quieten your surroundings. There's even a pair of wired buds crafted from the same material used to make trombones...

Best Sony earbuds 2021: Sony in-ear headphones for every budget

(Image credit: Sony)

1. Sony WF-1000XM4

The best wireless earbuds you can buy right now.

Specifications
OS support: Android/iOS
Bluetooth: Yes
Noise-cancelling: Yes
Battery life: 8 hours (24 hours with charging case)
Finishes: 2
Reasons to buy
+Clear, detailed bass performance+Wonderful sense of musicality+Class-leading battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Missing Sony’s Multipoint feature-Lacking ear tip choices-No aptX HD

These What Hi-Fi Award 2021 winners build on the huge success of their excellent WF-1000XM3 buds with added comfort, smarter tech and even better sound.

They produce one of the most dynamic, detailed and balanced performances we've heard from a pair of Bluetooth buds. Bass notes sound tight and textured, while vocals ooze refinement and sophistication. Their musical delivery keeps you coming back for more, and also makes you thankful for the eight hours of battery life, which is class-leading in this field.

They're comfortable to wear too. The compact earpieces include touch-sensitive controls and a new ear tip design which helps with noise isolation. Combine this with Sony's excellent noise cancelling and you've got a pair of headphones that effectively block out the hustle and bustle.

IPX4 water resistance comes as part of the WF-1000XM4 package, as does Sony's clever Headphones Connect app for iOS and Android and clever features such as Quick Attention and Speak-To-Chat. 

Put simply, the WF-1000XM4 aren't merely the best Sony earbuds – they're the best earbuds you can buy right now, full stop. 

Read the full Sony WF-1000XM4 review

Best Sony earbuds 2021: Sony in-ear headphones for every budget

(Image credit: Sony)

2. Sony WF-1000XM3

These outstanding in-ears are Sony's best earbuds to date.

Specifications
Wireless: Yes
Battery life: 8 hours (+16 from case)
Noise-cancelling: Yes
In-line mic/remote: No
3.5mm connector: No
Weight: 8.5g
Reasons to buy
+Great timing and musicality+Impressive battery life+Comfy fit
Reasons to avoid
-Don't support aptX HD

Despite being succeeded by the newer WF-1000XM4 (above), these true wireless earbuds are still easily up there with the best Sony in-ear headphones we've ever tested. And because they're no longer Sony's latest and greatest earbuds, you'll find plenty of WF-1000XM3 deals around.

The WF-1000XM3s feature innovative active noise cancelling technology and come with a portable carry case that doubles as a charger, meaning you get up to 32 hours of wireless playback.

The fit is comfortable and secure, so they won't fall out when you run up an escalator. Packed with features - including subtle touch controls for music playback and volume – they're dynamic, detailed and musical. A home run from Sony.

Read the full review: Sony WF-1000XM3

Best Sony earbuds 2021: Sony in-ear headphones for every budget

(Image credit: Sony)

3. Sony WF-SP800N

A dynamic-sounding pair of noise-cancelling Sony earbuds.

Specifications
Connector: N/A
Cable length: N/A
In-line remote and mic: N/A
OS support: Android/iOS
Bluetooth: Yes
Noise-cancelling: Yes
Battery life: 9 hours (+ 9 hours from charging case)
Reasons to buy
+Vibrant, buoyant sound+Good noise-cancelling+Comfortable fit
Reasons to avoid
-Slightly coarse sound-Average battery life

The WF-SP800N noise-cancelling earbuds are great all-rounders designed to please. They'll please those who need accompaniment to their workout/commute, as well as those who don't want splash out on top-tier noise-cancelling buds.

And despite the reasonable price tag, they're well-specced and offer plenty of useful features. Battery life is nine hours (the case also gives you an extra nine hours) and they even support 360 Reality Audio, Sony’s spatial audio format.

Control is available via Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant or Siri, and the mic array ensures your instructions are heard reliably. The touch controls can also control volume.

Their winning combination of dynamic sound, decent noise-cancelling, good build quality and smart features are hard to beat at this price point.

Read the full review: Sony WF-SP800N

Best Sony earbuds 2021: Sony in-ear headphones for every budget

(Image credit: Sony)

4. Sony MDR-EX650AP

Snug-fitting, great-sounding and the best budget Sony earbuds we've heard.

Specifications
Wireless: No
Battery life: N/A
Noise-cancelling: No
In-line mic/remote: Yes
3.5mm connector: Yes
Weight: 9g
Reasons to buy
+Comfy, secure fit+Solid, weighty, punchy delivery+Expansive soundstage
Reasons to avoid
-Basic remote

If you want bang for your buck, you won't feel short-changed by the EX650s wired earbuds. Despite the humble price point, they're balanced, dynamic and immersive – with a hefty punch of bass. Sony has even utilised trombone material for the internal sound paths and external enclosures, helping to create an expansive soundstage.

Comfort isn't an issue, since the EX650APs come with four sizes of buds in the box. If you like the brassy design, you'll find that these Sony earbuds will outshine many a similarly-priced rival.

Read the full review: Sony MDR-EX650AP

Best Sony earbuds 2021: Sony in-ear headphones for every budget

(Image credit: Sony)

5. Sony WF-XB700

Reliable and rugged outdoor earbuds with chunky bass.

Specifications
Connector: N/A
Cable length: N/A
In-line remote and mic: No
OS support: Android/iOS
Bluetooth: Yes
Noise-cancelling: No
Battery life: 9 hours (+9 from charging case)
Reasons to buy
+Clear, punchy sound+Decent battery life+Comfortable, lightweight build
Reasons to avoid
-Rivals offer more detail-Reasonably large earbud design

On the hunt for a pair of affordable, sporty wireless buds? The Sony WF-XB700 should be on your list. Battery life is 18 hours – nine hours from the buds, nine hours from the case – so they'll outlast any workout, plus they're IPX4 rated, meaning they're water and sweat resistant.

Comfort is good. In fact, we found we could locate them in our ears and forget they were there. A button on each buds allows for basic controls such as play/pause and skip track.

The WF-XB700 are part of Sony's Extra Bass range of audio products meaning they're tuned to emphasise low-frequency response, rather than deliver a neutral sonic balance. The result is a punchy low-end, but it doesn't overshadow mid and high frequencies, which display pleasing levels of agility.

Some of Sony's pricier in-ears boast greater detail and subtlety, in addition to active noise-cancelling tech, but if you're after sporty buds, these could be the best Sony earbuds for you.

Read the full review: Sony WF-XB700

Best Sony earbuds 2021: Sony in-ear headphones for every budget

(Image credit: Sony)

6. Sony WI-1000X

Impressive wireless and noise-cancelling Sony earbuds with a neckband design.

Specifications
Wireless: Yes
Battery life: 10 hours
Noise-cancelling: Yes
In-line mic/remote: No
3.5mm connector: Yes
Weight: 71g
Reasons to buy
+Punchy bass+Insightful midrange+Well balanced
Reasons to avoid
-Inflexible neckband

In-ear headphones with a neckband aren't to everyone's liking, but they typically offer good battery life and a very stable Bluetooth connection. Sony's take on the wireless 'neckband' concept is a resounding success, especially when it comes to sound quality, which is precise, detailed and punchy.

There are different grades of noise-cancellation including an 'ambient mode' – useful when jogging – and you can still listen to music after the battery dies by using the supplied micro USB cable. If the design tickles your fancy, you'll be rewarded with impressive sonics and great battery life.

Read the full review: Sony WI-1000X

MORE:

Browse the best wireless earbuds for every budget

Splash out on today's best cheap headphone deals

And here's our pick of the best noise-cancelling headphones

What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.


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