Looking for the best Sony noise cancelling headphones? With so many models to choose from, it can be tough to decide which ones deliver top notch audio quality and maximum noise cancellation.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ve reviewed and compared Sony’s most popular noise cancelling headphone models to reveal the best options for sound, silence and value. Whether you want over-ear, on-ear, true wireless or budget-friendly headphones, we have you covered.
Overview of Sony Noise Cancelling Headphones
Sony is one of the leading brands when it comes to noise cancelling headphones. They were among the first to develop noise cancelling technology for headphones back in the 1980s. Since then, they have continued to innovate and improve their noise cancelling capabilities.
Some key things that set Sony noise cancelling headphones apart:
- Proprietary Noise Cancelling Technology – Sony’s own QN1 processor and HD Noise Cancelling Processor QN1 powers the noise cancelling abilities in their premium models. This allows for great noise reduction across all frequencies.
- Adaptive Sound Control – Sony headphones can adapt and adjust the level of noise cancelling based on your activity and environment for the optimal listening experience.
- Ambient Sound Mode – This allows you to let in surrounding sounds so you can stay aware of your environment without having to remove the headphones.
- Comfort Features – Many Sony models have plush earpads, adjustable headbands and lightweight designs optimized for long-term wear.
- Audio Quality – In addition to silence, Sony headphones also deliver impressive sound with features like LDAC, DSEE Extreme upscaling technology and drivers that reproduce clear highs, crisp mids and deep lows.
Now let’s take a closer look at the top noise cancelling headphones from Sony.
Sony WH-1000XM5 – Best Overall
The Sony WH-1000XM5 is the latest flagship noise cancelling model and our pick for the best overall. These over-ear headphones deliver first-class noise cancelling, sound quality and comfort.
Some standout features:
- Industry-leading noise cancellation with the QN1 processor and dual noise sensor technology. Blocks even more ambient noise across all frequencies.
- Adaptive Sound Control adjusts ambient noise settings based on activity detection.
- Dynamic, immersive audio with 30mm drivers, LDAC codec and Edge-AI upscaling.
- Lightweight, comfortable design with soft fit leather and new carbon fiber materials.
- 30 hours battery life with quick charging capabilities.
- Multipoint Bluetooth connection.
- Speak-to-chat and wearing detection that auto pauses playback when speaking or removing headphones.
With superb active noise cancelling, great sound quality for all types of audio and a comfortable over-ear design, the WH-1000XM5 is undoubtedly one of the best Sony headphones available today. The improvements over previous models like the WH-1000XM4 make them a worthy upgrade for both sound and silence.
Sony WH-1000XM5 Pros:
- Best-in-class noise cancellation
- Dynamic, immersive audio performance
- Intelligent listening features
- Plush, lightweight comfortable fit
- 30 hour battery life
Sony WH-1000XM5 Cons:
- Touch controls may be overly sensitive
- No higher quality lossless codec support
Sony WH-1000XM4 – Top Value
If you want excellent noise cancelling performance and features without the premium price tag, the Sony WH-1000XM4 delivers. These over-ear headphones are the previous generation model before the 1000XM5.
- Industry-leading HD Noise Cancelling Processor QN1 delivers a high level of noise reduction.
- Speak-to-chat automatically pauses when you start speaking.
- Adaptive Sound Control adjusts ambient sound settings.
- Exceptional audio quality with integrated DAC and LDAC codec support.
- 30 hours battery life with quick charge feature.
- Plush build with comfortable earpads and headband.
- Intuitive touch controls for playback, call handling and more.
With the arrival of the 1000XM5, you can now find the XM4 at a nicely discounted price while still getting many of Sony’s latest noise cancelling innovations and great sound performance. If you want to save some money for nearly as good noise cancelling abilities, the WH-1000XM4 is a fantastic choice.
Sony WH-1000XM4 Pros:
- Great noise cancelling for the price
- Dynamic, well-balanced audio
- Smart listening features
- 30 hour battery life
- Now more budget-friendly
Sony WH-1000XM4 Cons:
- Less effective NC than the 1000XM5
- Lower sound quality than new model
- Fit may be slightly less comfortable
Sony WF-1000XM4 – Best Wireless Earbuds
If you prefer a pair of noise cancelling earbuds over headphones, the Sony WF-1000XM4 are the best option with excellent performance in a compact design.
- Industry-leading HD Noise Cancelling Processor QN1 in a tiny package.
- Adaptive sound control adjusts ambient noise settings as needed.
- Exceptional call quality with beamforming microphones and AI noise reduction.
- Hi-res capable audio with LDAC, DSEE Extreme and integrated DAC/amp.
- Up to 8 hours battery life with noise cancelling on. 24 hours total with case.
- IPX4 water resistance rating.
The WF-1000XM4 earbuds deliver stellar noise cancelling that rivals many over-ear headphones. Audio quality is also excellent across all frequencies. While the design may not suit all ears equally, they offer a secure comfortable fit for most with additional ear tip options.
These high-performing earbuds beat out the previous generation WF-1000XM3 and rival models from Bose and Apple as the best wireless earbuds with noise cancellation.
Sony WF-1000XM4 Pros:
- Great noise cancelling for earbuds
- Dynamic, well-balanced sound
- Plenty of battery life
- Reliable wireless connectivity
Sony WF-1000XM4 Cons:
- Fit may not work for all ears
Sony WH-CH710N – Best Budget
If you’re looking for noise cancellation on a budget, the Sony WH-CH710N over-ear headphones deliver surprisingly decent performance and sound at a very affordable price point.
- Effective noise cancellation using dual microphone system.
- Quick attention mode to let in ambient sound.
- Up to 35 hours battery life on a single charge.
- Swivel foldable design that’s comfortable for long periods.
- Built-in mic for hands-free calling.
- Budget-friendly price point.
While the noise cancellation isn’t as powerful as Sony’s premium models, it still does a good job blocking out ambient noise like fans, airplane cabin noise and office chatter. Audio quality is also very solid for the price.
The WH-CH710N makes quality noise cancelling more accessible. If you want decent performance on a budget, these are a great choice.
Sony WH-CH710N Pros:
- Impressive noise cancelling for the price
- Very long battery life
- Comfortable and lightweight
- Great value
Sony WH-CH710N Cons:
- Less effective NC than premium models
- Audio quality could be better
- Plastic build feels cheap
How Do Sony Noise Cancelling Headphones Work?
So how exactly do Sony headphones provide such excellent noise cancelling capabilities? Here’s an overview of the key technologies involved:
- HD Noise Cancelling Processor – Sony’s propriety QN1 chip uses advanced signal processing to analyze ambient noise and generate an opposite canceling soundwave. This effectively reduces noise across all frequencies.
- Dual Noise Sensor Technology – Having mics both outside and inside the earcups allows the headphones to analyze environmental noise and tune the cancellation signal more precisely.
- Adaptive Sound Control – Sensors detect your activity like walking, sitting or traveling to automatically adjust the level of noise cancelling and ambient sound for the ideal listening experience.
- Active vs Passive NC – Sony headphones use both active noise cancelling that analyzes and cancels noise as well as passive noise cancelling with physical materials like memory foam that help block sound.
- Bluetooth Chip – Many Sony models have a high quality integrated Bluetooth SoC chip for improved wireless connectivity and support for advanced codecs like LDAC.
- Wearing Detection – Proximity sensors detect when you’re wearing the headphones vs removed so music can automatically pause.
Together these technologies allow you to enjoy your audio with less unwanted disturbance and maximum comfort.
Choosing the Best Sony Noise Cancelling Headphones
Here are some key factors to consider when selecting Sony noise cancelling headphones:
- Type – Choose over-ear, on-ear or earbuds based on your preferences. Over-ear models provide the most noise isolation.
- Noise Cancelling – Premium models like the WH-1000XM5 offer the most advanced noise cancelling capabilities. But mid-range options also perform decently.
- Audio Quality – Sony headphones deliver great sound across the range. Higher-end models tend to have better drivers, codecs and audio processing.
- Comfort – Look for soft, breathable earpads and adjustable headbands or ear tips that fit your ears well for long-term wear.
- Smart Features – Many Sony models have handy features like ambient sound mode, speak-to-chat, wearing detection and touch controls.
- Battery Life – Noise cancelling impacts battery life. Over-ear models last 30+ hours while earbuds are more like 8 hours.
- Price – Sony noise cancelling headphones range from around $100 to $400+ based on capabilities and features.
Once you decide what’s most important for your needs and budget, picking the perfect pair of Sony noise cancelling headphones becomes much easier.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Sony noise cancelling headphones better than Bose?
Sony and Bose are the two top brands for noise cancelling headphones. The latest premium models like the Sony WH-1000XM5 and Bose 700 Headphones deliver very comparable noise cancelling performance and audio quality. Both companies continue to push noise cancelling technology forward. Sony tends to have more features like ambient sound mode and adaptive sound control that makes their headphones a bit smarter in adjusting sound settings automatically based on your environment and activity. However, comfort and sound preferences will also play a big role in determining which brand is better for you.
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How effective is the noise cancelling on Sony headphones?
Sony noise cancelling headphones are among the most effective at blocking unwanted ambient noise from low rumbles to high frequencies. Premium over-ear models with Sony’s HD Noise Cancelling Processor QN1 chip can reduce noise by over 95% and even rival the silence of a quiet library. Even mid-range models offer noise reduction of 80-90% that allows you to immerse in your music, calls or content without distraction.
Can you hear outside sounds with Sony NC headphones on?
With noise cancelling enabled, very little outside noise gets through Sony’s headphones. You may faintly hear some high pitched noises like voices, bells or babies crying but most ambient noise from engines, crowds, wind and more gets reduced to very low levels. If you do want to hear your surroundings, you can use Sony’s ambient sound mode that pipes in external sounds through the headphones’ microphones at adjustable levels.
Do Sony headphones work if the battery dies?
Yes, you can still use Sony noise cancelling headphones passively for audio playback even if the battery runs out. However, the active noise cancelling functionality will be disabled without battery power. Audio quality may also be impacted and not as good with an unpowered headset. But they will continue to work for listening to music or other audio as regular headphones minus the noise cancelling abilities.
Can you use Sony NC headphones wired?
Sony includes an audio cable with their noise cancelling headphones that allows you to plug in and use them wired. This is useful in situations when the battery runs out or you want to listen to a device without Bluetooth connectivity. When used wired, the headphones will continue blocking some ambient noise passively with their tight fit and physical materials. However, the active noise cancellation powered by the built-in battery will not work without wireless connection.
With their excellent noise cancelling abilities, dynamic audio performance and smart listening features, Sony noise cancelling headphones stand out as some of the best on the market. Premium over-ear models like the WH-1000XM5 offer truly first-class noise cancelling and sound. But even mid-range options provide very respectable performance at more affordable price points.
When choosing the best Sony noise cancelling headphones for your needs, be sure to consider the type of headphones you want, noise cancelling effectiveness, sound quality, comfort, features and price based on your budget. Ordering from online retailers like Amazon allows you to easily compare Sony models to find the perfect noise cancelling headphones to enjoy both superb sound and silence.