Thu. Jun 13th, 2024


Key Takeaways

  • ULT Wear headphones offer big sound and solid noise cancellation at a mid-range price.
  • The ULT button offers a noticeable bass boost but may be too heavy on its second level.
  • These headphones offer comfortable fit, good ANC, and Multipoint support to make them suitable for work or travel.


The price of premium headphones keeps creeping up while entry-level headphones continue to sound better. The new Sony ULT Wear headphones split that difference to offer big sound and solid noise cancellation at a reasonable price.

Sony ULT Wear Headphones in black

Sony ULT Wear

With exceptional bass and improved noise-canceling, the new ULT WEAR headphones let listeners bring
their favorite festival or club feel with them everywhere they go.

Pros

  • Comfortable for multiple hours at a time
  • Nice, full sound
  • Solid ANC performance
  • Physical buttons for ANC, bass, and power
Cons

  • ULT button sound effect was annoying
  • ULT button (2nd level) was too boomy
  • A little bulky

Price and Availability

The ULT Wear headphones will retail for $199.99 when they’re released this spring. They’ll be available in black, off-white, and forest gray. They replace the WH-XB910 headphones in the lineup.

Specifications

Battery Life
Between 30 and 50 hours

Noise Cancellation
Yes

Colors
Black, white, forest gray

Foldable
Yes

Charging type
USB-C

Multipoint
Yes

Carrying case
Yes, hardshell

Price
$199.99

Driver size
40mm

A Less Expensive WH-1000XM5

Person wearing the Sony Wear headphones
Tyler Hayes / How-To Geek


The Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones remain the top-end, premium consumer option for the company. While these ULT Wear ones come in the mid-range tier, it’s easy to see how they were inspired by the 1000XM5, both in style and features.

The ULT Wear features active noise-canceling. They get 30 hours of battery life with ANC in use or 50 hours with it turned off. They can get 5 hours of playback with a 10-minute charge. Multipoint is supported for connecting to multiple devices at once. And these can do 360 Reality Audio head tracking.

There are dual microphones onboard for conducting calls. Ear detection is supported to stop playback when they’re removed from your head. Plus, the headphones come with a hardshell case. The features aren’t over-abundant, but they’re all useful and well implemented.

The size is a tad on the bulky side, but I found the fit to be comfortable. The headband in particular had a better feeling than it appeared at first look.


The forest gray color is hard to pin down. Sometimes it looks like a muted green and other times like a straight gray color, hence the name. I probably would have stuck with the black or off-white colors if I were buying them for myself, but I also didn’t mind the new color which sports a shimmery Sony logo on each side of the headband.

On the Wear Headphones, ULT Means Boom

ULT button on Sony Wear headphones
Tyler Hayes / How-To Geek

The ULT button is the most interesting part of the ULT Wear’s sound. Pressing the button cycles between two different levels of bass boom, with a third press turning it off.

Much like Sony’s past encounters with a bass button, its heart is in the right spot, but the second level of ULT bass goes too far for my liking. The first level finds a sweet spot for some added oomph, that I enjoyed and that I think most casual listeners will keep turned on.


Although I still liked the headphones’ sound profile with the ULT button turned off, the first level gave music and movies a bit more immersion and encapsulated low-end, without being ridiculously boomy.

People listening to more delicate genres like folk or chill pop might prefer not to use the ULT button and hear slightly more clarity throughout the mid-range. The headphones never felt empty or lacking fullness, but immediately after turning the ULT mode off, the sound definitely felt different for a few seconds.

Padded ear cups on Sony Wear headphones
Tyler Hayes / How-To Geek

The ULT Wear headphones aren’t meant to be studio monitors so they probably won’t stand up to the most detailed scrutiny. I still really enjoyed their sound and think most people who are willing to plunk down around $200 will be thoroughly satisfied.


Similarly, while the ANC performance wasn’t the strongest I’ve ever heard, I had very few complaints. It significantly dampened vacuums, cafe chatter, and a bustling household. It feels like you’re getting a lot of the benefits and performance of the WH-1000XM5 here, but without the extra cost. To be clear, the 1000XM5 are better sounding and did cancel noise better, but, to my ears, it wasn’t double-the-price-better.

I appreciated that the Wear headphones have a dedicated physical button to toggle ANC and transparency. It was easy to feel for and press. The Wear headphones could block noise well, but they also let it in great too—when they were supposed to. I had no problems talking to people with transparency activated while the well-padded headphones were on my head.

In terms of microphone performance, the dual-noise-canceling mics and windscreens made my voice sound good. Not only did I record my voice to give it a listen, but I used the headphones for calls and the people on the other end had no qualms with the quality.


These could easily be used for work calls or while traveling. The headphones support Multipoint so there’s no reason not to connect them to your phone and computer to bounce back and forth.

No Complaints About Battery Life

Ports on Sony Wear headphones
Tyler Hayes / How-To Geek


I had no problem keeping the ULT Wear on my head for hours at a time every day. The earpads were comfortable, and the headband was padded enough not to be noticeable. Importantly, the headphones were lightweight enough to not cause any fatigue.

I could also wear the headphones for a long time because of the battery life, ranging from 30 to 50 hours, depending on whether ANC was turned on. I got more than a week of use out of them before I decided to plug them in for more power.

As a note, I wasn’t able to use the Sony mobile app with these headphones prior to publishing the review because the app hadn’t been updated to support them yet. The app will be updated ahead of the headphones’ release.

Should You Buy the Sony ULT Wear Headphones?

Sony Wear headphones in forest gray
Tyler Hayes / How-To Geek


I wasn’t initially excited by the Sony ULT Wear headphones before I got them in my hands and on my ears. I’ve become accustomed to using the most top-end Sony, Bose, and Apple headphones. But after giving these new ones a fair shake, I’ve been impressed by their comfort and performance at a price that doesn’t make you question your music-listening dedication.

The $200 retail price still isn’t cheap or entry-level, but I felt that I got a good taste of the premium experience, without having to go all in.

Sony ULT Wear Headphones in black

Sony ULT Wear

With exceptional bass and improved noise-canceling, the new ULT WEAR headphones let listeners bring
their favorite festival or club feel with them everywhere they go.



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By John P.

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