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Home / Reviews / Audio / Headphones / Sony ULT Wear: ideal for mega bass but feature-limited

Sony ULT Wear: ideal for mega bass but feature-limited

Does the ULT Wear deliver Sony-level audio quality and design for under $200/£200?

Sony ULT Wear

Stuff Verdict

A pair of headphones perfectly suited for the hustle and bustle of daily life, the Sony ULT Wear are a stellar set of bass-heavy cans at a sensible price.

Pros

  • Some of the most comfortable headphones we’ve tested
  • Great audio quality with lots of tweaking room
  • Comes with a cable!

Cons

  • You’ll need to want to listen on the bassier side of things
  • Limited colour options
  • Slightly light on features

We’re very fond of a pair of Sony headphones here at Stuff. We’ve made it no secret that the WH-1000XM5s are some of the best headphones we’ve ever had the pleasure of using. However, this level of excellence comes at a price – between $499/£380 to $328/£270, depending where you look. 

If you’re not willing to shell out quite that much for the XM5s, then the Sony ULT Wear could be a great option. These headphones promise Sony-level audio quality and design for under $200/£200. But can the Sony ULT Wear offer function and affordability under the Sony name? Let’s find out. 

Every pair of earphones and headphones reviewed on Stuff is used for a minimum of a week’s worth of daily listening. We use a playlist of test tracks made up of multiple genres to assess sound, and use our years of experience to compare to other models. Manufacturers have no visibility on reviews before they appear online, and we never accept payment to feature products.

Find out more about how we test and rate products.

Design and comfort: a dream

The Sony ULT Wear shared many of the design choices we’ve seen in its sibling models. The headphones are polished and rounded, and can be easily compacted into its carry case. Colour options are somewhat limited though, and are available in black, white and camo green only.

They’re easily some of the comfiest headphones I’ve ever tried out. That’s to be expected, given how Sony smashed it out the park with its WH-1000XM5 and WH-1000XM4 models. But still, the ULTs are a dream to wear. My ears are nestled within thick cushioning, meaning I don’t feel fatigued over long listening stints. The strap is firm but flexible, keeping the headphones in place without any tension on the top of my head. So comfortable are they that I’ve used them as sleep aids. On several occasions, I find myself drifting off into a deep  slumber.

Audio quality: city dwelling

Sony ULT Wear

The Sony ULT Wear’s are perfectly suited for city living. The sound is powerful and balanced, and doesn’t trade audio quality for high volume. Its noise cancellation features are great at blocking out low frequency sounds, like buses, trains and the general hustle and bustle of city life. Annoying public transport conversations are eradicated, but a finely tuned ambient sound mode keeps me in sync with my surroundings when needed. 

Much like the name suggests, Sony’s USP for its Wear headphones is in its ‘ULT’ technology. Press a button on the side of the headphone, and the bass quality will be heightened considerably. This is down to a specially designed 40mm driver unit and Integrated Processor V1. There are two modes for this – ULT1 is designed for low-frequency sub bass, while ULT2 is for boosting mid-range bass frequencies. The improvement is noticeable, but not vital for a stellar listening experience. Genres like disco, house music and funk massively benefit from a more rounded polishing of the bass frequencies, but the improvements rely heavily on your music genre of choice.

Features: wired in, or wireless

Sony ULT Wear

Feature-wise, the Sony ULT Wear has all the bells and whistles that are to be expected in a higher end set of headphones. 

Track selection, volume control and call activation can all be controlled by a tap or swipe of the touch panel on the side of the headphones. Beamforming mics pick up clear and crisp when taking phone calls, and hands-free assistance is powered by built-in Google Assistant and Alexa. 

There are a few Sony-specific features that take the Sony ULT Wear headphones up a few notches. The Adaptive Sound Control is reliable and intuitive and adjusts ambient sound settings for a range of different environments. The headphones can also recognise frequently visited locations, such as your place of work or the gym, and will alter sound settings accordingly. All these features can be tweaked through the Headphones app, which is reliable and easy to use. 

For me, the Sony ULT Wear’s include a very simple addition that is seemingly missing in so many modern headphones. That will be a wire. Call me old school, but I appreciate the choice to either connect my headphones via bluetooth or wired. Firstly, a wired setup feels more reactive to me. I also have something of a personal pet peeve with bluetooth. This is solely down to the fact I’m connected to so many devices. Of course, wires can knot, and we’ve all found ourselves tangled up while simply trying to plug in your headphones. But still, it’s a nice, rare touch. 

Verdict

Sony has packed a lot of good stuff into a small price point with the ULT Wear headphones. For roughly $200/£200, you’ll receive a tremendously sounding set of incredibly comfortable headphones with the Sony seal of approval.

Stuff Says…

Score: 4/5

A pair of headphones perfectly suited for the hustle and bustle of daily life, the Sony ULT Wear are a stellar set of bass-heavy cans at a sensible price.

Pros

Some of the most comfortable headphones we’ve tested

Great audio quality with lots of tweaking room

Comes with a cable!

Cons

You’ll need to want to listen on the bassier side of things

Limited colour options

Slightly light on features

Sony ULT Wear technical specifications

Drivers40mm dynamic (Dome type)
Frequency response5Hz-20000Hz
Impedance314ohms
ANCYes
ConnectivityBluetooth 5.2 / 1.2m wired cable
Weight255g
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About

A writer of seven years and serial FIFA 23 loser, Jack is also Features Editor at Stuff. Jack has written extensively about the world of tech, business, science and online culture. He also covers gaming, but is much better at writing about it than actually playing. Jack keeps the site rolling with extensive features and analysis.

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