This story is part of 84 Days of Holiday, a collection that helps you find the perfect gift for anyone.
There are more headphone choices out there than ever, but the best ones I’ve ever used are the Sony WH-1000XM4. I bought them when they were CNET’s favorite full-sized, wireless noise-canceling headphones in the middle of the pandemic, and they’ve helped keep me sane pretty much every day in the two-and-a-half years since. While there’s an even newer version available (see below), this XM4 remains a personal favorite of mine.
Why it’s a great gift: These headphones are lightweight and comfortable enough to wear for hours, unlike most earbud-style headphones I’ve used. They also sound amazing no matter what I’m listening to. But for me, the best part is the way their noise-canceling effect lets me completely shut out the outside world.
I use them when I need to concentrate on work, while taking Zoom calls or playing video games when I don’t want to disturb others. I even use them while reading a book since the combination of noise cancellation and a playlist of wave or rain sounds helps me get deep into the story without distractions. Check out CNET’s full review of the Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones.
What you’ll pay: The list price for Sony’s headphones is $350. Sure, they’re expensive, but with a new version available, you can now find them for a little less.
Notable upgrade: Note that you can step up to the next-generation Sony WH-1000XM5 for $50 more (about $400). That 2022 model offers even better sound, improved comfort and upgraded voice call quality. Read CNET’s full review of the Sony WH-1000XM5.
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