I test headphones for a living — these are the best for travel

As audio editor, sound quality is everything even when I’m choosing a pair of headphones to take away with me on my travels. But there are other factors to consider when seeking the best performance on the move.

The Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones may have been around for a while, but they continue to be my favorite headphones for travel. I confess that I feel slightly guilty that I don’t prefer the newer WH-1000XM5 version, which replaced the XM4 last year, but there are solid reasons for making them my travel choice.

Firstly, they’re foldable, which makes them so much more practical for sliding into my work or travel bag, and the protective case is a lot smaller too. And judging by the number of fellow travelers on my work commutes also sporting the older version of Sony’s XM-series headphones on their head, I’m not alone.

Sony WH-1000XM4

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom’s Guide)
  • The Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones are priced at $349 / $350 / AU$438 through the Sony website (opens in new tab). They also available via online retailers including Amazon (opens in new tab)Best Buy (opens in new tab)and Walmart (opens in new tab)and are regularly discounted.

Selecting a pair of headphones to accompany me on my routine work commutes to and from the Tom’s Guide office, or on my trips away, was not a decision I made entirely consciously. My choice came about as part of the natural day-to-day test routine while evaluating new headphone designs over the past 12 months. Eventually, I realized that I kept coming back to this one pair of headphones again and again, and they’ve stuck as my go-to travel companion for their high performance and practical reliability.

Sony WH-1000XM4

(Image credit: Sony)

Travel utopia

Look around any airport, city street, or train station, and it’s easy to appreciate that a pair of the best headphones or earbuds are an essential accessory to the way many of us travel and how we use the time. Headphones have become a vital element to the way we get our entertainment fix. Whether that’s catching up on our favorite shows or movies downloaded to one of the best tablets or best phones to pass the time on a flight, listening to our best-loved tunes offline while walking to the office, or just tuning out the noise around you with a pair of the best noise-cancelling headphones, a pair of good-quality headphones can make all the difference to your journey.

Sony WH-1000XM4 vs WH-1000XM3

(Image credit: Reagan Coule/Tom’s Guide)

What I look for in a pair of travel headphones

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