The Sony WF-C700N is Sony’s latest offering in the realm of in-ear Bluetooth headphones, priced at an affordable $119. Boasting powerful active noise cancellation (ANC) with motion detection and high-quality sound featuring Sony’s Digital Sound Enhancement Engine (DSEE), these headphones aim to deliver a compelling audio experience. In this review, we explore whether the WF-C700N lives up to its promises and where it compromises compared to pricier models.
Sony WF-C700N: Design
Sony has added a fresh touch to its product lineup with the introduction of new colors for the WF-C700N. Available in elderberry white, goji black, sage green, and lavender, these slim earbuds are designed to catch the eye. With a weight of just 4.6 grams per earbud, they offer a comfortable and almost unnoticeable fit. Sony includes three silicone plugs in different sizes to cater to various ear sizes, ensuring a secure and personalized fit.
One of the notable features of the WF-C700N is the use of physical buttons for operation. This decision allows for convenient and reliable control, even in rainy conditions or when adjusting settings. The absence of swipe gestures may limit some customization options, as you’ll need to rely on the Sony app to choose between profiles. The individual earbuds’ buttons can be used for ambient noise control, playback control, or volume control. It would have been ideal to have a combination of playback and volume control on a single button for added convenience.
The charging case provided for the WF-C700N is elongated and relatively large, measuring 7 × 3 × 2.5 cm. While it provides ample space for storing the earbuds when not in use, the plastic material used for the case can be slippery. This requires a bit of caution to prevent the headphones from accidentally falling out. However, thanks to the secure hinge design, the earbuds are unlikely to fall out of the case and collect dirt.
It’s worth noting that the WF-C700N carries an IPX4 certification, which indicates resistance to splashes and sweat. However, it does not allow for immersion in water or heavy rain. If you require earbuds for activities like swimming, it would be advisable to explore other options with higher water resistance.
Adaptive ANC and Software-Based Sound
The Sony WF-C700N brings some advanced features from the high-priced WF-1000XM4 to the entry-level segment. One notable feature is the earbuds’ ability to automatically adjust the strength of active noise cancellation (ANC) when transitioning from sitting to walking. This adaptive ANC feature enhances the user experience by tailoring the noise cancellation based on location and movements, providing a seamless audio experience.
In terms of pros, Sony has announced that multi-pairing will be introduced to the WF-C700N in the summer of 2023. This addition will allow users to connect the earbuds to multiple devices simultaneously, enhancing convenience and versatility. Additionally, the adaptive ANC, which adjusts based on location and movements, adds another layer of customization to the listening experience. The inclusion of software-based 360-degree sound further enhances audio quality, taking into account the unique characteristics of each user’s ears.
However, there are a couple of cons to consider. Firstly, the WF-C700N lacks in-ear detection, a feature that automatically pauses playback when the earbuds are removed from the ears. While this may not be a deal-breaker for most users, it is a convenience feature commonly found in higher-end models. Additionally, the earbuds may still exhibit some beta culture, indicating that they may not be entirely refined or bug-free.
If Sony follows through on its promise of introducing multi-pairing in the summer of 2023, it will significantly enhance the feature set of the WF-C700N. While the lack of in-ear detection may be missed in everyday use, the earbuds offer several features typically absent in the entry-level class, such as adaptive ANC, 360-degree sound, and the ability to pair with multiple devices simultaneously.
The adaptive ANC can be customized based on location and movement preferences, and users have the option to disable or manually control these functions via the earbud controls. Sony’s software-based 360-degree sound, a feature borrowed from its higher-priced headphones, captures a personalized profile of the user’s ears, allowing for optimized sound wave incidence.
Regarding the Sony app, it offers extensive functionality when used with the WF-C700N. However, it can be somewhat complex to navigate at times. The inclusion of a usage time tracking function with various badges, though gamified, serves as a reminder to users about their listening habits and potential risks of hearing damage.
Powerful ANC, Compromised Sound Quality
The Sony WF-C700N is equipped with 5 mm drivers that offer a frequency response of 20 Hz to 20,000 kHz. However, instead of featuring HD audio codecs, the earbuds rely on SBC and AAC in combination with Sony’s Digital Sound Enhancement Engine (DSEE). Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) is a prominent feature, and it can be adjusted to mix with ambient noise at various levels.
In terms of pros, the WF-C700N excels in its ANC performance. Sony has a strong reputation for delivering effective noise cancellation, and even in this entry-level offering, the ANC proves to be impressive. When set to maximum, it effectively blocks out continuous noise sources such as street noise or the hum of air purifiers.
The sound quality of the earbuds is robust, offering satisfying volume levels and crisp bass. However, due to the reliance on SBC and AAC codecs for music transmission, the sound may feel lacking in resolution and thin. Sony attempts to compensate for the quality loss through the DSEE upscaling technology, which brings some improvement when activated, especially when combined with the integrated equalizer. However, the sound quality still falls short of Sony’s higher-priced offerings, and compromises need to be made in this aspect when opting for the WF-C700N.
One drawback to note is the susceptibility to wind noise when using the transparency mode. The microphones on the earbuds pick up more wind noise than desirable, which is a common issue even in more expensive ANC headphones. This can be particularly noticeable while cycling or walking.
During phone calls, the call quality is acceptable but may be described as slightly noisy by the person on the other end of the call. The other person’s voice may sound slightly tinny, although conversations remain intelligible. One positive aspect is that the WF-C700N allows some of the user’s own voice to come through, reducing the potential fatigue of using ANC during calls.
Battery Life and Fast Charging
The Sony WF-C700N boasts an impressive battery life, as rated by the manufacturer. With Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) enabled, the earbuds can last up to 7.5 hours on a single charge. Without ANC, the battery life extends even further, reaching up to 10 hours. The included charging case provides additional power, offering up to 15 hours of total listening time. Furthermore, a quick ten-minute charge is sufficient to squeeze out an extra hour of playback.
The pros of the WF-C700N’s battery performance are evident. Sony has achieved a remarkable battery life for earbuds in this price range. The 7.5-hour duration with ANC enabled allows for a full workday of uninterrupted music playback or noise cancellation. The real-world testing confirmed the manufacturer’s claims, providing a comfortable usage pattern for extended periods.
To address any low battery concerns, Sony has implemented fast charging functionality. By charging the earbuds in the included case, users can obtain an additional hour of runtime. Additionally, a quick ten-minute charge, either in the case or directly connected to a power outlet, can provide the same hour of playback. It’s worth noting that charging the WF-C700N requires a USB-C cable, as wireless charging is not supported. However, Sony does include the USB-C cable in the packaging for convenience.
In terms of battery notifications, the WF-C700N provides a pleasant feature that alerts users about the imminent end of their listening experience. A calm voice informs the user, allowing them to prepare for a recharge.
There are a couple of cons to consider as well. Firstly, the charging case has a relatively small battery capacity compared to some other models, which may require more frequent recharging of the case itself. Additionally, the absence of wireless charging may be a drawback for users who prefer the convenience of cable-free charging.
Sony WF-C700N: Conclusion
In conclusion, the Sony WF-C700N offers an enticing package for budget-conscious consumers looking for in-ear Bluetooth headphones with active noise cancellation. Its sleek design, comfortable fit, and IPX4 rating make it suitable for daily use and workouts. The ANC performance, while not on par with more expensive models, still provides effective noise reduction. The sound quality is balanced and enjoyable, thanks to the DSEE technology. Battery life is decent, and quick charging is a convenient addition. While lacking some premium features and audio codecs, the WF-C700N delivers a solid audio experience at an affordable price point, making it a worthy contender in its category.