Ever since Apple launched the AirPods back in 2016, manufacturers have been releasing competitors left, right and centre. This time around, we're reviewing the Sony WF-SP700N, which is a pair of truly wireless earphones aimed at fitness enthusiasts.
Sony claims that the WF-SP700N is the first pair of truly wireless earphones in the world with active noise cancellation as well as a splash proof design. Priced at Rs. 12,990, the earphones are IPX4 rated, have 6mm drivers, and support Bluetooth 4.1 with NFC. Is Sony's latest pair of truly wireless earphones worth a buy? Let's find out in our full review.
The Sony WF-SP700N does not have the sleekest design. The curvy earpieces are quite bulky but fit very securely in the ear. They are reminiscent of the Bluetooth headsets that were commonplace a few years ago. The earphones feature a small silicone hook that fits into to the contours of your ear, reminiscent of Bose's StayHear tips. There are three different sizes of silicone tips as well as an extra pair of hooks available in the box.
The soft and plush silicone tips and ergonomic hooks work together to make the Sony WF-SP700N one of the most comfortable pairs of wireless earphones we have tested in a long time. We could listen to music for hours on end without any major discomfort. On the other hand, the bulky earpieces make listening to music at night whilst lying on your side almost impossible.
A charging case is included in the box, and it looks incredibly sleek. It has a unique swivel top that can be operated with just one hand. However, the hinge is flimsy and feels like it will snap off with the slightest amount of force. Getting the earbuds into the case is also a little awkward. You have to first gently tuck the hooks inside before the earbuds themselves can slide in. Both the charging case and the earpieces are made of plastic. The build quality of the earpieces is top-notch and they feel robust and solid in the hand.
A plastic button on the right earpiece allow you to toggle between the noise cancellation modes, but it's hard to press. A similar one on the left earpiece controls playback. The circular bass vents on both earpieces look a lot like buttons, and are bound to confuse users. There are no volume controls on the earbuds.
The earphones are also IPX4 rated, which means they are protected from light rain and splashes of water. They are also set to get Google Assistant support soon, with a software update.
Setting up the WF-SP700N is as simple as tapping your phone on the case, if your phone supports NFC that is. Otherwise, you need to pull the earpieces out of the case and pair them to your device manually. We experienced erratic dropouts while playing music, even when the source device was well within range. They were not commonplace but did become irritating over time.
Sony's Extra Bass range is known for its emphasised low range, and these earphones are no different. The bass is thunderous and resounding and does not distort even at ear-splitting volume levels.
The sound signature is definitely not balanced. We have seen examples of bass-focused earphones in the past that delivered punchy bass without compromising the mids and highs. Sadly, the bass on offer here drowns out the rest of the frequencies. The mids and highs are actually quite clean and expressive but are quite overpowered in the sound mix. If you know your way around an equaliser, you can unlock the true potential of these earphones. The Sony Headphones Connect app offers a fairly comprehensive equaliser, allowing you to change the sound signature to your liking. There is no custom EQ though, which is a shame.
The clarity and detail on offer are great, and so is the instrument separation. We could distinguish between the array of guitars being played in complex, densely layered tracks such as John Mayer's Slow Dancing in a Burning Room (Live), Two Door Cinema Club's Undercover Martyn, and Radiohead's Paranoid Android. The soundstage is a bit shallow and closed off, though. The earphones do not support the support the LDAC, aptX or aptX HD high-quality wireless audio streaming codecs, which is disappointing. They do support AAC which is a slight consolation.
Passive noise isolation is top-notch, and is helped by the high-quality silicone tips bundled in the box. The Sony WF-SP700N also offers two active noise cancellation modes - regular, and ambient sound, which allows a bit of the noise around you to filter in. A third mode called ambient sound (voice) can be triggered via the Headphone Connect app. It claims to intelligently filter in the voices of people talking to you while still blocking ambient noise. This feature is a bit of a letdown and does not really make voices sound clearer. Sony's own WH-1000MX2 does a much better job of filtering in voices.
Active noise cancellation is good but not perfect. In most situations like in an office or coffee shop, or even at home, it works well enough. That said, the earphones emit a high-frequency hiss which is quite audible at low volume levels. Also, you cannot manually adjust the noise cancellation level and have to live with what is on offer. Sure, there is an ambient sound mode, but you have no control over the level of noise cancellation. The Sony WH-1000MX2 in comparison offers a choice of 20 levels of noise cancellation in addition to the fully automated ambient sound mode.
Battery life is slightly disappointing. Sony claims that the earpieces will last 3 hours on a single charge with the case providing another 6 hours of power. In reality, the numbers were close to 2.5 and 5 hours respectively. While a combined battery life of 7-8 hours is not terrible, many similarly priced earphones offer 15-20 hours (with the case included). The case has a Micro-USB port for charging, and takes around 3 hours to charge fully. The earpieces themselves reach a full charge in 1.5 hours.
The Sony WF-SP700N is extremely capable and is amongst the better options when it comes to truly wireless earphones. The earpieces are extremely comfortable and fit very securely in the ear. The bass is thunderous and the sound on offer is clear and detailed. The noise cancellation is decent, and being splash-proof adds to the overall appeal. However, the mediocre battery life, repressed mids, the flimsy case, and connectivity issues are hard to ignore.
If you are in the market for truly wireless earphones that offer noise cancellation but are also able to withstand some water exposure, you are pretty much limited to the Sony WF-SP700N. If you can live without that specific combination of features though, you could consider the similarly priced Jabra Elite Active 65t, which lacks active noise cancellation but offers better battery life and a more balanced sound.
Price: Rs. 12,990 (MRP)
Ratings (out of 5):