Although historically one of the biggest brands of all time in the personal audio space, Sony got into the true wireless game a bit later than the competition. Even when it did enter the segment, it tried establishing itself as a big-budget pick before gradually taking on more affordable price segments. The new Sony WF-C700N true wireless headset is its latest entrant in the much more competitive mid-range segment of wireless earphones, priced at Rs. 8,990 in India.
Unlike the arguably more flamboyant competition in the under-Rs. 10,000 category for true wireless earphones, the Sony WF-C700N takes a more straightforward approach to elements such as design and specifications. That said, you still get the kind of features we've now come to expect at this price, including active noise cancellation and app support. It's a no-nonsense pair of true wireless earphones that promises to deliver on the important points, but is it good enough to overcome the headliner brands that have dominated the mid-range true wireless space of late? Find out in this review.
The Sony WF-C700N has very good passive noise isolation, thanks to a secure fit
Sony WF-C700N design and features
In a product segment where flourish and eye-catching aesthetics are the norm, Sony has chosen to stick to its tried and tested design language with the Sony WF-C700N. It's a compact and lightweight pair of true wireless earphones, and is unmistakably Sony in its styling, with prominent logos printed onto the top of the earpieces rather than on the outer-facing side. Unlike the much larger Sony WF-1000XM4 earphones, the WF-C700N is a lot more straightforward in the way it looks and fits.
This includes a flat inner surface which helps in achieving a secure and very efficient level of noise isolation, large microphone grilles on the outside, and physical buttons on each earpiece for controls — something that is fairly uncommon on true wireless earphones even in more affordable segments. It isn't something I'm complaining about because this type of control system is a lot more accurate, and a lot less susceptible to accidental triggers.
You can buy the Sony WF-C700N in any of four colours — white, black, green, and lavender. While renders of the green and lavender variants look interesting enough, I quite like the understated, discreet look of the black variant sent to me for review. I've always maintained that true wireless earphones aren't meant to be accessories or attract too much attention; fitting comfortably and working effectively are more important, and the black colour variant lines up with that concept.
The controls are customisable, but not completely; you can choose a control ‘set' for each earpiece, with fixed controls within the set itself. The control sets include Ambient Sound Control (switching between ANC and transparency modes), Playback Control (playback and invoking the default voice assistant on your smartphone), and Volume Control.
Obviously, this means that you can choose up to two of the three sets, or alternatively deactivate controls on one or both earpieces entirely. This type of system is easier to get used to, but the lack of flexibility can get a bit annoying since you'll have to use your smartphone to cover for the function set(s) you avoid. The controls themselves are hassle free thanks to the use of a physical button, although pressing too firmly might affect the security of the fit when worn.
The physical controls for the WF-C700N can be customised through the Sony Headphones Connect app
The Sony WF-C700N earphones are IPX4 rated for water resistance; this is only really enough to handle light splashes of water or sweat, and definitely not recommended for use during even light rain. The sales package includes a short charging cable and a total of three pairs of silicone ear tips of different sizes.
The charging case of the Sony WF-C700N is small and rather pocket-friendly because of its conveniently slim and pill-like shape. The back of the case has the USB Type-C port and pairing button, while the front has the indicator light. However, this compact shape means that the case offers only one additional charge to the earpieces.
Sony WF-C700N app and specifications
Part of the reason for the Sony WF-C700N being relatively compact and lightweight are the physically smaller 5mm drivers in the earphones. It's important to mention that driver size has nothing to do with sound quality, and the WF-C700N largely keeps up with similarly priced competition in terms of the sonic capabilities of the drivers.
The earphones have a frequency response range of 20-20,000Hz, and use Bluetooth 5.2 for connectivity with support for the SBC and AAC Bluetooth codecs. There's no support for advanced Bluetooth codecs, but this also makes the Sony WF-C700N platform agnostic, and is therefore just as well suited for iOS, as Android.
Standard Bluetooth connectivity means that the Sony WF-C700N is easy to set up and get going with just about any supported device, but the full experience relies on having the Sony Headphones Connect app (available for iOS and Android). The app works with various compatible Sony headsets, and sets up for the specific headset in use once you've completed the pairing process and connected the headset.
The Sony Headphones Connect app is available for both iOS and Android
The app has a visual display of the battery levels of each earpiece and the charging case, adaptive sound control for automated sound mode switching, customisable transparency mode levels, fully customisable equaliser settings, and the ability to select control sets. You can also set a timer to automatically power off the earphones when not in use, and update the firmware as needed.
The app isn't quite as detailed with the C700N as with more expensive headsets from Sony such as the WF-1000XM4, but it covers key functions and works reliably enough. However, it's not something you'll need to use too often after the initial setup since the feature set is fairly straightforward and operable from the headset itself, for most things.
Sony WF-C700N performance and battery life
While you can expect a bit more flourish and spec-boasting from brands such as Oppo, OnePlus, and Nothing in the mid-range true wireless segment, the Sony WF-C700N is a lot less ‘over-the-top', and a fair bit more straightforward and direct in its approach. What you get is a reliable, comfortable, and consistent listening experience that is largely in line with what you'd expect from Sony in terms of sound and active noise cancellation performance.
For my review, I had the Sony WF-C700N paired to an Apple iPhone 13 Pro (Review), using the earphones to listen to music, place and receive calls, and watch videos. The lack of support for advanced Bluetooth codecs was immediately evident in the sound; this headset isn't tailored around detail and precision, as is the case with the slightly more expensive Nothing Ear 2.
Instead, what you get is a focus on the sonic signature itself, achieved through a reasonably refined level of tuning for the Sony WF-C700N. The focus is on the richness of the sound, with elements across the frequency range sounding intense, almost as if different parts of the track are fighting each other for your attention. Listening to Lavender (Star One Remix) by Frenchfire with active noise cancellation on and the volume set at just over the 50 percent mark, I could hear practically nothing outside the earphones. The fast, aggressive beats of this progressive house track sounded even better with the volume turned up.
Although battery life on the earpieces is decent, the Sony WF-C700N's charging case offers just one additional charge, which is disappointing
The Sony WF-C700's flexibility in giving everything a chance to shine was impressive — the lows would rumble as needed, while the mid-range would pick up at just the right time. The highs felt a bit subdued in comparison, but not too much. The overall result was a warm, cozy sound that was working to keep me engaged and attentive, but without trying too hard.
The completely customisable equaliser settings in the Sony Headphones Connect app lets you tweak the sound to your liking, and are fairly responsive to changes as well. However, I quite liked the natural sound of the Sony WF-C700N earphones because of the lack of fatigue it delivered, which was a key differentiator of this headset over the more detailed sound on offer from much of the competition. I was able to use the earphones for hours at a stretch during the work day, and also zone into my evening workouts thanks to the impressive combination of noise isolation and active noise cancellation.
Active noise cancellation on the Sony WF-C700N isn't exceptional; in fact, it's fairly ordinary on its own. There was an audible reduction in ambient sound, but wind noise and soft household noise such as the hum of a ceiling fan could still be heard. However, combined with the excellent noise isolation and secure fit, even playing music at moderate volumes was enough to almost completely shut myself off from what was happening around me.
The transparency mode sounded a bit too intense and amplified sounds at the highest level, but this can fortunately be reduced through the app to a more comfortable level. In terms of volume capabilities, the Sony WF-C700N doesn't get quite as loud as you'd expect, but the warmth and immersive nature of the sound ensures that you're able to hear what you need to hear even with the volume at moderate levels. Performance on calls was decent as well, both indoors and outdoors.
Battery life on the Sony WF-C700N is decent for the earpieces, with the earphones running for around seven hours on a single charge, with ANC on and the volume at around the 50 percent mark. While this is decent, the overall battery life isn't particularly great considering that the charging case offers only one additional charge for the earpieces, for a total battery life of 14 hours per charge cycle. There is no wireless charging, but wired charging is fairly quick and efficient.
Sony may not be as charming or attention grabbing as competing brands in the true wireless earphones segment, but it definitely gets points for consistency and reliability. The Sony WF-C700N is a straightforward and easy-going pair of true wireless earphones that delivers exactly what you'd expect for the price of Rs. 8,990. The warm and comfortable sound, excellent fit, acceptable ANC performance, and convenient controls make this a worthwhile pair of earphones. There's also the notable advantage of being able to buy these earphones both online and offline, thanks to wide availability.
The battery life on the charging case and the lack of support for advanced Bluetooth codecs are the only notable drawbacks on this otherwise entirely cheerful pair of true wireless earphones. If you're looking for a bit more flourish and detail in the sound, you might want to consider the Nothing Ear 2 instead, but otherwise the Sony WF-C700 is a safe bet.
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