Sony WF-C500 earbuds

MSRP $100.00

“Sony’s basic buds are its most comfortable so far, and they have that Sony sound.”

Pros

  • Great Sony sound
  • Very snug match
  • Excellent controls
  • Amazing earbud battery life

Cons

  • Mediocre whole battery life
  • No transparency mode
  • No side-tone for calls

Sony is not any stranger to true wi-fi earbuds. It sells a number of the greatest we’ve ever examined, just like the $280 WF-1000XM4, the $200 WF-1000XM3, and the $200 WF-SP800N.

But Sony has been hesitant to enter the extra budget-friendly finish of the market. That is till it launched the $100 WF-C500, its smallest and most reasonably priced true wi-fi earbuds to date. But to get the value down, Sony needed to carve away a number of the options that made its different fashions so compelling. Did it go too far? Let’s have a look.

That Sony sound

Sony WF-C500 true wireless earbuds.Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

I’ve examined a number of Sony headphones and earbuds, and one factor I’ve discovered to be constant is Sony’s sound signature. It tends to be heat, such as you’re getting a bear hug out of your favourite tunes. Bass is at all times stable however not often overbearing, and there’s often a lovely quantity of element and separation within the mid, upper-mid, and excessive frequencies. The excellent news for Sony followers is that the C500 don’t stray from this sonic system — they sound wealthy and full, and the Sony Headphones app offers you an identical alternative to tweak the EQ that you just’ll discover within the firm’s flagship earbuds, the 1000XM4.

You can sit the C500 as deeply as you’ll want to, and as soon as positioned, they don’t budge in any respect.

Now, I’m not saying the C500 sound nearly as good because the XM4 — in the event that they did, that may be nothing wanting miraculous given the value — however they very a lot maintain their very own in opposition to each different set of earbuds I’ve examined on the identical or comparable costs, just like the Jabra Elite 3, Soundcore Life P3, Sennheiser CX True Wireless, and Wyze Buds Pro. If you’re a fan of ultra-clear excessive frequencies, the C500 might sound a bit subdued, however once more, the app’s EQ changes might help loads with getting the precise sound you’re in search of.

There’s superb stereo separation. And the C500’s soundstage, whereas not as broad or deep as its dearer siblings, continues to be expansive sufficient to really feel like your music is round you, not buried in your cranium. I discovered that the form of the buds supplies wonderful noise isolation, so whereas there’s no energetic noise cancellation (ANC), you could not really feel its absence too keenly.

The C500 are geared up with Sony’s quality-enhancing DSEE know-how, which supplies one more enhance to sound high quality, particularly when listening to extremely compressed digital music.

Great match

Sony WF-C500 true wireless earbuds side by side with Sony WF-1000XM4.Sony WF-C500 (left) and Sony WF-1000XM4 Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

As a lot as I like the way in which Sony’s earbuds sound and (the place relevant) cancel noise, they’re not at all times essentially the most snug buds to put on. The WF-1000XM3 and SP800N stick out of your ears a bit awkwardly, and the WF-1000XM4 take up an enormous quantity of house in your concha, which is able to problem these with smaller ears. The C500, in contrast, are way more snug. They nonetheless fill your complete outer ear just like the XM4, however they’re simply that further bit smaller.

These are good controls — their floor space is nearly the identical measurement because the earbuds, making them inconceivable to overlook.

It doesn’t seem like an enormous distinction once you sit them aspect by aspect, however in your ear, it’s a special story. You can sit them as deeply as you’ll want to, and as soon as positioned, they don’t budge in any respect. Combine this with their IPX4 water and sweat resistance and you’ve got a pleasant little set of companions that can make runners and different health lovers fairly joyful, however with one huge caveat: There’s no transparency mode, so that you’ll need to be further vigilant should you put on them whereas near potential security hazards like site visitors.

Big buttons

Sony WF-C500 true wireless earbuds.Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Another first for the WF-C500 is their use of outsized, bodily buttons. In the previous, Sony has favored contact controls on its earbuds, which work effectively, however I’ll take bodily buttons over contact controls any day. And these are good controls — their floor space is nearly the identical measurement because the earbuds themselves, making them inconceivable to overlook. They take virtually no power to press (generally a very good factor, generally not) and ship a pleasant tactile click on when your press them. They’re not fairly as satisfying to make use of as Jabra’s buttons, however they arrive very shut.

The WF-C500 are lacking some useful options like transparency mode and auto-pause.

There’s no method to modify what the buttons management, however you get just about the whole lot you want: Play/pause, monitor skip ahead/again, name reply/finish, quantity up/down, and voice assistant set off. You may also use the earbuds independently for music and calls, however relying on which one you decide, you’ll lose entry to both quantity or monitor skipping capabilities.

Best (and worst?) battery

Sony generally makes choices that go away us scratching our heads, just like the tiny USB charging cables it consists of with its full-size headphones or uneven assist for Bluetooth codecs. With the C500, I’m struggling to know why the corporate determined to grace the earbuds with an outstanding 10-hour battery life (simply one of many largest capacities at this worth) however then opted to present the identical period of time to the charging case.

Normally, you may anticipate a charging case to ship between two and three full recharges. If that had been the case with the C500, Sony might have created an superior 30- to 40-hour whole playtime expertise. But with simply 20 whole hours, these earbuds really find yourself on the decrease finish of the true wi-fi spectrum, which is a disgrace. A quick-charge choice will get you an additional hour of playtime with simply 10 minutes of charging time.

Case closed

Sony WF-C500 true wireless earbuds.Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

I gained’t say an excessive amount of concerning the WF-C500’s charging case. It doesn’t supply wi-fi charging, however its compact, rounded form feels nice in your hand or pocket. The earbuds snap out and in of their sockets effortlessly, and the case lid opens and closes with a pleasant, exact motion. The LED indicator lights on the case and the buds are seen via the translucent plastic of the lid.

Take the decision (indoors)

Call high quality on the C500 may be superb, however you’ll want to choose your moments. They don’t do very effectively with exterior noise cancellation, and your voice will get drowned out by loud appears like site visitors or wind. But get right into a quiet location and it’s a wholly completely different expertise — your voice will come via with loads of readability and element. Unfortunately, even in quiet places, you’ll discover the sound of your personal voice is muffled because the C500 don’t have a side-tone choice for calls.

Didn’t make the reduce

So what did Sony omit feature-wise with a purpose to supply the WF-C500 for $100? Quite a bit:

  • Wireless charging
  • Active noise cancellation
  • Transparency mode
  • In-ear sensors for auto-play/pause
  • Ear-tip match check
  • Customizable controls
  • Side-tone for calls

Our take

Man wearing Sony WF-C500 true wireless earbuds.Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

The WF-C500 are a really snug set of true wi-fi earbuds with nice sound high quality. They’re lacking some useful options like transparency mode and auto-pause, and their whole battery life is a bit anemic, however they’re nonetheless a very good purchase for Sony followers in search of a budget-friendly set of buds.

Is there a greater various?

Yes, I believe that Jabra’s $80 Elite 3 handle to offer extra advantages and a lower cost than the WF-C500, which implies you must undoubtedly contemplate them earlier than shopping for the Sonys.

The Elite 3 have transparency mode, which is a big comfort for people who put on their earbuds for hours at a time and even only for a jog across the neighborhood.

They’re supremely snug, have higher mud and water safety (IP55), and although they gained’t final as lengthy on a single cost (7 hours versus 10 hours), they do higher for whole time (28 hours versus 20 hours). The Jabra Sound+ app may even maintain monitor of the Elite 3’s final identified location.

Sound high quality could be very comparable, however right here I’ll give a slight edge to the C500, if for no different purpose than Sony permits you to customise the C500’s EQ in additional methods, and its DSEE tech can undoubtedly enhance the sound of some digital music.

How lengthy will they final?

It’s at all times exhausting to inform after solely spending a brief period of time with a product like this, however the WF-C500 appear to be very effectively constructed and can in all probability show fairly hardy. But their largest benefit when it comes to longevity is their battery capability. As a product ages and you set it via a number of cost/discharge cycles, capability will drop. If you solely begin with 4 to 5 hours, you can be taking a look at as little as two hours after a couple of years. Even if the C500 drop by 50% of their capability (a worst-case situation), they’ll nonetheless be capable of last more than a model new set of Apple AirPods Pro.

Should you purchase them?

Yes. You can discover different earbuds that value much less and have extra options, however what the WF-C500 do, they do very effectively.

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