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Sony WF-C700N earbuds review: a good value with inevitable compromises

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Sony’s WF-C700N earbuds give you a large number for his or her cheap value of $119.99. That’s all the time been true of the corporate’s underrated entry-level wi-fi earbuds courting again to the corkscrew-like WF-XB700s in 2020, and Sony has progressively tacked on extra options with every revision. The WF-C500 buds switched to a extra standard design and added help for Sony’s companion smartphone app. And some weeks in the past got here the brand new WF-C700N earbuds, which deliver noise cancellation to Sony’s price range tier for the primary time. 

However over the past a number of months, I’ve come to actually get pleasure from Sony’s midrange LinkBuds S, which really feel impossibly gentle and virtually imperceptible in your ears. Can the C700N buds nonetheless stand out among the many firm’s personal lineup?

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The factor that’s all the time impressed me most about this sequence is consolation and stability; Sony has constantly nailed the in-ear match so effectively that I’ve by no means been involved about these buds coming unfastened or falling out. They seal securely and have naturally blocked out a number of ambient noise even earlier than there was correct ANC. There’s rather a lot to love, and the C700N buds appear poised to maintain constructing the corporate’s momentum at this value level — even when I do have one small quibble with a change Sony made.

And that nitpick is seen as quickly as you take away them from the field. See, each the XB700 and C500 earbuds had a semitransparent higher lid on their carrying case. This made it easy to see the charging standing of every particular person earbud in addition to the case itself for the reason that LEDs for all three had been seen. However now, Sony has switched to a completely opaque case — maybe a essential tradeoff to make use of extra recycled plastic within the building — and also you don’t get the advantage of seeing the earbud LEDs anymore. The truth is, Sony eliminated them utterly and left only a single indicator gentle on the entrance of the case. 

The C700N are Sony’s most reasonably priced earbuds with noise cancellation.

Placing apart this one gripe, the case doesn’t in any respect really feel low-cost; it has a clean hinge movement, closes with a pleasant snap, and the magnets maintaining the earbuds in place are sufficiently robust. There’s no wi-fi charging, however that’s a forgivable omission at this value. The pill-shaped case is longer than that of the LinkBuds S or 1000XM4s, however I nonetheless contemplate it simply pocketable. 

As for the earbuds themselves, the C700Ns have a design that’s just like their predecessors with some components borrowed from the LinkBuds S; the round, mesh-covered microphone cutouts are in the identical spot on each merchandise. And at simply 4.6 grams per earbud, these price range buds present an ethereal really feel just like the LinkBuds S; you’ll be able to simply put on them for a few hours with out struggling ear fatigue or discomfort. Additionally they grip effectively sufficient to make them appropriate for runs and health club exercises, and also you needn’t fear about getting them moist: they’re rated the established order IPX4 towards water and sweat.

Sony’s entry-level earbuds are very gentle and appropriate for prolonged listening.

The C700N and look just like the LinkBuds S, however these earbuds have bodily buttons.

Setup is a breeze; Sony conveniently contains Quick Pair help on Android and Swift Pair for Home windows to hurry up the method in as few faucets as doable. Multipoint connectivity isn’t accessible in the meanwhile, however the firm says a firmware replace this summer season will allow you to pair with two gadgets on the identical time. Sony made good on an identical promise with the 1000XM4s and LinkBuds, so I don’t have any cause to doubt it’ll occur, and it’s nice to see multipoint trickling right down to lower-cost earbuds and (lastly) changing into so ubiquitous. 

 The C700N buds don’t help Bluetooth codecs past the usual AAC and SBC, so that you’ll must step as much as the LinkBuds S if you happen to should have Sony’s LDAC for higher-bitrate playback. (Solely Android customers must weigh codec help for the reason that iPhone tops out with AAC.) However the Headphones Join app affords loads of EQ management; you’ll be able to choose from Sony’s presets or make your personal changes if the out-of-box sound profile isn’t what you had been hoping for. I didn’t really feel the necessity to change something, however there’s additionally a slider for layering on some further bass which may come in useful for sure music genres.

The C700Ns are available in black, purple, inexperienced, and white.

Sound high quality is a step behind the LinkBuds S, however if you happen to’re not evaluating the 2 in shut succession, I don’t suppose the C700N earbuds will disappoint. They ship full-bodied bass alongside pleasing mids and treble frequencies. The general sound stability is a noticeable improve from the C500 however doesn’t match the definition and dynamics of Sony’s higher-end earbuds. Greater frequencies often sound a little bit flat in comparison with the flicker these different pairs can obtain. 

It’s the noise cancellation and transparency modes the place Sony made some unmistakable compromises. The corporate isn’t making any massive claims about how successfully the C700N can shush close by distractions, and there’s good cause for that: it’s nowhere near the extent of the flagship 1000XM4 earbuds and fewer highly effective nonetheless than the LinkBuds S. Sony’s tech specs solely point out “noise sensor know-how” for these earbuds, whereas the 1000XM4s and LinkBuds S each share the identical devoted chip for noise cancellation functions. It makes a distinction.

The C700Ns can get rid of some low hum / rumbling frequencies, however aside from that, you received’t discover an enormous distinction between having noise canceling on and off. That’s partially as a result of the passive noise isolation is already fairly efficient. Likewise, the transparency mode is serviceable — removed from the worst I’ve heard and ample for brief conversations however not as pure as what you’ll get from the LinkBuds S or 1000XM4s. Voice name efficiency is ample however nothing particular. You received’t need to take necessary calls with the C700Ns.

You get lots of the identical software program tips as the remainder of Sony’s lineup — however no LDAC help.

Just like the C500s, these have bodily, clicky buttons on every earbud for controls. I all the time desire precise buttons over gestures, which may show finicky in sure climate circumstances and get much more irritating if you happen to’re sporting gloves through the winter. You’ll be able to remap the button capabilities to some diploma, however Sony doesn’t provide the identical flexibility as some producers. You should utilize one earbud to regulate quantity or assign monitor controls to the opposite, however you then lose out on a straightforward strategy to toggle noise cancellation.

The C700Ns final for as much as 7.5 hours on a cost, placing them sq. in between the LinkBuds S (six hours) and 1000XM4s (eight hours). However the case solely holds one full further cost, so you’ll be able to solely rely on round 15 hours of complete listening earlier than you’ll must plug in and recharge. One different approach Sony tried to avoid wasting money was by eradicating the ear detection sensors, so that you lose out on computerized play / pause. 

While you view the C700N earbuds by means of their full $120 retail value, these cost-saving measures add up, and I’d steer most individuals towards Sony’s center little one LinkBuds S. They sound higher, are extra succesful at canceling noise, have a barely extra compact case, and help the higher-fidelity LDAC codec. However I believe many retailers will drop the worth of Sony’s entry buds steadily, and if yow will discover them for $100 or much less, there’s nonetheless lots to love. The match stays unshakeable, and also you get to discover a ton of Sony’s software program options (like location-based sound settings, and many others.). Multipoint shall be a pleasant cherry on high when it arrives this summer season.

There’s no scarcity of competitors on this value bracket from the likes of Jabra, Skullcandy, JBL, and different earbud makers. However Sony followers are usually fairly loyal. If all you’re searching for is a comparatively cheap, easy pair of earbuds (and also you don’t want robust noise cancellation), the C700Ns clear that bar with none issues.

Images by Chris Welch / The Verge

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