STEREO GUIDE test verdict
+ adult, balanced sound
+ very good spatiality
+ Top app with many functions
+ very good noise cancelling
- could play a bit more dynamic, finer
- no aptX support
Sound: tonal balance / transparency8.2
Sound: Bass / Dynamics8
Ease-of-use / Connectivity9.3
Price / Performance9.8
Sony’s lineup of True Wireless in-ears with Bluetooth connectivity continues to grow. For example, the Sony WF-C700N was recently added. However, we noticed something like a two-class society in our tests so far. While the higher-end models like the WF-1000XM4 can justify higher prices with more and more features and better sound, the very affordable WF-C500 seemed to us to have a lot of compromises. Especially the lack of noise-canceling and the less audiophile sound might have driven many music lovers to other models.
The Sony WF-C700N is supposed to square the circle: It is still very cheap with a list price of just under 100 Euros, but it offers digital active noise cancelling (ANC) with wind reduction. The standard colors are black and white.
Intelligent brother of the WF-C500
The design and operation are also based on the standard model without noise-canceling. However, there is one innovation: real buttons with a pressure point instead of a touch surface. The charging case, which does not look very high-quality, has roughly the shape of a lipstick. A direct comparison shows that the capsules of the WF-C700N are slightly thicker than the model without ANC, but they are even lighter. This makes it one of the smallest and most ergonomic fully equipped TWS on the market.
This raises an important question: How can the battery life keep up? Surprisingly good considering the dimensions, the manufacturer specifies 7.5 hours without recharging, even 10 hours with NC deactivated. The charging case adds another full charge so that the user remains independent of power outlets for up to 15 or 20 hours.
The splash water protection according to IPX4 is sufficient for most applications, even if the WF-C700N is not necessarily recommended for careless use during sports or at the beach.
Technology and more
With Bluetooth 5.2, the connection technology for pairing with the smart device is state-of-the-art. The manufacturer also points in particular to a new type of dual receiver technology that prioritizes the connection to the left or right earbud depending on the radio situation and is thus supposed to offer more stability overall. We can at least confirm that the Bluetooth connection was surprisingly stable in the test. SBC and AAC are offered as codecs, but a higher quality with aptX devices is denied to the small Sonys, as well as the in-house, but not very widespread LDAC.
Some really useful features can be found in the overview: The Mini Sonys support pairing with two Bluetooth devices at the same time, for example. The noise cancelling can be adjusted in 20 levels of effectiveness and the Sonys also remember the desired ANC intensity via location detection. Of course, this is only possible in the app.
A 5 mm diaphragm is used as the actual driver. That is surprisingly small, especially for a model with noise cancelling, where the diaphragm also has to produce suppression components.
You can answer phone calls with the button on the top of the right WF-C700N with a simple tap and have conversations with good speech intelligibility thanks to the decent omnidirectional microphone characteristic. Pressing and holding the button calls up the voice assistant of the smartphone.
A cornucopia of possibilities: The app
The Sony Headphones Connect App is needed for a setup anyway. We were surprised how smoothly this worked with both iOS and Android devices in the field test. Other manufacturers can take a leaf out of the book here.
The app itself is initially confusing with a somewhat excessive range of functions and settings. However, most of the features turn out to be absolutely useful over time. The 5-band equalizer is not a graphic EQ, but has 5 targeted rather narrowband intervention options for specific frequency bands that provide more or less fundamental warmth, sibilance emphasis or treble shine. The bass control goes extra. In practice, however, the very good EQ will only be used in fine doses due to the balance of the listener.
Many features sound useful, but in practice require some app permissions and setup procedures. The adaptive location detection, for example, is supposed to adapt the noise-cancelling to the environment. Because of the strong passive insulation, we hardly used it. The 360-degree sound function also sounds like a luxury feature, but it plays a very subordinate role in practice due to the low number of available music tracks. The alleged sound improvement in significantly data-reduced material, called Digital Sound Enhancement Engine (DSEE) by Sony, we rather deactivated right away.
Ergonomics and wearing comfort
When inserting the WF-C700N, we had the choice between three different silicone seals. Even the middle one was already decent sized. Therefore, wearers with very narrow ear canals should definitely try on the in-ear headphones beforehand.
This is also necessary because you have to bring the Sony WF-C700N (as well as the smaller models without ANC) very far into the ear canal with a screw movement. Only when this succeeds, convincing bass and noise-canceling is achieved. The extra deep fit made for a much tighter and more isolated feel than other TWSs, and some listeners also thought they felt a slight pressure in their ears. Nevertheless, the Sonys were never uncomfortable and nestled very snugly against the ears.
The already passively enormously isolating feel made the difference to active noise cancelling seem quite inconspicuous at first. But in everyday use, it turned out that the noise suppression was on the more intensive side and did its job really well with low-frequency noise. It didn’t seem to be as effective in the mids. However, this can prove to be more of an advantage in road traffic because you are not completely isolated.
The transparency mode was hardly usable in practice: It sounded so tinny, catching the unpleasant frequencies of the ambient noise rather than the useful ones for speech intelligibility, that we hardly used it in the end.
This is how the smallest Sony with Active Noise-Cancelling sounds
After the somewhat disappointing performance of the smaller model without NC in the listening test, Sony’s developers seem to have made significant improvements: The WF-C700N convinced us right from the start with an unspectacular, balanced and deep-bass performance. Especially the spatiality, which is quite wide and pleasant for an inear, was convincing, as were the sound colors that are suitable for long-term use. Thus, we can imagine the Sony WF-C700N as an ideal companion for train or plane, if you want to live with the significantly more isolated feeling in the ear than on long journeys.
The Bluetooth in-ear headphones also did a good job from the point of view of more demanding music lovers: The trebles were certainly not as transparent as in more expensive models, but they were hiss-free, balanced and of good resolution. The fact that the Sony delivered a stately, well-integrated bass foundation and never became annoying will especially please listeners with playlists “across the genres”. Despite all the depth, the bass remained somewhat on the background side. In other words, he did not deliver the last hardness in electronic music. Together with the good, but still rather relaxed listening oriented dynamics, the sound character thus rather suited listeners of calmer music than beat freaks.
Conclusion and alternatives to the Sony WF-C700N
The Sony WF-C700N proved to be a well-balanced overall package of a very compact, ergonomic and sound-strong as well as well-equipped TWS with ANC in this price range currently the best offer. On the other hand, those who want more battery life, gaming fun and dynamics should reach for the somewhat more bulky Bluetooth in-ears JBL Tune 230NC TWS .
Higher sound quality is only available in a price range above that with the almost audiophile Teufel Real Blue TWS 2 or the similar sounding Panasonic RZ-S500W. But in both cases, one has to conclude: The Sonys are even superior to the more expensive rivals in terms of features and ergonomics.
Technical specifications Sony WF-C700N
- Manufacturer’s suggested retail price: 99 euros
- Type: In-Ear
- Transducer principle: Dynamic
- Weight: 4.6 g each, Case 31 g
- Features: Active noise-canceling, IPX4 water-resistant, app control, headset mic.
- More at: www.sony.com
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