Sony’s new WF-C500 true wireless earbuds have an attractive cost of $99.99 and have a sleeker, more traditional style compared to the WF-XB700 buds that they’re replacing. Apart from the reined-in appears, they improve upon that model with the addition of support for Sony’s Earphones Connect app, which allows you to customize the EQ to your liking. The WF-XB700s had the company’s “Extra Bass” branding, but Sony did away with that period for a sound that’s a lot more balanced from the box. Battery lifestyle has also improved somewhat to an impressive 10 hours of constant playback, and the C500s offer easy-to-use settings with large buttons on each earbud.
But going to that penny-shy-of-$100 cost, Sony overlooked some main features like sound cancellation, a transparency mode, wifi charging, and even smaller conveniences like automated pausing when you grab one or both earbuds. You could find these useful tricks in likewise priced buds, which can leave the C500s feeling like Sony omitted a touch too much.
Our overview of Sony WF-C500
Good, stable fit
Impressive sound for this price level
10 hours of continuous playback
Case only holds one additional recharge
No ANC or wi-fi charging
No auto-pause when removing an earbud
Having said that, they still sound extremely good for the price; Sony seldom skimps on audio quality. Even though I was worried that switching to a smaller sized, more discreet physical style would sacrifice the anchored-in-my-ears feeling that the XB700s provided me, thankfully that’s an area where these earbuds continue being a standout. The issue you’ll need to consider is whether those pluses are enough to create up for what’s lacking. Where Sony’s 1000XM4 earbuds are a lavish extravagance, this set is approximately as basic because they come.
Before I reach the earbuds themselves, a few words on the charging case: Sony has downsized it considerably into a more pocketable pill shape. Underneath is still flat, therefore the case sits properly on a table or table even when the lid is normally open. I also enjoy that Sony carried over the semi-translucent lid from the XB700s, which makes it easy to start to see the three amber LEDs inside – one for every bud and the case – and become certain that everything is charging properly.
The WF-C500 earbuds next to Sony’s flagship WF-1000XM4.
Opening it with a single hand could be challenging because the lid uses level of resistance rather than magnets to remain closed, but it’s not impossible if you push up from the slim indent working along the lip. The case still uses textured matte plastic material all around, and while some treat this as cheap, I love that it eliminates any prospect of scrapes or scuffs. There’s a USB-C port around back, and the case provides enough juice for just one full recharge of the C500s, getting them from 10 hours of playback to a complete of 20. Many earbud charging cases have got at least two additional charges’ worth of electric battery in them, therefore Sony’s behind the curve there. You can also count out wireless charging, which Sony appears to reserve because of its upper-end earbuds.
The XB700s had an extremely distinct style that, even at that time, was on the bigger side for true wireless earbuds. In addition they noticeably protruded from my ears. The reason behind the unconventional form was that it allowed them to twist deeply in to the ear canal for an extremely stable fit and optimal bass response. I liked the fit, but not everyone found them equally as comfy. With the C500s, Sony is producing the latter important.
The WF-C500 buds (right) are significantly smaller compared to the WF-XB700 (still left) that preceded them.
They’re still matte all over but are now smaller sized – smaller compared to the flagship noise-canceling WF-1000XM4 earbuds – and don’t demand as very much space in your ears when inserted. The overall look is close enough to Sony’s premium versions to create them both seem portion of the same family, though you eliminate the flashy copper accents.
Instead of a touch-sensitive outer surface for controls, the C500s have a big, physical button about each bud. That is a huge usability improvement over the small nub that was located in the bottom of every XB700 earbud. The controls stay unchanged (and can’t be customized). The left earbud controls volume: a tap increases it and keeping down will steadily lower it. Track handles are on the proper earbud: tap once for pause / enjoy, press twice to skip tracks, and 3 x to return. Holding the proper bud will summon your phone’s voice assistant. Once you get the features down, they’re simple to keep in mind, and the buttons are clicky more than enough that you don’t need to forcefully press them (and jam the buds uncomfortably deep into your ears) just to activate the handles. Regrettably, Sony omitted the common auto-pause feature when you remove one or both earbuds.
The case lid enables you to easily see when the earbuds are charging.
Three sizes of silicone tips are contained in the package. The large size worked about along with I could ask for, providing an excellent, reassuring seal and decent noise isolation. Despite the fact that they don’t screw into my ears just as as the XB700s, the C500s never budged or arrived loose whether I was eating, talking, or running with them in.
As is typical for Sony buds, the sound doesn’t disappoint. As the C500s absence the expansive, wealthy soundstage (and powerful noise cancellation) of the company’s flagship 1000XM4s, they come with an excellent, fairly balanced tuning out from the box. The 5.8mm motorists have nicely managed bass – brought down a rung or two from the excess Bass XB700s – detailed highs, and well-defined mids that bring vocals through on Taylor Swift’s Red rerecording with clearness and presence. Unlike Sony’s prior entry-level earbuds, you can customize the EQ on these if you do desire to crank up the low frequencies or supply the treble a bit more room to breathe.
The C500s absence the noise cancellation, LDAC support, and richer audio experience of the much pricier 1000XM4s.
To my ears, the C500s sound better and fuller than Jabra’s somewhat cheaper Elite 3 earbuds, however the Jabras outdo Sony at noise isolation and possess a transparency mode for hearing your environment (or your own voice when on telephone calls). Other likewise priced competition just like the Nothing Hearing 1s have a far more lively V-designed EQ from the box, but I love how flexible the Sonys are with customizing your favored sound. You won’t get the ANC that is included with the Nothings or slightly pricier buds like Anker’s Liberty Air 2 Advantages, nor is usually Sony’s higher-quality LDAC codec backed on the C500s. But the firm does at least toss in a little assisting of extras like 360 Reality Sound support and the independence to use either earbud alone.
CONSENT TO CONTINUE: SONY WF-C500
Every smart device today requires you to consent to a series of conditions and circumstances before you can utilize it – contracts that no one actually reads. It’s impossible for all of us to learn and analyze every one of these agreements. But we began counting specifically how many instances you need to hit “acknowledge” to use devices whenever we review them since they are agreements most people don’t read and certainly can’t negotiate.
You may use Sony’s WF-C500 earbuds via Bluetooth without clicking through any agreements. But if you would like to utilize the Headphones Connect app on Android or iOS, which is essential for EQ customization and adjusting configurations, you’re agreeing to:
Sony’s person license agreement
You can also opt into letting Sony gather data from your usage of the Headphones Connect app, which the company says is for the purpose of improving its products.
Together, you get three optional agreements.
But voice call quality isn’t a strength for Sony’s entry-level buds, and the knowledge can be rough in noisy environments. If you’re communicating with someone from a quiet area, they’ll do the job. But my co-workers on The Verge testimonials team cringed and laughed – struggling to make out a term I said – when I attempted using them on our every week Zoom meeting within my crowded local coffee shop. AirPods or Galaxy Buds 2, they are not really. I don’t anticipate groundbreaking clearness for $100, but Sony should be aiming higher here.
Despite having poor call quality, simply because a complete bundle, the WF-C500s cover the various other fundamentals with no glaring tradeoffs or flaws. You can find earbuds that pack in more features for the money, but these Sony’s are reliable, easy to make use of, last for long listening sessions, and also have a audio that punches beyond their cost. They’re also smaller sized and stylish than the oddball WF-XB700s that preceded them while preserving an excellent in-ear fit. If all you care about gets a basic group of earbuds that function regularly and sound good along the way, you can save a heaping of money and move with Sony’s basic buds. Occasionally less is more – if you don’t want sound cancellation or various other features that demand an increased price. It’s reasonable to involve some pause and think about what you’re giving up, but when you can snag the C500s on sale (at press period they’re only $68), they’re far from the worst impulse buy you’ll ever make.