Sony WF-C700N vs. Sony WF-C500: Which are the best entry-level earbuds?

In this scenario, we have Sony’s two entry-level wireless earbuds up against each other: the WF-C700N and WF-C500.

The WF-C500 are considered some of the best cheap wireless earbuds and set the standard for sound quality for under $100, offering Sony bass performance and proprietary technologies like Digital Sound Enhancement Engine (DSEE) Extreme and 360 Reality Audio. Meanwhile, the recently launched WF-C700N rank as one of the best noise-cancelling earbuds, and boast the same sonic perks as the C500 while adding active noise cancellation (ANC) and a few other upgrades into the mix.

Which are considered the better true wireless value? Keep reading our Sony WF-C700N vs. Sony WF-C500 face-off analysis to find out.

Sony WF-C700N next to Sony WF-C500 earbuds both in their charging cases on a grey surface

The Sony WF-C700N (left) and Sony WF-C500N (right) look subtly different in their charging case, but neither model supports wireless charging. (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Sony WF-C700N vs. Sony WF-C500: Specs compared

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Header Cell - Column 0 Sony WF-C700NSony WF-C500
Price$129 / £99 / AU$199$99 / £99 / AU$149
Wireless charging caseNoNo
ChipNot specifiedNot specified
Battery life (rated)7.5 hours (ANC on); 10 hours (ANC off); 15 hours (charging case with Spatial Audio); 24 hours (charging case with ANC on); 28 hours (charging case with ANC off)10 hours; 20 hours (charging case)
Water resistance (rated)IPX4IPX4
Case sizeNot stated1.2 x 1.1 x 0.9 inches (per bud); 3.15 x 1.38 x 1.22 inch (charging case)
Case weight0.16 ounces (per bud); 1.09 ounces (charging case)0.2 ounces (per bud); 1.23 ounces (charging case)
Special features360 Reality Audio, adaptive ANC, adjustable EQ, Ambinet Sound mode, Digital Sound Enhancement Engine (DSEE) Extreme, Google Fast Pair, reverse charging, Tidal optimization, voice assistantoice assistant360 Reality Audio, adjustable EQ, Digital Sound Enhancement Engine (DSEE) Extreme, Google Fast Pair, reverse charging, Tidal optimization, voice assistant

Sony WF-C700N vs. Sony WF-C500: Price and availability

The WF-C500 are priced at $99 / £99 / AU$149, although they can often be found discounted; we’ve seen them go as low as $68 at Amazon. The WF-C700N are more costly at $119 / £99 / AU$199, and so far we've not found them on sale for less.

Both wireless earbuds are excellent options given their similar spec sheets, but the WF-C700N offer noise cancellation for the extra $20 and are the more enticing purchase.

You can purchase either model directly from the Sony website or at major online retailers like Amazon, Best Buy, B&H, and Walmart. 

The Sony WF-C700N are available in black, white, and violet color options, while the WF-C500 come in black only.  

Winner: Sony WF-C700N

Sony WF-C700N vs. Sony WF-C500: Design and fit

The Sony WF-C500 wireless earbuds sitting in their charging case

The WF-C500 has a speckled look, plain plastic coating, and a charging case with translucent cover. (Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

Design-wise, very little distinguishes these two sets of buds. You’ll notice the WF-C700N by the speaker grille on the front of each bud, smoother plastic surface, and pill-shaped charging case with carbon-fiber-inspired exterior. The WF-C500 has a speckled look, plain plastic coating, and a charging case with translucent cover. Solid build quality and IPX4 water resistance apply to both models. Although the differences are subtle, I found the WF-C700N to be the more attractive design overall.

Sony WF-C700N earbuds in lavender

(Image credit: Sony)

As for comfort and fit, the WF-C700N feel more snug and stable in the ear, thanks to their sweat-absorbent tips and tiny oval design that rests gently on the ears. The WF-C500 are a decent wear, but they tend to slip out. In addition, their physical buttons cause discomfort to the ear when pressed.

Winner: Sony WF-C700N

Sony WF-C700N vs. Sony WF-C500: Controls

The Sony WF-C500 wireless earbuds on display over a green-dotted backdrop

The WF-C500's control scheme use the left bud for volume and the right bud for everything else. (Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

Sony’s control scheme is easy to use and enables all major functions: playback, call management, voice assistance, volume, and listening mode activation. These can be activated through single-press, multi-press, and long-hold gestures. Unfortunately, Sony confined the WF-C500’s controls, reserving the left bud for volume only and the right bud for everything else. The buttons are tough to press as well.

Sony WF-C700N earbuds held in finger tips to show size

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The WF-C700N’s buttons give better tactile feedback. Digital assistance is also stronger with Sony’s new mic array demonstrating superior speech recognition. We just wish that Sony had added auto-pause/play and voice-activated features like Speak-to-chat on these models.

Winner: Sony WF-C700N

Sony WF-C700N vs. Sony WF-C500: Sound quality

Our reviewer testing the Sony WF-C500's comfort and fit

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

You can’t talk about the best Sony headphones and earbuds without discussing sound. Our audio editor called the WF-C500 the “best sub-$100 wireless earbuds I've heard,” describing their sound profile as “punchy” and producing “powerful lows and crisp highs, along with slightly under-emphasized mids that give them a sense of warmth.” The Sony Headphones Connect app allows for sound personalization via customizable EQ and multiple presets. Even well-regarded features like DSEE can be toggled to enhance the quality on compressed audio files. 360 Reality Audio is another plus, especially since the feature can be optimized for use with hi-res streaming platforms like Tidal.

As expected, the WF-C700N comes with a refined sound profile that handles complex bass-filled tracks with ease, but also treats mids and highs with the same respect as other premium Sony earbuds like the LinkBuds S and WF-1000XM4. Instruments and vocals are more pronounced, while the reverberation on orchestral recordings is impactful. These buds are compatible with the Headphones Connect app and provide the same sound customization. 360 Reality Audio and DSEE also perform better on these buds, making spatial-audio-engineered tracks more intimate and increasing clarity on lo-fi recordings, respectively.

The WF-C700N and WF-C500 support AAC and SBC, but not Sony’s audiophile-grade LDAC codec.

Winner: Sony WF-C700N

Sony WF-C700N vs. Sony WF-C500: Special features and app

Sony Headphone Connect app showing ambient control for WF-C700N ANC earbuds

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

We’ve already discussed the major features shared between these two models, which are all available in the companion app: 360 Reality Audio, DSEE, EQ, and Tidal optimization. What else is there? A music player and battery level indicators for each bud. Outside of the app there is just Bluetooth 5.2, which operates well on the WF-C700N and WF-C500 for lengthy, stable range, as well as one-tap Google Fast Pair.

However, Sony gave the WF-C700N adaptive ANC and transparent listening modes. These two features work exceptionally well. We tested ANC in multiple environments (e.g., apartment balconies, city parks, grocery stores) and found the noise neutralization very effective. Low- and mid-frequency sounds went unheard. Most blaring noises grabbed our attention, but never pulled us away from what was playing on our smartphone. Ambient Sound is the real star here, granting up to 20 levels of adjustable ambient listening to increase your awareness of surroundings. The feature is so strong that it can pick up conversations from across the street and sirens from about 4 blocks away.

Winner: Sony WF-C700N

Sony WF-C700N vs. Sony WF-C500: Call quality

Sony WF-C700N

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The WF-C700N is one of Sony’s better calling headsets. Many of the voice and video calls we took were met with positive feedback. Some callers were even certain that we were using our smartphones instead of earbuds. Wind resistance impressed us the most as it prevented harsh sounds from ruining chats.

The WF-C500 is an acceptable calling headset when you’re in a pinch, but that’s about it. There’s too much muffling and stuttering present during calls.

Winner: Sony WF-C700N

Sony WF-C700N vs. Sony WF-C500: Battery life

Sony WF-C700N with Sony WF-C500 in their charging case and placed on a carpet

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Battery life isn’t all that different between these models, per charge that is. Each set of buds gets you up to 10 hours of listening time, though the WF-C700N drops to 7.5 hours when using ANC. These are accurate and highly sufficient playtimes compared to many of the best wireless earbuds.

The charging cases are a different story. While the WF-C700N’s case holds between 24 to 28 hours, the WF-C500’s case leaves you with a max of 20 hours, which is less than any AirPods model. Quick charging is equally fast: 10 minutes = 1 hour of playtime. Neither charging case supports wireless charging.

Winner: Sony WF-C700N

Sony WF-C700N vs. Sony WF-C500: Verdict

Sony WF-C700N in charging case

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)
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Header Cell - Column 0 Sony WF-C700NSony WF-C500
Price and value (5)54
Design (15)1312
Controls (15)1210
Sound quality (25)2220
Special features and apps (20)1614
Call quality (10)87
Battery life (10)98
Total score (100)8575

We give the victory to Sony’s latest creation. The WF-C700N are tremendous entry-level buds that can be acquired for a reasonable price. They sound better than most luxury wireless buds, highlighted by dynamic, well-balanced audio, and Sony’s suite of sound-enhancing technologies. Improvements in design and call quality are appreciated. Lastly, noise cancellation performs at an elite level.

Sony WF-C500

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The WF-C500 are still a great buy for budget-conscious consumers that want Sony sound for a cheaper price. If you can buy it on sale, even better. The bass-emphasized profile is handled well and doesn’t ruin the soundstage. It’s so convenient to have access to the Connect Headphones app and most of its features. And what’s not to love about the see-through charging case that draws comparisons to the old-school JVC Gumy wired earbuds packaging.

You can’t go wrong with either purchase, but the smart investment is the newer and more future-proof WF-C700N.

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Alex Bracetti

A lifestyle journalist with an affinity for consumer products, Alex has over a decade of experience and has worked with popular publications such as Complex, Thrillist, Men’s Health, Gear Patrol, AskMen, and Hoop Magazine. He currently focuses on audio, reviewing the most coveted headphones in the market for both Tom’s Guide and Laptop Magazine.