Tom's Guide Verdict
Despite lacking some popular features, Sony’s latest entry-level buds undercut the competition with terrific sound and noise cancelation.
Vibrant, detailed sound
Superb noise cancelation and call quality
Comes with most signature Sony features
Very attractive design
Optimal comfort and fit
No aptX or LDAC support
Missing some nice-to-have features
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Price: $119 / £99 / AU$199
Colors: Black, violet, white
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)
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.2 (codec support: SBC, AAC)
Water resistance: Yes (IPX4)
Size: Not specified
Weight: 0.16 ounces (per bud); 1.09 ounces (charging case)
A budget alternative to Sony's flagship WF-1000XM5 — #1 in the best wireless earbuds — the Sony WF-C700N reviewed here carries over many performance hallmarks that made the entry-level WF-C500 a critical darling, while adding active noise cancelation (ANC) to the mix.
Sound quality is powerful with Sony’s bass-heavy sound signature at the forefront, alongside proprietary technologies like 360 Reality Audio and DSEE Extreme. Upgrades to battery life and the design also make these buds a sweet pickup for brand enthusiasts. However, a higher price tag and the exclusion of some popular features may persuade you to consider some of the other best cheap wireless earbuds out there.
- Discover how Sony's two entry-level models compare in our Sony WF-C700N vs. WF-C500 face-off.
Nonetheless, read on to see why Sony’s newest entry-level buds are well worth a listen.
Sony WF-C700N review: Sound quality
Sound performance alone made the WF-C500 the best earbuds under $100. Sony’s punchy low end handled complex bass-filled tracks with ease. Furthermore, access to the Headphones Connect app provided plenty of sound customization via EQ and DSEE to boost fidelity on lo-fi recordings. Not only are these accounted for on the WF-C700N, but Sony also refined the soundstage to make highs more prominent.
The high-pitched keys and punctuated strings on Annie Lennox’s “Walking on Broken Glass” were emotive, intensifying the track’s sorrowful aura. Up-tempo records like Tame Impala’s “Is It True” knocked with veracity with the funky bassline and synths stimulating head nods. Listening with ANC on raised bass levels, but you can still hear impactful lows when enabling Ambient Sound or Normal mode.
Jazz classics like George Benson’s “Body Talk” sounded fantastic on all streaming platforms, though nothing beats the Tidal listening experience. The master version of “Body Talk” delivered a crisp, lively presentation that was highlighted by energetic horns and slick bass guitar play with excellent reverb. One of many cool hidden Tidal features is 360 Reality Audio optimization to enjoy Sony’s spatial audio format on the platform. I listened to the 360 Reality version of the same song and found the performance more intimate, though the high end was subdued. The feature works better on the WF-1000XM4, but at least it’s available for use on these buds.
The WF-C700N don’t support aptX or Sony’s audiophile-grade LDAC codec to stream hi-res content at a faster bit rate. AAC and SBC are your only two options, but fortunately, both perform well on iOS/macOS and Android devices, respectively. Turning on DSEE increased the clarity on poorly converted MP3s in my Apple Music catalog.
Sony WF-C700N review: Adaptive noise cancelation in a sleeker design
Sony’s adaptive ANC technology learns your behavior and tweaks noise neutralization to your environment. It worked well on the higher-priced LinkBuds S, and it’s even more impressive on the WF-C700N. Low- and mid-frequency sounds went unnoticed around the house and out on my balcony. Blaring noises like car horns, sirens, and my son’s cries grabbed my attention. Luckily, these disruptions never compromised audio or call quality; the mics silenced most background interference for clear-sounding phone conversations.
As great as noise cancelation performs, Ambient Sound is the WF-C700N’s true unsung feature. Having up to 20 levels of ambient listening is significant for everyone, from casual walkers to parents to workout fanatics. These aren’t workout buds, but the tiny oval design with sweat-absorbent tips and IPX4 water resistance gives them sporty capabilities. Therefore, if you’re thinking of using them for running, feel confident knowing they’ll fend off moisture and pick up incidental sounds clearly, thanks to the newly installed mic grilles on the front that also filter out unwanted noise at a high level when switched to ANC.
The best use of Ambient Sound was during office hours. I work from home, so having an awareness of my child’s location or when he woke up from naps was clutch. Settings like Voice Passthrough also made communicating so much easier, filtering in voices to hear chats more clearly. It was easy to converse with the missus from across the room.
Sony WF-C700N review: Strong feature set but some basics are MIA
The WF-C700N come with a stacked feature set, which includes ANC, Ambient Sound, spatial audio, and several sound personalization modes. They’re also missing noteworthy functions found on many other sub-$100 models. Bluetooth multipoint to pair the buds to two devices simultaneously, motion detection for auto-pause/play, and wireless charging are three that come to mind. In addition, it would have been nice of Sony to add signature features like Speak-to-Chat or bring back fan favorites like tap-to-pair NFC.
One can argue that the addition of ANC warrants the $119 MSRP. At the same time, there are other great buds that offer noise cancelation for as low as $50 (we recommend the Donner DoBuds One). Some of those models even share similar features like customizable sound and Google Fast Pair, along with the previously mentioned absent features. If noise cancelation isn’t needed, then you can buy the WF-C500 for $99. These are frequently discounted via online retailers and we have seen them drop as low as $69, which makes them even more enticing.
Sony WF-C700N review: A solid upgrade but price could be more competitive
The WF-C700N boast better sound, call quality, and more features than their predecessor. ANC is robust to hear music and movies in peace, while enabling 360 Reality Audio on compatible streaming services creates an immersive listening experience. Even the aesthetic upgrades to the buds and charging case give them a luxe appearance.
Most consumers can live without popular features like auto-play and wireless charging, especially since these buds have responsive controls and lengthy playtimes with a 10-minute quick charge generating 1 hour of use.
Then again, the WF-C500 remain a less expensive pickup for those wanting similar performance without ANC.
If the WF-C500 are being regularly discounted, then maybe Sony should consider marking down the WF-C700N to $99, which would disrupt the cheap earbud market and undercut competitors. In the meantime, the WF-C700N continue Sony’s hot streak of remarkable true wireless releases and are great value for just $20 more.
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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.