Sony WF-C500 review: These $99 buds are a top value choice

Sony WF-C500: SpecsPrice: $99Colors: Black; white; inexperiencedBattery life (rated): 10 hours; 20 hours (charging case)Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.2 (codecs: SBC, AAC).Water resistance: Yes (IPX4 rated)Size: 1.2 x 1.1 x 0.9 inches (per bud); 3.15 x 1.38 x 1.22 inch (charging case)Weight: 0.2 ounces (per bud); 1.23 ounces (charging case)If you consider a pair of Sony wi-fi earbuds, you will in all probability assume alongside the traces of one in all its excessive efficiency fashions that may additionally come at a excessive worth. That’s not at all times the case, although, and now and again the electronics big releases a design that delivers a terrific model expertise that prices a lot lower than their present flagship in-ears (WF-1000XM4). The WF-C500 are that mannequin and, regardless of being a budget-friendly choice, include some critical performance, together with 360 Reality Audio, Digital Sound Enhancement Engine (DSEE) Extreme, and Sony Headphones Connect app assist. Not all of Sony’s luxurious options made the reduce (e.g., energetic noise cancellation, LDAC assist, and good controls are all MIA), nor does the charging case maintain a lot juice. Nevertheless, the general bundle is nice value and too good to move up.Read our full Sony WF-C500 assessment to see why this probably the greatest true wi-fi bargains out there.Today’s greatest Sony WF-C500 offersSony WF-C500 assessment: Price and availabilityValue mannequin that is typically discounted furtherChoice of three coloursThe WF-C500 are bought for $99 through the Sony retailer (opens in new tab), however we’ve additionally seen them discounted to $69 at main on-line retailers. They’re out there in black, or white as a Amazon unique (opens in new tab), or inexperienced as a Best Buy unique (opens in new tab). A charging case, USB-C charging cable, 4 units of different-sized ear ideas, consumer information, and guarantee come contained in the field. For comparability, these buds have a greater record worth than among the greatest low cost wi-fi earbuds on the market, together with the OnePlus Buds Nord ($39) and noise-cancelling 1More PistonBuds Pro ($59) in our greatest wi-fi earbuds below $100. They’re additionally a lot extra reasonably priced than your complete AirPods lineup: AirPods 2 ($129), AirPods 3 ($179), and AirPods Pro ($249).Bookmark our headphone offers web page to remain up on the newest gross sales.Sony WF-C500 assessment: Design and comfortSturdy designTransparent charging case appears to be like coolSome discomfort when utilizing controlsThe WF-C500 earbuds aren’t going to wow you with their appears to be like, and that’s wonderful. You get a minimalist design with only a few particulars: a emblem, LED, and mic opening. An oval button sits flush on a plain backdrop. Build high quality is strong with your complete body constructed from arduous plastic that will get it an IPX4 ranking for sweat and water resistance.(Image credit score: Alex Bracetti/Future)The extra aesthetically interesting a part of the WF-C500 is its charging case. I like the clear lid that exhibits the orange LEDs brightly lit on the within throughout recharges. The pill-shaped design is handy for storing in pockets and on a regular basis baggage. Construction is surprisingly good, with the magnets holding the plastic lid shut tight and the outside made to outlive on a regular basis scrapes and knocks.(Image credit score: Alex Bracetti/Future)Working the WF-C500’s controls requires a excessive ache threshold as a result of the buttons are so stiff that they require additional drive to press, inflicting in-ear discomfort within the course of. When you don’t must activate features, the buds don’t apply a lot stress and may be worn comfortably on commutes or at your desk.(Image credit score: Alex Bracetti/Future)Fit is respectable with the ideas forming a tight seal across the canal. The additional pairs within the field accommodate listeners with completely different ear sizes. Many will even discover the WF-C500’s measurement to be unobtrusive on the ear.Sony WF-C500 assessment: Controls and digital assistantNo management customization or Sony good functionsPhysical buttons are powerful to pressReliable digital assistanceA lack of contemporary controls hinders the WF-C500’s usability. There are no contact panels or put on detection to provoke auto-pause when taking off the buds. As beforehand acknowledged, the buttons are tough to press, and so they don’t ship a lot in the way in which of tactile suggestions, which can make customers second guess whether or not instructions are being enabled. Sony additionally restricted the management scheme, reserving the left bud for quantity and the correct bud for all the pieces else (e.g., playback, digital assistant). Call administration is the one perform assigned to each buds.(Image credit score: Alex Bracetti/Future)Siri, Google Assistant, and Bixby can all be enabled and allow you to execute voice instructions with out a hitch on their respective platforms. Sony’s mic array does a commendable job choosing up phrases and deciphering requests, permitting Apple, Google, and Samsung’s AI bots to work their magic.Since these buds don’t include Sony’s V1 processor, they lose out on cool voice-activated options like Speak-to-chat to routinely pause music when listening to your voice.Sony WF-C500 assessment: Sound qualityWarm and energetic sound profileCompatibility with most Sony audio applied sciencesNo LDAC codec supportMusic sounds punchy on the WF-C500. Its profile may not be as depth-filled as a few of Sony’s different wi-fi earbuds, however you’ll be able to count on highly effective lows and crisp highs, together with under-emphasized mids. Should you need to tweak the sound, there’s the Equalizer function within the companion app to manually regulate frequencies or choose from 9 presets that prioritize completely different sonic components, relying on the music style or content material.The monstrous bassline on Future’s “Mask Off” slapped arduous, whereas the somber flute got here by means of clearly and distinctively. Many sub-$100 fashions can’t deal with the report’s boom-filled manufacturing and would possible create one distorted mess. The WF-C500 stored the lows pretty balanced however all that bass compromised mids, making the rapper’s vocals a bit fuzzy, though not fully inaudible.(Image credit score: Alex Bracetti/Future)Cymbals and piano notes have been distinguished on jazz classics like Ahmad Jamal’s “Dolphin Dance.” The double bass additionally had some good reverberation that remained constant all through the recording.Enabling DSEE within the app helped upscale quite a few CD-ripped recordsdata on my MacBook Pro; the constancy was a lot better on lo-fi masterpieces like Wu-Tang Clan’s “Enter the 36 Chambers” album. I’m impressed that Sony made these buds appropriate with their spatial audio platform (360 Reality Audio), even when the expertise is best executed on its extra highly effective fashions. Certain components like viewers suggestions nonetheless sound immersive, however should you’re considering that you just’ll be thrown into the center of a battlefield when watching conflict movies, I like to recommend investing in Sony’s WF-1000XM4 earbuds or different spatial audio alternate options just like the AirPods Pro.(Image credit score: Alex Bracetti/Future)The WF-C500 doesn’t isolate ambient noise properly. Occasionally, sounds that occurred round me made their means into the soundscape. Were they distracting sufficient to tug me away from the music? No. However, should you’re attempting to take pleasure in full audio, think about listening in quiet settings.These buds solely assist AAC and SBC. Both codecs ran easily on iOS/macOS and Android units. Most Sony wi-fi earbuds assist LDAC for Hi-Res playback at a charge of as much as 990kbps, and a few assist aptX, however the WF-C500 do not provide assist for both.Sony WF-C500 assessment: App and particular featuresAccess to some Sony options, however not allNo ANC or Find My Buds performYou’ll have to obtain the Sony Headphones Connect app to mess around with the WF-C500’s particular options. I already touched on the bulk comparable to 360 Reality Audio, DSEE, and Equalizer. Rounding issues out are an exercise tracker displaying how you employ the buds, a music participant with quantity slider, battery degree indicators, firmware updates, and a Bluetooth Connection Quality setting to prioritize steady connectivity or sound high quality.(Image credit score: Alex Bracetti/Future)Some of Sony’s different unique options are lacking comparable to ANC/Ambient Sound adjustment, Speak-to-Chat, and Quick Chat. Other notable omissions that one would discover on rival apps are auto power-off, management customization, and a Find My Buds perform.Sony WF-C500 assessment: Battery life10 hours playback from the budsCharging case holds as much as 20 hoursNo wi-fi chargingThe excellent news is that you just get 10 hours of listening time from a full cost. This is double what the AirPods 2 and AirPods Pro provide (5 hours), and ranks among the many highest within the class. Getting 4 days of reasonable use (round 2.5 hours day by day) earlier than recharging was fairly respectable.(Image credit score: Alex Bracetti/Future)The charging case holds as much as 20 hours or cost, which equates to 2 further top ups of the earbuds. A ten-minute fast cost mode generates 1 hour of listening time, which is fairly useful. Although the Sony offers respectable battery life general, the case doesn’t assist wi-fi charging. For comparability, an AirPods case holds round 24 hours of additional cost, and the newest variations have MagSafe wi-fi charging. Sony WF-C500 assessment: Call high quality and connectivityNot the perfect for voice or video callsSuperb wi-fi efficiencySony has stepped up name high quality efficiency on its costlier fashions, together with the HyperlinkBuds S and WF-1000XM4. Seemingly, these enhancements are not current on the WF-C500. Several callers talked about muffling on our finish, an impact that elevated when talking outside. The mics additionally picked up a lot of ambient noise and wind and efficiency was solely acceptable when taking calls indoors in a silent room.(Image credit score: Alex Bracetti/Future)The WF-C500 makes up for its weak name high quality with sturdy connectivity. Bluetooth 5.2 operates properly, attaining as much as 80 ft of wi-fi listening and pairing immediately with acknowledged units; Google Fast Pair hurries up the method for Android units.Would it have been good to have multipoint expertise (pair to 2 units concurrently) and NFC tap-to-pair performance? Sure, however each omissions are justified when factoring within the MSRP.Sony WF-C500 assessment: VerdictWith the WF-C500, Sony arguably has the perfect wi-fi earbuds below $100. Getting the bass efficiency of a few of their mid-range fashions with proprietary applied sciences that improve the listening expertise is unparalleled at this worth level. The WF-C500 isn’t good, as exemplified by its impractical controls and mediocre capability from the charging case, however these are trivial complaints when factoring within the degree of sound Sony has managed to engineer into these tiny buds, making them a nice value purchase.

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