Sony have announced that their WF-SP800N dust- and water-resistant noise canceling truly wireless earphones will go on sale starting from June 27th. They are expected to cost around 24,000 yen. We had the opportunity to try these new earphones for a few days, so here’s our early look review.
They Addressed Most of the Weaknesses From the WF-1000XM3 and Even Made Them Cheaper
Sony’s previous entry into the truly wireless earphone market were the WF-1000XM3, and while those earphones, which got rave reviews from this website, did have noise cancelation, they did not have any kind of dust or water resistance and were surprisingly expensive at 25,880 yen (excluding tax).
This is something that we touched on in our review of the WF-1000MX3, but not having water resistance makes us very nervous when using them while training or walking in the rain.
The WF-SP800N addresses all of the problems that the WF-1000XM3 had. They take the noise cancelation and ability to ambient sound modes from the WF-1000XM3 and then add IP55 water and dust resistance.
Note that although they are water resistant, they are officially rated at IPX5, which does not guarantee resistance to being submerged, but it does mean they should be fine in rain or if you sweat on them, and they can be washed when you get home after training. However, be aware that the charging case is not dust- or water-resistant.
Better Bass Than AirPods Pro
Unfortunately we weren’t able to get our hands on the WF-1000MX3 in time for this review, so we’ll have to compare the WF-SP800N to the AirPods Pro that we happen to have on hand.
The AirPods Pro offer IPX4 water resistance and also feature noise cancelation and ambient noise throughput, but at a price of 27,800 yen (excluding tax) they’re a little more expensive than the WF-SP800N. The impression we get of the AirPods Pro is that they have better bass than the original AirPods, but if you’re looking for a full sound directed deep into your ear then the AirPods Pro may not be for you.
How the bass sounds will differ depending on what kind of music you listen to so your mileage may vary, but the WF-SP800N earphones really make the bass pop (thanks to the EXTRA BASS series sound) whether you’re listening to lighter genres like pop, rock, digital rock with techno elements, trance, EDM, jazz, R&B, or anything else, so it’s easy to recommend these ear buds to people who don’t want to mess around with the equalizer.。
Both the Sony earphones and the AirPods Pro perform well in the mid and high ranges. Even songs with husky vocals sound clear. On the other hand, when a track features a singer with a fuller voice it can sometimes sound more pronounced than the music.
The Noise Cancelation is Fine, but I Want to Talk About Comfort
Of course we appreciate the inclusion of the noise cancelation, which makes the listening experience more comfortable, but the way the WF-SP800N earbuds fit snugly into the ear canal actually makes them much more comfortable to wear for long periods than the AirPods Pro.
This may have something to do with the shape or construction of the earphones themselves. The AirPods Pro are designed to stay in your ear using the friction of the tip in your ear canal, whereas the WF-SP800N use an arc supporter that fits into the curves of the ear to keep them in place during even the most intense workouts. The Sony earbuds come with two sizes of arc supporters so you can use the ones that best fit your ears.
A New Feature that Automatically Adjusts the Sound Based on the User’s Movements
Just like the WF-1000XM3, the WF-SP800N earbuds work with the Sony | Headphones Connect app on Android and iOS. The equalizer, which can be used to adjust the sound to the way you want it, and the settings to change what happens when you activate the touch sensors haven’t changed, but what is new is the ability to automatically change the settings based on the movement of the user.
Specifically, the WF-SP800N earbuds use the accelerometers in your smartphone to detect four different movement modes: waiting, walking, running, and traveling. What this means is that the app will automatically set the noise cancelation and ambient sound modes to a predefined setting based on how the user is moving.
For example, you might want to have the ambient sound mode enabled when waiting, walking, and running, but disabled when traveling on public transport and have the noise cancelation enabled.
Of course it’s still possible to enable and disable the noise canceling and level of ambient sound yourself.
The app is also able to use your smartphone’s location data as well as the accelerometer to adjust these settings. You can specify certain locations (home, gym, etc.) and the ambient sound and equalizer settings you’d like to use there, and the AI will automatically enable those settings when it detects that you’re there.
By letting the app switch between modes automatically you are freed up to focus more on enjoying the music.
There are a few Negatives, but This is What We’ve Been Waiting for
So far I’ve been extolling the virtues of the WF-SP800N, but there is one downside about them that I’d like to point out here, and that’s the size of the charging case. As you can see in the picture below, the case is about twice the size of the case for the AirPods Pro, which makes it hard to say that the case is easy to carry, and you definitely have to think twice about putting them in a shirt or pants pocket.
And another point that leaves a slightly sour taste in my mouth even as I say it, is that there’s no wireless charging. At this point, no matter how fast wired charging is, I think the sheer convenience of being able to just place your wireless earbuds down and have them charge up is a deciding factor when buying a new pair.
I’ve never really properly appreciated Sony’s truly wireless earphones, including the WF-1000XM3, but with the WF-SP800N we not only get the same noise cancelation and ambient sound modes that were present in the WF-1000XM3 but also IP55 water and dust resistance and better bass, so for the first time I will say that these truly wireless earphones offer enough sound quality and functionality for real audiophiles.
For more information and technical specifications, check out Sony’s product site and the press release.