Sony, despite being one of the biggest brands in the personal audio space in India, has been slow to finally launch true wireless headphones here. I strongly believe this form factor is the future of headphones, and global industry trends suggest buyers are drawn to the convenience of being completely wireless. While affordable options are plentiful, Sony’s approach to the segment is, as expected, relatively expensive.
Today we are reviewing one of Sony’s newest truly wireless products, the WF-SP800N, released as part of its sports range. Priced at Rs. 18,990, these premium true wireless earbuds aren’t as expensive as the Apple AirPods Pro and Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2, but they still offer active noise cancellation. Find out if these new true wireless earbuds have what it takes to challenge our current top picks in the segment.
The Sony WF-SP800N is big and water resistant
The first thing I noticed about these headphones and the charging case is how big everything is. The headphones are considerably larger than most true wireless options and therefore require ear hooks for a secure fit. It also means that there is a particular way to put these headphones on; you have to twist a little so the ear hooks “lock” in place and you get a secure, noise-isolating fit. We’re quite used to premium options that are more compact, so the Sony WF-SP800N stands out a bit.
That said, it’s a comfortable pair of headphones. The fit is snug, but the plastic used in the construction keeps the earbuds light.
The Sony WF-SP800N headphones are IP55 rated for dust and water resistance; it’s not as impressive as the IP57 rating of the Jabra Elite Active 75t, which is available at a similar price, but it’s enough to protect the headphones from a good amount of exposure to water and dust. You should be able to go out in the rain safely with these headphones on, and sweat should be no problem.
The Sony WF-SP800N’s charging case is significantly larger than those of any other true wireless earbuds we’ve reviewed recently. It’s also oddly curved at the bottom, so you can’t stand it up anywhere; he should lie on his side. The bottom has a USB Type-C port for charging, and there’s a light just under the lid that indicates when the headphones are charging.
Similar lights on the earbuds shine through the plastic casings and let you know if they’re charging, connected, or in pairing mode. The sales box contains four pairs of ear tips, two pairs of ear hooks and a cable for charging the case.
The Sony WF-SP800N supports SBC and AAC Bluetooth codecs, and has active noise cancellation as well as an ambient sound mode. There are also sensors on each earbud so they can automatically play or pause music when inserted or removed.
The controls are tactile and there are touch zones on each earbud. By default, pressing the left side toggles between ambient sound and active noise cancellation modes. Pressing and holding lowers the music volume to allow listening as long as you have your finger on the sensor. The right side controls playback (tap once to play/pause; tap twice for next track; tap three times for previous track) and you can summon your phone’s voice assistant with a long press by default.
These actions can be customized using the Sony Headphones Connect app (available for iOS and android). You can choose to have volume controls or detailed controls for Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa, or you can completely disable the sensor for each earbud. However, you can only define one function group on each side, so you will have to choose what matters most to you. In my case, I stuck with the default setup, but it was a little disappointing having to choose between volume controls and noise cancellation modes.
The app also lets you see the battery levels of each earbud and the case; it’s worth pointing out here that the case’s battery level is only updated each time the earbuds are removed, and was generally not accurate for me.
You can also use the app to set up Adaptive Sound Control mode, which senses your surroundings based on your actions and the places you frequent to set noise cancellation and ambient sound mode to optimal levels. However, I haven’t used it often, preferring to control these settings myself. Various other app settings and functions include equalizer, power controls, and firmware updates.
Battery life is something Sony has nailed with its over-ear headphones, and it’s good to see the company has succeeded with these true wireless headphones as well. The earbuds easily matched the company’s claims, running for around ten hours per charge with mixed usage and with noise cancellation most of the time. The charging case gave the headphones a bit more than a full charge. That’s not a hugely impressive number for the case, but the earbuds’ runtime in one go makes up for it.
Lots of bass, good noise cancellation on the Sony WF-SP800N
I used the Sony WF-SP800N headphones with an Android smartphone for this test, using the AAC codec. It’s a little disappointing that these headphones don’t support Bluetooth aptX or LDAC codecs. However, I was happy with the aggressive, headphone-involving sound, although it lacked a bit of detail and cohesion.
The headphones carry Sony’s ‘Extra Bass’ branding even though they are not strictly part of the ‘Extra Bass’ range. Like all of Sony’s headphones and earphones, the WF-SP800N lives up to its advertised sound signature. This pair is tuned for strong, punchy bass, without necessarily taking anything away from the rest of the frequency range. Listening to Malfnktion’s Chopta and Aerate Sound, the headphones quickly ramped up with low-end drive and attack, and we could hear separation in the elements, as well as a good sense of direction in the sound.
However, it lacked the cleanliness of the headphones a bit. Although I liked the punchy and raw nature of the sound, it seemed to take center stage and define the direction the track was taking. Faint details could be heard with a distinct sense of positioning, but it required some attention on my part to enjoy it properly. The low end is definitely calling the shots here.
Switching to high-res audio tracks, there was no significant improvement in sound. State Of The Art by Gotye in FLAC format sounded a bit more cohesive and less gritty than when streamed with Spotify or YouTube Music, but the difference wasn’t as noticeable as it was on the AirPods Pro or Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2. This is where support for high-resolution Bluetooth codecs might have made more of a difference, and Sony’s generally technical approach to audio was a bit short.
The active noise cancellation on the Sony WF-SP800N is pretty decent, with the headphones managing to cut out a good chunk of the buzzing sounds of a typical household. However, that’s not as impressive as what Apple AirPods Pro is capable of. Relative silence isn’t as pronounced as I’m used to with the much more effective noise cancellation of Apple headphones.
The noise cancellation helped a bit in being able to hear music a bit more clearly, but these headphones are loud and full enough that you don’t always need them for a good listening experience. I think it will make a bigger difference in louder environments, but it’s still not quite class leading.
Voice calls were decent on the Sony WF-SP800N headphones; we had no complaints about sound quality on calls, although voices sounded a bit loud at high volumes.
Sony’s first premium true wireless earbuds in India impressed me for one major reason: the price. With punchy sound, functional active noise cancellation, a decent level of water and dust resistance, and good battery life, this pair of headphones offers flagship-grade features and specs for a whole lot less. than what Apple and Sennheiser charge.
That said, there are a few downsides here. The bulky headphones and case may put off many potential buyers, and the sound quality isn’t as consistent and well put together as the Sony WF-SP800N’s more capable competitors. If you have an inflexible budget of Rs. 20,000, the Sony WF-SP800N might be the best you can choose right now, especially if you like your bass-heavy music. If you can spend a little more, the Apple AirPods Pro and Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 are worth considering instead.
- Comfortable and snug fit
- IP55 dust and water resistance
- Good autonomy
- Good active noise cancellation
- Percussive and aggressive sound
- Big headphones, bulky charging case
- The sound is not very consistent
- No advanced Bluetooth codecs
Ratings (out of 5)
- Design/ comfort: 4
- Audio quality: 4
- Battery life: 4
- Value for money: 4
- Total: 4
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