Fri. Jan 21st, 2022

We review one of Sony’s first earbuds in India, the WF-SP800N, which is made for those with an active lifestyle. Priced at 18,990, is it worth it? Read more.

Brand: Sony

Product: WF-SP800N

Key specs: ANC, support for voice assistants, battery life up to 26 hours, Sense Engine, Extra Bass and Bluetooth 5.0

Price: 18,990

Rating: 4/5

If you are familiar with Sony audio products, you are probably familiar with the flagship 1000XM3 headphones and earphones. Both have hit home runs in their own way since they hit the shelves. While we have the headphones available here in India, there’s no sign of the XM3 wireless earbuds yet. Unfortunately, we don’t see that changing any time soon. Instead, Sony is entering the Indian TWS market with the fairly new (and more affordable) Sony SP800N earbuds. And these are no less powerful.

We got the SP800Ns for testing purposes earlier this month and quite frankly, we ran it alongside its arch-rival Jabra Elite Active 75t, which is in the same price range. There’s a really close fight there. We won’t compare them in this review, however, but we’ll talk about the pros and cons of the SP800N, which we call the “Sports” model of the WF-1000XM3.

Design and build

Sony earbuds or cases are not really known for their design. While the 1000XM3 still has a slimmer case that isn’t quite as wide, the SP800N is definitely wider. But a lot is due to the size of the earbuds, which are also large. Add that to the massive battery backup the case has, and you’ve got a product the size of a pebble. That said, it’s not as heavy as we thought it would be.


Sony WF-SP800N earbuds

Sony WF-SP800N earbuds (Best Fitness Bands)

Like most, this has a rounded case with a charging indicator and a Type-C port on the bottom. There is also a reassuring magnetic lid for easy opening and closing. Overall, the build is absolutely premium with a soft finish that isn’t slippery or gets dirty easily, especially the blue-colored variant we received. There are a total of four colors including orange but unfortunately India only gets black, white and blue.

The earbuds also have good build quality with taps, light notifications, but the design looks like it’s a few iterations old. We know this is subjective, but since Sony has gone completely futuristic when it comes to the design of its speakers, soundbars, TVs and now the PlayStation 5, launching earbuds that look like this 2018 is something of a disappointment.

And the earbuds themselves aren’t small or compact. They stick out of your ears well enough, but fortunately they are not heavy and can be used for long sessions without fatigue. Not that we don’t have lighter earplugs on the market, but these are not too bad.

You get two sets of arches along with extra ear tips of different sizes. If you think the SP800N is slipping out of your ear, use those arcs to find the right and secure fit. While that’s a good thing, the downside is that even with medium-sized bows, we couldn’t wear the SP800N for more than an hour or two because they started to hurt. At one point we liked the arcless versions better. Again, this experience will vary from user to user.


Sony WF-SP800N earbuds

Sony WF-SP800N earbuds (Best Fitness Bands)

What is striking is that you do get these extras here. Even the more recently launched Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 doesn’t have as many earbuds and bows. For those who are still concerned, no, these earplugs won’t fall out while doing an activity, provided you have the right size earplugs installed.

And needless to say, it blocks out quite a bit of outside noise, thanks to Sony’s tried-and-tested Active Noise Cancellation technology, which has gotten even better over the years. Here’s the best (and the most effective ANC) you can get right now in Sony earbuds in sub- 20,000 price tag. And since these are IP55 rated, it resists sweat, water and dust to some degree. With this you can go swimming.

Also see: Sony WF-SP800N earbuds: in pictures

Audio Performance and Features

There is support for single tap, double tap and long press gestures to control certain functions in the SP800N. And all of these can be customized with the Sony Headphones app. We did notice some touch lag, but that will hardly change the overall experience. You get everything from controlling music playback, skipping tracks, access to voice assistants (Siri or Google Assistant), and even volume control (thankfully).

We also want to give a special mention to the tap alerts you get in the earbuds – these are the little audio alerts you hear when you tap the earbuds once or twice or three times. There’s nothing more reassuring than a clickable button in earbuds, but these ensure you’ve tapped correctly and don’t have to do it again. This isn’t a new feature though, but we’d like other TWS makers to adopt it.

As you’d expect from typical Sony earbuds, access to a smartphone is hardly necessary once you’ve launched your playlist. We even used the earbuds with an iPhone and a paired Apple Watch, and everything worked perfectly.


Sony WF-SP800N earbuds

Sony WF-SP800N earbuds (Best Fitness Bands)

Some might say that on 18,990 There are no special modes in Sony WF-SP800N like lower latency Game Mode. To be fair, you don’t need it here as these are made with training sessions in mind. Of course, adding that would mean something new for Sony earbuds/earphones and would have been an absolute bargain, but we were fine with not having it. Instead, consider it a trade-off. You get impressive active noise canceling technology, you can drop the game mode.

What we did miss, however, was the fast switching between multiple devices. We did ask Sony if there’s a preference for SP800N when it’s in range of two paired devices. It turned out that the earbuds connect to the device they were paired with first, we were told. And unfortunately, to switch between devices, you have to go through a manual process – meaning you have to manually disconnect it from the current device and reconnect it to the second one. That can be annoying sometimes.

Aside from that, you get some basic features like auto-play/pause when you take the earbuds off or on, quick pairing with multiple devices, and a decent range of about 7 meters (with obstacles).


Sony WF-SP800N earbuds

Sony WF-SP800N earbuds (Best Fitness Bands)

For those curious, there are no India-specific tunings made in WF-SP800N earbuds – meaning you get the exact setup sold worldwide. Of course, the overall audio profile leans more towards bass, which is not surprising for Sony audio products and its Extra Bass technology. But Sony says it works well for Indian audiences by default as a majority of listeners here prefer Bollywood songs with strong bass. If you find it overwhelming, there is always an option to change the audio profile through the ‘Headphones Connect’ app.

When asked about latency, Sony declined to provide that bit of information along with battery capacity as part of its policy. Speaking of latency, there’s no Qualcomm aptX alternative here either, something that can be a bummer. But that’s not the only sad part. You would notice that the SP800N has a 6mm driver, which is much smaller than the 12mm driver of the cheaper Sony XB700. However, there is an explanation.

Sony says space constraints become an issue here, as the SP800N has more sensors with features in them, including the Sense Engine, wear detection, fast attention mode, and noise cancellation, all of which aren’t present on the XB700 (which 9,990, in case you were wondering).

Nevertheless, even with a 6mm driver, the Sony SP800N does a really good job of delivering a powerful and impressive bass-heavy audio experience. Surprisingly, we also found the mids and highs to be better than we expected. These are still affected once the bass kicks in, but not by a huge margin. You’ll get loud and clear sound while streaming shows or listening to podcasts, although most Sony earbuds/earphones aren’t built for that. Audio separation is good, there is no harshness as such and details are well preserved.

Calling experience is not the best in this one but was mostly fine. We found ourselves removing the earbuds and resorting to taking the phone a few times, but it wasn’t often. This is something we’ve found Sony does better in its headphones.

Battery

If there’s one thing Sony is heavily marketing its WF-SP800N for, it’s battery backup. And they are right. This is one of the good ones out there when it comes to battery life.

In our test, the SP800N earbuds were able to run for a total of 13-15 hours with noise cancellation turned on, and the volume was almost always over 70%. That’s slightly lower than what Sony claims – 18 hours. But if you want to extend the battery life by a few more hours, simply turn off the noise canceling. This allowed us to extend the battery life to an average of about 20 hours.


Sony WF-SP800N earbuds

Sony WF-SP800N earbuds (Best Fitness Bands)

And when fully charged, the earbuds can easily give you over 5 hours of noise canceling music without having to put them back in the charging case.

While the fully discharged SP800N takes over 2 hours to charge to 100% when used with a 10W charger, it still gets the Quick Charge technology that can power your earbuds for 40-50 minutes with 10 minutes of plug-in. in.

Unfortunately, there is no wireless charging. But if that was included, you would have paid a lot more than… 18,990.

verdict

To be fair, Sony delivers earplugs 18,990 was something we didn’t think would happen anytime soon. That’s because until now the company has only been known for premium products, something that was out of reach for many in a budget-conscious market like India. However, the company seems to be adopting a much-needed strategy this year by aggressively pricing its audio products (CH710N, for example) and making them feature-rich. The WF-SP800N undoubtedly complements this idea.

The design, while not unique, is still good. For some, the large size may be a nuisance, but given the battery and the size of the buttons, it couldn’t be more compact. On the other hand, its performance, features and battery life are commendable and its features like this make it worth the cost.

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