Sony WF-SP700N review: Secure fit with effective noise cancellation
The SP700N sounds great for all types of music & calls.
Price: Rs 12,990
Specifications: Bluetooth 4.1, digital noise cancelling with ambient sound mode, 6mm dome type drivers, NFC (in charging case), IPX4 rated, app for iOS + Android, 3hr battery life (with continuous music playback – extends to 9 hours with full charged case)
Pros: Effective active noise cancellation (with on/off + ambient sound modes), IPX4 certification, great audio, secure fit, app-based control, NFC, stable wireless connection, supports Google Assistant
Cons: Fiddly battery case design, sound is off sync while watching smartphone video, tiny buttons, no volume controls, connects to only one device at a time
Bluetooth wireless earphones are increasing in popularity. For one, no one likes messy cables and second, headphone jacks in phones are becoming a rarity. The more premium kind of wireless earphones give you two individual earphones (without a wire connecting them to each other). This obviously increases the complexity because each one has to have its own battery and wireless. This is where Sony comes in, with others like Apple, Bose, Samsung and Jabra as competition.
Like all the other similar options, Sony’s SP700N comes with a battery charging case. This case has NFC too, so if your phone supports it, you can just tap the case to pair. However, Sony has gone one step further by including Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) without bumping up the price. ANC uses microphones on the earphones to listen for outside sound and then produces a sound that is ‘opposite’ to it — effectively cancelling out unwanted sounds.
Apart from being useful in noisy locations and airplanes, ANC typically improves the audio experience of headphones/earphones because outside sounds are not muddled in with your audio. The SP700N sounds great for all types of music & calls. Sony’s ‘Extra Bass’ kicks in to make you feel the punch.
In the box, you get a micro USB cable, two sets of silicone wing tips and four sizes of silicone tips. Once you find a good fit, you’ll see that there are three modes available for ANC: on, ambient sound and off. On and off are self explanatory — for when you want to block noise or not.
The ambient sound mode lets you listen to music without totally isolating you from your surroundings. This is good for safety when used outdoors for instance. They also fit very securely and won’t fall off if you go for a run or some vigorous exercise. We thought the ANC itself worked well and is one of the main highlights of the SP700N, especially considering the price. We do think it needs better design through.
For instance, you won’t know how to place the earphones inside the charging case just by looking at it. You’ll get it after a few tries. The case itself has a swivel open design which makes it feel flimsy — doesn’t inspire too much confidence in a device that is supposed to withstand the rigour of daily use/travel.
Finally, we come to something that might be a deal breaker for a lot of people (and the reason for the 3.5 star score). Audio in these headphones does not sync with video. We tried it with iOS and Android (it’s more pronounced in Android) but the issue remains. Audio is out of sync whether you’re watching a video stored locally or streamed (from Netflix or YouTube etc).
In fact, the user manual in the box mentions the following: “Due to the characteristic of wireless technology, the sound played on this unit is delayed from the sound and music played on the sending device. Therefore, the image and sound may be misaligned when viewing a movie or playing a game”.
We have not experienced out of sync audio on Apple’s AirPods and on Jabra’s Elite 65t — both of which have two individual wireless earbuds. Which brings us to the obvious conclusion that the SP700N is great if you want active noise cancellation and will only be taking calls and listening to music. If you plan on watching any kind of video (whether stored or streamed), you should get a set of AirPods (Rs 11,000) or Jabra Elite 65t (Rs 12,000).