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Sony WF-SP700N Wireless In-Ear Sports Headphones review: Sony's best truly wireless earphones have great sound, comfortable fit

The sporty WF-SP700N's battery life isn't so great, but it performs and fits well.

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David Carnoy
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David Carnoy

Executive Editor / Reviews

Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Nook e-books and audiobooks.

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We've seen a lot of new truly wireless earphones hit the market in 2018, all trying to compete against the most well-known member of the breed, Apple's AirPods.

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7.5

Sony WF-SP700N Wireless In-Ear Sports Headphones

The Good

Fits comfortably and securely and sounds good for truly wireless headphones. Built-in noise cancelling helps muffle ambient sound. An included charging case delivers two additional charges.

The Bad

Battery life is only OK at 3 hours. It's a little awkward to get the earbuds into their charging case. Some audio delay when using certain streaming video apps.

The Bottom Line

Despite some small downsides, the Sony WF-SP700N is one of the better truly wireless headphones currently available.

Sony's latest, the WF-SP700N, retails for $180 (£180, AU$300) and is essentially the sports version of Sony's earlier WF-1000X. Both have an active noise-cancelling feature that helps muffle ambient noise -- something missing from Apple's slightly less expensive AirPods.

With a sweat-resistant design courtesy of a PX4 "splashproof" rating, these earphones have a few things going for them. For starters, they're relatively lightweight and fit me comfortably and securely -- even while running -- thanks to the included sports fins (the same ones found on the Sony MDR-XBX50BS). They also sound very good for truly wireless headphones and worked mostly reliably, with only minimal dropouts.

Each bud has a single "power" button that doubles as a universal button for pausing and playing your music, answering and ending calls, and skipping tracks forward and back with a double or triple click. The button is a little small but it worked well enough. There are no volume controls on the buds themselves.

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The earphones in their charging case. They're available in four color options.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Using the app you can tweak the sound by toggling through various pre-set equalizer modes, including one that boosts the bass, but you can't create your own custom setting. I found that the default "off" setting offered the best and most balanced sound. The bass has good kick to it but doesn't come across as bloated (like it does in the bass boost mode), and there isn't the treble push found in some of the other modes like "Excited," "Bright" and "Treble boost" that can lead to some listening fatigue. My next favorite setting was "Mellow."

If you get a tight seal, these earphones deliver more bass and richer sound than the AirPods, particularly in noisier environments. They're among the best sounding truly wireless earphones, measuring up well against the Bose SoundSport Free and Jabra Elite 65t and Jabra Elite Active 65t (the Bose has more bass than the Jabra). However, I should point out that these types of wireless headphones still don't sound as good as a decent set of in-ear wired headphones that cost less, so keep your expectations in check.

Sony WF-SP700N truly wireless sports earphones

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The Sonys performed decently but aren't great as a headset for making calls. Like the Bose, when making a call, you only get sound in the left ear, so they become a mono headset. Both the AirPods and Jabra earphones deliver sound in both buds when you're making calls, so I prefer them for making calls.

You can turn off the noise-cancellation mode but I mostly left it on, especially when I was walking the streets of New York or riding the subway. The effect isn't as strong as the Sony's WH-1000XM2 over-ear headphones, but it does help muffle sound around you to a certain degree.  

These earphones do have a few downsides. At 3 hours on a single charge, the battery life isn't great. The compact charging case that's included with them offers two additional charges on the go, but the case felt a little cheap and I sometimes struggled a bit to get the earbuds back into it for charging. You need to twist the fins to allow each earphone to slide into the compartment more easily.

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The app allows you to tweak the sound profile and adjust the noise-canceling.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The other small issue is with audio syncing when watching video. I didn't have an issue when watching a movie in iTunes, but there was a slight lag when I was streaming from the Netflix app and YouTube. (I tested the earphones with an iPhone X and Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus).

Lastly, I had to swap in a set of my own extra-large eartips because the ones Sony supplied in the box didn't quite fit my ears. As I said, getting a tight seal with these earphones is crucial to maximizing sound quality, particularly bass performance.

Those caveats aside, I did like these guys. While they don't quite measure up to competing sports models from Bose and Jabra in the same price range, they're among the better truly wireless headphones I've tested from the standpoint of sound and fit.

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7.5

Sony WF-SP700N Wireless In-Ear Sports Headphones

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 8Sound 8Value 7
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