Sony, a company that has historically made very capable but very expensive true wireless earbuds, is now heading into more affordable territory with the $100 WF-C500, a set of earbuds that compete with Jabra’s $80 Elite 3. Sony’s previous lowest-priced earbuds were the $130 WF-XB700. It also announced its latest full-size noise-canceling wireless headphones, the $250 WH-XB910N. Both models are available for pre-order today at Sony.com, Amazon, and Best Buy.
Compared to Sony’s other true wireless offerings like the WF-1000XM3, WF-1000XM4, and WF-SP800N, all of which possess advanced features like active noise cancellation (ANC), transparency mode, in-ear detection, built-in Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, and in the case of the XM4, wireless charging, the C500 are relatively bare-bones. They’re still compatible with Sony’s Headphones app, and they benefit from Sony’s Digitial Sound Enhancement Engine (DSEE), which helps to restore lost high-frequencies in compressed digital music. But otherwise, there are few bells or whistles.
While we really liked Sony’s WF-XB700, our reviewer noted that their bulky size was obtrusive. The C500 seem to address this concern with a size and shape that is much more compact.
Battery life is a claimed 10 hours per charge, which is excellent, but their included charging case only carries one full charge, for a total of 20 hours of listening time. A 10-minute fast charge will give you an extra hour of music. The C500 have an IPX4 water resistance rating, which should help with sweaty workouts, and Sony says the compact, ergonomic shape should help the earbuds sit securely and comfortably in your ears.
A set of physical multifunction buttons give you control over play/pause, volume, track skipping, call answer/end, and voice assistant access, but these can’t be customized with the Sony app. There’s no ANC, no transparency mode, and no wireless charging. Sony hasn’t indicated if you’ll be able to adjust the C500’s EQ via the Sony Headphones app, a feature found on the company’s other true wireless models. You can use each earbud independently, and Android users should get an easy set-up experience thanks to Google’s Fast Pair technology.
The WF-C500 will be available in black, white, green (Best Buy exclusive), and orange (Walmart exclusive).
It’s been two years since Sony launched the WH-XB900, its midrange set of over-ear noise-canceling wireless headphones, so it was time for a refresh. The new WH-XB910N have the same $250 regular price, which fits them directly between Sony’s $350 flagship WH-1000XM4, and its more budget-friendly $180 WH-CH710N.
The XB910N use the same fold-flat design as the XB900 and the 1000XM3/4 but now the Extra Bass cans look even more like their flagship sibling, with less pronounced branding and an earcup design that removes the vent fins from the older model. It seems the XB910 has also been stripped of some other XB900 features, like near-field communication (NFC) functionality used for pairing with smartphones, as well as aptX and aptX HD codec support. This leaves the XB910 with just SBC, AAC, and Sony’s own LDAC, which is arguably as good or better than aptX HD on compatible phones.
The other big change is an improved noise cancellation system, which Sony says now uses dual noise sensors instead of the single-sensor system from the XB900. Sony wouldn’t say just how much of an improvement people can expect with the new system.
Other specs remain the same. Battery life is consistent at 30 hours with ANC on, but Sony has improved the quick charging, which now gets you 4.5 hours of extra time for just 15 minutes of charging. Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant are both available as built-in voice assistants, and the cans still support Bluetooth multipoint connections for simultaneously connecting to two different devices.
The WH-XB910N will be available in black, blue (Amazon exclusive), and gray (Best Buy exclusive).