Sony released a new, more budget-friendly pair of true wireless earbuds. They’re the Sony WF-C500 earbuds
, and they join a very crowded field of similar-looking, similarly priced earbuds with very similar feature sets.
They look and sound good for the price, but one question looms large. Has Sony done enough to distinguish its new offering from everything else out there?
Design and Background
By now, you’ve probably seen earbuds that take the same basic approach. The Sony WF-C500 wireless earbuds rest inside a charging case and are designed to stay in that case when not in your ears. They have decent battery life on their own (Sony claims 10 hours), and the battery case can give them another 10 hours of listening time.
Like Sony’s other recent new releases in the headphone world, Sony’s WF-C500 true wireless earbuds draw clear connections to previous products. These new earbuds look an awful lot like Sony’s current flagship model
, the WF-1000XM4
— only at a much lower price and missing many of the distinguishing features in the higher-end set.
This smaller, cheaper model looks almost like Sony cut off the large upper hump from its WF-1000XM4s. The WF-C500 is much smaller and should fit more naturally into the ear for any small-eared readers who couldn’t handle the WF-1000MX4.
Price and Place in the Lineup
This new model of true wireless earbuds sells for just $99, which is significantly lower than the $279 you would pay for the flagship WF-1000MX4.
Within Sony’s lineup, this new model is at the entry level. The company offers multiple sets at various price points between the entry-level and flagship models, and you won’t be surprised to learn that the more you spend, the better they sound.
The real question here isn’t where these headphones land within Sony’s lineup. How they stack up against the competition is what matters most.
This is because there are just so many sets of true wireless earbuds at or near this price point. The field is impossibly crowded.
What else is there at this price tier? You’ve got Galaxy Buds
, Pixel Buds
, and options from Sennheiser
. And that’s just for starters. Expand your price range up or down by $30, and you add at least a dozen other choices.
Put simply, it’s just hard to differentiate yourself in a field this crowded, especially at a price point where consumers are extra price-conscious. Sony is trying, though, with support for many of the Sony-specific protocols that make its other products so great. They’ve thrown in their Digital Sound Enhancement Engine (DSEE), their Ergonomic Surface Design, support for the Headphones Connect app for modifying EQ and other attributes, and even 360 Reality Audio.
Other Specs and Features
These earbuds don’t include any active noise cancellation (ANC), though that’s hardly a surprise at $99. Nor is it entirely needed: these earbuds feature a familiar in-ear silicone tip that should seal out quite a lot of background noise naturally. If you’ve used other decent-quality in-ear buds, you know what you’d be getting here.
The sound looks to be decent, powered by a 5.8-millimeter neodymium driver. You also get IPx4 water resistance, which is OK but not great compared to pricier alternatives.
Are the Sony WF-C500 True Wireless Earbuds Right for You?
The right $99 true wireless earbud for you is the one that meets your needs the best. Every option has a slightly different design that may or may not feel comfortable in your ear. Sound profiles are different, as are the tech specs driving sound performance.
If you’ve had good experiences with other Sony in-ear earbuds, you’ll likely enjoy these very much. If you haven’t, it’s a bit of a gamble. But at a price this low, it’s a gamble you can probably afford to make.
The lack of ANC isn’t surprising, though it is mildly disappointing. On the plus side, Gizmodo points out
the value of adjustable EQ: if you don’t love the sound profile coming from these buds, you can tweak it to your heart’s content with the included app. That’s something you’ll rarely find in headphones this inexpensive.
New Earbuds Mean It’s Time for a New Extended Headphone Warranty
If you’re picking up a new set of earbuds — whether you settle on the Sony WF-C500 or another model — then this is the perfect time to pick up a new extended headphone warranty from Upsie
. The smaller these wireless earbuds get, the easier it is to drop them. And even the most durable models aren’t impervious to drop damage, not to mention other forms of defect or damage.
An Upsie warranty plan
is the perfect way to protect yourself against this kind of damage. If something goes wrong with your earbuds, Upsie will cover the cost of repair (or replace them if they can’t be repaired on your first claim).
Before you head out with a new pair of earbuds, make sure they’re protected.
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