Sony’s still the king of ANC when it comes to headphones (see our WH-1000XM4 review here), and when the WF-1000XM3 earbuds came out last year, we thought it was amazing too. But it was too big and bulky for use while exercising, so that’s where the Sony WF-SP800N comes in.
First off, let’s look at the case. It’s huge. It’s surprisingly even bigger than the WF-1000XM3 in terms of length, and height-wise, it’s almost the same. The design is… okay. I’m not a big fan of the white Sony logo on the lid, but the case itself doesn’t pick up fingerprints, which I like.
There’s a single LED to indicate charging status of the case, and inside, there’s even space to fit the wings. The earbuds themselves look really similar to the WF-1000XM3, but smaller. The touch-sensitive areas on the front of the earbuds have also been enlargened slightly, which is nice since the small circle previously wasn’t the easiest to control.
The earbuds still stick out of the ears a little, but they sit super securely in the ear thanks to the wings. Even jumping up and down and vigorously shaking my head couldn’t loosen the buds.
The earbuds aren’t light though, at 9.8 grams each. It’s surprising, but the buds themselves don’t feel all that heavy in the ear. It might have something to do with the wings holding them in place while most of the electronics sit outside the ear, but I’m not 100% sure either.
There’s IP55 water and dust resistance so it’ll hold up perfectly well to sweat and other foreign particles that might be present (like chalk dust if you’re wearing these to the rock climbing gym). Unfortunately, like most other Sony earbuds, these also don’t have multipoint connectivity so you’ll have to manually swap between devices.
Connectivity is pretty standard on these, running on a Bluetooth 5.0 connection that connects individually to each earbud so you can use either separately. I got around 10 meters with an unobstructed line of sight, and around 5.5 meters with a single wall in between my phone and where I was standing.
Call quality is okay, these won’t win any awards, but my colleagues felt it sounded better than the mics on the WH-1000XM4. Your voice will still come across audibly and people on the other end won’t have an issue understanding what you’re saying.
Let’s move on to sound quality. These are pretty decent, all in all. They’re supposed to have Sony’s EXTRA BASS sound tuning, and I did find the bass to be more emphasised, but it wasn’t quite as bass intensive as the Sony WF-XB700 we tested previously.
The mids are slightly recessed, but the EQ can be tweaked in Sony’s Headphones app, so there’s that. This really depends on the type of music you listen to, so if you’re listening to brighter songs in general, you might not even need to tweak the EQ settings since it’ll balance out.
I prefer more emphasis on the highs and vocals though, so changing to the Bright preset in the app really makes music just that much more enjoyable for me. There’s still a good amount of warmth in any case, so you won’t have to worry about losing that lush Sony sound.
The big selling point of these? The ANC. The earbuds do a decent job of cancelling out lower-range sounds, like the whir of a fan or rumble of vehicles when you’re travelling. It’s not the best though, since the WF-SP800N doesn’t have the same Q1Ne chip that the WF-1000XM3 has. I can still hear the clacking of my mechanical keyboard when listening to music, which isn’t great, but it’s noticeably softer than it would be if I didn’t have the earbuds in.
There’s an Ambient Sound mode where external noise is piped in, and it might be the best mode for exercising in crowded areas or when attention is needed to avoid accidents. Sony has also kept the Quick Attention feature, which allows the user to press a finger against the left earbud to pause music and pipe in external noise. It’s definitely useful for quick conversations or even just to order food or drinks.
One issue with ANC earbuds is the wind noise, and it’s still not settled here. Sitting next to my fan results in quite a bit of wind noise and it’s annoying to the point where I would subconsciously lean forward to avoid the wind flow.
A solution is to turn off ANC and just use the passive isolation of the earbuds, which is already quite good in its own right. The whir of the fan is about 80% cancelled out with Ambient Sound and ANC turned off.
These earbuds also support Sony’s 360 Reality Audio spatial audio technology, but I’ve found that it doesn’t sound quite as impressive here as compared to over-ear headphones.
Overall, these are a great pick for people who want sports earbuds with active noise cancellation but don’t want to compromise too much on sound quality. The ANC isn’t the best, and the sound quality isn’t the best either. But when you look at it as a whole package, the WF-SP800N is a decent offering in this segment of the market.
For more information about the Sony WF-SP800N (S$299) or to support us, you can get it on Amazon here.
Written by Cheryl Tan