- Refreshing design and a much more poppy colours to stand out
- Brings ANC and IP certification to the table
- Can take complete control of the earbuds via Headphones Connect
- The app on its own is perfect
- USB-C Based Charging Port
- Justifiable Price tag
- Audio Quality-wise it's okay but doesn't stand a chance against WF-1000XM3
When it comes to True Wireless Earbuds, Sony game has been very strong lately – with their WF-1000XM3 and the more consumer affordable range like the WF-XB700 which we reviewed here – you can click the names of product to read their review. But the thing is that, personally, when I was using the 1000XM3, I wasn’t able to take it to work out because of the lack of IP Certification and with the XB700, I couldn’t bring the ANC as it only has Noise Isolation when I bring it to work or even travel. To bridge this gap, Sony unveiled the WF-SP800N – a true Wireless earbuds that brings the best of what the Extra Bass has and the Noise Cancellation feature of the XM Series.
Look and Feel
Unlike the WF-1000XM3s which has a much more urbanized and a sophisticated look going on to give that business class look to it, the SP800N is for those who wants a little more peppiness out of their earphones. We received this orange color SP800N and I have to say, Sony’s choice of colors to stand apart is very appealing – they did it with the XB700s and our review sample from Sony Malaysia came in this really nice Navy-Blue color. The SP800N also comes in other colors like Teal, Navy Blue, and sorts. But in my opinion, the Orange looks pretty darn great and it’s not the striking kind but gives this funky and exciting feel to it.
The build quality is as close to the 1000XM3 with a nice solid hinge and a soft touch material all around, including the flap on the top. It has a nice snap and even a vigorous shake doesn’t open the shell that easily – which means your earpiece is safely stored inside. The shape of it is a lot different from the 1000XM3 and its okay because there should be some differentiating factors if you ask me. On the back, you will find the USB-C port for you to charge the earbuds and it does the Fast Charging and all the cool stuff you’d expect.
In term of specification, the WF-SP800N has a nice configuration and since its meant for both work and play environment – they have done some extra tweaks: including fin tips to fit and hold in the ear well especially during workout and you have a silicon tip for the earpiece as memory foam tips like the one in 1000XM3 aren’t the best to use for gym sessions. That out of the way – it also gets Assistant support with Google and comes with Alexa Built-in, 360 Reality Audio, Extra Bass, up to 18 hours of battery life, IP55 Certification. As for the drivers and other stuff, you can check it out below.
Application and User Experience
The SP800N connect to your smartphone and requires an app to take complete advantage of the True Wireless Earbuds. It’s the exact same application as the one we saw with the XM Series – Headphones Connect. Once you pair it and it detects, you will have to go through the necessary setup to get it up and running. During the time we reviewed the WH-1000XM3 Headphones, the app was a little different but ever since then, Sony has taken their support seriously and make the whole experience a lot better and the app is perfect.
It comes with all the features we experienced with the XM Series: Adaptive Sound Control where the earphone can detect your surrounding and alter accordingly and their new 360 Reality Audio Setup where you can use applications like TIDAL to have a much more live and surround sound to the music content. Sony includes a trial voucher with the earbuds, so you can try them out to see if it’s something you fancy. Once you are done with all of those – you can proceed to tinker settings like if you want the touch panel to trigger assistant, control ANC, Playback etc.,
The whole experience with the SP800N with the app is pure bliss – you can’t say that with a lot of other manufacturers out there given that they make so many applications for separate audio product but Sony on the other hand unified all the product that supports the app under one place. Configuring the setting is simple and it also has a memory on the earbud – so once you configure to your liking – you can go to another phone and listen with the same preset you had initially. They also focus heavily on providing the best updates for their users and I just love it.
This is where things change by a lot with the SP800N and you will notice the compromise Sony made and what makes it stand apart from the flagship WF-1000XM3 in the market. Unlike that, it doesn’t feature the Sony QN1e Chip but rather uses a different chip to manage the Active Noise Cancelling and to my surprise, it still was good. The thing is – most of the users wont be able to pick this up but given that personally I am an audiophile and tinker a lot with audio product – the ANC on the SP800N has the very low hiss, which is a popular note to notice when ANC is turned on and you know its working.
Whereas the one in their flagship earbuds with the chip eliminates the hiss entirely, creating a clean cancellation. But again, like I said, a lot of users or general consumers will be happy either way because the ANC on these SP800N work like a charm. Its subtle and Sony is thoughtful in bringing the subtlety of the ANC kicking in onto their SP800N.
Now, moving on to the audio quality – the SP800N only supports two codecs – SBC and AAC. It doesn’t come with any of Sony’s signature or more of a premium feature like DSEE HX or LDAC support. We decided to listen and test the earbuds with Spotify Premium and I set the settings to Very High to match our native files from iTunes and our locally saved music files. We listened to the following:
Higher Higher by Justin Timberlake – The vocals are pretty clean and nice, has quite the intense bass making up for the Extra Bass part of the headphones. The instruments sound quite okay, but the clarity of the song overall does sound like it is affected in some way. So, we tried to tune the bass by a little using the built-in equalizer and at about -2 level of the Clear Bass, you can get a balanced experience. The staging and sound setting on how the song is meant to sound is present and the stereo separation is noticeable moving from left to right.
Do It by Chloe X Halle – To describe the staging of this song, it’s layered this way: Bass as the top first layer, then vocals and the little sounds or synth to put it simply. Again, the clarity is a-okay but not the best and it’s incomparable with the 1000XM3 for a good reason.
No Bus by lophiile – The Vocals were a little clearer and the bass is still stronger than you think followed by a good stereo separation where the vocal moves from left to right and vice versa. The instruments are present, but it isn’t as prominent. But the overall listening experience is quite alright.
How is it against the infamous Sony WF-1000XM3?
Okay so, here’s what I really have to say about the Sony WF-SP800N. The drivers and the whole construction of the SP800N is more sided towards an active lifestyle and wants one earbuds for two different use case scenarios. If you were to look at the environment these earbuds must be in – its sweat, water, proper fit. That said, Sony made the following compromises to bring in these features on to the earbuds and didn’t include features like DSEE HX, LDAC which wouldn’t matter at all, as most of the users who want a earbuds for workout would want to have the oomph factor rather than going for the clarity and details.
Honestly, let’s face it – you’d want to run to Revolutions by Diplo not to the details of Somebody that I used to know by Gotye. 😛
Now before I conclude – I am going to ask this question: Who is this Sony WF-SP800N is for?
The SP800N is created for users who don’t want to carry so many different earbuds for different occasions but rather one for all and does just that. The added feature such as IP Rating giving the users to wear and use them wherever they want and a good ANC to enjoy when they travel during a short commute or even a long one. It’s for the ones who has an active lifestyle. If you fit that, you will be enjoying the WF-SP800N extensively. But clarity and the details are what you need – then you can turn your heads towards the WF-1000XM3 but remember, you won’t be able to work out with them – and from personal experience, it is a scary one because I have done it. 😂
Special thanks to Sony Malaysia for gracing us with the WF-SP800N for the review and the upcoming content that is about to happen here at The Adventures of Vesper. We give the SP800N a Bronze Award for being an interesting TWS.