Everytime I review a pair of earbuds I look for a feature that makes them stand out from the competition.
It’s a competitive market with most budget earbuds looking, feeling and sounding the same. The only way to beat the competition is to be different.
For the most part, Sony has created a budget pair of earbuds that don’t do anything to mix it up. The WF-C500 earbuds have a familiar design; the audio quality they produce is okay; they have an okay battery, and, like most budget earbuds, they lack premium features.
The only way the WF-C500 stands out is through its RRP. At $120 these are really affordable earbuds, with audio quality that is more in-line with a $200 pair of earbuds – better still, the brilliant Sony Connect App allows you to customise the sound to your liking.
That said, it should be noted that these buds do lack bass capabilities, and don’t have ANC – but not many budget earbuds do. And for $120 it’s quite easy to forgo the lack of high-quality features.
- Great price
- Sony Connect app
- Comfortable and light
- High and mid frequencies sound good
- Lack premium features
- Struggle with bass
- Ugly case
- Battery could be better
Sony’s WF-C500 earbuds cost $120. These are affordable earbuds at the lower end of the price range, more in line with the $218 Sennheiser CX True Wireless Earbuds or the $159 Huawei Freebuds 4i than the $450 Apple AirPods and $400 Bose QuietComforts.
Don’t write these earbuds off too quickly, though – although they’re cheaper I was impressed at the audio quality they produced.
If you don’t need the latest and greatest earbud features and your budget is around $100, these are perfect.
The WF-C500 earbuds have an unremarkable design, they look and feel like any other earbud and don’t do anything to mix up the market. It’s all very familiar but it works.
At 5.4g per earbud, they’re light and comfortable. I had no issues wearing them for long periods.
They come with three different sized ear tips that will accommodate most ears, and they boast an IPX4 resistance rating meaning they’ll survive splashes of water, but aren’t able to go underwater.
Touch sensor controls, found on more premium earbuds have been replaced with large buttons on both the left and right earbuds. While pressing a button may not look as “cool” as sliding my finger to turn the volume up, I didn’t have any problems with the controls and often found them easier to use than sensors. It’s responsive and I never came across the earbuds mistaking my input for something else.
You can pause/play audio, skip/rewind tracks, answer and make phone calls and turn the volume up with the buttons. Everything you need is here.
To get to a $120 price, some features need to be removed or downgraded. One of the main areas where this has occurred is the case. Functionally it’s fine, it houses the earbuds and charges them. Aesthetically it’s way off the more expensive earbud cases. It’s big, made of cheap plastic and has a stiff hinge. Similar to the lack of touch sensor controls, I didn’t see this as a major issue. Even with more expensive earbuds I’m not bothered by the case, if it charges the earbuds, and keeps them in one place that’s fine by me. I’d much rather pay less than have the best looking case on the market.
In regards to audio quality, these earbuds punch above their price-range. Of course they aren’t as capable as $500 earbuds but I was impressed by the sound they produced.
The biggest discrepancy between more expensive earbuds and cheaper $120 earbuds is bass. And it’s the same here. The bass capabilities are lacking. Don’t expect bone rattling bass and punchy subs frequencies with the WF-C500’s. Compared to the latest and greatest earbuds it’s a long way off.
Mid and high frequencies sounded fine. Vocals were clear and prominent when listening to Arrival in Nara by Alt-J. I could easily pinpoint and isolate specific instruments in more complex mixes like Typical Story by Hobo Johnson and overall the earbuds produced a well-balanced sound.
For bass heavy genres like Trap, EDM and Hip Hop, the bass was noticeably lacking. If these are the genres you listen to most, these earbuds probably aren’t for you. With that said you’ll be hard pressed finding earbuds with capable bass at this price range.
The WF-C500s are compatible with the very good Sony Connect app which allows you to customise the earbuds to your liking. Whether changing the touch controls, getting the right fit for your ear or EQ’ing the sound, it all worked well and was easy to do. The EQ graph is simple and comprehensive and while it won’t make the earbuds more capable, it did allow me to get the sound exactly how I wanted it.
In the app you can turn on DSEE (Digital Sound Enhancement Engine). This is supposed to provide a better listening experience by restoring high frequencies using strategic fade-outs. I didn’t notice any difference when this was turned on.
Features or lack-there-of is where Sony did most of its cost cutting. There’s no ANC (active noise cancellation), no ambient sound mode, and while there are microphones, they don’t have any wind cancellation and aren’t the best for phone calls.
If you’re looking for a pair of earbuds to simply listen to music, or you don’t want to spend upwards of $250 for a premium pair of earbuds, these missing features won’t bother you.
I was impressed by the amount of noise isolation produced due to their tight fit. It didn’t block out all background noise but it did a good job of blocking high pitched sounds like bird noises. I could still hear lower frequency sounds like car engines and occasionally people talking but I was expecting that from a $120 pair of earbuds.
The WF-C500 supports AAC and SBC codecs and you can use one earbud at a time. Other than that, there aren’t many features that make these earbuds standout.
The battery capabilities of these earbuds were good and bad. Boasting 20 hours total, (case included), it’s a little behind the competition.
What I did like is the earbuds hold 10 hours of charge themselves, which is slightly above the competition.
The earbuds might not last a long flight without needing charging, but if you’re flying you’ll probably want earbuds with ANC anyway.
Using the WF-C500 for commutes to work and back was fine. If you’re using them all day though, expect to charge them.
There isn’t much here that makes Sony’s WF-C500 earbuds standout. They produce an okay sound, they’re comfortable and light but lack any premium features.
If you compare these earbuds to other earbuds in the same price-range, you’ll barely notice a difference.
The standout here is the price. These are incredibly affordable at $120 and they punch above their weight. The audio quality they produce is more in line with a $200 pair of earbuds like the Sennheiser CX True Wireless Earbud than a $100 pair of earbuds like the Jib True.
If you’re looking for an affordable pair of earbuds and you don’t need premium features like ANC, or ambient sound mode then Sony’s WF-C500 earbuds are a great option.