Oh headphones! There are as many choices in headphones as there are fish in the sea. For the most part today, the biggest trend in headphones is truly wireless earbuds. These compact, in-ear devices come with many different features and options. I recently had a chance to spend a week with Sony’s WF-XB700 truly wireless headphones. I’ll tell you how they sound, what they can and can’t do and whether I think they’re a good buy for your on the go listening.
Fit, looks & styling of the Sony WF-XB700 truly wireless earbuds
While these headphones won’t win any design awards, that’s not really the point, is it? These are all about the sound and that shows. The plastic case feels inexpensive, light and hollow, but it’s quite secure and you’ll need both hands to open it.
The headphones themselves have a kind of three-tiered design that makes them look a bit like a wedding cake and I will say right out of the gate that they stick out really far from your ears, and sit over top of the back of your ears, overlapping the back of the ear.
While the in-ear portion is actually surprisingly comfortable and fits well, I couldn’t let go of the feeling that these were about to tip out of my ears. There’s no fin or hook to help hold it in place, so all the fit elements come from choosing the right silicone ear tip.
I measured the thickness and these are about one-third fatter, or deeper than many other earbuds and probably 50% larger than some of the smallest ones I’ve reviewed lately.
In the box you get the earbuds, charging case, 4 sets of ear gels and a USB-C cable for charging (no AC adapter).
Setting up the Sony WF-XB700
The set up on these earbuds is ridiculously easy; when you put them in your ears they’ll automatically turn on. If it’s your first use they’ll go into pairing mode automatically, then you can connect to Bluetooth via your phone’s settings menu.
Worth noting these will reconnect to the last device you used them with but you can’t pair to more than one device at once; you’ll need to manually switch among devices.
When you pair a second or subsequent device (the headset has pairing information for other devices), press and hold the buttons on both the left and right units for about 7 seconds.
Sound quality of the Sony WF-XB700
It’s generally well understood that Sony makes great sounding headphones. These WF-XB700 truly wireless earbuds sound excellent. The bass is boss, the vocals come clearly through the music, and they don’t lean to either the high or low end… Okay, maybe a touch to the low end but I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t like a bit more bass in their ears.
Overall the sound quality is outstanding.
Connectivity of the Sony WF-XB700 truly wireless earbuds
These headphones have a strong connection! I was able to walk all over my main floor, even putting walls between the headphones and my phone, and still get a strong, clear signal with no breakup or distortion.
These buds promise 18 hours of battery life, with a long nine hours in the buds and another nine in the case. Nine hours in the buds is a lot, and most truly wireless earbuds struggle to get more than 4-6 hours. I tried to run them down a few times and definitely got 4 hours out of them, but I always had to abandon my tests so I never got a full 9 hours in a row to challenge this.
There is fast charging available with these earbuds, with 10 minutes of power getting 60 minutes of listening. Charging is meant to be USB-C to USB only; there’s no AC adapter included in the box.
Special features of the Sony WF-XB700 truly wireless earbuds
When it comes to special features, there’s not a lot to add here. There’s no digital noise cancelling, no ambient mode/transparent hearing and no app to refine your sound preferences.
Sony Extra Bass
Sony headphones are known for their bass. And these don’t disappoint. These headphones thrum nicely and thump mightily.
Google, Siri, Alexa Voice assistant control
If you’re always on the line with your digital assistant, you can use it via the headphones.
Sound isolation is good.
While there’s no noise cancelling, the sound isolation (the physical barrier created by a good seal and proper fit) is outstanding. Perhaps it’s because these cover so much of your ear hole, but I was able to sit in blissful silence and not hear the neighbour’s lawn mower, even without music playing.
No video latency
A common problem that’s becoming increasingly less common as manufacturers deal with it is video latency, where your video on your smartphone or tablet is grossly out of step with the audio. I’m happy to report no issues with latency when watching videos and listening using the Sony WF-XB700 truly wireless earbuds.
Overall review of the Sony WF-XB700 truly wireless earbuds
The sound quality of these is top notch and the best thing about them. There’s not one bad thing to say about the audio quality and they are music magic in your ears. I’m also impressed with the stated battery life.
Downsides? The plastic charging case feels cheap, sure, but it’s actually pretty secure. I think the looks are lacklustre (they only come in black and dark blue—not much of a choice) and the giant tiered design does make them stick out from your ears ridiculously.
Initially the fit really bothered me, but the more I listened, the less I was annoyed by it and eventually I largely forgot I was wearing them. The fit is snug without being tight and it’s pretty comfortable overall.
These are what I’d call workhorse utilitarian headphones. They don’t have extra features and they’re not flashy. So, they’re no Ferrari and don’t pretend to be. They’re more like a really nice new Ford F-150.