Finding just the right headphones can be daunting. Between, fit and comfort, sound quality and just choosing which style best works with your needs and lifestyle, there’s a lot out there. For athletic or active types, truly wireless earbuds are a very convenient option. I recently had the chance to test the Sony WF-SP800N wireless earbuds. Here’s what I learned.
What’s in the box of the Sony WF-SP800N?
With Sony WF-SP800N, you get a charging case, multiple ear tips, along with a USB-C to USB-A cable. Being IP55 dust and water-resistant, they are capable of withstanding water from all angles and are pretty much a fortress against dirt or dust.
When it comes to the big key features, these have battery life that should last up to 19 hours and they are IPX55 water resistant.
Design and fit of the Sony WF-SP800N
If you look at the SP800N, you’ll see that they are large and chunky—in fact they remind me more of a small Bluetooth headset than ear buds. Yes, like the Sony WF-XB700 which I reviewed a couple of weeks ago, these are thick and fat and stick out from your ear in a massive way. These feel like they’ll tip right out of my ear, and ladies, if you’re constantly pushing your hair behind your ear as I do, you’ll no doubt be constantly knocking into them with your hands. I would say without doubt, they are designed for men so if you’re looking for something a little more discrete or dainty, keep searching.
Features for active lifestyles of the Sony WF-SP800N
One of the key differences from this Sony WF-SP800N compared to the 700 is that these are dedicated more towards active types, so they have some additional features the 700s don’t. For starters, silicone ear fins will help hold these in place while you move. Indeed, much to my surprise, with the fins hooked in, the Sony WF-SP800N feel extremely secure.
The Sony WF-SP800N also have noise cancelling and ambient mode, which the 700’s did not. More on those features in a sec.
Giant charging case
The charging case is giant compared to a lot of other cases and holds the earbuds magnetically. Even so, the lid feels secure and the bigger case makes it easy to fumble for in the bottom of my bag. With a rounded bottom, it must stay laying down.
The headphones themselves are sleek and basic, but do have a bit of a boxier feel; think more edges and ledges, as opposed to the sleek, round pebbly feel some other earbuds these days have.
Even so, once the ‘giant wine cork’ in your ear feeling goes away, they feel comfortable.
Sound Quality of the Sony WF-SP800N
Despite their massive size, or maybe because of it, these wireless earbuds give you a full-bodied and detailed sound. With powerful bass at your command, you get brilliantly balanced audio that you can tweak to your requirements.
There’s a pretty sweet resonance, smooth sound, and nice even vocals. Even though sound quality gets little spotty when it comes to wireless earbuds, the Sony WF-SP800N sound relatively clean, and there is little to no distortion. You can check out my test playlist on Spotify to see what I listened to on these, but I did try a wide variety of music and it all sounded good.
Battery Life of the Sony WF-SP800N
Battery life can be a deal-breaking or making feature. With the Sony WF-SP800N, you get a battery life of up to 18 hours, according to Sony. The buds themselves hold an astonishing 9 hours, with the case holding another 9 hour charge, and that’s while most truly wireless buds only have a maximum playback time of about 5 hours. So, even if the Sony WF-SP800N are slightly bulkier, the battery life compensates quite well for the additional bulk.
These blessedly have fast charging too, where just 10 minutes of juice gets you an hour of use.
Ambient Sound Mode & Noise cancelling
One of the most wanted features in pretty much any headphones folks ask me about today is ambient mode and noise cancelling.
The good news is the Sony WF-SP800N has both! Well, kind of. You use these 2 features together in these headphones but you need to control it in the Sony Headphones Connect app. Let me see if I can explain…
Noise cancellation is a feature which uses digital signals to block out outside noise to keep it from bleeding into your headphones.
Ambient mode digitally lets some ambient noise into the earphones, while still playing your music and keeping the buds in your ears. This feature does indeed let you hear around you and its handy for joggers, cyclists and more who need to stay attuned to their surroundings during a workout.
In the Sony WF-SP800N in order to use noise cancellation, you have to use the Sony Headphones Connect app and you use a slider bar in the app to crank up the noise cancellation, or to let more sound in. Clear as mud?
The noise cancelling balanced with ambient listening on these headphones is actually pretty good, despite the seemingly weird way this is set up. You can adjust exactly how much background noise to let in using the app to fine tune it to your space and surroundings.
Sony Headphones Connect app
Let’s dig in on the Headphones Connect app. The app can actually do a lot: it lets you adjust your bass levels and there’s also a handful of audio pre-sets in the app, and each of them is quite different. I usually don’t go in for these settings since I feel like they don’t do much, but in this case, I did notice a vast difference in sound when switching between Bass Boost, Voice, Bright, Excited, etc.
Sony will analyze your inner ear shape
You can even have the headphones analyze your ear shape, though why or what it’s supposed to do is a mystery. The app will take photos of your ears and says it’s sending the data to Sony, but there’s no follow up, no ‘try this ear tip instead’, no, ‘we found your ears are too echoey’ or whatever. So now Sony has photos of both my ears. What it’s going to do for me is not made clear.
Adaptive Sound Control in the Sony WF-SP800N
Another feature of the SP800N has is the Adaptive Sound Control. With the help of location tracking and internal sensors, this feature adjusts the ambient audio and noise-canceling levels on its own, depending on where you are and what you are doing. Imagine being a crowded street and your earbuds automatically adjusting the level of noise cancellation. Pretty handy, right?
There are a few other features which can also be controlled in the app: auto-pause when you remove the buds and auto power off.
Set up and pairing
The set up process is easy enough; the first time you use the headphones they go into pairing mode automatically. With my iPhone 11, I just went to the Bluetooth menu and tapped to connect. When I tried to use the Sony Headphones Connect app, however, it couldn’t find the headphones to get things set up. After I dropped out of the Sony app and did the Bluetooth pair, I went back to the app and they were ready to manage.
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.
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-SP800N truly wireless earbuds.
Voice assistant support & phone call capabilities
I don’t use these myself much, but for those that do, there’s voice assistant support and you can make phone calls on these. My calls were clear, I could hear well, and my callers said I sounded good too.
Overall review of the Sony WF-SP800N wireless earbuds
So, should you buy the Sony WF-SP800N? Well, if you are looking for versatility, value, and good playback time, then the answer is yes. With effective noise-cancellation, stable connectivity, water-resistance, and excellent sound, they are definitely worth your money.
With so many features at an affordable rate, we are willing to overlook a few flaws that SP800N has, like the buds’ big hulking shape, and large round case.