Sony's new entry-level C500 earbuds were released just a few weeks ago. For a limited time, they're already on sale at Amazon for $68, or $32 off their $100 list price.
While the C500's design sensibility shares a lot more with the high-end WF-1000XM4 than its predecessor, the WFF-XB700 Extra Bass, it isn't regarded as earbuds' only noise-reducing feature and is rather basic as far as design goes, with no ear-detection sensors or transparency mode. However, the buds are light, compact, comfortable, and sound like they would be for a beginner model.
While these earbuds have background noise reduction when calling, they only have one microphone in each earbud. Many earbuds now have two or more microphones to assist process ambient noise and record your voice.
Read more. Best noise-canceling headphones for 2021
In some ways, they are comparable to Jabra's new $80 Elite 3 earbuds, but with higher sound quality for less than $100. I didn't like the shape of Sony's ear tips and went with a pair of large Sennheiser tips to achieve 'perfect seal' (these use Sony s' older EAR tips, while the new WF-1000XM4 have redesigned tips that are better but don' t fit my ears perfectly). For optimal sound quality and maximum bass performance, a tight seal is critical.
The C500 doesn't have the richer, more refined (and dynamic) sound of the WF-1000XM4, but they do have ample bass and decent clarity, thanks to Sony's Digital Sound Enhancement Engine technology, which it claims helps "restore high frequency sound to create a more authentic listening experience." The same digital processing technology is used in the 1000XM4 models.
They're warmer (the treble isn't harsh), which I prefer, and allow you to spend longer listening sessions without feeling tired. They will be able to update firmware through the Sony Headphones Connect app.
I liked that they're equipped with physical controls (not touch), and that it was easy to advance tracks with a double tap on the right bud. You can adjust the volume by double tapping on the left earbud (raising volume) or holding the button down (lower volume).
The earbuds are rated IPX4, so they're splash-proof, and they can store up to 10 hours of battery life at moderate volume levels on a single charge. That's an impressive battery life. In the charging case, which uses USB-C, there's also an extra charge.
I wouldn't say the C500 looks or feels cheap, but like the WF-XB700, they don'' "feel" like premium earbuds. As we approach the holiday shopping season, I predicted their street price would be closer to $70 when they were released in September. Sure enough, they are. I do expect to see price drops on the other three colors (the green version is apparently exclusive to Best Buy right now) in the coming weeks.
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