Sony WF-SP800N review: huge endurance, ANC and fantastic sound


“Like a top athlete, the Sony WF-SP800N earbuds excel in everything they do.”

  • good sound

  • Best in class battery life

  • Very good water and dust protection

  • Good active noise cancellation

  • Excellent call quality

  • Bulky charging case

  • No wireless charging

If you’ve looked at the best true wireless earbuds in the past year, you know we think of the world of the Sony WF-1000XM3. They excel in so many areas like noise cancellation, sound quality, and call quality that you have to dig pretty deep to find bugs.

However, we were much less impressed with Sony’s latest attempt at making a true wireless earbud set for the athletic audience, the WF-SP700N. The poor battery life was our main criticism, and we didn’t like the active noise cancellation.

Sony’s successor, the $ 200 WF-SP800Nare a completely different story. They’re a bit more expensive now, but Sony seems to have drawn all the lessons from the WF-1000XM3 in bringing the SP800N up to date.

Was Sony Successful? Let’s take a closer look.

Classic design with a twist

Sony WF-SP800NSimon Cohen / Digital Trends

The WF-SP800N follows the same general design that Sony used for all of its earbuds – it has a slightly elongated body that protrudes from the ear. Gone are the weird lima bean shape of the WF-SP700N, but these are still bulkier than most of today’s much smaller earbuds. They’re surprisingly heavy too. At 9.5 grams, they are 1 gram heavier than the XM3 and almost twice as heavy as Jabra’s Elite 75t, which weighs 5.5 grams.

Not that they feel heavy – in fact, the addition of a silicone ear fin helps them stay comfortably anchored. However, when you knock on the sidewalk you are definitely aware of it.

To get the ear fin in the correct position, you need to perform a double twisting motion when inserting it: one twist back to insert the ear fin in your ear and one twist forward to lock it in place. This tilts the earphones downwards – a different angle than the XM3.

Sony WF-SP800NSimon Cohen / Digital Trends

The combination of the large overall size of the SP800N and the integrated ear fins means that the charging case also plays a big role. It’s smaller than the chassis of the Powerbeats Pro and WF-1000XM3 and much smaller than the chunky chassis of the SP700N, but compared to the Jabra Elite 75t – a model I used during my review of the SP800N – it is much larger and not what I would call pocket friendly. In the picture above, the blue case is actually that of the Jabra Elite Active 75t, but it is identical to the case of the Elite 75t.

Unlike Apple’s more expensive AirPods Pro, there is no wireless charging option, just USB-C.

See the best battery

Sony WF-SP800NSimon Cohen / Digital Trends

If the battery life of the SP700N wasn’t particularly long, the SP800N was clearly designed to be overwhelming: it offers an impressive nine hours of battery life with the ANC function on and a whopping 13 hours with the battery off. That’s three more ANC hours and five more non-ANC hours than the WF-1000XM3. I haven’t been able to confirm these statistics during my short time with the earbuds, but Sony’s claims are usually consistent with actual results.

Only another model of true wireless earbuds can outperform 13 hours without ANC.

After nine hours of ANC, they’re only an hour behind the Master and Dynamic’s MW07 Plus, but the 13-hour performance without ANC shatters almost every other true wireless earbud we’ve seen. The only exception is JVC’s HA-XC90T after 15 hours.

The charging case only holds a single charge, which is a surprise given its physical size. But you can’t argue with all 26 hours of wireless time when you need it. According to Sony, 10 minutes of quick charge gives up to 60 minutes of music playback for a quick charge.

ANC added

Sony WF-SP800NSimon Cohen / Digital Trends

Sony deserves great credit for the popularity of active noise cancellation in true wireless earbuds – more is done to promote this feature than any other company.

The SP800N does not have Sony’s world-class ANC technology, the proprietary QN1e-ANC chip residing in the WF-1000XM3, and Sony won’t say which ANC technology the SP800N uses. But we know that: it works very well.

When reviewing a feature like ANC during a pandemic, I can’t say much about performance on a flight, but when using a combination of bathroom fans and vacuum cleaners as replacements, I can safely say the SP800N shouldn’t have an issue with the white rustle of an airplane cabin.

Sony won’t say what technology the SP800N is running on, but we know this: it works very well.

Outside is a different story. While using ANC while walking and jogging, I found that even the slightest breeze was creating unwanted noise as the external microphones were mistakenly trying to compensate for a noise that wasn’t actually there.

However, it’s not a big deal. The earbuds provide great passive sound isolation thanks to the tight sealing of the earbuds, so you probably won’t feel the need to activate ANC outdoors.

Call to all athletes

Sony WF-SP800NSimon Cohen / Digital Trends

Despite the wind-related problems of their ANC, the SP800N offers impressive call quality. I have phone call test many real wireless earbuds and these are the first that my callers described as sounding to my phone – kudos as most earbuds force you to compromise on the clarity you get Your phone to your ear.

The wind was felt on occasion, as was cars passing by, but the overall experience was excellent.

I’ve experienced one case where the earbuds lost connection to my phone while on a call, but that seems to have been an isolated incident. Wireless connectivity is generally excellent with the SP800N.

Great sound

Sony WF-SP800NSimon Cohen / Digital Trends

One of the great things about using Sony’s wireless headphones and true wireless earbuds is the company’s Headphones Connect app, which allows you to adjust a variety of settings including EQ. Unfortunately, the app wasn’t ready to work with the SP800N during my test period, so I had to be content with Sony’s factory sound settings. And I couldn’t have been happier.

If you want your workout to be accompanied by a driving bass-forward beat, you’ll love the SP800N.

The SP800N sounds ready to use right out of the box. The tones are warm and rich, and the lows, mids, and highs are well defined so the vocals stay crisp and clear. The soundstage is both wide and deep, which smaller earphones just can’t reproduce. And then there is the bass. It’s deeply resonant and offers an impressive level of immersion in bass-heavy tracks, but it just stops being shy to be overwhelming. If you want your workout to be accompanied by a driving bass-forward beat, you’ll love the SP800N.

If you don’t like the big bass, you can adjust the EQ in the Headphones Connect app, but I wasn’t able to test this.

The right touch

As with Sony’s XM3, all controls are controlled via touch-sensitive areas on the earphones. They are very accurate so accidental tapping is rare, but only the top half of the earbud can be used. This means that instead of just tapping the outside of the earbud, you’ll have to get used to finding the specific areas with your finger. Personally, I prefer the physical buttons on the Jabra Elite 75t, but the controls on the SP800N work just fine.

By default, you get play / pause, track skipping, answer / end calls, access to voice assistant and ANC mode. However, these can be changed in the Headphones Connect app. If you want the volume control you can have it, but it’s up to you to decide which of the other functions you want to swap out for.

One of these options includes the ability to swap your phone’s assistant for Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa. You can’t use their wake words to conjure them up, but the WF-SP800N is one of the few true wireless earbuds that offers that kind of flexibility.

If there is one thing I would change, it is better control over those decisions. With Sony, you can choose from control topics such as: B. Volume or ANC, and you cannot mix and match on the same earbud. You also can’t customize which functions are assigned to which gestures – something Jabra offers on its Elite line.

Like many true premium wireless earbuds, the SP800N has wear sensors that automatically pause your music when you remove an earbud. This can be deactivated in the app if you wish.

Our opinion

For $ 30 less than Sony’s superb WF-1000XM3, the $ 200 WF-SP800N has everything you could want in a set of true wireless earbuds, including excellent sound, decent ANC, tremendous battery life, and full protection IP55 water resistance rating. A slightly bulky charging case that doesn’t allow wireless charging is one of the few downsides, but I suspect this won’t be a deal breaker for many.

Is there a better alternative?

If workout earbuds are your thing, the Jabra is worth $ 200 Elite Active 75t are an excellent alternative. You can’t keep up with the SP800N’s battery life and their ANC isn’t as effective, but they’re super comfortable, offer more protection from water, and you can endlessly customize them with the Jabra app.

The best bet for people who want the impressive workout-friendly options of the SP800N at a lower price is the $ 150 JBL Reflect Mini NC. They may not match Sony’s sound, ANC, or battery life, but they are great value for money.

How long will they last?

As with most Sony products, the WF-SP800N comes with a one-year warranty. But that’s probably not an indicator of earbud life. They are very well built and with an IP55 rating, there is very little tossing at them for them not to survive. Treat them well and keep them in the charging case when you are not using them. They should be used regularly for many years.

Should you buy it?

Absolutely. The WF-SP800N is more versatile and capable than many premium earphones, and you’ll have a hard time finding a better workout companion.

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