Sony WF-C500 earphones within the check: small buds, massive sound


Sony WF-C500 earphones

RRP $ 100.00

“The base buds from Sony are the most comfortable so far and they have that Sony sound.”


  • Great Sony sound

  • Very comfortable fit

  • Excellent controls

  • Amazing earbuds battery life


  • Mediocre total battery life

  • No transparency mode

  • No sidetone on calls

Sony is no stranger to true wireless earbuds. It sells some of the best we’ve ever tested, like the WF-1000XM4 for $ 280, the WF-1000XM3 for $ 200, and the WF-SP800N for $ 200.

But Sony has been reluctant to step into the more budget-friendly end of the market. That is, until the WF-C500 hit the market for $ 100, its smallest and most affordable true wireless earbuds yet. But to bring the price down, Sony had to cut away many of the features that made its other models so compelling. Did it go too far? Let’s take a look.

That Sony sound

Sony WF-C500 true wireless earbuds.Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

I’ve tested a lot of Sony headphones and earbuds, and one thing I’ve found to be consistent is Sony’s sound signature. It tends to be warm, like getting a bear hug from your favorite songs. Bass is always solid but rarely intrusive, and there is usually a nice amount of detail and separation in the mids, upper-mids, and high frequencies. The good news for Sony fans is that the C500 doesn’t deviate from this sound formula – they sound rich and full, and the Sony Headphones app gives you the same amount of EQ tweaking that you get in the company’s flagship earbuds Find. the 1000XM4.

You can sit the C500 as low as you want and once in place it won’t move at all.

I’m not saying the C500 sounds as good as the XM4 – if they did it would be a miracle given the price – but they can do very well with any other set of earbuds I’ve tested on the same or similar prices, such as Jabra Elite 3, Soundcore Life P3, Sennheiser CX True Wireless and Wyze Buds Pro. If you’re a fan of ultra-clear high frequencies, the C500 may sound a bit muffled, but again, the app’s EQ adjustments can go a long way in helping to get exactly the sound you’re looking for.

There is very good stereo separation. And the C500’s soundstage, while not as wide or deep as its more expensive siblings, is still large enough to make you feel like your music is around you, not buried in your skull. I’ve found the shape of the buds to provide excellent noise isolation. While there is no active noise cancellation (ANC), you may not feel its absence too clearly.

The C500 are equipped with the quality-enhancing DSEE technology from Sony, which increases the sound quality even further, especially when listening to highly compressed digital music.

Great fit

Sony WF-C500 true wireless earbuds side by side with Sony WF-1000XM4.Sony WF-C500 (left) and Sony WF-1000XM4 Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

As much as I admire the way Sony earbuds sound and (if applicable) cancel noise, they aren’t always the most comfortable headphones. The WF-1000XM3 and SP800N stick out of the ears a little awkwardly, and the WF-1000XM4 takes up a lot of space in the concha, which will be a challenge for those with smaller ears. The C500, on the other hand, are far more comfortable. They still fill your entire outer ear like the XM4, but they’re just a tad smaller.

These are good controls – their surface area is almost the same size as the earbuds so you can’t miss them.

It doesn’t look like much of a difference if you sit them next to each other, but in your ear it’s a different story. You can insert them as deep as needed, and once in place they won’t move at all. Combine this with their IPX4 water and sweat resistance and you have a nice little set of companions that will make runners and other fitness enthusiasts pretty happy, but with one major caveat: there is no transparency mode so you need to be extra vigilant when You wear them while around potential safety hazards like traffic.

Big buttons

Sony WF-C500 true wireless earbuds.Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Another first for the WF-C500 is the use of oversized, physical buttons. In the past, Sony preferred touch controls on their earbuds, which work well, but I’ll be using physical buttons instead of touch controls every day. And those are good controls – their surface area is almost the same size as the earbuds themselves, so you can’t miss them. They take almost no force to push (sometimes a good thing, sometimes not) and provide a nice tactile click when you push them. They’re not quite as satisfactory to use as Jabra’s buttons, but they come very close to them.

The WF-C500 lacks some helpful functions such as transparency mode and auto-pause.

There’s no way to change how the buttons are controlled, but you get pretty much everything you need: play / pause, skip forward / back tracks, answer / end a call, increase / decrease volume, and trigger voice assistant. You can also use the earbuds independently for music and calls, but depending on which you choose, you will lose access to the volume or track skip features.

Best (and worst?) Battery

Sony sometimes makes mind-boggling choices, like the tiny USB charging cables it includes with its full-size headphones or the inconsistent support for Bluetooth codecs. With the C500, I find it difficult to understand why the company decided to adorn the earbuds with a phenomenal battery life of 10 hours (certainly one of the largest capacities at this price), but then decided to charge the same time to give case.

Typically, you can expect between two and three full charges on a charging case. If this had been the case with the C500, Sony could have created a fantastic total gaming experience of 30 to 40 hours. But with only 20 total hours, these earbuds actually land on the lower end of the real wireless spectrum, which is a shame. A quick charge option gives you an extra hour of playtime with just 10 minutes of charging time.

case closed

Sony WF-C500 true wireless earbuds.Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

I won’t say much about the charging case of the WF-C500. It doesn’t offer wireless charging, but its compact, rounded shape sits comfortably in the hand or pocket. The earbuds snap on and off with ease, and the case lid opens and closes with a nice, precise movement. The LED indicator lights on the housing and the buds are visible through the translucent plastic of the lid.

Answer call (inside)

Call quality on the C500 can be very good, but you have to choose your moments. They don’t do very well for external noise cancellation and loud noises like traffic or wind drown your voice. But when you go to a quiet place it’s a whole different experience – your voice will come across with a lot of clarity and detail. Unfortunately, even in quiet places, you will find that the sound of your own voice is muffled because the C500 does not have call listening functionality.

Didn’t make the cut

So what did Sony leave out functionally to offer the WF-C500 for $ 100? Quite a lot:

  • Wireless charging
  • Active noise cancellation
  • Transparency mode
  • In-ear sensors for autoplay / pause
  • Fit test for earplugs
  • Customizable controls
  • Sidetone for calls

Our opinion

Man with Sony WF-C500 True Wireless Earbuds.Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

The WF-C500 are a very comfortable set of true wireless earphones with excellent sound quality. They’re missing some helpful features like transparency mode and auto-pause, and their overall battery life is a bit anemic, but they’re still a good buy for Sony fans looking for a budget-friendly set of buds.

Is there a better alternative?

Yeah, I think Jabra is $ 80 Elite 3 manages to offer more advantages and a lower price point than the WF-C500, which means that you should definitely consider these before buying the Sonys.

The Elite 3 has a transparency mode that comes in very handy for people who wear their earbuds for hours or even just jogging around the neighborhood.

They are extremely comfortable, have better dust and water protection (IP55) and while they don’t last as long on a single charge (7 hours versus 10 hours), the overall time is better (28 hours versus 20 hours). . The Jabra Sound + app can even track the last known location of the Elite 3.

The sound quality is very comparable, but here I give the C500 a bit of an edge if for no reason other than Sony you can customize the C500’s EQ in more ways, and its DSEE technology can definitely improve the sound of some digital music.

How long will they last?

It’s always hard to tell if you’ve only had a short amount of time with a product like this, but the WF-C500 appears to be very well built and will likely prove to be quite rugged. However, their biggest advantage in terms of longevity is their battery capacity. As a product ages and you go through multiple charge / discharge cycles, its capacity decreases. If you only start with four to five hours, you will only be able to see two hours after a few years. Even if the C500 dipped 50% in capacity (a worst case scenario), they would still last longer than a brand new set of Apple AirPods Pro.

Should you buy it?

Yes sir. You can find other earbuds that cost less and have more features, but what is it? WF-C500 do, they do it very well.

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