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Hands-on with the Sony WF-SP800N earphone
Hands-on with the Sony WF-SP800N earphone IBTimes / Jeff Li

Sony is making a comeback of sorts with their noise cancelling headphone offerings. Starting from their WH-1000XM series headphones that is considered the only contender that can go head-to-head with Bose's Quietcomfort as the most popular noise cancelling headphones. Then Sony brought that excellence to the WF-1000XM3, gaining raving reviews as one of the best noise cancelling True Wireless earphones on the market.

The WF-SP800N can be seen as a sports edition of the WF-1000XM3, which inherits much of its predecessor's design cues and functionality with some added features of its own. How does it fare in real-life use? We dove in to find out.


Build Quality that Exceeds Apple AirPods Pro

Upon unboxing the WF-SP800N, it was like a restored moment of glory of the haydays of Sony. From its meticulous packaging, branding, font on printed words, the Sony team is paying attention to the smallest detail. It's a reminder of the working spirit that Japan is known for, which is to take pride in every job, no matter how small.


The build quality of the WF-SP800N is uniquely Sony, it has a different polished feel from Apple. The matte finished white surface on the case and earbuds makes them look and feel like artwork worth displaying. The gentle 'click' the lid makes holding it open at its full extent is a prime example of a build quality that distinguishes it from any other true wireless earbuds that we've tested so far.


Following the design cue of the WF-1000XM3, most of the body of the earbuds is in a beautiful white surface, with the exception of the touch control area, which like a laptop touchpad is a glossy finish. The indicator LEDs are beneath the shell surrounding the touch controls, illuminating through the translucent white plastic, which looks both polished and premium.


Flipping the earbuds over, you'll find the proximity sensor behind a glossy black surface, and the three copper contact charging points that feature a precisely chamfered surface - a prime example of attention to detail to its premium build.


Signature Sony Sound with Extra Bass

The WF-SP800N sound out of the box has that signature Sony characteristic, a flavor that's unique to the brand. The default sound is not flat, but isn't over 'enhanced' following the Harman curve either. It has a balanced quality which I am used to hearing from Sony earphones, giving a clear representation across all frequencies.

However as always, Sony makes sure that the user has full control over customization of sound. Even since Mega Bass and Groove back in the day, the enhancement option was always available. For the WF-SP800N, the enhancement is done through the Sony 'Sound' app available from both the Apple App Store and Google Play store.

In the Sound App, under the 'Sound' tab, and hitting the settings button, one can adjust the Extra Bass on a slider, as well as a 5-band equalizer to customize their favorite sound. Sony also offers a range of preset equalizer profiles that you can cycle through instead of manually setting your own.


Fast and stable connectivity

Out of the True Wireless headphones that I have tried, the fastest connecting headphones were all from Jabra, with other makers not even coming close. The Sony WF-SP800N however is up there with the fastest of them, always connecting to the playback device without fail whether I take single or both earbuds out of the case.

Since each of the WF-SP800N earbuds connect to the device directly instead of relaying information between earbuds, this gives them a consistently stable connection. Throughout my time using these earbuds, I have not experienced any hiccups during playback, even when out among crowds.


IP55 Waterproofing and Secure fit for Sports Use

The WF-SP800N is rated at IP55, probably the biggest advantage that it has over the crowd favorite WF-1000XM3. Sweat from exercising or being rained on won't be a cause for concern for its user.


The silicone arc supporter is another point of difference between the two true wireless earphones, which are two soft hooks that grip the part of your outer ear called cymba. It's an elegant solution as opposed to full ear hooks that loops around the top of the ear, because they can be an obstruction to prescription glasses or sunglasses wearers.

The arc supporters provide a very secure fit for the earphones, and to ensure that you get the best fit possible, Sony even includes two sets of these hooks in size M and size L.


Final Verdict

If you're someone who enjoys Sony's signature sound with the bass boost, and are looking for true wireless earphones that feature waterproofing and secure fit for an active lifestyle, the WF-SP800N could be the perfect option for you. These are earphones that will be especially appreciated by people who love beautiful design and meticulous build, Sony is one of the few headphone makers who puts these at the top of their design brief.

Sam is a production engineer turned tech writer who specializes in seeking out gadgets that enhances productivity while still looking sharp. This is a contribution to an ongoing IBTimes review series on gadgets for Business Travelers.