Sony WF-XB700 Review
Quick verdict: Sony's extra bass headphones deliver a solid thumping sound at a good price.
- Lightweight and comfortable
- Good overall sound
- Great battery life
- Slow pairing
- Difficult to pair to new devices
- Bulky design
Usually, when a headphone maker proclaims that its headphones feature extra bass, I'm extra cautious. That's not because it's true, but because it usually signifies a pair of headphones where the bass focus drowns out the rest of the audio profile, making them only really useful if all you ever do is listen to heavily bass-inspired music.
Sony slaps EXTRA BASS on the Sony WF-XB700 headphones – in all caps, no less – but manages nicely to dodge that trap, delivering a generally pleasing sound in a set of true wireless buds that also benefits from really good battery life.
- Lightweight case and buds
- Wide bud design won't please everyone
- IPX4 sweat resistant
Sony has quite a reputation for eye-catching design – just look at the PS5 – but the Sony WF-XB700 headphones are remarkably plain. Each bud comprises an inner section with your choice of sized tips leading out to an ovoid disc that sticks out of your ear. It's not a style that everyone will love, but it does at least bounce cleanly past just looking like yet another AirPods clone.
For such a large set of buds, it's surprising how light and comfortable they actually are to wear. As always, you may have to experiment with tip selection, but I had no issues with the default preinstalled tips over many hours of listening. The case is also rather lightweight, which is great in a carrying sense but also feels just a little bit cheap. There's definitely a big design line between these simpler and cheaper Sony WF-XB700 headphones and Sony's more fully-featured wireless buds.
One nice feature that isn't always present on sub-$200 true wireless buds is IP-rated water resistance. The Sony WF-XB700 are IPX4 rated, which essentially means that you can sweat in them without too many worries, not that you should go swimming with them. Having tested them over a few 5K runs, they sit in place nicely and certainly haven't died due to a little moisture so far.
- Easy initial pairing, tough subsequent pairing
- Slow to pair across Android and iOS
- Clean sound even on non-bass-centric music
Like every other set of true wireless buds on the market, the Sony WF-XB700s will automatically look for a pairable device when you first pop them out of their case. There's no app to install here – which also means no opportunity to play with equalisation settings outside your music player of choice – but they'll work across both Android and iOS devices as well as any Bluetooth-enabled tablet or PC.
I know this because I paired the Sony WF-XB700 headphones with a wide variety of devices, and that did reveal two slight issues. Actual pairing is handled through the left bud, and it's not always particularly quick to hook up to devices if there's already a pairing relationship present. The other surprise here is that there's no pairing button on the charging case as is the norm for most models. If you want to pair the Sony WF-XB700 headphones to a new device, you've got to hold the call/volume buttons on each bud down for at least seven seconds and sometimes more, waiting and listening to be told that they're in pairing mode. That's far less convenient than a pairing button.
Pairing gripes aside, I was taken by how well Sony has managed to actually balance all that EXTRA BASS in the Sony WF-XB700. I'd feared that they'd only be good for the most thumping of tracks, but even on more high pitched or mid-range tones, they delivered decent sound. Look, almost nobody's going to buy a pair of headphones that so loudly proclaims EXTRA BASS without wanting it, but for other listening tasks, they're actually pretty good. The typical bass traps of audio – especially voice – sounding muddy or distorted is kept to a minimum here, and that's very welcome indeed.
- Very good battery life
- USB-C charging
Lower cost wireless buds often skimp on battery life because it's an easy way to save money or make your more premium buds seem like better value, but that's not what Sony's done with the Sony WF-XB700 headphones. Sony rates the Sony WF-XB700 as being good for up to 9 hours of music playback before exhausting its charge, and my own tests suggest that's an entirely fair figure. The charging case itself works via USB-C, with a supplied cable but no charger in the box.
With no app to install, you're relying on the Bluetooth battery meter of your connected device to keep track, but between the 9 hours of the buds and the additional 9-hour charge from the lightweight case, Sony's 18-hour battery life figure is entirely achievable.
Should you buy the Sony WF-XB700?
- Buy it if you want a decent bass-centric set of true wireless buds.
- Don't buy it if you want more audio control or easier pairing to new devices.
Don't be put off by the bold EXTRA BASS tagline on the Sony WF-XB700 headphones; while there's a focus on bass without a doubt and you'd be disappointed if there wasn't, these are a genuinely good pair of everyday use lower cost true wireless headphones.
Pricing and availability
Images: Alex Kidman
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