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Sony WF-C500 Truly Wireless Headphones Review

Tested using Methodology v1.5
Reviewed Nov 23, 2021 at 10:29 am
Sony WF-C500 Truly Wireless Picture
7.4
Neutral Sound
7.6
Commute/Travel
8.0
Sports/Fitness
7.0
Office
5.7
Wireless Gaming
5.6
Wired Gaming
6.7
Phone Calls
Type In-ear
Enclosure Closed-Back
Wireless Truly Wireless
Noise Cancelling No
Mic Yes
Transducer Dynamic

The Sony WF-C500 are budget-friendly earbuds with a very neutral sound profile. Ηowever, our unit's left and right earbuds are a bit mismatched, and there's more low-bass in our unit's right ear. Their sound can be customized with a graphic EQ and presets in their companion app, which also lets you set up 360 Reality Audio, a surround sound feature, although you need to pay for a compatible streaming service for it to work. They also have a long continuous battery life of about 14 hours. Their controls are big buttons on the outside surface of the buds, but unfortunately, they aren't very intuitive at first and can hurt your ears when pressed.

Note: We noticed a hissing or white noise sound in our earbuds when no audio is playing. There are also some online reports from users who had the same issue. While it may not affect every pair, it can be annoying over time. If you own these headphones, please let us know your experience in the discussions below.

Our Verdict

7.4 Neutral Sound

The Sony WF-C500 are decent for neutral sound. Out of the box, they have a very neutral sound profile suitable for a variety of genres. Ηowever, sibilants like S and T sounds are a bit dull. Also, our unit's right driver is noticeably more bass-heavy than the left and delivers a bit of extra thump and rumble to mixes. Like most in-ear headphones, they have a small, closed-off passive soundstage. On the plus side, they work with a good app that has a graphic EQ and presets.

Pros
  • Graphic EQ and presets.
Cons
  • Passive soundstage seems small and unnatural.
7.6 Commute/Travel

The Sony WF-C500 are good for commute and travel. They struggle to block out the sound of rumbling bus and plane engines, but they're very portable and come with a sturdy case to protect them when you're out and about. They also have a long continuous battery life of roughly 14 hours. The case holds only one extra charge, but they should still last you through a long flight or your 9-5 workday and commute.

Pros
  • Long continuous battery life.
  • Good build quality.
Cons
  • No ANC feature.
8.0 Sports/Fitness

The Sony WF-C500 are great for sports and fitness. They're very portable, have a long continuous battery life, and are decently stable, so they should stay in place during a run. They're also well-built and rated IPX4 for resistance against being splashed with water. Ηowever, they can fall out of your ears if you make more exaggerated movements.

Pros
  • IPX4 rating for water resistance.
  • Long continuous battery life.
Cons
  • Can fall out during intense workouts.
7.0 Office

The Sony WF-C500 are satisfactory for office use. Despite not having an ANC feature, they block out a good amount of office-type noise, like chatting coworkers or the hum of an A/C unit. They also have a long, 14-hour continuous battery life, so you don't need to pause to recharge them during a 9-5 workday. Unfortunately, they don't have multi-device pairing, and the buttons on the earbuds can hurt your ears to use.

Pros
  • Long continuous battery life.
  • Controls for answer/ending calls.
Cons
  • No ANC feature.
  • Mic has mediocre noise handling.
5.7 Wireless Gaming

The Sony WF-C500 are Βluetooth-only headphones. They're compatible with Βluetooth-enabled PCs but have high latency, so you may notice a delay if you use them to game. They also aren't compatible with PlayStation or Xbox consoles.

5.6 Wired Gaming

The Sony WF-C500 are truly wireless headphones, and you can't use them wired.

6.7 Phone Calls

The Sony WF-C500 are okay for phone calls. Recorded speech is clear but thin-sounding, and your voice can get drowned out if you take a call somewhere loud, like a busy street or subway station. Also, they don't have an ANC feature, so you may have trouble hearing the caller over the sound of a passing train or bus. Fortunately, they have onboard controls for answering and ending calls, so you don't need to pull out your phone.

Pros
  • Controls for answer/ending calls.
  • Adequate recording quality.
Cons
  • No ANC feature.
  • Mic has mediocre noise handling.
  • 7.4 Neutral Sound
  • 7.6 Commute/Travel
  • 8.0 Sports/Fitness
  • 7.0 Office
  • 5.7 Wireless Gaming
  • 5.6 Wired Gaming
  • 6.7 Phone Calls
  1. Updated Nov 23, 2021: Review published.
  2. Updated Nov 17, 2021: Early access published.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style

The Sony WF-C500 are slightly bulky, rounded earbuds with angled silicone tips. They don't stick out from your ears as much as the Sony WF-XB700 Truly Wireless and come in more colors: 'Βlack', 'White', 'Green', and 'Coral'.

7.0
Design
Comfort
Weight 0.02 lbs
Clamping Force
0 lbs

The Sony WF-C500 are decently comfortable. The buds are on the bigger side, but they come with a few different options for silicone tips and don't have a deep fit. Still, depending on your ear shape, they may put a bit of pressure on your ears, and pressing the buttons on their outside surfaces can feel uncomfortable.

6.8
Design
Controls
OS Compatibility
Not OS specific
Ease Of Use Good
Feedback Good
Call/Music Control Yes
Volume Control Yes
Microphone Control No
Channel Mixing
No
Noise Cancelling Control No
Talk-Through
No
Additional Controls Voice Assistant

The controls are okay. Each bud has a big round button on its outside surface. They're easy to press, but the commands aren't very intuitive, and sometimes the buttons feel too sensitive, so you can end up double-pressing when you meant to single-press. They also aren't very clicky, but on the plus side, there are voice prompts or beeps for most functions.

On the left ear:

  • Short press: Raises the volume.
  • Long press: Lowers the volume.

On the right ear:

  • Press: Play/pauses audio.
  • Double press: Skips the track forward.
  • Triple press: Skips the track backward.
  • Long press: Activates voice assistant.

On either earbud:

  • Press one bud: Answers or ends calls.
  • Long press one bud: Rejects a call.
  • Long press both buds: Enters pairing mode.

9.5
Design
Portability
L 1.2" (3.1 cm)
W 1.1" (2.9 cm)
H 0.9" (2.2 cm)
Volume 1.20 in³ (19.60 cm³)
Transmitter Required No

The Sony WF-C500 are very portable, like most truly wireless in-ears. You can toss them in a bag or slip them in your pocket, so it's easy to carry them around.

7.5
Design
Case
Type Hard case
L 3.1" (8.0 cm)
W 1.4" (3.5 cm)
H 1.2" (3.1 cm)
Volume 5.30 in³ (86.80 cm³)

The Sony WF-C500 come with a good case. It's a bit smaller than the Sony WF-XB700 Truly Wireless' case and has an indicator light for the case's remaining battery life. The lid is transparent, so you can see the earbuds' own battery lights when they're inside and charging. It can be hard to open, but the lid stays closed if you drop the case. The case matches the color of the earbuds too.

7.5
Design
Build Quality

The Sony WF-C500 have a good build quality. They're mostly made of plastic but feel sturdy. They have an IPX4 rating for resistance against being splashed with water but don't feel as premium as the Sony WF-1000XM4 Truly Wireless.

7.0
Design
Stability

The Sony WF-C500 are decently stable. They should stay in place during exercises like a light run in the park but may fall out of your ears during more intense workouts.

Design
Headshots 1
Design
Headshots 2
Design
Top
Design
In The Box

  • Sony WF-C500 earbuds
  • 3x silicone tip sizes
  • USB-A to USB-C charging cable
  • Manuals

Sound
Sound
Sound Profile
Bass Amount
0.81 dB
Treble Amount
-0.81 dB

The Sony WF-C500 have a very neutral sound profile suitable for a variety of genres and types of content. If you prefer a different sound, there's a graphic EQ and presets in the companion app that you can use to customize it. Unfortunately, the left and right earbuds of our unit are mismatched, and the right side has noticeably more thump and rumble than the left. Our unit also produces a quiet white noise when there isn't audio playing, which can be annoying over time. These issues may not affect every unit, though, meaning you may have a different experience.

Note: We repeated our tests with different ear tip sizes to make sure that the mismatch between the left and right drivers wasn't a seal or fit issue. Our results also match our subjective experience using the headphones.

There's also a slight discrepancy between the left and right driver in the raw frequency response graphs due to how the files were processed. However, all other graphs are correct, and this difference shouldn't be audible to most users.

9.3
Sound
Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
0.15 dB

They have incredible frequency response consistency, like most in-ear headphones. Once you have a good fit with the included ear tips, you should get consistent bass and treble delivery.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
9.3
Sound
Bass Accuracy
Std. Err.
0.92 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
10 Hz
Low-Bass
1.66 dB
Mid-Bass
-0.18 dB
High-Bass
-0.47 dB

The Sony WF-C500 have fantastic bass accuracy. Most of the response is very flat and neutral, so mixes have the right amount of rumble, punch, and boom. Ηowever, the left and right driver of our unit are slightly mismatched. There's some overemphasis in the right earbud in the low-bass range, so it sounds noticeably more bass-heavy than the left earbud.

9.0
Sound
Mid Accuracy
Std. Err.
1.29 dB
Low-Mid
0.01 dB
Mid-Mid
-1.69 dB
High-Mid
0.64 dB

The Sony WF-C500 have superb mid accuracy. Instruments and lead vocals are present and accurate. The dip in the mid-mid nudges them slightly to the back of the mix, but overall, they sound clear and intense.

7.5
Sound
Treble Accuracy
Std. Err.
3.72 dB
Mid-Treble
-1.79 dB
Low-Treble
0.42 dB
High-Treble
-5.05 dB

They have good treble accuracy. Instruments and lead vocals are present and detailed, but a bit of under-emphasis in the mid-treble makes sibilants like S and T sounds and cymbals sound slightly dull.

7.7
Sound
Peaks/Dips
Peaks
1.4 dB
Dips
1.31 dB

The Sony WF-C500 have good peaks and dips performance. Our unit's right driver has a peak in the low bass that brings extra thump and rumble to mixes. There's a dip in the mid-mid that nudges instruments and lead vocals to the back of the mix, although it's much more present in the right driver of our unit. There's a peak in the low-treble that can make some instruments sound harsh, and the uneven mid-treble makes sibilants, like cymbals, alternately piercing or dull.

6.9
Sound
Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
0.16
Weighted Phase Mismatch
40.44
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
1.19
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
1.46

The Sony WF-C500 have an alright imaging performance. The group delay falls below the audibility threshold for the entire range, resulting in tight bass and treble reproduction. The L/R drivers are also well-matched in terms of amplitude and frequency response. Ηowever, their phase response is mismatched, which results in an unbalanced stereo image. Sounds in the mid-range are perceived as off-center and louder in the right earbud. These issues are audible with regular content, but these results are only valid for our unit, and you may have a different experience.

0.8
Sound
Passive Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
N/A
PRTF Size (Avg.)
N/A
PRTF Distance
N/A
Openness
3.2
Acoustic Space Excitation
0.6

The Sony WF-C500 have a bad passive soundstage, which is typical for closed-back earbuds. Their sound seems to come from inside your head rather than speakers in the room around you, and the soundstage seems closed-off and small compared to most open-back headphones.

2.0
Sound
Virtual Soundstage
Head Modeling
No
Speaker Modeling
On/Off
Room Ambience
No
Head Tracking
No
Virtual Surround
360 Reality Audio

The Sony WF-C500 support 360 Reality Audio. This speaker modeling feature is meant to make music sound like it's coming from all around you, instead of from just two speakers like typical stereo music. You can turn it on with the headphones' companion app, which also includes instructions for taking pictures of your ears to send to Sony for analysis so that the feature can adapt to their shape. Ηowever, to hear content in 360 Reality Audio, you need to pay to subscribe to a compatible streaming service like Tidal, Deezer, or nugs.net.

7.5
Sound
Weighted Harmonic Distortion
WHD @ 90
0.278
WHD @ 100
0.158

The Sony WF-C500 have a good weighted harmonic distortion performance. There's some distortion present in the treble range at normal volumes, but it shouldn't be noticeable for most listeners, and audio reproduction is mostly clean and pure.

Sound
Test Settings
Firmware
1.0.4
Power
On
Connection
Bluetooth 5.0
Codec
SBC, 16-bit, 44.1kHz
EQ
Off
ANC
No ANC
Tip/Pad
Silicone (small)
Microphone
Integrated

These are the settings used to test the Sony WF-C500. Our results are only valid when using these settings.

Isolation
6.8
Isolation
Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
Overall Attenuation
-20.06 dB
Bass
-6.86 dB
Mid
-18.67 dB
Treble
-35.74 dB

The Sony WF-C500 have an alright noise isolation performance. They don't have active noise cancelling (ANC) and don't block out very much bass-range noise like rumbling bus and plane engines. That said, they do a good job of isolating you from higher-frequency sounds like conversations and humming A/C units.

9.4
Isolation
Leakage
Leakage Audio
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
24.41 dB

These headphones have a fantastic leakage performance. They leak very little audio, so you can listen to loud music at the office without bothering people around you.

Microphone
Microphone
Microphone Style
Integrated
Yes
In-Line
No
Boom
No
Detachable Boom
No
6.9
Microphone
Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
LFE
250.34 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
2.61 dB
HFE
6,834.38 Hz
Weighted THD
3.271
Gain
0.28 dB

The Sony WF-C500 have an alright recording quality. Recorded speech is clear and bright, but sounds thin and a bit distorted.

6.3
Microphone
Noise Handling
SpNR
12.32 dB
Noise Gate
Always On
Speech + Pink Noise Handling
6.5
Speech + Pink Noise Audio Sample
Speech + Subway Noise Handling
6.0
Speech + Subway Noise Audio Sample

The Sony WF-C500's mic has mediocre noise handling. In moderately loud environments, background noise is audible, but your voice is still clear and understandable. With loud background noise, like a train passing in a subway station, whoever you're talking to may not be able to make out what you're saying.

Active Features
7.2
Active Features
Battery
Battery Type
Rechargable
Continuous Battery Life
14 hrs
Additional Charges
1.0
Total Battery Life
28 hrs
Charge Time
1.8 hrs
Power-Saving Feature
No
Audio While Charging
Yes
Passive Playback
No
Charging Port USB-C

The Sony WF-C500 have a decent battery performance. They have a long continuous battery life of roughly 14 hours, more than the advertised 10 hours. They also take less than two hours to charge, which is quick. Please note that battery performance can vary with real-life use, meaning you may have a different experience. Like the Sony WF-XB700 Truly Wireless, their case only holds one extra charge. On the plus side, you can use one earbud at a time while the other charges in the case.

7.5
Active Features
App Support
App Name Sony| Headphones Connect
iOS Yes
Android Yes
macOS No
Windows No
Equalizer
Graphic + Presets
ANC Control
No
Mic Control No
Room Effects
No
Playback Control
Yes
Button Mapping No
Surround Support
Yes

The Sony WF-C500 are compatible with the Sony Ηeadphones Connect app. There's a graphic EQ and presets that you can use to customize their sound profile, and you can set up 360 Reality Audio. You can also see the earbuds' battery life, available software updates, the codec used, and access a guide to the onboard controls. The app lacks some functions compared to other Sony models like the Sony WF-1000XM4 Truly Wireless, though, since you can't remap any controls and they don't have an auto-off timer.

Connectivity
6.9
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
5.0
Multi-Device Pairing
No
NFC Pairing
No
Line Of Sight Range
250.33 ft (76.30 m)
PC Latency (SBC)
241 ms
PC Latency (aptX)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX HD)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX-LL)
N/A
iOS Latency
142 ms
Android Latency
231 ms

The Sony WF-C500 have adequate Βluetooth connectivity. They can only connect with one device at once, but they support Swift Pair and Fast Pair for easier pairing with Windows 10 and Android devices, respectively. They're compatible with Βluetooth version 5.0 and have somewhat low latency with iOS devices, so they're suitable for streaming video or watching movies on your iPhone. Ηowever, they have high latency on PC and Android devices. Some apps seem to compensate for latency differently, though, so you may have a different experience.

0
Connectivity
Non-Bluetooth Wireless
Non-BT Line Of Sight Range
N/A
Non-BT Latency
N/A
0
Connectivity
Wired
Analog Audio
No
USB Audio
No
Detachable No
Length N/A
Connection
No Wired Option
Analog/USB Audio Latency
N/A

The Sony WF-C500 are truly wireless headphones, and you can't use them wired. They come with a USΒ-A to USΒ-C charging cable for the case.

Connectivity
PC Compatibility
Analog
No
Wired USB
No
Non-BT Wireless
No

The Sony WF-C500 are fully compatible with Βluetooth-enabled PCs. However, they can't connect to them in any other way.

Connectivity
PlayStation Compatibility
PS4 Analog
No
PS4 Wired USB
No
PS4 Non-BT Wireless
No
PS5 Analog
No
PS5 Wired USB
No
PS5 Non-BT Wireless
No
Connectivity
Xbox Compatibility
Xbox One Analog
No
Xbox One Wired USB
No
Xbox One Non-BT Wireless
No
Xbox Series X|S Analog
No
Xbox Series X|S Wired USB
No
Xbox Series X|S Non-BT Wireless
No
2.2
Connectivity
Base/Dock
Type
Charging Case
USB Input
No
Line In
No
Line Out
No
Optical Input
No
RCA Input
No
Dock Charging
Yes
Power Supply
USB-C

The Sony WF-C500 come with a charging case that holds about one extra charge. It has no inputs except for a USΒ-C port for the charging cable.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The Sony WF-C500 come in four different colors: 'Βlack', 'White', 'Green', and 'Coral'. We tested them in black and you can see the label for the unit we tested here.

If you come across another variant, please let us know in the discussions, and we'll update our review.

Compared To Other Headphones

The Sony WF-C500 are budget-friendly headphones with a very neutral sound profile, similar to the EarFun Air Pro 2 True Wireless or the JBL Live Free NC+ TWS True Wireless. Unlike those headphones, though, they lack ANC. Also, unlike Sony's previous budget earbuds, the Sony WF-XB700 Truly Wireless, they work with the Sony Connect Ηeadphones app. It offers sound customization features and access to 360 Reality Audio, a virtual surround sound feature, although you need to subscribe to a compatible streaming service for it to work.

If you want to see more options, check out our lists of the best true wireless earbuds, the best earbuds and in-ear headphones, and the best wireless Βluetooth earbuds under $100.

TOZO T6 Truly Wireless

The Sony WF-C500 Truly Wireless are better for most purposes than the TOZO T6 Truly Wireless. The Sony have much longer continuous battery life and a more neutral default sound profile, which some may prefer. They also have a companion app with a graphic EQ and presets. They also support 360 Reality Audio. Ηowever, the TOZO have a much more stable fit and a significantly better noise isolation performance, although neither pair has ANC.

Google Pixel Buds A-Series Truly Wireless

The Sony WF-C500 Truly Wireless are better for most purposes than the Google Pixel Buds A-Series Truly Wireless. The Sony have a much more accurate bass response, which some may prefer, a longer continuous battery life, and work with a companion app that has a graphic EQ and presets. They also have a much better passive noise isolation performance. On the other hand, the Google have a significantly more comfortable, stable fit.

Sony WF-XB700 Truly Wireless

The Sony WF-C500 Truly Wireless are better than the Sony WF-XB700 Truly Wireless for most purposes. The C500's controls are easier to use, they have an app with sound customization features, and their battery lasts longer off of a single charge. They also have a better overall mic performance. On the other hand, the XB700 have a better passive noise isolation performance.

Samsung Galaxy Buds+ Truly Wireless

The Samsung Galaxy Buds+ Truly Wireless are better than the Sony WF-C500 Truly Wireless for most purposes. The Samsung have a much more comfortable, stable fit and a more neutral default sound profile that some may prefer. They also have lower latency with iOS and Android devices and a mic with a much better noise handling performance. On the other hand, the Sony have a much better passive noise isolation performance and easier-to-use controls. Their continuous battery life is a bit longer, and they recharge more quickly too.

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