Reviewed on Sep 07, 2018

Sony WI-SP500 Wireless HEADPHONES REVIEW

Usage Ratings - Version 1.3
6.2
Mixed Usage
5.8
Neutral Listening
6.3
Commute/Travel
7.6
Sports/Fitness
5.9
Office
4.8
Wireless Gaming
4.6
Wired Gaming
5.6
Phone Call
Type : Earbuds
Enclosure : Open-Back
Wireless : Yes
Noise-Cancelling : No
Mic : Yes
Transducer : Dynamic

The Sony WI-SP500 are average-at-best sports headphones and a mediocre choice for most use cases. They're comfortable enough to wear for long listening sessions and sufficiently compact to carry on your person at all times. They're also decently durable and have a good wireless range, but unfortunately, their earbud fit is not stable enough for exercising and most sports. They do not come with many tip options or stability fins. They also have a poorly balanced and inconsistent sound that may be a deal breaker for most.

Test Results
Design 7.2
Isolation 4.6
Microphone 5.9
Active Features 6.2
Connectivity 3.0
Pros
  • Comfortable earbud fit.
  • Low leakage.
Cons
  • Inconsistent and bass-light sound.
  • Poor noise isolation, by design.
  • Not stable enough for strenuous sports.
  • Bass and treble delivery varies significantly across users.
  1. Update 11/6/2019: Converted to Test Bench 1.3.

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7.2

Design

The Sony WI-SP500 have a slightly unorthodox earbud design that's comfortable but not very stable or easy-to-use. They only come with two earbud-like tips that on the upside are more comfortable to wear than typical in-ear designs. The long cylindrical earbuds are well built, lightweight, and decently durable but do stick out of your ears quite a bit, which may not be ideal for all listeners but should work for most. Unfortunately, they do not have any stability fins, and since their earbud-like tips do not go in as deeply into the ear canal as typical in-ears, they won't be the most stable headphones for sports. On the upside, their control scheme provides all the essential functions for a Bluetooth headset, even if the layout is a little cramped on the right earbud and doesn't have the best tactile feedback.

Style

The Sony WI-SP500 have a unique earbud design that will work for some but not for everyone. They have long cylindrical earbuds with tips that do not go into the ear canal as deeply as most in-ears. The controls are also cleverly laid out on the buds and not on a separate in-line remote, which keeps the audio cable simple and unobtrusive, unlike some of the other wireless in-ears we've reviewed like the Sony WI-C300 and Skullcandy Jib. They look decently well-made and come in a couple of other color schemes that stand out a bit more than the Dark Gray/Black color we've reviewed. However, the unique shape of the buds protrude out of your ears quite a bit and may not be for everyone.

7.5 Comfort
Weight : 0.04 lbs
Clamping Force
:
0 lbs

The Sony WI-SP500 are slightly more comfortable than typical in-ears. They come with earbud tips that do not enter the ear canal as deeply as more common in-ears, which most will prefer although this means that they also do not create the best seal. Unfortunately, the unique shape of the buds means they may not be as practical for some use cases, like watching movies in bed and being able to lie down on your side, unlike the really small earbuds of the Jaybird Freedom. They also only come with two tip sizes, which means they won't have the perfect fit for all users, but on the upside, since the tips are similar to earbuds, they are much more comfortable to wear for long listening sessions than regular in-ears.

6.8 Controls
OS Compatibility
:
N/A
Ease of use : Okay
Feedback : Mediocre
Call/Music Control : Yes
Volume Control : Yes
Microphone Control : No
Channel Mixing
:
N/A
Noise Canceling Control : N/A
Talk-Through
:
N/A
Additional Buttons : No

The Sony WI-SP500 have a slightly cramped button layout but provide all the essential functions for a Bluetooth headset. They have a volume rocker on the underside of the right earbud that also controls track skipping if you press and hold the + or - volume buttons. They also have a power button on the bottom of the right bud that doubles as the play/pause and call management button. It's a simple and functional control scheme but just feels a bit cramped and does not have the best tactile feedback. Also, the layout takes a bit of time to get used to since it's a bit different from typical wireless in-ears with an in-line remote.

9.1 Breathability
Avg.Temp.Difference : 0.9 C

The Sony WI-SP500, like most in-ears and earbuds like the Plantronics BackBeat Fit, are very breathable headphones. The unorthodox earbud design and tips, trap slightly more heat within the notch of your ear when compared to typical in-ear designs, but it's very negligible and will not be noticeable under most circumstances, even during more intense physical activity.

8.8 Portability
L : 2 "
W : 1.8 "
H : 1.3 "
Volume : 5 Cu. Inches
Transmitter required : N/A

The Sony SP500 are bit larger than typical in-ears but are still very portable headphones that will easily fit into your pockets. Unfortunately, they do not come with a case or pouch to make them easier to carry around in your bag, which is slightly disappointing.

0 Case
Type : No case
L : N/A
W : N/A
H : N/A
Volume : N/A

These headphones do not come with case or pouch.

7.0 Build Quality

The Sony WI-SP500 have a decent build quality that feels durable enough for most use cases but has a relatively thin and flimsy cable. The long cylindrical earbuds feel dense and sturdy enough to handle multiple accidental drops without getting damaged. They also have an IPX4 splash-proof rating which is decent but won't be as sweat proof as some of the more sports-oriented headphones we've tested like the Anker SoundCore Spirit X or the JBL Endurance Sprint. Unfortunately, the cable feels a little cheaper than the rest of the design. It's not flat, braided or heavily rubberized like some of the other more premium in-ears we've tested. The cable may not be as durable as the rest of the design but overall, they should last you a while when used casually.

6.5 Stability

The Sony WI-SP500 are moderately stable. They're lightweight, and wireless but unfortunately, do not come with many tip sizes and do not have any stability fins to prevent them from falling out of your ears when exercising or doing more strenuous physical activities. They should be stable enough for jogging and most casual use cases, but the lack of tip options or an ear-hook design, like the JBL Endurance Sprint or the Anker Soundcore Spirit X, means they will not be the ideal headphones for sports.

Headshots 1
Headshots 2
Top

Sound

These headphones have a lacking and muddy bass, an overpowering mid-range, but a well-balanced treble. Also, their bass and treble delivery can vary significantly across multiple users and re-seats, due to their unusual earbud fit. Overall, they are a decent choice for listening to podcasts and audiobooks, or music genres that don't have a lot of bass. However, they won't be the ideal choice for bass-heavy music or critical listening.

Sound Profile
Neutral
:
5.7
Bass-Heavy
:
2.4
Warm
:
8.2
Bright
:
3.8
7.0 Peaks/Dips
Peaks
:
2.05 db
Dips
:
1.38 db
5.3 Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
:
1.57 dB

The frequency response consistency is quite poor. This is mainly due to their unusual earbud design, which makes their fit and placement quite inconsistent across multiple re-seats. In the bass and treble ranges, we measured more than 9dB of deviation in delivery depending on the placement of the headphones on our dummy head. However, depending on the size and shape of your ears, you may be able to achieve more consistent results with these earbuds.

6.3 Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
:
0.18
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
:
3.68
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
:
4.66
Weighted Phase Mismatch
:
6.59

The imaging performance of the Sony WI-SP500 is average-at-best. Weighted group delay is 0.18, which is low and within good limits. The GD graph also shows that besides the fluctuations below 20Hz the rest of the group delay is below the audibility threshold. The sub-20Hz fluctuations won't be noticeable to most people, and therefore the bass of these headphones will be tight and fast, and their treble transparent. However, the L/R drivers of our test unit didn't measure as very well-matched, which is partly due to their unusual earbud design, making their fit and placement quite inconsistent. Therefore, the placement and localization of objects (voices, instruments, video game effects), may not be very accurate and precise.

2.1 Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
:
N/A
PRTF Size (Avg.)
:
N/A
PRTF Distance
:
N/A
Openness
:
8.8
Acoustic Space Excitation
:
1.8

The Sony WI-SP500 have a poor soundstage. This is mainly due to their lack of interaction with the pinna, which is a key factor in giving the sense of a large and in-front soundstage. However, because of their open design, they tend to have a more open and spacious soundstage than closed-back headphones.

5.9 Weighted Harmonic Distortion
WHD @ 90
:
0.973
WHD @ 100
:
0.738
4.6

Isolation

The Sony WI-SP500 do not have the best isolation performance due to their earbud-like fit. They will not be the ideal option if you have a busy commute or work in a lively office environment. On the upside, like most in-ears and earbuds, they do not leak much even at very high volumes, so you can somewhat mask the noise in your surroundings by playing your music at higher volumes without distracting the people around you. Also, since they have an open fit, they're a bit more practical for outdoor runners who need to monitor their surroundings for traffic.

2.7 Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
:
Overall Attenuation
:
-6.49 dB
Bass
:
0.38 dB
Mid
:
-2.55 dB
Treble
:
-17.39 dB

The Sony WI-SP500 have a poor isolation. These headphones have open earbuds and therefore don't provide any isolation in the bass range. This means they will let in all the low rumbling noises like the sound of an airplane or bus engine. In the mid-range, important for blocking out speech, they isolate by about 3dB, which is quite inadequate. In the treble range, occupied by sharp sounds like S and Ts, they achieve 17dB of isolation, which is decent.

8.4 Leakage
Leakage Audio
:
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
:
30.75 dB

The leakage performance is great. These headphones don't leak in the bass and mid-range, meaning their leakage will be quite thin sounding. The significant portion of their leakage is spread in a narrow band around 6KHz. The overall level of their leakage is quite low too. With the music at 100dB SPL, their leakage at 1 foot away averages at 31dB SPL and peaks at 48dB SPL, which is just below the noise floor of an average office.

5.9

Microphone

Integrated
:
Yes
In-line
:
No
Boom
:
No
Detachable Boom
:
No

The Sony WI-SP500 have a mediocre microphone. In quiet environments, speech recorded or transmitted with this mic will sound relatively thin, and noticeably lacking in detail. However, it may also sound a bit sharp and piercing in certain frequency ranges. In noisy situations, they struggle to fully separate speech from background noise even in moderately loud situations, like a busy street.

5.8 Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
:
LFE
:
232.91 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
:
6.9 dB
HFE
:
3568.48 Hz
Weighted THD
:
8.512
Gain
:
34.52 dB

The microphone of the SP500 has a mediocre recording quality. The LFE (low-frequency extension) of 233Hz results in a recorded/transmitted speech that is relatively thin. The HFE (high-frequency extension) of 3.6KHz means speech will lack detail, however, the significant peak around 2KHz could make the sound of this microphone quite piercing.

6.0 Noise Handling
Speech + Pink Noise :
Speech + Subway Noise :
SpNR
:
11.14 dB

The noise handling of the WI-SP500's microphone is mediocre. In our SpNR test, it achieved a speech-to-noise ratio of 11dB. This means they are best suited for quiet environments, as they may struggle to fully separate speech from ambient noise even in moderately loud places.

6.2

Active Features

The Sony WI-SP500 have an average battery life and no customization options. They will last about 7.2 hours on a single charge and take about 1.9 hours for a full charge. It should be enough to last you through a workday, but they won't be the ideal headphones if you're a heavy user or for long trips without access to a power source. Unfortunately, they also do not support the Sony Headphones Connect app, so they have no customization options or EQs, which is slightly disappointing, especially when compared to other similarly designed headphones like the Jaybird Freedom.

6.9 Battery
Battery Type
:
Rechargable
Continuous Battery Life
:
10.8 hrs
Additional Charges
:
0
Total Battery Life
:
10.8 hrs
Charge Time
:
1.9 hrs
Power Saving Feature
:
Standby mode
Audio while charging
:
No
Passive Playback
:
No
Charging Port : micro-USB

These headphones have a somewhat decent 7-hour battery life but do not have a lot of power saving features. You can't use them while they are charging, they have no auto-off feature once connected to a Bluetooth source, and no passive playback since they are Bluetooth-only headphones. On the upside, they charge decently quickly at 1.9 hours.

0 App Support
App Name : N/A
iOS : N/A
Android : N/A
Mac OS : N/A
Windows : N/A
Equalizer
:
N/A
ANC control
:
N/A
Mic Control : N/A
Room effects
:
N/A
Playback control
:
N/A
Button Mapping : N/A
Surround Sound : N/A

The Sony WI-SP500 headphones do not come with a compatible app for added customization options

3.0

Connectivity

The Sony WI-SP500 are Bluetooth-only headphones with no audio cable or base/dock. They have a good wireless range and support NFC for easy pairing with mobile devices but cannot connect to multiple devices at once. They also have poor latency so they won't be suitable for watching videos or gaming.

7.5 Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
:
4.2
Multi-Device Pairing
:
No
NFC Pairing
:
Yes
Line of Sight Range
:
138 ft
Default Latency
:
271 ms
aptX Latency
:
N/A
aptX(LL) Latency
:
N/A

These headphones do not have multi-device pairing but do support NFC. Their hold-to-pair procedure is also not too difficult to use compared to some of the other Bluetooth headphones we've tested.

These headphones have quite a bit of latency which will be noticeable when watching videos. It's a bit more than typical Bluetooth headphones and will not be ideal for latency-sensitive use cases.

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

The Sony SP500 have no wired option. If you want a good sounding wired in-ear, then check the 1More Triple Driver In-Ear.

PC / PS4 Compatibility
PC / PS4 Analog
:
No
PC / PS4 Wired USB
:
No
PC / PS4 Non-BT Wireless
:
No
Xbox One Compatibility
Xbox Analog
:
No
Xbox Wired USB
:
No
Xbox Wireless
:
No
0 Base/Dock
Type
:
N/A
USB Input
:
N/A
Line In
:
N/A
Line Out
:
N/A
Optical Input
:
N/A
RCA Input
:
N/A
Dock Charging
:
N/A
Power Supply
:
N/A

These headphones do not have a dock. If you want a headphone that's versatile and has a dock, try the SteelSeries Arctis 7. However, they won't be as portable or as suitable for sports as the SP500.

In the box

  • Sony WI-SP500 Headphones
  • Earbud tips (x2 sizes)
  • USB charging cable
  • Cable management clip
  • Manual

Compared to other Headphones

The Sony WI-SP500 are somewhat decent mixed-usage headphones and an above-average sports headset, although they are not as stable as most of the sports-oriented headsets we've tested. They have an earbud design that's comfortable to wear but does not come with many tip sizes or stability fins which makes them a bit of a hassle to wear when running and working out since they will often slip out of your ears. They also have a poorly balanced sound that lacks a lot of bass, mostly due to their slightly awkward fit and poor seal they create within your ears. On the upside, they are fairly well built, and the slightly open design of the earbuds allows outdoor runners to monitor their surroundings for traffic. Unfortunately, they are not the best headphones for sports, especially when compared to some of the models below. See our recommendations for the best earbuds for bass, the best wireless headphones under $100, and the best budget earbuds.

JBL Endurance Sprint Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The JBL Endurance Sprint are a much more versatile sports headphone than the Sony WI-SP500. The JBL have a better isolating fit that will block more ambient noise in loud environments. They have stable ear hooks and a better, more durable, and water-resistant design than the SP500. The JBL also last longer on a single charge and sound much better, although they may not get very loud. On the other hand, the Sonys are bit more comfortable than the JBL. They also have NFC pairing which makes them easy to connect to mobile devices.

Sony WI-SP600N Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Sony WI-SP600N are a better wireless in-ear than the Sony WI-SP500. The SP600 have a more consistent sound and fit than the SP500 model, they also block more noise thanks to thief in-ear design and noise cancellation, so they're a bit more suitable for commuting and traveling as well as sports. Their fit a bit more stable thanks to the wing/stability fins, and overall they're easier to use with a more traditional inline remote. On the other hand, the SP500 have slightly longer battery life. They also have a unique earbud design that's a bit more comfortable when you get the right fit. They also have a unique look and feel that some may prefer over the SP600's design.

Plantronics BackBeat Fit Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Plantronics BackBeat Fit are slightly better sports headphones than the Sony WI-SP500, but they both have seal issues that negatively affect their sound quality. The Fit have a much better build quality and a more durable and sweat-proof design. They're also a lot more stable for the gym and will stay on your ears no matter the physical activity, thanks to the ear-hooks. On the upside, the Sonys have a better control scheme that's a little easier to use than that of the Fit, although not by much. They also have a slightly longer battery life and are a little bit more comfortable to wear for some people.

Anker SoundBuds Curve Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Anker SoundBuds Curve are much better sports headphones than the Sony WI-SP500. They offer a much better value for your money, thanks to their better sound quality more comfortable and stable fit and their longer battery life. On the other hand, the Sonys have NFC pairing and they have a slightly better wireless range but overall the Ankers are the better choice for sports and most use cases, especially in the budget range.

Jaybird Freedom 2 Wireless 2017
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Jaybird Freedom 2 are much better sports headphones than the Sony WI-SP500. The Jaybirds have a better, more consistent sound quality that you can also customize via their app. They isolate better in noisy conditions, and their semi earbud fit is more comfortable and stable than that of the Sonys. On the other hand, the SP500 last a longer on a single charge at 7 hours compared to 4, although the Jaybird do come with an additional 4 hours stored in the charging clip. The Sonys can also pair via NFC, which makes them slightly easier to connect to mobile devices.

+ Show more

Conclusion

SEE PRICE
B&H
6.2 Mixed Usage

Mediocre for mixed usage. The Sony WI-SP500 have a unique earbud design that will work for some but unfortunately, causes a lot of issues for most use cases. The earbud fit does not isolate well in noisy conditions, which makes these headphones a poor choice for commute and travel despite their compact design. They also do not come with many tip sizes or stability fins, so they won't be the most stable headphones for sports either, which is their intended use case. They sound poorly balanced mostly due to the poor seal they create within your ears, and they have poor latency not suitable for watching movies or gaming. The seal issues also make them sound inconsistent from user to user. On the upside, they have a decent, if a little-cramped, control scheme and they are relatively comfortable to wear for long listening sessions.

5.8 Neutral Listening

Mediocre-at-best for neutral listening. These headphones have a somewhat decent mid-range and good reproduction of high frequencies that doesn't sound too sharp or piercing, unlike some of the other in-ears we've tested. Unfortunately, they have a terrible bass performance and poor consistency due to their unique earbud fit that is difficult to achieve a good seal. They will sound different from user to user, and since they have small earbuds, they cannot produce the soundstage of big open-back headphones, which will not be ideal for more neutral listeners. They are barely passable for casual listening, but their inconsistent sound quality and poor bass will be disappointing for most.

6.3 Commute/Travel

Mediocre for commute and travel. They're compact and comfortable but have weak noise isolation which won't be ideal for the loud environments involved in commuting.

7.6 Sports/Fitness

Decent for sports. They have a comfortable earbud fit and a decent control scheme. They're also compact and easy to carry around on your person but unfortunately, they do not have the most stable fit for running and working out. They do not come with many tip sizes for different ears and no stability fins making them a less than optimal choice for sports, which is their intended use case.

5.9 Office

Average for office use. They do not block enough noise to be the best option for a noisy office environment. On the upside they do not leak too much to you can play your music at slightly higher volumes to mask some of the ambient noise. They're also decently comfortable to wear for long listening sessions.

4.8 Wireless Gaming

Below-average for gaming. They have a mediocre microphone, and too much latency to be suitable for gaming.

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