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Sony WF-SP800N review: The ideal Jabra Elite Active 75t alternative

Sony WF-SP800N wireless earbuds
(Image: © Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

Our Verdict

Bottom line: With a booming bass-heavy sound signature backed by ANC that tunes the world out, the WF-SP800N nail the basics. The IP55 rating makes them resistant to dust and water, you get a secure fit via the wingtips, and with a nine-hour battery life, you won't need to charge them frequently.

For

  • Bass-heavy sound profile
  • Excellent ANC
  • IP55 rating for workouts
  • Transparency mode
  • Nine-hour battery life

Against

  • No AptX or LDAC codecs
  • No wireless charging
  • Bulky case

There has never been a better time to pick up a good pair of true wireless earbuds like the Sony WF-SP800Ns. With plenty of options available across all price points, this particular category has matured a lot in the last two years. While there are a lot of great budget picks like the Mpow M30 (opens in new tab), you'll want to turn to the premium segment for the latest features.

Sony continues to dominate the premium tier, with the WF-1000XM3 (opens in new tab) still one of the best overall wireless earbuds around. While these earbuds deliver unmatched noise cancellation and excellent sound quality, the fact that they didn't come with any ingress protection made them a non-starter for workouts.

That's where the WF-SP800N come in. These wireless earbuds offer IP55 protection against dust and water ingress and provide a secure fit thanks to the wingtips, making them a much more enticing option for regular workouts. The best part is that they retain a lot of the same characteristics that made the WF-1000XM3 stand out, so let's find out how the WF-SP800N hold up in real-world use and why you should consider them if you're in the market for wireless earbuds for workouts.

Sony WF-SP800N What I like

Sony WF-SP800N wireless earbuds

Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

The WF-SP800N offer a similar design aesthetic as the WF-1000XM3, but they come with stabilizing arcs (wingtips) that provide a more secure fit. While the wingtips are a decent addition, the WF-SP800N are bulkier than most earbuds you'll find in this category. They stick out a fair bit from your ear, and you'll have to try out different-sized eartips to find one that fits your ears — Sony includes three pairs of eartips in the box.

The WF-SP800N are bulkier than most earbuds, but you get a secure fit and excellent noise isolation.

You'll want to get a tight seal with the WF-SP800N because that's what ultimately determines the level of noise isolation. These earbuds offer active noise cancellation, and while it isn't as powerful as what you get on the WF-1000XM3 — the WF-SP800N are missing Sony's QN1e chip — it is on par with the rest of the options in this category, like the Galaxy Buds Live (opens in new tab).

The best part about ANC on the WF-SP800N is that it also offers Adaptive Sound Control, with the earbuds automatically adjusting ANC levels and ambient sound based on your surroundings and activity. There are four activity modes — staying, walking, running, and transport — and you can adjust the ambient noise levels for each mode if the default levels aren't to your liking.

The Adaptive Sound Control is accessible by pairing the WF-SP800N with Sony's Headphones app (opens in new tab). In addition to automatically adjusting ambient noise levels based on activity, you have the option of doing so for individual locations. Of course, for this feature to work, you'll have to give Sony access to your location. If you're uncomfortable doing that, you can always register a few oft-frequented locations — like your gym — within the app and adjust ambient noise levels accordingly.

The Headphones app also gives you the ability to adjust EQ levels and customize the onboard gestures. There are nine preset EQ modes to choose from, and you get two custom modes if you want granular control over the sound profile. Gestures are highly configurable, and you can assign actions to either the left or right earbud. For playback controls, a single tap lets you play/pause music, double-tap takes you to the next song, triple tap to the previous song, and a long press launches Google Assistant.

You can assign playback gestures to one earbud and volume controls on the other, or choose from ambient sound control, Google Assistant, Alexa, or disabling gestures entirely. There is a lot of versatility here, and I didn't have any issues with gesture controls on the WF-SP800N.

With ANC, outstanding sound quality, and IP55 rating, the WF-SP800N tick all the right boxes.

The WF-SP800N feature the same audio drivers as the WF-1000XM3 and the audio quality is outstanding. The earbuds have a bass-heavy signature, but it isn't so powerful that it overshadows the other frequencies. The booming low-end makes these earbuds particularly well-suited for hip-hop and electronic music, and Spotify's synthwave playlist was a delight to listen to on the WF-SP800N.

You get clear mids and highs along with the detailed low-end, and these are some of the best-sounding earbuds you'll find for under $200. Because these earbuds are focused on the fitness segment, they come with an IP55 rating, making them resistant to the dust and water ingress. These earbuds connect over Bluetooth 5.0, and I didn't face any issues with connectivity while using them with the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra (opens in new tab) and the Mi 10 (opens in new tab).

As for battery life, you'll easily get nine hours of music playback from a full charge, giving the WF-SP800N a distinct edge over Sony's other wireless earbuds. The case charges over USB-C, and it holds enough power for another full charge, meaning you get 18 hours' worth of music playback before you need to plug in the case.

The WF-SP800N also offer Sony's 360 Reality Audio feature, and the mode works by analyzing the contours of your ears (you'll have to take photos of your ears from within the app) and tailoring the sound profile to provide a 360-degree soundstage.

Sony's 360 Reality Audio works with Deezer, nugs.net, and Tidal, so if you use any of these services, you can set up the feature and try out 360-degree audio for yourself. The mode is pretty powerful, and it does a decent job customizing the sound based on the contours of your ears.

Sony WF-SP800N What needs work

Sony WF-SP800N wireless earbuds

Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

While the WF-SP800N nail the basics, they miss out on a few features. First up is wireless charging, with the case only offering wired charging over USB-C. We're seeing more and more earbuds offer wireless charging in this category, with the WF-SP800N missing out in this area.

Then there's the case itself. The design isn't as premium as the WF-1000XM3 and is it bulkier than most cases you'll find in this segment. It wouldn't have been as big a deal if it featured a massive battery — like the Outlier Gold (opens in new tab) — but it holds enough charge for just nine hours of music playback.

The WF-SP800N also miss out on high-fidelity codecs like AptX and LDAC, with the earbuds offering just SBC and AAC. With earbuds costing half as much offering AptX, it is a letdown that the codecs aren't available here.

Sony WF-SP800N The competition

Jabra Elite 75t

Source: Daniel Bader / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Bader / Android Central)

The obvious challenger to the WF-SP800N is Jabra's $180 Elite Active 65t (opens in new tab). These earbuds also offer an IP55 rating, customizable sound profiles, Assistant integration, 7.5-hour battery life, and fast charging. The SP800N does a better job at noise isolation, but you cannot go wrong with either option.

If you're in the market for a more budget-focused option, the $100 Soundcore Liberty 2 (opens in new tab) is an excellent choice. You get a secure fit, great audio quality, 8 hours of battery life, adjustable EQ, and IPX5 water resistance. You don't get the same level of noise isolation here, but if you're looking for value, the Liberty 2 continue to be a solid option.

Sony WF-SP800N Should you buy?

Sony WF-SP800N wireless earbuds

Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

You should buy this if ...

  • You want wireless earbuds with ANC
  • You're looking for a bass-heavy sound
  • You want earbuds that don't fall out during workouts
  • You need earbuds with water resistance

You should not buy this if ...

  • You're looking for high-fidelity codecs like AptX
  • You want earbuds that charge wirelessly
  • You need a compact case that's easily pocketable

Sony has clear-cut differentiation across its true wireless offerings, and the WF-SP800N offer enough features to make them stand out from the WF-1000XM3. The IP55 rating in and of itself is a big deal, as it makes the earbuds that much more enticing for workouts. Then there's the customized bass-heavy sound signature, the wingtip-design that ensures you get a snug fit, and the nine-hour battery life.

There's plenty of customization on offer as well, and you get to tailor the gestures to your liking and adjust the EQ on the earbuds to your tastes. You also get Sony's 360 Reality Audio and the ability to adjust the ambient noise levels based on your surroundings.

4 out of 5

Combine all of that, and you get one of the best overall true wireless earbuds in the market today. That said, you are missing out on AptX and LDAC codecs, and the ANC isn't quite as powerful as what you get on the WF-1000XM3. If you're okay with that particular trade-off, there's plenty to like in the WF-SP800N.

Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.

3 Comments
  • what i dont like about modern wireless ANC headphones and buds is that when you turn the ANC off, it sounds like they are simply mixing in outside sound with whatever youre listening to, as opposed to older noise cancelling buds that just bypassed all the digital NC gubbins and you heard noise leak in naturally.
  • Thing is, you can get the Wf-1000xm3 for about 160 quid on Amazon now
  • i`m just wondering .... did you really try this hedphones ?
    i own them ... and the sound is not so good likeyou are writing .... bass is strong but muffed (sometimes is loosing breath and becomes mushy on strong bass oriented songs) , no detail, week dynamics on starting passages ... presets are unusable , only usable preset is Bright ...... Clear Bass have to be set 0 max .... better is -1 .... And do not forget to turn on Dolby Atmos .... otherwise they sound just much worse . And ANC is just week ... no comparison to sony sony wf-sp1000 . touch control works 50-50 for me.
    If you want a really good sounding in-ear wireless headphones for Jim ... go for bose soundsport (of course there is lower battery performance for them , but they sounds great without any help from equalizer or dolby tune up). It is a shame i can not return this SONY to seller ... Not worth the price.