Updated: Aug 20, 2021
When the Sony WF-1000XM3 earbuds came out, they were my favourite of the pack. But it’s been close to a year now, and other brands have definitely caught up. Top of the line true wireless earbuds are great, but we’re seeing an increasing amount of midrange earbuds that offer quite a lot despite their price. One example would be the Sony WF-XB700.
Sony’s naming systems aren’t the easiest to understand, but let’s break it down. WF stands for wireless freedom, so it indicates their true wireless earphones series. The XB means extra bass, a subset of their TWS series that packs more punch than what you’d normally get out of their (already) bass-inclined sound.
At S$199, these are more affordable than other earbuds out there like Jabra’s Elite 75t, Samsung Buds Plus and more, but there have definitely been tradeoffs made to keep it at this price. The first, and most visible one, is the case. It’s not too big per se, compared to the WF-1000XM3 case, but it’s a bit of an awkward shape to let it sit upright on surfaces. But the thing is that it’s made of a cheap-feeling plastic all around.
The lid is held in place by tension and springs, and not by the typical magnets used in other TWS earbud cases. Therefore, you won’t really be able to flip the lid open with one hand unless you use a nail to pry it open slightly first. It’s just not as convenient as other cases where you can flip it open with just a finger.
The good thing though, is that the translucent cover actually allows you to see when the earbuds are charging with the red lights coming on.
The earbuds are the same, clunky. They’re big, and even though they sit really well in the ear, they stick out so much that it doesn’t feel secure. It’s just a feeling though because Sony’s tri-hold design, as they call it, really does keep it in place just fine. You might even get away with using these for less intense workouts, although you’d have to keep an eye out on sweat making the earbuds more slippery.
If you do, you’d probably have to keep your workouts short. These aren’t super light earbuds, at 8 grams each, meaning your ears will start to feel the discomfort if you’re listening to them for a prolonged period of time.
But let’s talk about the sound. As mentioned, these are part of the extra bass line, and you get that immediately. There’s definitely more rumble and a longer decay but thankfully, it doesn’t cross the line into being too bloated.
As a result of that low-end boost though, you end up losing detail in the midrange. Already subtle instruments are even harder to pick out unless you push the volume up. Vocals also take a slight step back here, and you might notice the recessed midrange in play when you’re watching movies or shows. Regardless, the sound is still fun and engaging, as expected of Sony.
Battery life is another area where Sony has had to make concessions on. The earbuds themselves are claimed to hold up to 9 hours on a single charge, and that was a pretty accurate estimate. I got around 8 hours and 15 minutes while listening to music, so perhaps at a lower volume, they might last the full nine hours. The case, unfortunately, is pretty lacklustre. It only provides an additional 9-hour charge, meaning you get a total of 18 hours with the earbuds and case.
You don’t get touch controls with this either, yet another feature Sony cut out. Instead, you get a single button on either side, with volume control on the left and play/pause, track skipping, voice assistant activation and call answering/rejection on the right.
No in-ear detection as well, so if you’re the type to take your earbuds out and leave them on the table for a while, you might have to get rid of that habit, otherwise the battery will drain really quickly without you realising it.
So who are these for? For people looking for a cleaner sound that has a good balance of detail, these won’t make the cut. But if you’re looking for something that has more of an emphasis on the low end and won’t break the bank, these are a pretty good choice.
For more information about the Sony WF-XB700 (S$199) or to support us, you can get it on Amazon here.
Written by Cheryl Tan