Great for audio. Not so great for video
August 06, 2018
I'll start off by saying I detest earbud headphones. I don't like having to shove something down my ear to produce a great sound. I don't like how they feel when they are in my ear. And earbuds always fall out of my ears. Always. Which is another reason I detest earbuds. For years I've been purchasing the Sony AS210. I LOVE the design of the AS210. The earcups are placed just outside my ear canal and the loops keep them stayed in place. Sadly, it seems the AS210s are being phased out or maybe I'm just unlucky that I can no longer find them in any of my usual local stores. I found myself needing to replace my AS210s and after visiting or calling every local consumer audio/electronics store, I felt that maybe it was time to move on. Parting is such sweet sorrow. I saw the selection for Sony headphones at a local store and initially purchased the Sony 1000X. As expected the buds kept falling out of my ears no matter what combination of fins and earbud tips I used. I exchanged the 1000X for the SP700N. The Arc supporters made a GARGANTUAN difference in "wearability" for me. I drove, walked, jogged, jumped, etc and the earbuds stayed in my ears. Totally surprised me. The earbud tips never produced an A++ seal for me but I think that's due to the shape of my inner ear. Overall, these earbuds helped me realize how convenient earbuds can be.
- Sweat resistant - I didn't realize until after I purchased the 1000Xs that the 1000Xs were not sweat resistant (which is another reason I exchanged them). The SB700Ns are sweat resistant. I didn't sweat profusely but I sweated enough. Living in the South, we can go for weeks, if not months with the temperature over 100 deg F. You can avoid being outside but eventually yardwork needs to be done. The 700Ns worked flawlessly with me sweating and outside in hot weather.
- Active noise cancellation (ANC) - I didn't ride any planes but in my daily routine (work, running errands, etc) and a few road trips, the noise cancellation was great: lawnmower is a dim hum; A/C running full blast in my car is a dim hum; outside traffic noise is non-existent; my wife sitting next to me talking...well, thank goodness for the ambient mode lol.
- Modes of noise cancellation - (FYI you have four modes: full mode, voice mode, ambient/pass-thru mode, and off) This is a feature that shows Sony is thinking of the customer. I do have other active noise cancelling headphones (a wireless headband; a wired headband; and an around-the-ear "necklace") that do not optional modes of ANC: the ANC is either on or off. I did not think having an ambient mode was useful...until my wife asked me if I heard her even though the buds were in my ears. My answer was yes, and I heard her mostly clearly using voice or ambient mode. With ANC in full mode and the music paused (and making sure I had a good seal at that time), I could barely hear her even though she was standing in front of me. I only knew she was talking to me because she was facing me. If her back was to me, I'd have never known she was talking to me. I switched to ambient mode and I could hear her and respond accordingly.
- Arc supporters/Earbuds - These earbuds stayed in my ears despite my various activities as described above. I've tried other earbud headphones from other companies and the buds simply were not as comfortable as the ones by Sony. Again, keep in mind that prior to the 700Ns, I was pessimistic about the "feel" of earbuds. These convinced me that earbuds can be comfortable to wear.
- Sound quality - Keep in mind that sound quality for wireless earphones will never be equal to the quality of wired earphones but the quality from these earbuds was really good, even with me not being able to obtain a great seal all the time (way to go Sony!). I used ANC most of the time I wore these, but even without ANC, the sound was good enough for me. The bass boost can be overpowering at times and I'd like to be able to make the bass boost an option instead of a default. (Personal thought - Why not slightly boost the highs as a default since humans undergo a natural hearing loss to high frequencies over the passage of time.)
- Connection - As expected I did experience a few drop in sound maybe twice or thrice an hour when playing a song but otherwise the connection was great. (FYI: You can use the app to switch from priority for connection to priority for sound quality. I switched back and forth and didn't see a noticeable change in the operation or sound quality of the earbuds.)
- It would be really nice to have a volume control on the buds somewhere instead of having to use my cell phone or tablet or laptop to adjust the volume. Personally, I'm spoiled on using a remote volume control feature. My other wireless headphones have volume control on the headphones. Plus I use a bluetooth (BT) streamer for my wired headphones and my BT streamers have volume control. All this means is that I don't have to pull out my phone to adjust the volume. At all. I'm used to that. I'd like that same course of action continued with 700Ns.
- Phone quality - Those listening to me talk via the buds said my voice sounded "tiny," "tinny," or "distant." Also, the caller is only heard in the left earbud and not stereo (i.e. in both right and left earbuds). The microphone picked up on background noises so that whoever I was talking to couldn't hear me clearly. I eventually reached a point where I would bypass my buds for phone calls.
- The charging case - The charging case needs improvement. As one reviewer noted, "the case cover slides to the side so it doesn't provide any downward pressure on the buds to ensure contact with the charger." Essentially the cover is flimsy and because it has no downward pressure, I kept checking to make sure the lid was closed when the case was in my bag. Inserting the earbuds into the charging case is awkward and definitely requires correct practice, especially if you are using the Arc supports. There is an interior red light on the earbuds that comes on when the earbuds make contact within the charging case and are charging, but the light was difficult to see. Unless I was in a dark room, I had to look very close at the earbuds to perceive if they were charging. Is it possible to put an easily seen status light inside the case that would indicate if the buds are charging or not? Also, a battery level indicator showing the battery level for each bud and the charger would be nice --> If you take the left bud out and put it in your ear, a voice plays that states the level of the battery BUT, is that the status just for the left bud or for both? Also, there were times I didn't put the bud straightway into my ear so I had to assume the battery level was not low. Regardless, the cover needs improvement and there needs to be a better way to verify the buds are charging, or at least a way to know the buds are secured in the case. I did like the size of the case but I wouldn't dare put it in my pocket due to the concern I have for the cover.
- Video lag - Ultimately I returned the 700Ns 8 days later because I could not overcome the "hurdle" of the latency with watching videos. The delay between audio and video was at times 2 seconds long. I did update the software and that shortened the time of the lag, but, the lag was still there. As a homeowner, I'm continually looking at YouTube for "How To" videos and the lag was simply not a characteristic I wanted to deal with at the price I paid for the earbuds. I realize because these earbuds are true wireless, there's not much that can be done.
- Yes the battery lasts for "only" 3 hours according to the specs. That's enough time for me. The longest I wore the earbuds was 2 hours with ANC on.
- I would like the option of foam earbuds like the 1000X has. I
- Streaming Music - I experienced a few seconds of silence every so often (maybe twice an hour) when streaming music.
- Noise Cancellation Modes - You can only switch between On, Ambient and Off with the earbud. The app gives you the option of the Voice mode. It would be nice to have voice mode with the earbud too.
- Auto On - By default, the buds power on when you remove them from the case. I kept forgetting this and would try to "turn them on" after I took them out of the case. This resulted in several face palm moments.
- I would live to have a wire that is used to help keep these attached but without sacrificing the true wireless form. That way, if I do pull out a bud, I don't have to worry about losing it (think of it as something similar to the strap used to hold sunglasses). It was suggested I purchase the SP600N but after reading the reviews, I'll pass until some adjustments are made or an upgraded version is produced.
- App - It's interesting that a user is limited to EQ presets and there isn't any way you can customize the EQ. I use default settings so it doesn't make a difference to me but I find it peculiar that my stereo system from 2001 has an option for a custom EQ and yet an audio app released in 2017 and featuring EQ doesn't have that option. Things that make you go "hmmm?" :p