Sony has taken away its focus from the Xperia smartphones in India, but thankfully, it is still going strong with its audio line-up.
When it comes to headphones, it has been leading the charge in noise cancellation tech with the Sony WH-1000XM3. I've used a few other noise cancellation headphones from Sony as well, and most of them have been impressive so far. The latest one to join the league is the WI-C600N, a wireless noise-canceling neckband style headphone.
It's not the first Sony neckband to come with noise cancellation but the feature is still rare in the category. Priced at Rs 10,990, the WI-C600N seems like a compelling option, especially because of its noise-canceling properties with Sony's promise of good audio and set of features.
I've said it multiple times that neckband is a fast-growing category that actually makes more sense for users who need their buds ready all day long. I used the WI-C600N for a good month during work hours, commute and flights. Like most Sony headphones, these are not disappointing either. But we're speaking of a five-digit price tag here, which raises the expectation high unlike the previously launched Sony WI-C400 which costs less than half of its price.
In terms of design, the WI-C600N doesn't stand out among other neckbands. It looks similar to most neckband-style earphones, but what makes it different is its lightweight build. It's just 34 grams, and the earbuds are relatively smaller with 6-mm drivers.
The neckband is made of silicone with hard caps on the thicker part at each end. These cylindrically shaped edges pack the hardware and battery under the shell, whereas it has control buttons on the inner edge of both ends. The more useful buttons like volume, play/pause and power are on the left side, whereas the right side only has a single button for noise cancellation.
Sony WI-C600N gets two new meaningful design features - magnetic earbuds and bendable silicon body. Meaning, the magnetic part on the back of the housing keeps the buds clipped while hanging around the neck. Something that OnePlus did with its Bullets Wireless headphone which also pauses and resumes audio when you attach or detach them. While the WI-C600N can't do that, the magnetic arrangement does help the buds to keep in place.
The silicone made body allows it to be flexible. You can twist it to fit in your bag or a pocket without damaging the body.
In a nutshell, the WI-C600N are very comfortable to use, durable and decent looking. The only downside is that they're not water/dust resistant. Which means you can't risk them with rains or even moisture.
Like most neckband headphones, the buttons are placed on the inside, which is not easy to look at. That means you'll have to rely on guesswork until you get used to the controls.
Performance and features
Sony WI-C600N focuses on noise cancellation without hampering the audio quality, and that's the reason why the cost is high. While it's an easy recommend for those who need it for commute and work, it's still not great enough to suffice demanding audiophiles.
The output is clean and audio is neutrally balanced, with controlled bass and crisp treble. You won't get crystal clear details in the audio, but most frequencies are well represented except for the lows when noise cancellation is on. Compared to the competitors, the 6mm drivers seems slightly weaker for the price but it sounds as good as the Sony WI-1000X which uses 9mm driver.
The WI-C600N impresses with its sound stage depth, especially considering that they're in-ear headphones. On top, AptX HD support ensures deep bass, mellow mids, and sharp highs. For those who don't know, aptX HD allows the transmission of 24-bit/48kHz audio instead of the 16-bit/44.1kHz audio of regular aptX. The increase in audio resolution helps Bluetooth audio maintain the dynamic range that’s conventionally compressed further on wireless headphones.
Noise cancellation is also impressive, considering the size and design. It's more suitable for canceling out the rumble of jet engines and people chirping, but it isn't as effective as you'd find on the WH-1000XM3 or even its predecessors. Still, does a good job for metro train rides, flights or offices. However, it fails to dial out the slight hiss sound when NC is active without the music playing.
On top of all, Sony's Headphone App also adds some extra tricks to the WI-C600N. Apart from generic equalizer customizations, the app lets you choose between three types of noise canceling modes - voice mode, normal mode, and noise canceling. "Voice mode" allows high frequency sounds like people talking, "Normal mode" allows ambient noise and "Noise cancellation" uses 100% noise cancellation.
Another very useful feature is one tap connect with NFC. It can be turned on with a single tap on NFC tag, given that the headphones have been paired with the same device once. It takes away the hassle of pressing the power button, users can simply tap the phone and get going. The Bluetooth range is 10m and it actually works without hiccups under the claimed distance.
The WI-C600N also offers support for voice assistants. The WI-C600N is certified to support Google Assistant and can handshake with Alexa and Siri. While I personally don't use voice assistants on my headphones, some still find it a useful alternative for checking on the notifications without taking the phone out of pocket or simply for dictating text replies.
The microphone performs pretty well for calls in a closed area, but the experience isn't very pleasant when it comes to public places and noisy surroundings.
The WI-C600N has an average battery life, but Sony justifies it with the noise cancellation feature. The company claims around 6.5 hours of continuous playtime with noise cancellation on and take around an hour to charge using the newly introduced USB-Type C with Quick Charge.
It goes from 0-50 in 35 minutes and 50% battery lasts for 2.5 hours with noise cancellation turned on.
The Sony WI-C600N isn't your regular neckband style headphone. It's expensive and comes with class-leading noise cancellation tech, which essentially means it's not for those who're solely looking for powerful audio. There are many solid offerings for hardcore audiophiles under Rs 10k, but WI-C600N is made for commuters and office goers who prefer in-ear wireless over bigger cans.
Sony WI-C600N is a phenomenal audio accessory, but its high price, average battery backup leaves me asking for more.
- Don't miss our guide to the best noise cancelling headphones