I tried Sony's WF-C700N cheap earbuds and they are incredible for the money

Sony WF-C700N earbuds in their case, on white background
(Image credit: Future)

I'll cut to the chase: we covered the initial release of the WF-C700N, but more information has since come to light. You see, I've since got my hands on a set of Sony's new affordable earbuds and I cannot believe Sony has priced them this low. Suffice to say, I like them a lot

If you're able to see past the forgettable name (the N addition on the name does indeed stand for Noise cancellation, and these earbuds mark Sony's new entry level tier of ANC buds) , they're absolutely fantastic for the money. And that money, friend, amounts to just $119 / £99 / AU$199.

The headline grabber for me is actually not the Adaptive ANC, though. What makes these earbuds stand out from the crowd is access to Sony's 360 Reality Audio at this level. So, once set up (a process which involves taking guided pictures of your ears), I can quickly link my Tidal HiFi Plus account and boom, I'm in! What follows is an immersive experience powered by Sony's 360 Spatial Sound technology (aka audio processing) which places and controls individual sonic articles in a spherical soundfield to immerse me in my music.

Sony WF-C700N earbuds in a hand, on white background

Sony's WF-C700N earbuds are a joy to wear, and the physical button works better than any touch capacitive solution.  (Image credit: Future)

But I'm not done. Thanks to Sony's excellent Headphone Connect app support, multi-point connectivity and adaptive sound control powered by Sony's DSE engine (you can select 'Walking', 'Waiting', 'Travelling' or 'Registered places' in the app, which is frankly incredible at this level) is onboard. This is tech I'm more used to seeing in Sony's top-tier offering, for instance the excellent Sony WF-1000XM4 wireless earbuds and Sony WH-1000XM5 over-ears – aka some of the best wireless headphones in existence. 

And did I mention that the build quality is top quality, too? A new material on the driver housing apparently "holds on to the inner cup of your ear". What I can confirm is that there's less protrusion than I'm used to with Sony's more affordable buds (Sony WF-C500, I'm looking at you), because they're 37% lighter and 38% smaller than the WF-1000XM4

You get the standard variant of Sony's DSEE upscaler, too, so Spotify (which Sony believes most users at this level listen to) file streaming will be levelled up somewhat.

Battery life? That's good, too – better than the Bowers & Wilkins Pi7 S2 for starters. With Bluetooth and ANC activated, you get 15 hours of use from the C700N; 7.5 hours from the buds, plus the same again from the carry case. For clarity, you only get five hours from the high-end B&W earbuds before they need charging… 

Opinion: Sony just tore my notions on what is achievable at this level to pieces… 

Sony WF-C700N earbuds worn by Becky Scarrott

Sony, here's one (initially) happy customer…  (Image credit: Future)

I'm sat at my desk and my Adaptive Sound Control is set to 'Staying'. I cue up Seal's Krazy on Tidal and if you want to quickly glean an idea of what these earbuds are capable of, I urge you to do the same. 

The souped up, edgier bass-riff intro in this track (that's not a typo above, Crazy is another song) snakes between my ears then darts right through my skull, grazing my occipital lobe en route. This is Sony sound and then some; meaty, immersive, agile, all-encompassing. 

As excited as I am to be telling you these things, this should not be taken as a full review, you understand. I have yet to test the C700N in noisy areas, to check out the call-handling or to put those battery claims to the test. But the actual physical button on each earpiece is a joy to use and, while you can't tweak the volume here, I'll take Sony's design over the touch-capacitive solutions on most of the competition at this level. 

The fit is also practically perfect in every way. I do not need to screw the things in or forcibly wedge the driver housing into my external auditory canal by stretching my helix (the shell-like bit of your outer ear) outwards to accommodate them. I'd previously thought the best earbuds for small ears were another Sony product, the Sony LinkBuds S, so it makes sense that their chief competition also comes from the same house. 

In short, the hotly-anticipated Sony WF-1000XM5 earbuds had better be good when they arrive (even if they are rumored to be a lot smaller), because as far as I'm concerned, this is an excellent proposition for little money…

An easy addition to our best noise-cancelling earbuds guide, then? I mean, it's still too soon to say. But barring a huge glitch or issue further down the line, I'm confident we could be looking at a new class-leader in the budget end of things. 

Becky Scarrott
Audio Editor

Becky became Audio Editor at TechRadar in 2024, but joined the team in 2022 as Senior Staff Writer, focusing on all things hi-fi. Before this, she spent three years at What Hi-Fi? testing and reviewing everything from wallet-friendly wireless earbuds to huge high-end sound systems. Prior to gaining her MA in Journalism in 2018, Becky freelanced as an arts critic alongside a 22-year career as a professional dancer and aerialist – any love of dance starts with a love of music. Becky has previously contributed to Stuff, FourFourTwo and The Stage. When not writing, she can still be found throwing shapes in a dance studio, these days with varying degrees of success.