Sony's WF-1000XM4 are currently among the best wireless earbuds in the world (we'll have to wait and see what the WF-1000XM5 offer if/when they launch later this year). But if you want a taste of what they can do without spending big, you might want to shortlist Sony's latest noise-cancelling wireless earbuds, the WF-C700N.
On paper, it looks like they could be a cut-price version of the XM4 but with a more affordable price tag of just £99.99 (€119, $120, AU$200).
For a start, they have noise-cancelling tech to silence the outside world. Sony's ANC system is one of the best in the business, so it'll be interesting to see how the C700N compares to the XM4. They also have an ambient sound mode – just like the XM4 – which brings in outside sound so you can let just enough outside noise through so you don't feel completely isolated. Their Focus on Voice setting allows you to concentrate on what's being said.
Adaptive Sound Control adjusts the ambient sound settings depending on your surroundings and even recognises your frequently visited locations. So if you often pop to the library to get some work done, it'll adjust the sound mode so you don't feel deafened in a quiet environment. Pump iron in a gym where the music pumps even harder? The earbuds will adjust accordingly.
Sony's DSEE (Digital Sound Enhancement Engine) – in collaboration with Sony-made 5mm drivers – works to deliver high-quality sound, promising "powerful bass and stunningly clear vocals". We'll be the judge of that once we've tested them.
Not a fan? You can tweak the equaliser within the Headphones Connect app to adjust the sound.
Like the XM4, they're rated IPX4 splash-proof, have a Wind Noise Reduction Structure to make calls clearer in blustery conditions and have Multipoint Bluetooth (which will arrive via a firmware update later this summer). Multipoint lets you connect wirelessly to two Bluetooth devices at once and switch between them seamlessly, so you can take a call on your phone without having to re-pair the buds from your laptop.
But at this price, there must be some compromises, and in this case, it's battery life. With Bluetooth and ANC activated, you only get 15 hours of use from the C700N – 7.5 hours from the buds, plus the same again from the carry case. That pales next to the XM4's total battery life of 24 hours (eight from the buds, plus another two charges from the carry case).
The WF-C700N promise a comfortable fit, and come in four colours: black, white, lavender and sage green. They go on sale this month.
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