Sony Announces New Truly Wireless Headphones at CES

A successor to the flawed WF-1000X

The Consumer Electronics Show, or CES for short, took place this past week. CES is a yearly conference where the greatest tech of tomorrow makes its debut. Most of the large consumer-facing corporations not named Apple, Google, Microsoft, or Amazon hold keynote presentations at the multi-day spectacular. Sony always has a presence at the Las Vegas, Nevada-based trade show.

Apple kicked off the truly wireless revolution with the introduction of its AirPods at the iPhone 7 launch event back in September 2016. The current trend of in-ear buds which forgo a neckband in favor of a rechargeable carrying case can be attributed to the AirPods, which themselves owe their invention to the removal of the iPhone’s headphone jack. Priced at $159 and offering no discernible improvements versus the complimentary EarPods, Apple’s first in-house attempt at wireless audio scored an overall rating of six-out-of-ten here on D&theJM

Bose SoundSport Free

Because the AirPods offer no sound isolation and take a one-size-fits-most approach, other OEMs have been looking to fill that vacuum and cater to high-fidelity diehards and individuals for whom Apple earbuds fit poorly. The fitness market has been the go-to niche for many of these products, most notably the Bose SoundSport Free which check nearly all the boxes for what to look for in an AirPod competitor. Samsung and JayBird also have respectable offerings. 

Last fall, Sony unveiled their first truly wireless headphones, the WF-1000X, at IFA 2017 (Europe's equivalent to CES). The headphones have garnered mediocre customer reviews on various sites, including Amazon, Best Buy, and Sony’s official website, averaging just over three-out-of-five stars. In other words, owners of Sony’s first-gen wireless buds found them to be roughly on par with how we at Davis & the Jake-Man rate the Apple AirPods. 

Sony WF-1000X

Audio latency, intermittent connectivity, and poor onboard controls are pervasive in third-part truly wireless solutions, as explained by The Verge’s Sean O’Kane in his reviews of the Gear IconX, SoundSport Free, and JayBird Run. That other headphones in 2017 had similar problems doesn’t excuse the WF-1000X, however. This is why Sony has been quick to offer a replacement. 

The WF-SP700N truly wireless headphones are, feature-for-feature, the successor to the WF-1000X and address this segment of the Bluetooth market in Sony’s 2018 headphone portfolio. They offer noise cancellation, NFC, and Bluetooth 4.1 like their predecessor, and introduce IPX4 sweat resistance, a no-brainer on workout buds. Time will tell if these new headphones address the connection and lag problems of last year's model. The WF-SP700N are slated for a spring 2018 release and we will be reviewing them in full when they are publicly available.