Sony is busy launching true wireless earbuds, to make sure there is one model for everyone. The Sony WF-1000XM3 is their flagship TWS with premium ANC (and they actually aren’t that expensive), the WF-SP800N is like the WF-1000XM3 but with more waterproofing , brighter colours, and less advanced ANC. Now, the Sony WF-H800 is the “h.ear” sub-brand and retails at S$299, at the same price as the WF-SP800N. What then is the value proposition for the H800?
The WF-H800 retains the same Sony true-wireless design mantra, but tweaked to look more sleek and relatively compact while retaining a unique style that is unmistakenly Sony. The earbuds still protrude out of the ears, skewing the weight balance and relying the in-ear canals to secure the earbuds. Nevertheless, it’s a design that I like among the Sony TWS so far, using a stone surface finishing on the charging case as well as the earbuds.
The 2-tone finishing gives an illusion that the earbuds is shaped like a pebble, but once you remove it, the interior chamber is massive. Indeed, Sony users have been enduring wearing them when most of the competitors have miniaturised the TWS.
The WF-H800 operates by a small click button located at the bottom, at location prone to accidental presses by the thumb when you remove the earbuds. The buttons can be customised from the smartphone app, just like the other models.
What the WF-H800 lacks are ANC-Ambient Sound feature and Adaptive Sound Control. Apart from these two, you can find all the other features available on the app to manage, including EQ Presets, DSEE HX, 360 Reality Audio, Auto-Pause.
Pairing is consistent like other Sony TWS products: press and hold buttons on both earbuds for 6 seconds until you hear the voice prompt or see the LED light change to red-blue.
The earbuds can provide 8 hours non-stop music listening, while the charging case offer another 8 hours of charge.
The WF-H800 does not deviate away from the Sony signature sound, but with a slight tweak. While the WF-SP800N sounds more bass-emphasised, the WF-H800 is more midrange to upper range. However, the WF-1000XM3 is still the best in treble clarity and space.
I prefer the balance of the WF-H800 as it sounded less dark than the WF-SP800N. The more prominent midrange provides a comforting warmth to the sound while I still get satisfying treble sparkle without too clinical. The bass is also not too punchy but good enough to achieve musical acuity.
In fact, thanks to the EQ feature, it’s simple to tweak the EQ to your liking which will apply to all audio sources from all apps. In that aspect, any deficiencies can be compensated. Things that cannot be adjusted is the sound stage. On the WF-H800, I find that the staging is close and wide, as if the musicians are standing in a straight line in front of you and performing.
Among the Sony TWS earbuds, the WF-H800 is the most stylish and the case is compact with durable feel. You also pay a premium for design and some customisation features like EQ, DSEE HX.
If you enjoy the detailed instrumentation exuding from the midrange, then I find the WF-H800 is better than the WF-1000XM3. However, given the slim price different, I find very few reasons to buy any Sony TWS earbuds other than WF-1000XM3, unless you terribly dislike the WF-1000XM3 design.
There are also far too many TWS earbuds in the market that offers lower price and greater overall value. If you are just looking for a good functional pair of earbuds, the WF-H800 may be somewhat overpriced. But if you are attracted by the design, then the WF-H800 will deliver overall great user experience.