THE SONY WI-SP500
When I first saw pictures of the Sony WI-SP500 Wireless Stereo Headphones, I was a little confused. Their design seemed pretty bizarre and I couldn’t imagine how they could possibly be suitable for the athletic usage that they were advertised for. I have a hard time keeping IEMs in my ears (my left ear in particular) and I was already disappointed over their clumsy-looking fit. I needed to get my hands on a pair to see what they were all about.
Glad I tried them out. They are some of the best-fitting earbud’s I’ve ever used. When they go in, they stay in; no clip or clever wrap-around feature required. The little piece that sticks out of the sides is virtually non-existent to the wearing experience. In fact, the shape of it actually makes it easier to guide the earphones into position.
These aren’t canal-filling IEMs. They aren’t directly injecting sub-bass into your brain, and there is no “seal” to be had. Which is to say, they aren’t what you want to be wearing if you are drumming on stage at Madison Square Garden. They are targeted towards runners, people who go to the gym, or basically anyone who does anything athletic that doesn’t involve being submerged in water. They get the job done, and do it comfortably.
Putting them into pairing mode was simple, you just have to hold the power button for 7 seconds when turning them on. My Galaxy S7 connected to them immediately without issue.
The accessories included are a pair of smaller tips, a charging cable, and a brilliant little clip that makes wrapping them after usage very simple (and strangely satisfying).
They aren’t totally noise-isolating, but they aren’t totally transparent. I could see them as being particularly useful for runners who want a little more awareness of their surroundings. However, I tried them out during the St. Patrick’s Day parade in NYC and they were still able to provide intelligible music over the hellscape of screaming tourists.
They may even be great to use in an office environment, since you can take calls and hear your surroundings well enough to not totally blow off the intern who’s trying to get your attention.
Because they aren’t designed to be crammed up in your hear-holes, there is an expected lack of super low content. They have bass though, it’s just not incredibly extended or emphasized. As far as their general profile goes, they hang out in the midzone. If you like to work out to heavy rock music, you’re in luck. They add a nice edge to distorted guitars. They are very friendly towards metal and hardcore. I found that they have an additional musical quality about them that flatters R&B as well. Hip-hop heads and EDM junkies may find the lack of emphasis on the bottom end to be a problem. I tested them with the most tolerable Skrillex song I could think of, and I thought they delivered a stellar performance.
All-in-all, they sound superb. They aren’t specialized in any crazy way, besides a barely apparent bump in the 900Hz-2.5kHz range and a fairly recessed booty. I’m not a basshead, however, and I hold no grudges.
THE FINAL WORD
The Sony WI-SP500 isn’t an audiophile headset. They are in-ear but not all-the-way-in-ear. They aren’t going to replace your $1000+ IEMs. But man, for the price, they are a good deal. They are convenient, well designed, and great souding bluetooth earbuds. Their range isn’t hyper-extended, but what they have in their spectrum is delivered clearly and tastefully balanced.
They remained powered-on longer than the promised 8 hours, but they weren’t continuously used. If they die on you because you spent longer than that at the gym, your headphones are probably not the problem.
The more I’ve used them, the more enthusiastic I’ve gotten about the Sony WI-SP500. Maybe it’s mostly because I can rarely find in-ear headphones that stay in my ear. That’s actually a pretty big deal, though. I’ll be using these often.