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Sony WI-C600N Review: Balanced sound and a dash of noise cancellation

I chose the perfect time to test out Sony’s WI-C600N, a new entrant in the neck-band style earphones category, bringing noise cancellation to the more affordable sporty on-the-go form factor. I had a team of carpenter and polisher working in the house and so there was much scraping and shuffling going on and of course a constant buzz of chatter making it difficult for me to concentrate on anything. All hammering and sawing done with, I was left with the quieter noise that noise cancellation should be able to tackle.

Did it? We’ll see. But here’s a tour of the new earphones…

The WI-C600N come in a bare-bones package with no extras. You do get a USB-Type-C charging cable and some extra silicon ear-tips. No carrying case, but perhaps they’re supposed to sit around your neck most of the time.

Fit

These are in-earphones and go right into your ear canal. The default ear-tips made for a very comfortable fit in my case. The neckband is very light and sits adequately stable around the neck. Nothing connects it to the playback device but Bluetooth as it’s wireless, but the two ear-buds connect, of course, through the neckband from which they dangle with their own wires.

The ear-buds can snap together magnetically to stay safe from getting tangled up with this and that and with each other. The magnetic snap however doesn’t turn off the music as it does with some other earphones. The neckband is made of an elastic soft material, typical of these products. There are no real design elements or accents involved so obviously Sony decided not to waste time and costs with that. It sits ok on the neck but not very firmly and may have forward or back a bit and become not so perfectly aligned, but it won’t fall off and can safely be worn for the day — if the battery were to last.

One connects the earphones directly via NFC or Bluetooth by pressing and holding the power button down for a moment till it blinks red and blue. Also download the Sony Headphones Connect app for various kinds of fine-tuning such as using the equaliser or setting noise cancellation vs ambient sound or setting a button to trigger the personal assistant — Google or Siri for the moment but possibly Alexa sometime soon.

Features and usage

Sony has priced the WI-C600N earphones at Rs 10,990 to bring noise cancellation to more affordable levels. But the performance of this feature doesn’t compare with the more expensive products available, including from Sony. Because the earbuds seal the sound right into the ear canal, turning on the music in itself has the byproduct of cutting out some of the noise around. But turning on active noise cancellation doesn’t have much of a dramatic effect beyond that. It’s not like people can be talking to you and all you see if their mouths moving. In my own surroundings, I could still hear workers talking and arguing in the next room, though I couldn’t make out the words. It was just about possible to tune sounds out enough to focus on something else or just listen to music, but it was still entirely possible to hear that people were talking and even identify who it was. Subtler sounds like the hum of a loud heater could be tuned out so you can perhaps expect a quiet aircraft to get quieter.

The single button that toggles noise modes also brings in ambient sounds for when you want to hear what is happening around but not let go of the music. Again, I didn’t find the difference between the modes separated enough. To hear something it was just easier to pop out the earbud and then back again.

You can call the sound quality on the WI-C600N flat or balanced, depending on how you look at it. You get clean sound with everything being about equal. These earphones are certainly not heavy on the bass, which is a good thing as that isn’t the healthiest to build in for in-ear audio products. But the bass is definitely and gently present and the overall sound experience is pleasant with nothing being harsh or jarring.

Battery Life

The claimed battery life is 6.5 with noise cancellation on and 7.5 with it off, but despite an overnight charge, I was able to drain out the battery in 4.3 hours. This may be because I turned the music on too loud or a one-off with my review unit. Sony does promise to service every aspect of the earphones however, so whether you manage to snap a cable or detect a bad battery, you can take the earphones along to a Sony service center.

Price: Rs 10,990

Pros: Comfortable fit, good ear seal, decent sound quality, moved to USB Type C

Cons: Active noise cancellation not strong, battery didn’t live up to stated period

Source: The Hindu