Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Sony WF-500 Unboxing and Review

I have been looking for an earbud, headset/bone conduction, amp/DAC to listen to music while travelling and using it as a complimentary training tool (for voice feedback/alert) and I have been checking them out for at least 9months. The dilemma of going all wired via amplifier/digital-analog converter (Amp/DAC) or to keep things wireless was the other dilemma. Then came the Hong Leong Bank Bid or Win contest where you accumulate points from your transaction or usage and use these points to either bid (down to the last 10s) to win various prizes or use these points to Win, via lucky draw. One of the prize was a set of Sony wireless earbud.
Candy Lime in my ear

So imagine my delight when after 6 weeks of the contest ends, I recieved a SMS to inform that I have won one of the 8 Sony wireless earbud model WF-500. And the date of which I have won it was back to February 2023, but the list was only released in July. It was such a long wait, but well at least I won something I wanted!
Had to check a few times to ensure it's not a scam SMS

The redemption was via Shopee and it is specific to just Sony Centre Sunway Pyramid online store. The unit was RM449 and now selling for MR299, which is what the value of the coupon for redemption. The claim process was a bit tardy with Shopee not updating the voucher to include the unit, and when they did, it was for RM499, so one would need to pay extra RM150 to "get it for free". Took them 3-4 days to resolve it and when it was finally done, 

I placed order for the Orange unit. Because I like Orange to go with my other running wardrobe. I also bought it with an extended insurance because we all know these will fail within 2 years of usage, so why not have extra protection that can be claimed when the unit fail?

The unit arrived a few days later, and I picked it up from one of the MBE drop off location. Can't believe i had to pay for self pick up! Capitalist!
The rather small unit of the WF-500 came in a box 20x it's size. The MBE staff had a hard time locating for it as I told them it is for an wireless earbud so the size with packaging would not be big. Imagine their surprise when after 10minutes of searching, it was the second largest box in the delivery of the day. At least I have helped them to sort out the delivery and they now know what is what for who. Here is the short unboxing video. Yes, you can see how big the packing was.
If the video doesn't play, here is the link to the unboxing
The Unit came very neatly packed. Opening it was a bit of a puzzle. And it was a surprise when I saw it was lime green instead of orange that I ordered. I am not sure if I was color blind or the folks at Sony was... but not throwing any shades on them as I am an easy person to deal with and will learn to love this lime green...
orange LED shows it's charging

This is what you get in the box

  • The Earbuds obviously
  • The Charging Case
  • USB-A to USB-C cable for charging
  • 2 extra sets of silicon ear fitment in S and L (so yes, it is pre-installed M)
  • User Manual x 2
  • Quick Start manual
Next, the specs, which is pretty impressive for the price you be paying for a Sony branded earbuds

Taken from Sony Website

And if you are keen on the detailed specs, which include what playback it can do, here is the link (but if you hate to click on links, it playback in AAC and SBC on BT5.0)
The earbuds links with the Sony App called Headphone Connects which can control the EQ and toggle the propritery DSEE or the Digital Sound Enhancement Engine which restore sound compressed so you can hear a rich and natural sound which is almost exactly like the original source. It also support 360 Audio like Tidal, so if you are on Tidal account, this is one earbuds that will work with it.
Real World Use
Lets start by qualifying that this is not an Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) earbuds like the more expensive cost almost 4x more WF-1000XM4 or the 2x more LinkBud S. Infact the next closest ANC you can find within the same price range (before discount) is the WF-700N which is selling for RM599, just RM150 more than the full priced WF-500 (RRP RM449). With that expectation in mind, I need to accept that this unit will work at best, as good as how much isolation of noise I can make it to be - and the key to this is the fitting of the eartips in the ear canal. The medium fits me ok, and I swapped for the largest tip. It fits perfectly and the sound isolation was good. 
With L-tips. Notice that there is a small dot on one of the bud, that denote the Left side, pretty nifty for the visually impaired as this tactile feel will help identify which side it is.
The app interface once the buds are connected. You see the L-R (in red) which also help to identify which side physically, battery status, and the Equaliser with Sony Clear Bass that help boost base and still make the overall music good without overwhelming the lower frequencies 

How is that for fitting?
The unit sits very nicely and very securely in my ear and the canal. Infact, there were minimal adjustment needed to "sit it in".

In the App, there is more features you can play with, apart from the DSEE, you can get the App to analyse your ear so it can be optimised for 360 sound application (such as Tidal). While I do not have Tidal, you can sort of (feel good) get your ear analysed.
Click on the Analyse (or in this case Re-Analyse) to start the process. 
You be prompted to take photo of your ear either automatically (which doesn't always work) or manually (work best for me)

then it takes 30s to analyse

and optimise with the app you be using

Tidal as an example

And i managed to spoof the process by not installing Tidal app (press back button LOL)

How much of these helped with the sound experience? I do not know as I do not have Tidal, but as part of user experience, I would give this a "done that" with a little of FOMO of wanting to subscribe to Tidal.
Preset EQ and space to customise your own.
The biggest user experience I would say is the Equaliser and the SBEE engine. It makes the music pops out and some details (such as higher frequencies usually drowned out). I tried with and without the DSEE, there are differences if you listen to acoustic but not so when it is louder music (like RAP, ok, except Ice Ice Baby with the high cymbal playing in the background I swore Ice was in front of you).
Everyday Usage
I managed to pair the unit to my phone, both my Garmin and my laptop. I noticed that once the EQ and DSEE is set from the app, the bud carry over the same profile in all of the units. Music sound same from all the playback devices (phone, Garmin and Laptop). It is light but solid enough to be worn more than 2 hours at anytime. It promises 10hours of playback on the bud, and 10hours on the charging case; both unlikely for me to exceed. Be reminded, while this earbuds makes me very happy to be able to enjoy music, my wife ain't too pleased as I could not hear her talking to me and often has to wave to get my attention. My Bose QC35 is great with ANC but not suitable to wear in non-AC for long time as it cover the ear = hot!.
Sports Usage
I must say I am impressed with the fitting. I took this out for 3 consecutive runs and the buds remained solidly in my ear at any pace. I can hear the voice feedback perfectly fine and with traffic around me as well (I run with one side only for safety). I believe as long as the unit is not removed, hence preventing the tip from getting wet/allowing perspirations to cover the ear canal, the unit will stay solidly in the ear. The only irritating thing? Because it is in-ear/canal the feet landing vibration will be amplified in the ear canal and you can hear your own footstep. This isn't a problem for Bone Conduction system as it vibrates outside your ear. The IP4X works great as well, but I avoid premature damage by not running it in water - merely wiping it with a damp cloth and air dry after every usage.
Extended Usage
Beyond music, this earbud works great in phone calls and conference calls (MS Team tested) with the counterparty confirming they are able to hear me perfectly fine. There is also no noticeable lag in transmission once it is connected. I can now have an alternative to the wired headset that can be uncomfortably hot due to our weather. Sound quality did not suffer like some earbuds that sort of switches between music profile and voice profile.

  • Great fitting on my ear
  • Good sound isolation shutting out most ambience noises
  • Decent clarity for music and voice with DSEE
  • Good bass that makes you want to tap your feet
  • Not overwhelming sound pressure, Clear Bass technology works
  • No issues for high impact sports
  • Considered to be expensive if not on discount
  • Still expensive despite discounted pricing as there are sub RM100 earbuds that may perform similarly
  • Not fully splash-proof
  • Gonna say no ANC but hey, it's Sony's budget earbuds
The Sony WF-500 is rated/voted as best budget wireless earbuds on many tech sites in 2022 and still showed up as a good deal in 2023. Read about them here and here and here and here

Thanks for reading, hope this provide a good idea if you are looking for a budget wireless earbuds, this could be for you. Here is the link in Shopee from Sony Centre if you are keen!

Saturday, July 08, 2023


  • A massive 2-day festival atmosphere including lucky draw prizes, two concerts and a kid’s pushbike competition
  • 2012 Olympic Men’s Team Rowing Gold medalist Matthew Brittain crowned overall champion after dominating win


DESARU, 8 July – True to form, L’Étape Johor by Tour de France presented by Majestic Johor returned with a bang for a second consecutive year to provide a memorable experience for more than 3,600 participants who thronged the exquisite racecourse of Desaru Coast over the first July weekend.


Interest for L’Étape dubbed “The World’s Greatest Amateur Cycling Event” was never in doubt, evident by the high participation from 47 countries who converged from all regions of the globe to Desaru Coast for the experience of competing like a Tour De France participant.


One of the main highlights of L’Étape Johor, however, was the plethora of festival activities that gave the participants’ an immense satisfaction of experiencing the event beyond the racecourse. 


This included a memorabilia display by Tour de France, a French exhibition, pushbike competition, public showcase, new product launches, prize presentation and lucrative lucky draw prizes among others. 


Those activities only served as the tip of the iceberg, as three other big L’Étape events drew thousands on Friday and Saturday. The first one was the L’Étape Wav Jam, an electrifying yet interactive experience of 12 local indie talents who vowed with their various music genres and immersive vocal chords that delivered all the right feels.


That was not all, as official radio stations hotFM and buletinFM joined forces to stage a unique mini concert on Saturday that included Akademi Fantasia top performing artistes such as Marsha Milan, Amira Othman and Amir Masdi.


It promised everything that was expected – incredible performances, infectious beats and a party atmosphere that got the audience swaying to the music and grooving to the rhythm of the beat. Both events were free, but provided priceless money can’t buy experience that helped to soothe the weary limbs of the participants. 


The festival atmosphere also reverberated to the kids, who had the time of their lives at the world’s first L’Étape branded Pushbike competition at the L’Étape Johor Festival Village. More than 200 kids aged two to eight years old participated, and laughter and amusement filled the air as they raced to the finish line.


The excitement post-race continued to build with the epic after-party organized by Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast as participants mingled with refreshing drinks, accompanied by pulsating beats from the DJ deck.


As for the event itself, it unfolded as a competition like no other, and for South Africa’s Matthew Brittain it was extra special after he claimed THE RACE – ELITE category overall male champion, crossing the finish line in 3:17:40 seconds over 140 kilometres.


Brittain is amazingly also a 2012 Olympic gold medalist when he captured first place in men’s team rowing. The 36-year-old said the mentality he instilled in training for rowing helped him greatly when he made the transition to cycling several years ago. “Winning at the Olympics was an amazing experience product of hard work. The mentality and intensity for rowing is the same as training for cycling, and I am happy to have brought that same qualities to this race,” said Brittain.


“My gameplan here was to attack the leading pack after 90 kilometres. When I saw the opportunity at an uphill, I launched the attack of my life. I just put my head down and saw the vision of the yellow jersey. I had an absolutely amazing race, the roads were beautiful and the entire vibe was fantastic,” Brittain stated.


Success clearly runs in the Brittain household as his wife Alicia won the female category with a time of 3:22:14 seconds.


Meanwhile, the presence of national athletes Anuar Manan,  Aiman Zarif and Nabil Sofian added to the competitiveness of the race, while former Minister of Science, Technology & Innovation Khairy Jamaluddin, radio announcer Fara Fauzana, comedian Johan Raja Lawak as well as AG from hotFM also participated in the 60km ride.


Organizers Muse Group Asia were over the moon with the overall atmosphere of the event. “We wanted to make this year’s event different from last year, which is why we worked hard to introduce these new festival events. We wanted to ensure that our participants’ experience did not just end after their race, but beyond that. To see everyone enjoying themselves not only gives us immense satisfaction, but also inspires us to continue creating cherished moments for our participants in the future,” said Muse Group Asia CEO Riduwan Matni.


The co-organiser, KPRJ Sports were honoured by the overwhelming support from the Malaysian cycling community. “We are proud to host this event for the second time in Johor. It has always been our commitment to grow the sporting community in Johor, and there’s no better way than to bring L’Étape Johor itself to the country to attract our community of cyclists,” said Yang Berhormat Dato’ Lukman Abu Bakar, Chief Executive Officer of KPRJ.


Johor Chairman of Youth and Sports Yang Berhormat Tuan Mohd Hairi Mad Shah, representing the Johor Chief Minister Yang Amat Berhormat Dato’ Onn Hafiz Ghazi, noted that L’Étape Johor has stamped its mark as a signature sporting event in the southern state.


“We have had close to 9,000 participants in the last two years, and it goes to show the huge appetite of cycling in our country. We hope to continue staging this event in Desaru and pledge our commitment to support this event in every way we can,” he said.


Johor Chairman of Tourism, Culture & Heritage Yang Berhormat Tuan Raven Kumar Krishnasamy was also there to witness this event.


Over the years, Desaru Coast has established itself as one of the most attractive sports tourism hub in the country, situated along a gorgeous coastline that overlooks a sparkling blue ocean and a pristine beach. Offering ample choices of accommodation, facilities, infrastructure and ease of access, Desaru Coast has the capacity and space for mega-size international outdoor sporting and lifestyle events. 


This event is supported by Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB), an agency under the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC) Malaysia.


For more information including the race routes, accommodation ideas, and other FAQs, go to www.letapemalaysia.com / www.facebook.com/letapemalaysia / www.instagram.com/letapemalaysia  /  www.tiktok.com/@letapemalaysia