Sony WH-CH720N review: budget-friendly headphones with premium sound | Engadget

Sony WH-CH720N

Sony has a great track record when it comes to budget headphones. The company’s were excellent but initially overpriced. Sony made them at a whopping $150 after they lowered the price shortly after their 2020 debut. Great sound quality, powerful ANC, decent battery life, and a comfortable fit made the WH-CH710N a compelling, affordable alternative to the Premium, which was the company’s flagship phone at the time. Earlier this year, the company debuted this three-year-old set: the .

On paper, the 2023 edition should live up to Sony’s reputation for solid mid-range and budget headphones as alternatives to the expensive . The WH-CH720N packs the same V1 chip as the M5, supporting both active noise cancellation (ANC) and overall sound quality. There’s also an updated design and a lower price after another early cut ($130), but the battery life remains the same at 35 hours. So is the WH-CH720N another mid-range hit for Sony?

Sony WH-CH720N


  • Inexpensive
  • Light and comfortable
  • Great sound quality
  • Some handy features


  • ANC fights in specific environments
  • Lots of plastic
  • No automatic pause
  • Advanced features reserved for more expensive models

Sony WH-CH720N Headphones

Let’s start with the design. The WH-CH720N takes cues from Sony’s newer 1000X headphones and the , mainly in the headband and earcup hinges. The outside of the earcups are flatter and made entirely of hard plastic – there’s no soft-touch material here. Like previous mid-range Sony models, the WH-CH720N has physical controls with a power/pairing button on the left next to the USB-C charging port and 3.5mm jack. On the right is a dedicated noise canceling button that toggles between ANC and transparency modes. There’s also the typical three-button array with volume controls flanking the multi-function track and call button. This central control also calls up your favorite voice assistant. While the buttons work reliably, the raised bar on the center button is low, making it difficult to place your thumb quickly.

Like the WH-CH710N, this new model is extremely light and comfortable. I can easily wear these for hours. There’s also ample padding in the ear cushions and the headband hinge doesn’t wrap so tightly that it pinches my head. I liked a lot of what the 710N had to offer, but overall comfort was high on the list, so it’s great to see that Sony hasn’t overlooked that aspect when developing the follow-up version. The only real problem is that it’s being used a lot made of plastic. While this helps keep the weight down, it also makes the 720N look downright cheap.

In the feature suite of the WH-CH720N in the Sony Headphones app, you will notice the main differences to the WH-1000XM5. Most notably, the 720N doesn’t have speak-to-chat, a feature that automatically pauses the audio when it detects you’re speaking. On a related note, this new model also doesn’t have an automatic pause when you take it off your head.

Sony has been the king of the headphone pile for a while with its 1000X line, but the company lays claim to the mid-range as well.  With the WH-CH720N, the company continues its track record of great sound quality and a comfortable fit in a set of more affordable headphones.  You'll have to give up some premium features, but there's still a lot to like here.

Photo by Billy Steele/Engadget

Despite some omissions, there are still some useful tools. First, the app’s Adaptive Sound Control allows it to automatically adjust settings based on your location or activity. For example, you can turn on ANC when you arrive at the office or enable transparency mode when you start a run. Here, and in the general sound settings, you can specify an ambient noise level and initiate voices while this mode is active.

In addition, Sony offers an EQ slider for manual adjustments and a separate bass adjustment. There’s also a collection of audio presets if you’re in a hurry. 360 Reality Audio is available on the WH-CH720N (with a compatible streaming subscription) and the app gives you the option of DSEE upscaling to enhance compressed content. The app also allows you to enable multipoint Bluetooth for two devices, and a Safe Listening feature helps you preserve your hearing.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about the WH-CH710N was the overall sound quality. I was amazed at what Sony managed to do in a set of headphones that cost half the price of its flagship model. There was ample bass with an open soundstage and great clarity in the details. Thankfully, the WH-CH720N is more of the same. These headphones enable the intricacies of boygenius’ the record from the somber guitar effects to the quieter keyboard/organ parts of songs like “True Blue”. There are many more muted parts on the record that you can easily pick up on. The plucked acoustic guitar and banjo on “Cool About It” is also quite dynamic and textured.

Heavier, more chaotic genres perform just as well. The dark, thrashy metal track “30 Under 13” by Better Lovers is quite the ride. Even the fastest, heaviest riffs are captured with surprising clarity. All instruments stand alone and never become a smashed mess. The dynamics of tracks like O’Brother’s “Halogen Eye” also come into their own. There’s plenty of grainy, thick distortion in the verses, and these headphones get every bit of that texture, in addition to reverb and other effects that create the band’s atmospheric, moody soundscape.

Most recently at Nickel Creek revelers – a modern bluegrass record – with the WH-CH720N you have the feeling of being in the same room with the band. Helped in part by the positioning of guitar, mandolin, violin and bass in the mix, the headphones preserve the feeling of attending a private performance rather than just listening to a recorded track.

Sony has been the king of the headphone pile for a while with its 1000X line, but the company lays claim to the mid-range as well.  With the WH-CH720N, the company continues its track record of great sound quality and a comfortable fit in a set of more affordable headphones.  You'll have to give up some premium features, but there's still a lot to like here.

Photo by Billy Steele/Engadget

In terms of noise cancellation, I think the WH-CH720N is a small step down from the 710N. The ANC will serve you well in most cases, especially with constant noise. However, these headphones really struggle with human voices, making them not the best option if your main goal is to block a nearby call or chatty colleague. Transparency mode offers great natural sound, which is especially handy when taking video and voice calls. Speaking of calls, the 720N does a good job of blocking out background noise, and the overall audio quality will have you sounding better than speakerphone and most earbuds. It’s not flawless, but it’s a cut above the status quo.

In terms of battery life, Sony promises up to 35 hours with ANC switched on. With what I consider normal use – a mix of noise-cancelling and transparency mode for music and calls, plus turning it off a few times overnight – the app was still showing 40 percent after 28 hours. The Bluetooth menu in macOS supported this. The company says you can expect up to 50 hours with the ANC off, so my mixed-use attempts have matched that. Battery life estimates have never been an issue with Sony headphones, and that’s not the case here either. Also, 35 hours is comparable to most flagship models these days, even if it’s the same number as the previous model.

That’s a strong contender to replace the current budget pick in our guide, but if you need a solid alternative, check out Audio-Technica. While the $79 is our current low-cost pick, this is a more apt comparison. The M50 doesn’t offer active noise cancellation, but it does have a more refined design, physical controls and a warm, inviting sound. If you don’t need extra help blocking distractions, they’re currently available for $69 more than the 720N. Sony introduced this alongside the WH-CH720N, which could be an option if you’re really looking to save pennies. This on-ear model doesn’t have ANC either, but it does have a 50-hour battery life and multipoint connectivity alongside built-in controls. Plus, they only cost $50.

Sony has managed to build another compelling set of affordable noise-cancelling headphones without cutting too many corners. Sure, there are some premium features you’ll have to do without, but the WH-CH720N covers the basics well. Good sound quality with special attention to finer details and ample bass is combined with a practical transparency mode and automatic sound profile switching. The noise-cancellation does a decent job, but it’s not the best, and you’ll have to make do without an automatic pause. However, for well under $150, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better option at this price point.

Gallery: Sony WH-CH720N review | 9 photos

#Sony #WHCH720N #review #budgetfriendly #headphones #premium #sound #Engadget

NCAA Football: Mississippi at Texas A&M

On Day 2 of the draft, what are the best prospects for Chiefs positions?

Google tv free channels

Here are all the free channels available on Google TV