- Good drivers capable of driving good sound
- DSEE does elevate the listening experience, even if its little
- Noise Cancellation is better with no "Hiss" and decent cancellation
- Multipoint Connectivity is an absolutely great inclusion
- Good battery life with USB-C charging and 3.5mm connectivity
- Good price to performance value
- SBC and AAC codecs are a little dated from a latency perspective but it's okay, I suppose
- The non-collapsible design does irk me a lot
Once you leave the RM 1000 and above price range, it’s literally hard to come across an over-ear headphone that’s anywhere near decent or good to use for the long run. But that’s where Sony excels, offering choices for the consumers to go for. As much as I enjoy having Hi-Res capable headphones to listen to that granularity, the majority of the consumers consider those as “nice to have” and they want something that fulfils the need-over-want. In this Sony WH-CH720N review, you’ll realize it does exactly that, in fact, more for the price point.
Sony WH-CH720N Review
Design and Build Quality
Credit where it’s due, Sony made the packaging eco-friendly and some brands, for some odd reason choose to make it a “feature” for premium products. That said, the Sony WH-CH720N has a similar skeleton as the WH-1000XM5 – it has swivelling earcups that don’t collapse and it’s made out of polycarbonate material. I had this gripe towards the WH-1000XM5’s design, I really wish it had the same collapsible design and to see the WH-CH720N following the same footsteps, is a bit of a bummer. Oh, it doesn’t come with a pouch, so, do get one.
However, with that being the only setback – there are some good design and build quality choices. Starting off with the comfort, the earcups use a decent earcup which can be replaced by a user for better comfy ones and has a nice PU headband that doesn’t dig into your scalp.
Secondly, the headphone has a good range of flexibility and adjustment, which makes it completely sure that you can only have a nice comfy experience. Thirdly, and the most important aspect – the adjustable band itself. Sony added a stainless-steel metal band to reinforce and retain the integrity of the headphone’s shape for the long run. So, chances are – it can take a beat but of course don’t do it on purpose.
Controls and Specifications
Control-wise, it has the basics covered and it’s located around the outer area of the earcups. On the left earcup, you will notice the USB-C port, a 3.5mm port and the power button. On the right, you have the volume up, down and Play/Pause buttons together and the Noise Cancelling/Ambient mode button separately. It’s easy to tell where the buttons are located when you try to feel them. Pretty easy to get used to honestly.
In terms of specification, the Sony WH-CH720N does have a modest setup going on internally.
- 30mm Dynamic Drivers
- Bluetooth 5.2 with SBC and AAC codec support
- DSEE Supported
- Noise Cancellation with Ambient Mode and supported via Headphones Connect
Software: Headphones Connect Capable
Adding software support to a product makes a world of a difference and in this case, the Sony WH-CH720N does get the Headphone Connect support. In fact, about a week or so later, we even received the first update for the firmware to fix some issues which are really off to a good start in my opinion. Otherwise, you get pretty much what the app has offered in the past. Things like: Adaptive Sound Control, Ambient Sound Control, Equalizer, 360 Reality Audio, Bluetooth Connection Quality, DSEE, Multipoint, Voice Assistant and other customizability options.
Honestly, it’s as good as it gets and with Jabra being the other exception, not many take the software side of things seriously – so this is a nice sight to see.
Now, onto the main picture. How does this sound? Now before I get into that – I’d like to address two to three things. Now for one, Sony has only included the bare minimum with the codec: SBC and AAC. Now interesting enough, you don’t see AptX anymore because the majority of the audio-product-making companies are actually ditching it – which is a conversation for another day. Now you might be a little disappointed that those two codecs are okay at best, but this is where DSEE steps in to make the experience, worthwhile.
A little TL;DR on DSEE – to put it in simple words: it’s a Digital Sound Enhancement Engine. Now, despite it being a proprietary technology, it is easy to adapt across any kind of device – making it easier to use and adapt as compared to codecs that play hard to get (I am looking at you, LHDC). Now DSEE enhances rather than improves the sound ranges in a compressed audio file. This isn’t the HX by the way, it’s just the barebones DSEE which we have seen back in Walkman.
My recommendation is to try listening to one song you listen to almost every time and listen to it with DSEE and without. This is very codec dependent because SBC is the one you can tell some differences (but at times not so much either) whereas AAC on its own is already a good codec and the differences are hard to tell.
The first song we tried is, of course, Trap. Starting with Rowdy by Memba. Sony’s sound signature has always had this little bit of everything in their normal headphones, call it V-shaped if you will. Meaning it’s kind to the ears by giving not too much of a sharp treble nor heavy bass by default. Listening to Rowdy was nice as it had a good mid-presence with the percussions coming in one at a time. When the beat drops, it covers a good staging with that sweet spot of a bass that isn’t too overpowered by default. It covered everything alright honestly.
The second song we tried is a Tamil song called Tum Tum from Enemy, the Movie. The reason for this song is that it has a good presence on the vocals in a front and centre position with the instruments synergized with the song. But what I did like about the vocals in this song is how it consists of range. The range was consistent throughout and when the instruments kicked in, it gives a whole, complete sound.
The third song we listened to was, Out of Time by The Weeknd. If you happen to listen to a lot of the R&B kind of songs, the bright vocals by Abel are just nice to listen and when the auto-tune kicks in, it does give a nice separation and good balance with the instrument. It’s definitely enjoyable.
Overall, the Sony WH-CH720N gives a good listening experience even if you choose not to tweak the EQ by default. The thing is, it’s a nice sound profile and usually, if you do come from like a more expensive headphone, you will realize that these don’t have that oomph factor. Which is why I wouldn’t ask you to compare. Like someone who uses the WH-1000XM5 for its audio richness, I was able to tell the WH-CH720N does miss out on that. However, if you happen to compare with other headphones at this price point – which is a fair comparison, these cans do a good job of producing clear audio and you won’t be disappointed.
The wired connection was of course a lot better and the versatility these headphones offer is a nice one.
Noise Cancelling Experience
Okay, so the Noise Cancellation you experience here isn’t Active but rather just a simple Noise Cancellation. Active Noise Cancellation, ANC for short, adapts to the external sound condition with the help of feed-forward and feedback microphones. This Noise Cancellation tunes the outside sound away and that’s about it. For a simple Noise Cancellation, one great thing it does is that you cannot hear that “hum” that conventional Noise Cancelling does.
Once you play your music, Noise Cancellation is in effect. It does do a decent amount of cancellation and of course, you cannot compare to an ANC headphone, which is definitely a few steps ahead. That said, we tried it in situations like: in the LRT (where the low and mid frequency was cancelled and the high was somewhat present), in the Mall (the crowd noise was a lot more toned down) and at the Gym (where the Treadmill noise was almost muted). It’s good for Noise Cancelling headphones.
Game-Changing Feature: Sony WH-CH720N Multipoint Connectivity
One feature that’s catching up and it’s even shocking, in a good way to see with these WH-CH720N: Multipoint. It allows you to pair two different devices simultaneously. So far, there is only a handful number of headphones that comes with this feature. Recently, Sony even made this feature available on the Linkbud S through an update. It’s definitely a game-changer. It plays well with iOS, Android, and Windows machines (unfortunately, no Mac because we don’t own one).
I think comparing the Sony WH-CH720N to the WH-1000XM3 or 4 or even 5 is completely unwarranted – as they offer cutting-edge listening experience along with hardware that really makes the WH-CH720N look so minuscule. It’s like comparing a Toyota Corolla with a Camry. Both are great on their own and it’s from the same company but you can’t compare both as it is in a totally different class.
The Sony WH-CH720N answers what a good no-frills Noise Cancelling headphone should offer: good working Noise Cancellation, multipoint connectivity which is a god tier feature to pair two devices at the same time, battery life that’s impressive – racking a 30-34 hours, support for good software where you can update the headphones and most importantly, at a price point even our wallets can digest.
RM 649 is a good price for features even other headphones in this price point have yet to offer. For all, we know Sony could just give more features via an Update. These headphones get a solid recommendation from us – in fact, a Vesper Choice Award.