The Sony WH-CH710N are excellent headphones for the price. They're comfortable to wear, offer an extensive battery life and effective ANC – but the plastic build quality and slightly disappointing execution of Ambient Sound control knock a few points off the score
- Comfortable fit
- Great noise cancellation
- Extensive 35hr battery
- Flimsy build
- Ambient sound setting is lacking
- Review Price: £130
- AINC noise cancellation
- Dual Noise Sensor Technology
- Ambient Sound mode
- 35hr battery with quick charging
The Sony WH-CH710N are Sony’s most affordable noise-cancelling headphones in its range yet, priced at just £130.
Sony’s WH-1000XM3 made the top of our best headphones list for their excellent sound quality and noise cancellation. While the WH-CH710N fall into a very different price bracket, we have high hopes for any noise cancelling headphones from the Japanese giant.
In addition to noise cancellation and Ambient Sound control, the WH-CH710N headphones offer Bluetooth and NFC connectivity, voice assistant control and up to 35 hours of playtime with a handy quick-charging facility.
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Sony WH-CH710N design – Light and comfortable, but fragile
The Sony WH-CH710N are an attractive, if slightly plain, pair of headphones. The barebones design features oval-shaped, matte-black ear cups featuring a small Sony logo on each side.
The fit is excellent. These over-ear headphones are incredibly light and comfortable to wear, even with glasses on. The ear cups are soft and cushioned without feeling heavy or bulky, and they twist to fit comfortably around the neck when not in use.
The plastic and metal adjustable headband is slim and cushiony too, but it does bend easily. I felt nervous throwing these headphones into a bag when I left the house. They remained in one piece, but I’d expect my headphones to feel a bit sturdier or, at the very least, to come with a protective case for £130. Luckily, the fit and the audio quality meant I felt comfortable looking past this.
Sony WH-CH710N features – ANC is more successful than ambient sound
The Sony WH-CH710N headphones feature three listening modes: Ambient Sound, Ambient Sound Off, and Noise Cancelling.
The WH-C710N’s Automatic Artificial Intelligence Noise Cancelling (AINC) mean the headphones constantly analyse the levels of ambient sound in your environment to automatically pick out the best noise-cancelling performance. While this certainly sounds impressive in theory, it falls short of expectations.
Performance easily wiped out regular conversation, a loud movie and smaller background distractions; but speech would sneak through whenever my housemates raised their voices. The noise cancellation feature certainly isn’t bad – I can see it getting the job done in an office environment, shops or on public transport – but it might struggle in louder, more disruptive situations.
Sony says that its Dual Noise Sensor Technology (made up of one forward-feeding mic and one backward) is able to catch a greater degree of ambient sounds than ever before, leading me to expect more noise suppression from the headphones. However, its claim that it blocks out city traffic and office chatter seems right on the money.
The Ambient Sound mode, on the other hand, was disappointing. While I could tell that my housemates were talking, I struggled to make out specific words and phrases. This is especially difficult when the volume is boosted above mid-way. I also had difficulty discerning the difference between Ambient Sound and Ambient Sound Off. That said, there was no noticeable change in sound quality when cycling through the three modes, which was pleasant since ANC can sometimes throw the tonal balance off-kilter.
The WH-CH710N headphones feature both NFC and Bluetooth, so you have the option to either connect manually with Bluetooth or to simply touch your NFC-enabled device to the “N” mark. I chose to use Bluetooth to stream music and connection was swift and stable every time.
The headphones are capable of an impressive 35 hours of playtime in Noise Cancelling mode, although there’s a lengthy seven-hour wait to charge them up again. Thankfully, the quick-charging feature means you can get 60 minutes of music from a fast 10-minute charge.
Sony has also included voice-assistant support for hands-free calls.
Sony WH-CH710N sound – A dynamic listening experience
With 30mm drivers powering the sound, the WH-CH710N display a fun and energetic sound. It’s a well-rounded, dynamic listen with bright highs and rumbling lows.
The bass is packed with detail. Gorillaz’ Dare becomes a head-thumping experience wearing these over-ears, with the gritty low-end buzzing below the melody. While the tones sound balanced on the surface, a closer listen suggests that the mids don’t quite get the attention the bass and treble are awarded.
Steely Dan’s Do It Again shows off the treble in all its glory. The high-end is nimble and defined, with each instrument distinct from the last. Anytime you start to believe one instrument has claimed the spotlight, the next chimes in prepared to hold its own against the cluster.
While the soundstage does begin to feel somewhat claustrophobic as we move through the song, the headphones allow for a complex layer of high notes to build upon one another. Again, the mids can become somewhat lost in the mix, but there’s a good enough balance of bass and treble that it takes a closer listen to notice this detail.
Should you buy the Sony WH-CH710N?
The WH-CH710N are an enjoyable pair of noise-cancelling headphones, and the £130 price makes Sony’s noise-cancelling tech accessible to those on a budget. These headphones might not be the top choice for audiophiles – but if you’re primarily looking for a fun-sounding pair of cans for travelling, or to drown out chatter in the office, then you’ll have little complaint with the Sony WH-CH710N.
While it may be tempting to think of the WH-CH710 as an affordable alternative to the much-loved WH-1000XM3 headphones, their lower price means that sacrifices have been made in terms of quality. While noise-cancellation here is great, it isn’t on a par with what you’d get on some more expensive headphones. The Ambient Sound mode doesn’t allow for clear conversation, and the mostly plastic frame doesn’t feel sturdy.
If you’re looking for a good pair of noise-cancelling headphones for less than £200 then you might consider the Philips PH805, which outperform their price point with a punchy sound. Another option for similar money are the Sennheiser HD 450BT, which offer ANC and a smooth audio performance.