A good value, all-round performance from the Sony WH-CH720 noise-cancelling over-ears, with their comfortable design, good feature list and lively, punchy audio at an affordable price.
- Lightweight, comfortable design
- Affordable price
- Solid noise-cancelling
- Fun, punchy audio
- Long battery life
- Sound profile is a bit bassy
- Could benefit from extra lashings of detail and clarity
- Average call quality
- Bluetooth multipointConnect to two devices simultaneously
- Integrated Processor V1 Dual Noise Sensor technology to remove external sounds via ANC
- Precise Voice Pickup TechnologyClaims to offer clear and natural conversation quality
Lately, Sony has been peppering the headphone market with more affordable options and the latest is the WH-CH720N.
It arrives as part of a refresh of the Japanese giant’s cheaper cans, ushering the four-star rated CH710N out to retirement as well as undercutting it at a cheaper launch price.
That also makes it Sony’s cheapest noise-cancelling over-ear and promises everyday comfort without the intrusion of background noise. Let’s see if they live up to Sony’s claims.
- Lightweight design
- Don’t come with a case
- Physical buttons
Sony has been pushing towards sustainability in the design of its headphones, with the WH-CH720N making use of recycled plastic for its frame and earcups, which doesn’t seem to have had an adverse knock on its overall build quality.
They’re lightweight (192g), and while they can’t hide their plastic nature, they’re not cheap or tacky, nor do they creak and groan if the frame is stressed or bent. The earcups swivel but don’t fold up, and there’s no carry case either. The plastic frame, at least in my use across several weeks, is resilient enough to avoid scrapes and scratches when chucked into my rucksack. Build quality is acceptable for the asking price.
They’re comfortable to wear, too. The earcups are large but that serves to allow space for (bigger) ears to sit in. There’s a good level of padding on the earcups and the underside of the headband to ensure there are no points of discomfort, and the clamping force is lightly applied but with enough pressure to keep the headphones affixed to the head without causing discomfort when worn for long periods of time.
On the left earcup is the power button, USB-C port and 3.5mm jack for wired listening although there was no cable in the box.
On the right earcup are playback/volume buttons and the noise-cancelling/ambient sound button. It would have been nice if Sony had raised the middle button more from the rest to aid detection, as the mild bump isn’t necessarily the most obvious brushing past. Though I worry I’ve pressed the wrong button, surprisingly, that’s been rare.
Colours are a choice of blue, white, and black, which are not the most vibrant options, especially as the blue is a muted, navy version. Regardless, in terms of build quality and comfort; these over-ears are on the right track.
- Long battery life
- Solid noise-cancelling
- Stable wireless connection
The features here aren’t as exhaustive as the WH-1000XM5, with many culled in the name of affordability, but there is built-in Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa by holding the playback button (you can choose which assistant or none in the Headphones Connect app).
There’s Bluetooth multipoint support to connect the headphones to two devices at once. You can also choose to prioritize sound quality or the Bluetooth connection if you’re in a busy signal area.
Bluetooth connectivity is version 5.2, with support for SBC and AAC audio, so you won’t get any uplift from wireless Hi-res audio codecs such as LDAC. The stability of the connection has been consistently strong, with only a couple of blips walking through a busy Waterloo station and even fewer at London Victoria.
Sony rates battery life at about 35 hours with noise-cancellation and 50 without it. Judging from the battery drains I carried out that seems about right. Four hours of streaming a Spotify playlist at about 50% volume saw the WH-CH720 drop 10%, so 40 hours of streaming is possible.
The WH-CH720 makes use of hybrid noise-cancelling technology, and as long as you’re not expecting every nearby sound to be zapped and magicked away, these cans do an effective job of quelling sounds.
The focus is on culling low frequency noises, the rumbling engine noise on a bus is dismissed. The headphones put the squeeze on large groups of people effectively too, but when faced with individuals, switching to the noise-cancelling can make voices more audible.
The noise-cancelling offers its best performance against general/ambient noise, and traffic, so while I wouldn’t say these headphones will give you a bliss-free experience in a busy city, they’ll make the commute and day-to-day use less disruptive. Furthermore, you don’t have to raise the volume up by much to be further isolated from what’s around you.
The Ambient mode on this model is fine. Greater awareness, yes, but it’s not as if it’s piping through lots of clarity and detail of the outside through to my ears. The passive noise-isolation aspect of the design blocks some noise on its own, and the Ambient mode is enough to offer extra awareness of your surroundings in a general sense. Within the app, the noise-cancelling can be dialled in through 20 levels of adjustment.
There’s also support for Sony’s 360 Reality Audio format. This allows for playback of songs in spatial audio, offering wider soundstages and voices/instruments moving around the listener. It’s supported by the likes of Tidal and Amazon Music, and for the best performance the format requires analysing the shape of ears so it can adapt music to them.
What about calls? Well, the WH-CH720 uses Sony’s Precise Voice Pickup, Wind Reduction Structure, and beamforming mics to home in on the caller’s voice. The performance is average though, and while the other person could hear me fine in quiet areas, they complained in noisier areas that it became harder to hear what was said.
- Boost to the low frequencies
- Spacious sound
- Could benefit from more detail, clarity
There’s a similarity in tone between the WH-CH720N and the CH520 that makes them feel more like siblings than cousins. They’re another smooth listen tonally, neither rich nor crisp but find themselves in the middle of those two poles. It’s a more ‘mainstream’, fun sound. I find myself liking their character and the sense of energy they bring to each track.
Bass is punchily described in Metronomy’s Everything Goes My Way, giving the low frequencies assertiveness and heft. You won’t find much extension and depth, with Sam Smith and Kim Petras’ Unholy, along with Billie Eillish’s Bad Guy, are tracks the Sony can’t quite provide as much depth and rumble to the low frequencies as those tracks warrant.
What variation there is to the low frequencies is not the widest I’ve heard either. With that said, there’s more of a bassy boost to these headphones than I hear on the Final UX3000, and while I don’t find them to be as balanced, the CH720N still manages to be engaging and confident listen across a range of music genres.
The mids lack the richness of the WH-1000XM5 but the WH-CH720N describes voices with fine clarity and detail, like James Bay in Everybody Needs Someone or Anderson Paak’s in Fire In The Sky, giving them an ample amount of space within the soundstage.
That soundstage is spacious in terms of width, giving room for other instrumentation alongside voices without causing that feeling of being crowded. Compared to the Final UX3000 and the size of soundstage is on par, but bass response is firmer than it is with the Final’s noise-cancelling on.
You could argue for more detail and definition, and I’d say what’s offered here is fine in a broad sense though not as articulate as the UX3000 through the mid- to upper frequencies (especially with the Final’s noise-cancelling off). Nevertheless, there’s no sense that instruments or singer’s voices sound unlike they should – there’s naturalism to the Sony’s performance, as well as some heft to its dynamics when it shifts gears from quiet to loud and vice versa.
Highs aren’t crisply described – the smooth tone covers the Sony’s performance across the frequency range, but there’s decent brightness, clarity, and variation to the treble notes in Strawberry Letter 23 and GoGo Penguin’s Erased by Sunlight. For more top end brightness it’s worth playing with EQ settings in the app (Treble Boost) to reap a little more performance.
Should you buy it?
If you’re in the market for an affordable ANC over-ear: The noise-cancelling is effective, and while it won’t erase every sound you come across, it’ll reduce distractions by a welcome amount.
If you’re looking for more balance: The Sonys sound lively and energetic with a noticeable boost to low frequencies. The Final UX3000 are available for a little more and are a little more articulate.
From the design to features and sound quality, the Sony WH-CH720N prove to be a reliable pair of over-ears.
They’re lightweight and comfortable to wear over long periods, the noise-cancelling does a satisfactory job in bringing noise levels down, and there’s a solid amount of features for those who want smarts (or who like to multi-task) but don’t want to pay through the nose for them. Lengthy battery life is another plus.
The sound is energetic and lively, not necessarily the most balanced, but a fun listen. Much like their predecessors, the Sony WH-CH720N are accomplished pair of over-ears, and worth a look to anyone after a slicker noise-cancelling performance at an affordable price.
How we test
We test every set of headphones we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever, accept money to review a product.
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Tested across several weeks
Battery drain test performed
Tested with real world use
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No, the CH720N aren’t foldable or collapsible, although you can swivel the earcups to lay them flat. They don’t come with a carry case either.