When it comes to active noise cancelling the brand to beat used to be Bose, but in the last few years Sony has really stepped in and taken over. The Sony WH-1000XM4, for example, is one of the best options you can get, but it isn’t cheap. If you don’t want to spend that kind of money but still want active noise cancelling headphones then you might want to check out the Sony WH-CH710N. At $178 USD it is significantly less expensive, but what are you giving up for that lower price point?
Editor’s note: this review was updated on August 3, 2021, to match the article’s style with SoundGuys’ current standards.
Who is the Sony WH-CH710N for?
- People that want Sony active noise cancelling but don’t want to spend too much money. This headset can’t dethrone the WH-1000XM4 or even the older Sony WH-1000XM3 when it comes to active noise cancelling, but it’s still pretty solid.
- Anyone who cares about battery life. If you don’t want to be plugging in your headphones every single night then this is a good option.
- Commuters. For anyone who wants to block outside noise while on the way to work the Sony WH-CH710N is the way to go.
How is the Sony WH-CH710N built?
The first thing you’ll notice when you take the headset out of the box is just how light it is. At 218 grams it doesn’t weigh much at all, and you don’t feel like you’re wearing a giant gadget on your head when you put it on. That’s because it is made entirely of plastic and… not the expensive kind. What I mean is: the build materials here aren’t premium by any stretch. This is the first and obvious part of the headphones that took a hit in order to get the price down.
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There’s a lot of creaks and squeaks here and while the ear cups do swivel 90 degrees to lie flat, there’s no hinges. So if you’re trying to save space in your bag you’re out of luck here. The plastic also has a habit of amplifying sounds. So if you happen to accidentally bang into something or even just lightly scratch the side of the headphones, you’ll hear it immediately.
The Sony WH-CH710N also isn’t the sleekest-looking pair of headphones around (I still give that award to the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700), but the WH-CH710N isn’t bad looking either. It has a rounded design that doesn’t attract too much attention—right up my alley, even if I don’t particularly enjoy the silhouette of the headphones. Okay, you get the point: it isn’t a looker. That’s fine though, because it is really comfortable, and how it is when you’re wearing it is really what matters isn’t it? The ear cups are covered in plush memory foam padding that I found super comfortable even after three or four hours of constant use. The padding is also on the headband and doesn’t give me that pinch at the crown of my head that so many other products do.
The padding doesn’t feel or look premium to the touch but they do their job making headphones as light as possible when you put the headset on. My only issue here is that I don’t feel like the ear cups are deep enough and, as someone with big ears, I can actually feel the drivers pressed up against my ear. After a few hours of listening that’s the only part that becomes uncomfortable. Unlike the Sony WH-1000XM4 there is no touch-sensitive ear cup here for playback, instead you’ll get good ‘ol fashioned buttons. They’re super clicky and provide good feedback so you’ll always know when you successfully clicked a button.
How do you connect to the Sony WH-CH710N?
You can pair to the Sony WH-CH710N headphones in two ways. First you can just hold down the power button for a few seconds after turning it on. From there the headphones will enter pairing mode and you can just find the device in Bluetooth settings of your smartphone. The second way is via NFC—if you have an Android phone you can hold it up to the NFC logo on the left ear cup and a little pop-up will come up on your phone asking if you want to pair to the headset.
The Sony WH-CH710N is rocking Bluetooth 5.0 and only features the AAC Bluetooth codec which is surprising considering that LDAC is custom-made by Sony. Why it isn’t included here is beyond me but if you were hoping for higher quality wireless sound you’re not going to get it here. Thankfully, you can still always just plug in the included 3.5mm audio cable into the input on the bottom of the left ear cup. Connection strength is pretty solid and in my testing I didn’t have any issues within the 30 foot range. There were also no audio sync issues when watching YouTube which is good if you spend a lot of your time watching videos.
Playback controls are all on the right ear cup and they work as you’d expect. There are three buttons and the middle one acts as a multifunction button that will pause/play music, answer and end phone calls, and also access your phone’s assistant if you hold it down.
The right ear cup also features volume buttons and a fourth button that lets you toggle between the active noise cancelling feature or the ambient mode. This uses the onboard microphones to let you hear what’s going on in your environment. It’s basically the opposite of noise cancelling and can be super useful when you’re on a plane or train and want to hear any announcements. The only issue I have here is that when you click the button you’ll get a little voice that says “Ambient sound” which is… debatably helpful.
How’s the battery life of the Sony WH-CH710N?
The battery life here is great. Sony headphones aren’t known for skimping on battery and this is no exception. The company claims that you can get 35 hours of constant playback. In our battery test I had the headphones on a output of 75dB with active noise cancelling turned on and managed to squeeze out 41 hours and 35 minutes of constant playback. Beyond that, the headset also has quick charging. So if you forget to charge Sony WH-CH710N up before heading out the door, just ten minutes on the charger will give you a solid 60 minutes of playback.
Is the Sony WH-CH710N noise cancelling any good?
The noise cancelling here is really good for what you’re paying for. The combination of the isolating padding on the ear cups and the active noise cancelling technology really cancels out a lot of ambient sound around you, including frequencies 300Hz and below which is where most noise cancelling headphones struggle.
I don’t see this headset having issues with the low rumbles of an airplane that so frequently cut through most other headphones. While it isn’t as great at cancelling out sound as the Sony WH-1000XM3 or the newer WH-1000XM4, it’s pretty damn good considering it costs much less.
How good is the Sony WH-CH710N’s microphone?
While the microphone is good enough for phone calls, it isn’t going to blow you away. The frequency response is inoffensive, but because the Bluetooth connection is the way it is, the voice data sent back through your phone is pretty compressed. Here’s a sample so you can get a feel for how it sounds in perfect conditions, and then how it sounds with an air conditioner blowing in the background.
Sony WH-CH710N microphone demo:
How does the Sony WH-CH710N sound?
The Sony WH-CH710N sounds really good and I enjoyed my time using it, but it’s not perfect. As you can see from the frequency response graph this headset only gives a mild sort of emphasis to notes in the low end. Bass-heads are probably better off with something like the Sony WH-XB900N since it has a much stronger low end.
The sound signature is pretty neutral, which is great for some people but will be boring for bass-heads.
This headset has just a slight bump in the lows, so the bassline that comes in at 0:39 in the song Water by Ra Ra Riot is still there but not overpowering any of the other frequencies. That said, I felt like the mids are really lacking here. For example, in that same song the vocals in the chorus are not as loud as I’m used to. The climax of the song falls a little flat because of that. It could just be that I’m used to the more consumer-friendly sound of other headphones, but I found vocals in a lot of my favorite songs to be underpowered and underwhelming.
The highs are also not very clear and the cymbal hits in the song Heaven In Her Eyes by Gappy Ranks sound underwhelming. Overall, these headphones sound a little too flat for my liking, but thankfully this makes them extremely easy to EQ yourself if you feel up to it.
Sony WH-CH710N vs Sennheiser HD 450BT
The Sennheiser HD 450BT noise cancelling performance isn’t quite as good as Sony’s, but the sound quality is there; listeners who prefer a more consumer-friendly sound right out of the box should get the HD 450BT. These headphones amplify bass and upper-midrange frequencies, giving your music extra oomph while also making it easy to hear instrumental detail.
Unlike the Sony WH-CH710N, the Sennheiser HD 450BT ear cups can’t rotate flat for storage, but they can compact by folding in towards the headband. Both headsets are portable for over-ear headphones, but some may prefer the balled-up form of Sennheiser’s headphones.
Sennheiser HD 450BT microphone demo:
Microphone quality is good with either headset, and you’ll be able to get through most any conference call with either offering.
Should you buy the Sony WH-CH710N?
If you want the best pair of active noise cancelling headphones around, then you shouldn’t buy this. Instead you should go with the Sony WH-1000XM4 or the Shure AONIC 50. The lack of LDAC support, the cheaper build quality, slightly worse sound quality, and the lack of swipe gestures means that it can’t dethrone its bigger brother for that title.
Still, if you only want to spend about $200 USD then the Sony WH-CH710N will definitely get the job done. It has decent noise cancelling, comfortable padding, and a solid battery life. While it isn’t a must-buy by any means, it’s a serious contender for anyone not looking to spend too much.
What are some alternatives?
If you’re not sold on the Sony WH-CH710N but still want a pair of over-ear noise cancelling headphones then don’t worry, there are plenty of options. We have an entire list for some of the best noise cancelling headphones you can get. If you don’t mind saving for a little longer and spending more money you can get some seriously great headphones like the Sony WH-1000XM4 or the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700. If you’re willing to rack up an even greater bill, the Apple AirPods Max has the best raw noise cancelling performance we’ve ever tested. You can also go in the opposite direction if you want as there are some solid options you can pick up for less than $100.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, you can tap your smartphone to any Sony product that supports NFC to view support information in the app.
For one thing, the Sennheiser PXC 550-II are almost $100 more expensive than the Sony WH-CH710N. That higher price point may be earned, though, because the Sennheiser headphones have better sound quality and better ANC than the Sony headphones. The Sennheiser PXC 550-II also support more Bluetooth codecs and are arguably more comfortable. That doesn't mean the Sony WH-CH710N aren't a good buy though, you're just paying for what you get.