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April 1, 2020
Original: $199 USD
July 2022: $148 USD
18.8 x 16.8 x 8.1 cm (headset)
1.2m (3.5mm cable)
When it comes to active noise cancelling (ANC) 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-1000XM5 and XM4 are some of the best options you can get, but they’re expensive. If you don’t want to spend that kind of money but still want ANC headphones, then you might want to check out the Sony WH-CH710N. At $149 USD it is significantly less expensive, but what are you giving up for that lower price point? We spent a week with the WH-CH710N to find out so you don’t have to.
Editor’s note: this review was updated on Nov. 9, 2022 to add charts of controls, update prices, and to add the Anker Soundcore Life Q20 as an alternative.
People that want Sony active noise cancelling but don’t want to spend too much money. This headset can’t dethrone the WH-1000XM5, 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. You won’t feel like you’re wearing a giant gadget on your head when you put it on. That’s because the WH-CH710N is made entirely of cheap-feeling plastic.
There are a lot of creaks and squeaks here and while the ear cups do swivel 90 degrees to lay flat, there are no hinges. 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, which you’ll notice when you bang into something or even just lightly scratch the side of the headphones.
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). 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 pads feature plush memory foam that’s comfortable for hours of constant use.
My only issue here is that I don’t feel like the ear pads 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 and instead, you’ll get good old fashioned buttons. They’re super clicky and provide good feedback so you’ll always know when you successfully clicked a button.
How do you control the WH-CH710N?
Play / Pause
Hang up / cancel outgoing call
Answer incoming call
One press and hold
During an outgoing call, switch from call on the headphones to on the phone
Reject incoming call
Skip to next track
Skip to previous track
One press and a second press and hold
Two presses and a third press and hold
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 multi-function 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.
Toggle ANC / standard listening / Ambient modes
Power / Pairing mode
This uses 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 do you connect to the Sony WH-CH710N?
You can pair 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 SBC and AAC Bluetooth codecs. This 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 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 I don’t have any issues within the three-meter range. There are no audio sync issues when watching YouTube either.
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 with active noise cancelling turned on, we measured 41 hours, 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 10 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-1000XM4, it’s pretty damn good considering it costs much less.
Hold up! Something’s different:
This article’s frequency response and isolation charts were measured with our old testing system. We have since purchased a Bruel & Kjaer 5128 test fixture (and the appropriate support equipment) to update our testing and data collection. It will take a while to update our backlog of old test results, but we will update this review (and many others!) once we’re able with improved sound quality measurements, isolation performance plots, and standardized microphone demos. These will be made obvious with our new chart aesthetic (black background instead of white). Each new mic sample begins with the phrase, “This is a SoundGuys standardized microphone demonstration …”
Thank you for bearing with us, and we hope to see you again once we’ve sorted everything out.
How does the Sony WH-CH710N sound?
The Sony WH-CH710N sounds really good and I enjoy 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-XB910N since it has a much stronger low end.
Lows, mids, and highs
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 feel like the mids are really lacking here. 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.
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.
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 (Non-standardized):
How do these sound to you?
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-1000XM5 or the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700. 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 or less 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.
Sony WH-CH710N vs Sony WH-1000XM4
Sony has been refining its noise cancelling prowess for a while, and the WH-1000XM4 represents the fruits of those labors. The design of this headset resembles the WH-CH710N, but the padding is thicker and you get slightly larger ear cups. Sony includes LDAC in these cans, along with AAC and SBC, which is good for Android and iOS users alike. You can also use a 3.5mm cable for wired listening, if you want. There’s even Bluetooth multipoint support, so you can connect to up to two devices at once, but that only happens via AAC. You get a consumer-pleasing sound, thanks to a frequency response profile that emphasizes bass notes, but some may find the kicked-up treble a bit off-putting. Thankfully, the Sony Headphones Connect app includes an EQ to knock down these frequencies.
But what really sets this headset apart is its great ANC capabilities. The WH-1000XM4 is definite step up from the WH-CH710N, and it’s likely to be on sale given that it’s no longer the latest model available. If you want a great performing pair of headphones that can do nearly everything, it’s definitely worth a look.
The mic in the Sony WH-1000XM4 is good, but there are instances in which background noise can make it through. In particular, you might notice office sounds and winds end up reaching the other party’s ears during phone calls. Take a listen for yourself below:
Sony WH-1000XM4 mic demo (Ideal):
Sony WH-1000XM4 mic demo (Office):
Sony WH-1000XM4 mic demo (Wind):
What are some alternatives to the WH-CH710N?
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 of 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 Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 for $269 at Amazon. 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. It doesn’t come cheap at $479 at Amazon. Similarly pricey is the Sony WH-1000XM5, which boasts top-notch isolation and ANC along with an excellent microphone. You can pick it up for $348 at Amazon.
Go in the opposite cost direction if you want, as there are some solid options you can pick up for less than $100 USD. For instance, the Anker Soundcore Life Q20 is lightweight and has decent ANC for the price. Save your pennies and grab it for $59.99 at Amazon. Of course, you’ll be making some concessions here like microUSB charging rather than USB-C, but hey it’s cheap.
Frequently asked questions about the Sony WH-CH710N
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 is discontinued and retailed for almost $100 more 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.