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Ear cup: 66mm x 40mm
Cable length: 1.2m
While the Sony WH-1000XM5 might reign at the top of the Sony heap, the mid-tier Sony WH-CH720N share some of the same features for fewer dollars. In their favor, the WH-CH720N sport active noise canceling (ANC) and Sony 360 Reality Audio in a lightweight form factor. How do they fare in a packed market of similarly spec’d Bluetooth headphones?
Editor’s note: this is the first version of the article. Updates will follow as the market changes.
For sensible people and students who balance function and budget, the WH-CH720N provide ANC and are lightweight. They have a good battery life, a boon for travelers and remote workers who use headphones for hours daily.
What’s it like to use the Sony WH-CH720N?
Weighing 192g, the Sony WH-CH720N are lightweight over-ear headphones with 66mm x 40mm of space to accommodate most ears. They don’t fold down, but the ear cups rotate and adjust easily. The padding is comfy enough for most but can heat up and feel sticky at room temperature. What Sony gets right is the clamping force, which is tight enough to stay put if you dance around but not so tight as to cause discomfort. If you wear glasses, the WH-CH720N might push too hard.
Edges along the plastic housings feel unrefined, and the headphones’ seams are raised around the headband. For example, where the headband splits to adjust the size, there are some rougher corners. They don’t feel as upscale as the nicely finished Sony WH-1000XM5 flagship. With that said, this compromise is one you can deal with because they’re comfortable where it’s important.
Otherwise, they’re utilitarian, with no case or bag included. You still get Sony 360 Reality Audio on limited streaming platforms and DSEE (Sony’s audio-enhancing digital signal processing). They feature wired listening and Bluetooth. Sony throws in noise canceling to sweeten the deal with dedicated buttons to command the headphones.
How do you control the Sony WH-CH720N?
Essentially, the controls for the WH-CH720N are baked into the buttons on the ear cup. You can’t do anything to change them in the app. Intelligently, Sony places the controls on the sides, so unlike the Beats Studio Pro, you won’t be pushing directly into your ears to actuate a button.
Play / Pause / Answer call
Noise canceling mode / Ambient mode
Pairing (press 2 seconds)
The controls work just fine, but the volume and pause/play buttons feel so similar that you need to learn to recognize them. A couple of times, I hit the wrong one. Buttons definitely signal the budget nature of the Sony headphones, compared to the Sony WH-1000XM5, which use touch controls and gestures. Neither is better, and buttons might suit you best if you don’t want to remember gestures.
Should you use the Sony Headphones Connect for the Sony WH-CH720N?
Plenty of headphones demand you submit personal information; the Sony Headphones Connect is no exception. It is, however, one of the only apps that will allow you to use all of the features only if you create an account.
What you get in exchange is updates, listening modes, DSEE (Sony’s digital signal processing), Sony 360 Reality Audio analysis of your ears, equalizer, codec selection, and adaptive listening mode. If you let it, the app can learn your listening habits and adjust the listening settings based on location. Sennheiser has a similar function found in headphones like the MOMENTUM 4 Wireless.
How do the Sony WH-CH720N connect?
It should be easy to connect the WH-CH720N, but the cans had trouble establishing an initial connection with my iPhone. Ideally, you simply press and hold the power button until the LED blinks blue to enter pairing mode. Your options are connecting through your Bluetooth menu or the Sony Headphones Connect app. Once established, the headphones reconnect quickly in subsequent uses with Bluetooth 5.2. Throughout the test period, the headphones maintain a stable connection.
Your Bluetooth codec options are LDAC, AAC, and SBC. LDAC plays nice with Android, while AAC works best with Apple products. Of course, you get a headphone jack and included cable for lossless analog listening. In addition, the WH-CH720N has multipoint, which is nice.
The Sony WH-CH720N is pretty simple on paper to pair.
- Enable Bluetooth on your device.
- (Optional: download the Sony Headphones Connect app.)
- Press and hold the power button for roughly 2 seconds until the indicator light blinks blue.
- Select the Sony WH-CH720N on your list of devices, or open Sony Headphones Connect and follow the directions.
How long does the Sony WH-CH720N battery last?
According to our standard battery test, the Sony WH-CH720N reaches 40 hours 11 minutes with ANC on. Besides not having to charge it up as frequently, the upshot of good battery capacity is that they ought to last longer overall. As a consumer, that reduces how often you need to replace your headphones, and that’s great. It’s also better for the environment if you don’t need to buy new cans as frequently.
Of course, you could also get passive wired headphones if you are primarily eco-conscious. Fortunately, if you drain the battery, the WH-CH720N will work passively when plugged in. Charge it up again with the included USB-C cable. In the Sony Headphones Connect app, you can set an auto-off timer, which is excellent for battery life preservation and forgetful folks.
According to Sony, charging the Sony WH-CH720N for merely three minutes supplies about an hour of playback.
How well do the Sony WH-CH720N cancel noise?
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Landing in the middle of the Sony pack, the WH-CH720N supply slightly below average isolation. Similarly, the ANC performs fine. The ANC hovers around 20dB of reduction for most lower-pitched noise frequencies, peaking at about 28dB of attenuation at 80Hz, removing those low rumbling noises. It’s enough to make most environments more pleasant, and most noise frequencies are either blocked or canceled reasonably well between the isolation and ANC. While not objectively the best noise canceling, this performance easily could’ve been top-tier performance merely a couple of years back.
How do the Sony WH-CH720N sound?
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In their default state without introducing an equalizer, the Sony WH-CH720N overamplify bass compared to our headphone preference curve. In particular, between roughly 100Hz and 400Hz, the frequency response sees a boost. Between 5kHz and 10kHz, the treble is also exaggerated. If you don’t a/b these headphones, they sound fine, but reducing the volume of excessive lower frequencies and adjusting the treble significantly improves the sound.
Lows, mids, highs
When testing the Sony WH-CH720N with the dream pop and trip-hop influenced track, Go On by a.s.o., it sounds pretty good initially. The exaggerated bass suits the song quite well, particularly when the bass line kicks in around the 1:21 mark; you can feel it. The reduced upper midrange volume between 900Hz and 4kHz makes the crowded melange of synths, piano, guitar, and other instruments challenging to parse in concert with the exaggerated lower frequencies. I can still hear all of the instruments, even if they’re hard to identify. Lastly, the vocals come through at a good volume but sound a bit like Alia Seror-O’Neill has a slight head cold.
Trying a different song, Feel Your Weight (Poolside Remix) by Rhye, sounds more or less acceptable. The bass plays back too loud, even for a track clearly relying on the bass line as an anchor, but again, okay if you like that. All the keys and guitar come through perfectly fine. Michael Milosh’s airy falsetto sounds mostly good and similarly a little congested like the a.s.o. track, although it’s only super noticeable with close listening. What truly sticks out is how fatiguing the high-pitched percussion gets after some time. You can hear everything, but it doesn’t sound accurate to the songs in question.
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Of course, one of the appealing aspects of the Sony WH-CH720N is that you can still use a headphone jack. It sounds the same plugged-in, as long as it’s powered on and the battery is charged. If not, you’ll run them in passive mode, which has a very different sound, as shown in the chart above. The headphones significantly cut treble and boost lows and mids in this mode.
Can you use the Sony WH-CH720N for phone calls?
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The mic performance of the Sony WH-CH720N is quite good for an embedded mic. You can hear the speaker’s voice perfectly well in an office, with some background noise attenuation. Some keystrokes will make it through. With the introduction of wind, the WH-CH720N filters out wind noise particularly well, and speech remains intelligible.
Sony WH-CH720N microphone demo (Ideal conditions):
Sony WH-CH720N microphone demo (Office conditions):
Sony WH-CH720N microphone demo (Windy conditions):
How does the microphone sound to you?
Should you buy the Sony WH-CH720N?
The Sony WH-CH720N is a decent set of headphones for anybody who can’t swing for the upscale big-name ANC headphones. You get a solid battery life, reasonable comfort, a perfectly useable microphone, and wired or Bluetooth listening.
The noise canceling isn’t the very best, but it performs relatively well. The default tuning is wonky, but it’s pleasant enough, like most recent Sony offerings, and you can tweak using the app with some equalization. The WH-CH720N is worth a shot for the money if you can live with the somewhat plasticky build.
What should you get instead of the Sony WH-CH720N?
In the same price ballpark, consider the Anker Soundcore Space Q45 for $149 at Amazon. These use the same LDAC, AAC, and SBC codecs and have excellent noise canceling. Like the WH-CH720N, the Anker Soundcore Space Q45 use buttons to control functions. The build has a slightly less plasticky design as well. Plus, you get a zip case.
If you can skip the LDAC codec available on the Sony WH-CH720N, take a gander at the JBL Live 660NC ($149 at Amazon). These are mid-tier, like the Sony headphones, and include similar noise canceling and app support with EQ. The downsides of the Live 660NC are that the microphone is a weakness, and if your ears are on the larger side of the spectrum, they might feel small.
Frequently asked questions
Yes, the Sony WH-CH720N have multipoint to connect to two devices simultaneously.
Due to the vinyl covering on the Sony WH-CH720N, they can trap heat in hot weather.
Yes the Sony WH-CH720 use the Sony Headphones Connect app for Android or Apple devices.
You can use the Sony WH-CH720N with an iPhone or Android device with the same level of compatibility. The only notable difference is that Apple devices will optimally default to the AAC codec. Android devices can (ideally) connect via the LDAC codec, but they can also use AAC or SBC.