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One of the great things about technology advancing is that, often, features that used to be reserved for high-end and expensive devices eventually trickles down to the more affordable category. One such technology in the world of headphones is active (or adaptive) noise-canceling.
Sony’s WH-CH710N wireless headphones with adaptive noise-canceling try to pose as an affordable alternative to the Sony WH-1000XM3, but the product still falls short in the noise reduction segment. The Bluetooth headset has decent sound, an NFC chip, and adaptive noise-canceling technology, yet the overall noise-canceling performance, material, and workmanship are just ordinary.
Sony WH-CH710N ANC Headphones Review
1. Overview - not finished
Type: Over-ear Noise Cancelling Headphones | Bluetooth: 4.0 | Battery: 30 Hours | Charging: 4 Hours | Drivers: Dynamic | Drivers-Size: 45 mm | Weight: 385g
The Sony WH-CH710N headphones are delivered in a white box with several inscriptions and logos and a large image of the device on the front side. Inside the box is a cardboard that contains the headphones quite tightly placed in a separate plastic bag and other parts of the kit.
The set provides the minimum of accessories: the headphones themselves, documentation, and two cables: a 1.2 m long cable and a USB Type C for charging
The Sony WH-CH710N Bluetooth headphones are attractive and straightforward. They have standard Sony oval black cups with a small company logo on each. The headphones themselves are very lightweight, comfortable to wear even with glasses, and have soft ear pads.
These wireless noise-canceling headphones with NC capabilities make a good impression. They’re made of plastic and has a well-built look. The headband is height adjustable and metal-reinforced. Both earcups are attached to flexible joints that allow horizontal and vertical adjustment to the head’s shape. The cushions themselves are soft and comfortable, also suitable for larger ears. The headband is padded at the top, and the padding is beautifully sewn. Some decorative elements are also spotted on the temple. Aside from the appearance aspect, Sony WH-CH710N is also practical and can swivel its earcups backward by 90 ° and turn them forward by approximately 30°.
The WH-CH710N also fits comfortably around your neck when you’re not listening to music. The adjustable headband is made of plastic and metal and is also soft and comfortable. However, it bends too easily – it seems that it can accidentally break or crack at any moment. I would like headphones at this price to be/appear more reliable or come with a sturdy carrying case. Other than that, Sony poses no other major flaw.
The control buttons are located on the right earcup. There is a plus button, a minus button, and a multifunctional middle button.
- If we press the multifunction button once, the music is paused or continued.
- If the multifunction button is pressed three times, a song is jumped back.
- Pressing the multifunction button twice skips a song forward.
- If we press and hold the multifunction button for 2 seconds, the mobile phone’s voice assistant opens.
- To switch the headphones on or off manually, press and hold the power button for about two seconds.
With the NC/AMB (Ambient mode) key, one can deactivate or activate the ANC. You can also turn on the ambient mode. This delivers ambient sounds into the headphones for better spatial awareness. When pressed, voice messages also sound here: “Ambient sound,” “ambient sound control off,” “noise canceling.” Besides the usual commands, WH-CH710N has hands-free functions, and when the multifunction button is pressed, an incoming call is accepted/declined.
For quick pairing, the WH-CH710N has NFC. The process is simple and swift – just put the mark on the left cup to the back of the phone, and a connection to the headset takes place. The headphones then connect via the default codec, which is AAC. Alternatively, to activate the pairing via Bluetooth, one has to press and hold the power button until the blue LED flashes quickly—you’ll then be notified by an audio notification. Then select the headphones in the Bluetooth settings.
WH-CH710N is compatible with only two codecs: AAC and basic SBC. They are quite enough for a budget headset, but at this price segment, we would have appreciated aptX compatibility. The headset does not support a full-fledged multipoint, but it is possible to use different voice communication devices and listen to music. We managed to listen to music from a PC and simultaneously receive calls from an Android smartphone.
The stability of the connection suffered no difficulties. It’s only a couple of times when the connection was interrupted outside in places with a high radio interference level. A rather normal behavior, though, as most of the tested wireless headphones behave in this way. There were no severe “out of syncs” between sound and image when watching a video and playing games. Small problems appeared only in “heavy,” demanding games that require a lot of graphical resources.
With ANC activated, the headset should last for up to 35 hours. However, the amount of playtime depends on the complexity of the noises recorder to cancel, volume, and how extensive the audio file is. Therefore, it will last longer if you listen to lower volume and less comprehensive audio files. Besides the plenty of Bluetooth capabilities of Sony WH-CH710N, a wired connection can be made. You can use the headset both via wires and Bluetooth with ANC turned on or off.
When the battery is completely drained, you can charge it with the USB-C cable. As soon as the current flows, the LED lights up red. It takes about 7 hours to charge the completely empty battery. When the battery is fully charged, the LED goes out. However, there is also a quick charge function which supplies the headset with 1 hour of playtime in 10 minutes of charging.
The Sony WH-CH710N has three listening modes: normal and ambient noise cancellation with ANC. AI-assisted automatic noise canceling means the headphones constantly analyze ambient sounds and select the best listening mode for each situation. Sounds great in theory, but in practice, there are some problems.
The mode does a great job with people’s external voices, loud noises, or the hum of cars outside the window, but if someone next to you raises their voice, you will hear them. Although noise cancellation works well here and helps in most situations, you should not count on eliminating external sounds completely.
Sony says its Dual Noise Sensor technology, which uses two microphones, is better at detecting ambient noise than any previous model. However, in the WH-CH710N, its performance is right for the price and does not show us anything supernatural. The ambient listening mode is disappointing, to say the least. Even if you can hear people nearby, it is difficult to make out words or phrases – especially when the volume of the melodies being listened to is high.
A positive aspect of WH-CH710N’s NC system is that when switching between listening modes, the sound quality does not change, which is often the case with headphones with similar technology. Sony has also added voice assistant support to this model for easier control and making calls.
The Sony WH-CH710N features 30mm drivers inside for powerful and punchy sound. As we’re currently used to headphones equipped with drivers larger in diameter, Sony’s choice of not integrating 40mm drivers is questionable; the reproduction of the basses would have been better. Furthermore, as far as sound reproduction is concerned, it should first be noted that the WH-CH710N does not have high-resolution codecs. The lack of high-res codecs does not hinder the headphones from offering a fantastic rendering.
The frequency range is wide, so the music of any genre sounds rich and natural. The WH-CH710N has a lot of low frequencies that are very deep, although more improvements could have been made here. The bass is far from emphasized, which translates into a lack of percussion that some can notice. The positive side is that the performance in the lower register of the audio spectrum does not overwhelm. Nevertheless, the WH-CH710N offers precise highs and bountiful mid-range. The whole lacks a bit of clarity, which means that the most demanding audiophiles will have to consider a more expensive model.
Most compositions are well balanced. If you listen carefully, you will notice that the mid frequencies are given slightly less attention than the highs or lows. Nevertheless, each musical instrument is distinct, and the frequencies do not merge into one channel, even in the most complex compositions. However, the soundstage can be a bit cramped, although this is not common and does not spoil the overall experience. Sometimes, the middle frequencies may get lost a little, but this is almost imperceptible due to the excellent balance between the low and high frequencies.
Sony’s promises to offer a powerful active noise reduction system at this price are barely felt. The sound quality is not too bad, but more noise reduction would not have been out of the question. WH-CH710 can considerably reduce the noises around you and challenge more affordable noise-canceling headphones but cannot compete with other NC headphones in the price range. In the sound segment, there’s no particular distortion; here, the headset performs quite well.
Should you buy the WH-CH710 NC headphones from Sony at the price of around $150? I’d say no. We’re grateful for the outstanding autonomy and good sound quality of the WH-CH710N, the characteristics that make the WH-CH710 a not so bad headset. Nevertheless, the sacrifices made by Sony prevent it from being a successful product.