Sony CH-720N review: The ANC headphones get some nice upgrades

products like Sony CH-720N Headphones review can be tricky. They’re Sony’s new, improved wireless noise-canceling headphones, and they join a line that includes the $400 flagships WH-1000XM5the earlier XM4 and $250 WH-XB910N, Xtra Bass model. That’s all well and good, but here’s the catch: At first glance—and first touch—they don’t look or feel like $150 headphones.

Perhaps it’s because they’re so lightweight and have a bit of a plastic budget though there is some metal in their headband and their earcups have a clean, attractive design. Part of me was expecting them to sound so mediocre, but I was pleasantly surprised. No, it doesn’t sound as good as the XM5s. But it looks more premium than it looks (and feels) and its overall performance is a nice step up from its predecessor, the CH-710N. Is it worth $150? Maybe yes and maybe no. But the good news is that like the CH-710N and WH-XB910 before them, those should see some nice discounts in the not too distant future, which you might want to wait for.


  • Lightweight and comfortable
  • Good sound with very good noise cancellation and ambient sound mode
  • Good voice communication performance
  • Multipoint bluetooth
  • 35 hours of battery life
  • Powerful EQ settings

You do not like

  • No carry bag
  • There are no ear detection sensors
  • There is no LDAC support

Lightweight design and excellent comfort

Truth be told, I did not like the CH-710N. I thought it was good and overpriced, unless it was on sale for less than $75. In contrast, the CH-720N is a much better headphone. It’s more comfortable, has better sound, better noise cancellation, and better voice call performance. At 192 grams, Sony says it’s their lightest over-ear noise-canceling headphone yet and has nicely cushioned ear cups. In short, they are among the most comfortable headphones out there Bose’s QuietComfort 45 and Sony’s own WH-1000XM5, which weighs 250 grams.

Read more: The best noise canceling headphones of 2023

One of the tips that this may be more entry-level than intermediate is the fact that, as mentioned, there is no carrying case or pouch with the headphones. It folds flat like its predecessor and only has one joint, so it doesn’t fold. Some people were upset when Sony chose this type of design for the WH-1000XM5 when the XM4 was double-hinged and folded flat.

The CH-720N has some synthetic leather on top of its headband with just the right amount of padding and the look and feel of the headset is a step up despite its lack of premium qualities. I liked the matte finish and the headphones are currently available in two colors: black or white (I only tried the white version).

Note that Sony also makes CH-520, an on-ear model without noise cancellation and lists for just $60. This model is a big upgrade over it in terms of design and sound quality.

The Sony CH-720N headphones fold flat, but not up

The Sony CH-720N is also available in black.

David Carnoy/CNET

Equipped with Bluetooth 5.2, the CH-720N eschews the touch controls of the WH-1000XM5 and sticks to physical buttons, which some people might appreciate. There is a universal control button along with the volume control buttons and an NC/AMB button that allows you to switch between noise cancellation and an ambient sound mode (also referred to as transparency mode) that lets you hear the outside world.

The headphones feel pretty solid and don’t make any squeaky sounds when you adjust them to your head. I can’t tell you how it will hold up after months of use, but I’m sure it will hold up better if you put it in some sort of cheap protective case or hard carrying case when not in use.

Limited additional features

As you might expect, the CH-720N isn’t loaded with extra features like the WH-1000XM5. There are no ear detection sensors, so your music doesn’t pause when you take them off. The headphones can be set to automatically turn off after 15 minutes if you stop using them, which helps save battery life.

You don’t get Sony’s fancy Quick Attention and Speak To Chat features, which pause the music and put the headphones into transparency mode, allowing you to have a conversation without removing the headphones (Quick Attention is kind of a manual version of Speak To Chat). There is no support for Sony’s high-resolution LDAC audio codec which is compatible with many Android smartphones when streaming audio over Bluetooth. The CH-720N uses AAC and SBC audio codecs, which are supported by both Android and iOS devices.

The headphones have multipoint Bluetooth pairing, so you can connect them to two devices at once—a smartphone and a computer, for example—and automatically switch your audio to your smartphone if a call comes in while you’re listening to audio. your computer. The feature must be enabled in Sony’s Headphones Connect app for iOS and Android, which also enables you to modify the sound profile of the headphones, upgrade the headphones’ firmware, and adjust the level of ambient awareness.

I tended to set the ambient sound at about level 15 (out of 20) for what I felt was the most natural sound. While the Ambient Sound mode works well, it’s not as good as the Transparency mode on the AirPods Pro 2. The headphones are compatible with 360 Reality Audio from Sony for music streaming services that support it.


The Sony CH-720N headphones have physical buttons for control, touch controls like the WH-1000XM5’s power button.

Screenshot by David Carnoy/CNET

I should also note that you can use the headphones in wired mode (a cable is included). I didn’t notice much difference in sound quality while wired, and while you can passively use them with headphones turned off, they don’t sound as good that way. They were really designed to be heard as a powered headphone but you can easily use them as a wired headphone if the power runs out.

Battery life is rated at up to 35 hours at moderate volume levels with noise cancellation turned on and a 3-minute charge via USB-C will get you up to an hour of battery life. You can get up to 50 hours of battery life with the noise cancellation turned off.

performance and sound quality

Like the WH-1000XM5, this model has 30mm drivers, although they are not of the same driver design. I found the previous CH-710N’s sound to be a bit dull and unimpressive, but the CH-720N’s sound is more respectable. While they lack the added clarity, definition, and more dynamic nature of the WH-1000XM5, the headphones sound very nice with good overall tonal balance (they feature a light “smiley face” vocal profile out of the box, with a touch of treble and bass boost), and solid bass. , good clarity and openness. I think most people will be very happy with their sound and they work well with a wide variety of music genres.

You can turn on DSEE, or Digital Sound Enhancement, in the app, which Sony says “restores high-frequency sounds lost during compression.” It can be argued that it slightly improves sound quality, and adds a more detailed touch (although its inclusion does affect battery life quite a bit).

Sony equipped these headphones with a V1 chip, which should offer better digital processing, especially when it comes to adaptive noise cancellation. And the noise cancellation is quite decent and noticeably improved from the CH-710N’s. It’s still a step behind that of the WH-1000XM5, but not too far (Sony describes the XM5’s noise cancellation as “industry-leading” while only referring to the CH-720N as “digital noise cancellation”, in the same way it describes the WH-XB910N’s feature, Which also has a V1 chip.

For voice calls, the CH-720N appears to use a pair of radial-configuration microphones (one vocal microphone paired with a front-facing microphone), with Sony referring to the system as its Precise Voice Pickup technology. The microphone setup isn’t as advanced as what you get with the WH-1000XM5, but the headphones did a surprisingly good job of reducing background noise, including a fair amount of wind noise, when I was taking calls from the bustling New York streets. Callers said they could hear me clearly for the most part, with minimal ambient noise intrusions. Noise reduction wasn’t quite on par with the best-in-class noise reduction the WH-1000XM5 offers during calls, but it’s certainly well above average.

Sony CH-720N Final Thoughts

We have a list The best “cheap” noise canceling headphones Which cost less than $100 and there are a few models on that list that have fairly comparable sound quality to Sony ( 1 More from SonoFlow, which costs about $80, also has support for LDAC Bluetooth streaming and includes a hard carrying case). However, the CH-720N offers an attractive combination of lightweight and ergonomic design with respectable performance. The sound quality doesn’t match what you’d get from more premium models—it lacks a bit of depth and definition in comparison—but I was happy with what I heard from most tracks I listened to and didn’t suffer any listening fatigue.

Like I said at the beginning, despite all the positives, these headphones sound pretty pricey at $150. There aren’t a lot of competing noise-canceling headphones in this price range (they tend to cost more than $200 or under $100). You have Soundcore by Anker Space Q45 ($150) and Edifier’s WH950NB ($180), two more non-Sony headphones that support Sony’s LDAC audio codec along with strong overall performance. But watch out as the CH-720N goes on sale. You may end up feeling satisfied paying full price for them, but feel they should cost a little less.

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