Price (RRP): $349
The Sony WH-CH710N is a new mid-range, Bluetooth, lightweight, noise-cancelling, over-the-ear headphone from Sony.
Sony’s flagship 2019 WH-1000xM3 (GadgetGuy review here 4.9/5) is great and due for a 1000xM4 2020 model update soon. The retail price is $419, but you can get them online for as low as $343, including delivery.
So, the conundrum for me is that the Sony WH-CH710N list for $349. The question then becomes, are these great performers for the price or do you grab an M3 bargain? That was a rhetorical question!
Let’s find out if the Sony WH-CH710N is an acceptable compromise?
Australian Review: Sony WH-CH710N
- Website here
- Manual here (if is PDF – check download folder)
- RRP: $349
- Colours: Blue, White and Black
- Warranty: 12-months ACL
- Country of manufacture: Vietnam
- Sony Corporation is a Japanese multinational conglomerate corporation headquartered in Kōnan, Minato, Tokyo. Its diversified business includes consumer and professional electronics, semiconductors, gaming, entertainment and financial services
They look typically Sony style until you compare then with the premium finish of the WH-1000xM3 that are foldable and come with a nice travel case.
OK, these are for the masses. The same matte black (or blue or white) plastic texture for everything makes them a little bland. Earpads are not plush, and my ears touch the speaker grills (no, I don’t have bat ears) – they are not as deep. The headband padding is OK but not plush.
Head clamping pressure is OK, and you could wear these lightweight headphones for extended periods, although they did get a little warm after a couple of hours.
Noise cancellation is either on or off. I find the lack of adjustment an issue. Or there is an ambient Noise setting to pass through outside noise – it is quite effective for voice.
Oh, and there is no app or EQ.
Differences WH-CH710M and WH-1000xM3
Normally I would have done this progressively throughout the review, but I realise that these devices are for very different markets despite the massive M3 run-out price reductions.
The WH-CH710N is a straight BT SBC/AAC codec device with auto-adjustment ANC. To our ears, it is one-level of ANC. But perhaps that is the tradeoff to get 35 hours battery life on BT/ANC. The sound quality for an SBC/AAC device is pretty good despite no App. Fold-flat but not foldable and no travel case.
The WH-1000xM3 is a premium device with Hi-Res audio (SBC/AAC/LDAC and aptX/HD) and has vastly superior adaptive noise cancelling via beamforming and multiple mics. It will successfully block aircraft cabin noise or sudden loud noises. We also like app/EQ and they fold into a nice travel case.
These are for those that want the Sony brand – but don’t expect WH-1000xM3 design or performance.
Setup: Easy – no app – PASS
Pair via NFC or standard Bluetooth to any BT 5.0 or earlier device. No app is available, and all controls are via pushbuttons.
- Power on/off (double for BT paring)
- NC/on/off or ANC
- Volume up/down (doubles for skip forward/back)
- Play/Paused and receive/hang up a call
- Reset – press power and NC/ANC for several seconds
Specs/tests Sony WH-CH710N
Sound – EXCEED
Let’s say that it is still a Sony!
- 3.5mm three-pole 2.0 stereo audio-only, 1.2m cable (mics only work in BT)
- 30mm 72 Ω drivers (cable connection) – may cause lower sound levels on some devices expecting 8-16 Ω. We tested on a Surface Pro 7 and Android phone with a 3.5mm jack, and there was plenty of volume
- FR: 20-20kHz via cable BT – our tests showed little difference between both reflecting that the speaker does little onboard signal processing. The playback is as good as the content quality.
Maximum volume BT/cable was 76.1/77.9dB. There was no apparent distortion or harshness.
Frequency response on BT or Cable was the same (unusual), but that is because there is no sound manipulation going on – it relies on the speakers, not electronics, to reproduce the source content pretty well.
- Deep Bass: 20-40Hz – Nil
- Middle Bass: 40-100Hz – building nicely to 80Hz
- High Bass: 100 to 200Hz – flat
- Low-mid: 200-400Hz – flat
- Mid: 400-1000Hz – flat
- High-mid: 1-2kHz flat
- Low-treble: 2-4kHz – slight peak
- Treble:4-6kHz – dip to avoid harshness
- High Treble: 6-1kHz – flat
- Dog whistle: 10-20 0 flat to 18kHz
This is ‘balanced’ (bass boosted, mid-recessed, treble boosted) sound signature. Its fine for most music and handsfree use but an EQ (if your device has one) could tweak this to warm and sweet (bass/mids boosted, treble recessed) for movies and music.
Soundstage (width and depth) depends on both the content and the device. For example, if you have a Dolby device, then the stage can be quite wide. On the whole, is it adequate – sound appears to come from outside your head!
LAG – latency = PASSable
The video lip-sync is OK, but it is not for gamers as there is a perceptible sound effect lag in fast action games.
Noise-cancelling and ambient noise – PASS
Sony is the master of inventing new marketing names. “Automatic Artificial Intelligence Noise Cancelling function (AINC) constantly analyses environmental ambient sound components, and automatically selects the most effective noise cancelling filter for your surroundings.”
That sounds great, but noise cancelling is basic in comparison to the WH-1000xM3. It implies intelligent noise cancelling to suit the environment. Our tests, admittedly subjective, only supported it was either on or off.
- Modes: NC on/off or Ambient noise.
- Ambient noise passthrough works quite well for one-to-one conversations, but it is muddy for environmental noises.
- Dual mics (left for voice and right generate basic noise cancelling information) and are subject to wind noise.
Microphone – FAIL
The left microphone catches voice – the right is for noise cancelling. It has no beamforming, and it is inefficient in a windy environment.
If you intend to use them as handsfree in noisy environments, then look for headphones with more mics, beamforming and better noise cancelling.
Wear/Comfort – PASS
- Weight: 223g (nice and light for extended wear)
- Earcups are not deep – if you have larger or protruding ears look elsewhere
- Good head size adjustment
Battery (50% volume, NC on, MP3/SBC/BT streaming) – EXCEED for life and FAIL for charge
Sony claims 35-hours, but it was still going after two days. But then we expect Sony to be conservative.
But seven hours to charge a USB-C device (that you cannot use at the same time) is unacceptable.
- Battery: DC 3.7V
- Approximate maximum music playback times (via Bluetooth using either codec)
- 35 hours (NC ON)
- 40 hours (Ambient Sound Mode)
- 45 hours (NC OFF)
- Via the headphone cable with NC ON: 50 hours
- Charge time: Seven hours. Ten minutes will give approx. one-hour of playback. Cannot charge and play at the same time
- Any USB-C PD charger (20cm USB-A to USB-C cable only supplied) will work or a slower charge from any USB-A 5V/.5A (2.5W) or greater.
BT and NFC – EXCEED
- BT 5.0 LE with SBC and AAC codecs for 20Hz-20kHz at 44.1Khz
- NFC pairing with Profiles: A2DP for music (best sound), AVRCP (for music and remote control) and HFP/HSP (handsfree and reduced frequency range)
- Pair to up to eight devices. It supports one multi-point connection (two different devices) as long as one is A2DP/AVRCP and the other is HFP/HSP
- Range: up to 10 metres (we tested to 20m)
- BT connection required for handsfree speakerphone use
Build – PASS
- IP Rating: None but this is not critical unless you like singing in the rain
- All polyurethane and high-density plastic with metal extension arms
Voice Assistance – PASS
- Google Assistant on Android smartphones activated by OK Google watchword (Tested)
- Siri on iPhone – press and hold play button to activate (not tested)
- Voice guidance: for headphone functions
- Supports sidetone (hear your voice while speaking in the headphones). We like sidetone but Google was often slow to wake up (paired to a Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra) and did not always understand our requests (mic issues).
GadgetGuy’s take – Sony WH-CH710N is a lower-cost alternative. But are they?
Sony makes good gear – a statement that you can count on.
But once you have used the WH-1000xM3, the WH-CH710N simply don’t cut it in comparison. So, with the caveat that you have not been spoiled, these are decent headphones with a reasonably good sound signature and a very good battery life.
We try not to comment on value, but in the present market, I would not pay $349 for them. At that price, they compete with other excellent noise-cancelling headphones including Plantronics Backbeat Go 810 ($249), Sony WH-XB900N Extra Bass ($249), Sennheiser HD 450BT ($249), Bose QC35 II ($359), Jabra Elite 85h ($379), JBL Everest Elite 750 ($399) – not to mention the online bargain at $343 of its big brother the WH-1000xM3.
So if you can get an online bargain (perhaps $100 less), then these are a great choice.