Most brands in the consumer audio space have turned their focus to the true wireless (TWS) form factor, but some such as Sony continue to offer worthwhile over-ear headphones. Sony's approach is fortunately not limited to just premium and flagship products; the company maintains a decent range of over-ear headphones across price segments, and with decent features. The latest is the Sony WH-CH720N over-ear headphones, which is a new-generation product in a fairly adept and well-positioned lineup.
Priced at Rs. 9,990 in India, the Sony WH-CH720N is the successor to the WH-CH710N, which was launched back in 2020, at the same price. It follows a largely similar approach to its predecessor, with active noise cancellation, optional wired connectivity, and a promise of excellent battery life. The over-ear form factor also comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages over the more popular TWS form factor, which I'll talk about in detail in this review.
The Sony WH-CH720N has a USB Type-C port for charging, and optional wired connectivity
Sony WH-CH720N design and features
The Sony WH-CH720N looks a fair bit different from its predecessor thanks to sharper and more defined edges all around. You can visibly tell that the WH-CH720N is a mid-range headset; it isn't quite as polished and refined to look at as even the slightly more expensive Sony WH-XB910N.
That said, it isn't bad looking headphone by any means, and has a proper over-ear fit that completely covers you ears. The ear cups also offer a proper noise-isolating seal to help the active noise cancellation. Another key change is the very distinct microphone grille near the top of each ear cup, suggesting that the WH-CH720 has better and more appropriately positioned microphones for both ANC and voice functionality.
Although the padding on the Sony WH-CH720N isn't quite as lush and premium-feeling as on more expensive over-ear headphones, its comfortable enough, particularly when you also consider that the headset is quite light at 192g, thanks to its plastic build. The ear cups swivel completely flat in one direction for storage, and a fair bit the other way as well, to adjust to the shape of your head and ears. The headband has a telescopic adjustment mechanism, but unfortunately doesn't allow the headset to fold in completely for easier storage.
The power button is on the left side, while the controls for playback, volume, and ANC/ Ambient Sound mode are on the right side. Also on the left side is the USB Type-C port for charging, and the 3.5mm socket for wired connectivity. The sales package includes a charging cable (USB Type-A to Type-C) and a stereo cable for wired connectivity.
Sony WH-CH720N app and specifications
As is usually the case with Sony headphones, the WH-CH720N uses the Sony Headphones Connect app to handle basic customisation and functionality settings, as well as firmware updates. The app is available for both iOS and Android, and offers the same familiar experience that you get on just about any other Sony headset.
The Sony WH-CH720N headphone is light and comfortable to wear
Of course, the app sets itself up for the specific headset in use, so you'll only see the relevant controls and settings for the WH-CH720N in this case. Expectedly, the controls are fixed and can't be customised as is the case with many true wireless headsets, but this is fine as there are dedicated buttons for most functions on the headset.
You can use the app to control the voice assistant settings, letting you choose between invoking your smartphone's default assistant, or native support for Alexa. Additionally, the app also lets you see the exact battery level of the headphones when connected, toggle multipoint connectivity for up to two devices, change the equaliser settings, and more. ANC and transparency modes, adaptive sound control, 360 Reality Audio, and Sony's DSEE enhancements are also present in the app.
When it comes to specifications, the Sony WH-CH720N comes with a fairly standard setup. The headset has 30mm dynamic drivers, a frequency response range of 20-20,000Hz (when using Bluetooth connectivity), and a sensitivity rating of 108dB. For connectivity, there is Bluetooth 5.2, with support for the SBC and AAC Bluetooth codecs.
Sony WH-CH720N performance and battery life
Over-ear headphones have some advantages over equivalent true wireless earphones, primarily when it comes to comfort and certain aspects of the sound. The larger drivers may not necessarily ensure better sound quality, but you'll definitely hear a bit more detail and spaciousness thanks to the larger drivers' ability to flex a bit more.
As far as headsets in this price segment go, the Sony WH-CH720N has both advantages and disadvantages, particularly when you consider that this headphone competes more closely with similarly-priced true wireless headsets. Interestingly, I tended to notice the strengths more prominently, with the WH-CH720N offering a sound that was comfortable and quietly elegant for a headset priced at under Rs. 10,000.
Although nowhere near as aggressive and bass-focused as the Sony WH-XB910N headphones, the WH-CH720N does offer up a punchy and eager sound that gives the entire range plenty of room to shine. Listening to John Travolta by Me & My Toothbrush, the headphones brought out the drive and attack in this fast-paced house track, while also giving the faint elements enough attention and detail.
The sound was spacious thanks to the big drivers on the Sony WH-CH720N, giving a definite sense of direction and position to parts of the track. Impressively, the Sony WH-CH720N is equally at ease with gentler, more detail-oriented tracks; the lows in Attic by Hidden Orchestra definitely had an edge, but the many tiny details that make this track so beautifully haunting were notably present and clean.
On-device physical controls for playback, volume, and ANC are present on the Sony WH-CH720N
The best way to take advantage of the bigger drivers and additional spaciousness this brings is to turn the volume up. While the sensitivity rating of 108dB is largely on par with what many smaller true wireless headsets can deliver, the Sony WH-CH720N notably sounds a lot better at high volumes than smaller headsets. At the 80 percent volume mark while listening to High and Low by Christabelle and Lindstrom, the sound was immersive, striking at the right points, melodic, and immensely detailed.
The headset was able to go up to the 90 percent mark with no audible distortion and equivalent levels of sound quality, and indeed the only thing holding me back from keeping the volume at this level over longer periods was concern for my own hearing. You can still push it for slow soft tracks such as High and Low, but switching to bass-heavy tracks such as Sundown by Me & My Toothbrush necessitated bringing the volume down as well. It's a well tuned pair of headphones that can handle musical pace and attack at high volumes, far beyond the typical human tolerance for it.
Sony is undoubtedly one of the leading manufacturers when it comes to consumer-grade active noise cancellation on headphones, and part of the reason for this is an impressive level of consistency across its product range. While the Sony WH-CH720N obviously can't compare to the flagship WH-1000XM5 when it comes to ANC, it retains the general characteristics and qualities, albeit in a toned down and appropriate level of competence for the price.
While the actual noise reduction isn't significant, it's fairly effective at making whatever you're listening to a bit clearer, and devoid of the misleading vacuum effect. Instead, you get a gentle, subtle, and entirely straightforward reduction of the core frequencies, with the Sony WH-CH720N reasonably effective both outdoors and indoors.
Call quality is decent on the headphones as well, particularly with ANC on. The Ambient Sound mode is useful for basic conversations and fortunately didn't over-amplify background sound too much so it was usable even over long periods. Battery life on the Sony WH-CH720N is expectedly very good, with the headphones running for around 31 hours with ANC on and the volume at around the 60 percent mark.
Over-ear Bluetooth headphones may have been the default choice for buyers a few years ago, but it's now a relatively niche segment. While buyers will find plenty of options to choose from in the true wireless form factor, some might prefer the over-ear fit, and the benefits to the sound quality that come with it. The Sony WH-CH720N is a worthwhile option to consider in this case, offering a comfortable fit, effective mid-range active noise cancellation, and sound that utilises the larger drivers optimally.
There's no support for advanced Bluetooth codecs, but the tuning ensures a decent soundstage and exciting sound nonetheless, particularly if you turn the volume up. A convenient design and proper on-device controls help as well, making this my pick at under Rs. 10,000 if you prefer full-sized headphones over true wireless earphones.
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