One might argue that India isn’t really a headphone country. It’s hot and often humid, making donning heavy clamping headphones a sweaty business. Sony’s new WH-CH720n addresses this issue with a lightweight set of headphones that offer so much they don’t feel like any sort of compromise. They sound very good indeed and cost relatively little. At ₹9,990 these are not in the same league as the company’s flagship WH-1000X series, but why should they be?
To keep the cost down, Sony has carefully omitted a few things on the WH-CH720N. Even then, what you’re left with is headphones that will please the majority. The WH-CH720n comes in sustainable packaging, a big trend with tech companies these days. It does not have a carry case or pouch — and that’s a bit of a problem, specially with the white variant which can get needlessly dirty. In other colours (black and blue), it should be fine as the polycarbonate it’s made of seems quite durable and doesn’t go creaking or straining on being handled. Still, it’s best to see if one can acquire a case. The headphones are in a design that is understated but smart and contemporary, much like the flagship 1000XM5 headphones. One problem is that the ear-cups don’t fold inwards to reduce the footprint. They do swivel a little bit, avoiding a stiff and inflexible fit, but this year, the flagship headphones don’t do so either.
There’s good cushioning under the headband and on the ear-pads. The ear-cups have some depth and a good thing too because if you reach in a finger and feel around the insides, you’ll find a slightly cheap feeling hardness and the outline of some components under a bit of cloth. The materials seem perhaps a bit less than premium, but then, they would be else this would have been the flagship 1000XM5.
Because it’s quite light and the headband doesn’t press down on one’s head, the headphones are really comfortable. The material used on the ear cans doesn’t cause undue itching either and there’s enough room in those cans for the average ear. If you’re listening in a room that isn’t cooled however, you probably will feel a little sweatiness and warmth after a few hours, but generally less than is the case with most headphones.
Sony has long had a comprehensive app, Headphones Connect, for its audio gadgets. The controls on the headphones are not touch sensitive but in the form of buttons. There's a stereo cable included in case you're up for wired listening and even better music quality. Download it on Android or iOS and use it to pair and set up the WH-CH720n and access control of its features. But first, perhaps have a listen…
The sound quality from the WH-CH720n is strong and full fledged. If not modified using the EQ and presets, it’s very nicely balanced and easy to like in that state. The equaliser can be adjusted manually but also has several presets such as Bright, Excited, Treble Boost, Bass Boost etc, as is usual with Sony products. Bass can be too strong on bass-heavy tracks and one may need to make adjustments to offset that, but for the most part the sound is nice enough with the equaliser turned off and everything at neutral. If you do have custom settings and use presets, the Adaptive Sound Control will adjust the sound to suit your activity. This smart feature works very well and responsively.
The overall profile is really quite delightful. You get good sound separation, attention to all levels of frequencies, and support for the AAC and SBC codecs. There’s also Sony’s sound enhancement feature, DSEE, or Digital Sound Enhancement Enhancement Engine that you can opt to enable. It’s very difficult to really tell the difference it makes, however. You also have 360 Reality Audio is which is much easier to discern and can be used when you have access to a source that allows you to hear sounds seeming to come from around. The soundstage is nice and open and natural on these headphones.
Natural noise handling
If you’ve been sitting in one place, but get up and walk around, the noise cancellation too will adjust and let in ambient sounds as you might need to be aware of them now that you’re moving about. This Ambient Sound Control a feature that is thoughtfully executed and is more impressive than people give Sony credit for. The company has used the Integrated Processor VI chip present in the flagship 1000XM5 on these headphones as well and while noise cancellation is a notch below on CH720n, there’s enough noise reduction for it to be really useful and for the user to focus on music or other content. These headphones are not really designed for calls, but do the job well enough. You can also link your virtual assistant of choice and get various things done as these headphones do lend themselves to being worn for hours.
You can get as much as 50 hours of battery life on these headphones without ANC and about 35 with noise cancellation, though it all depends on your usage pattern and the volume you listen at. A quick 10-minute charge will give you hours of play.