Sony WH-CH720N wireless headphones review

The most recent set of wireless noise-canceling headphones from Sony WH-CH720N. With a balanced feature set that places it below the more expensive 1000X series and alongside more specialised models like the XB extra bass series, Sony’s CH-series is its mid-range offering.

Sony WH-CH720N

With a pretty extensive feature set that essentially makes it a lighter version of the 1000XM5, the CH720N sits at the top of that category. The proprietary Sony V1 processor, which is also present in the 1000XM5, powers Sony’s active noise-cancellation as well as a purportedly “balanced” sound tuning. Let’s watch to see how they do.

Design & Comfort

The CH720N has a classic Sony design that is pretty simple and conservative. They don’t attract much notice, and if it weren’t for the fact that so few people now use outside full-sized headphones, no one would even give you a second thought. For many people, this is advantageous if all they want to do is quietly listen to their music or podcasts without calling attention to themselves.

Sony WH-CH720N

The ear cups on these headphones are pretty big and feature a flat outer surface. The yokes are broad and made to fit flush against the cup cutouts. Although the extension mechanism is visible, the flat headband is connected by a covert hinge.

The power and pairing switch, charging connector, and analogue input are all located in the left ear cup. The volume and playback controls, as well as the toggle for ANC modes, are located on the right ear cup.

The body’s entire construction is matte-finished plastic. Although it doesn’t feel premium, the quality is still perfectly acceptable. With 192g, Sony claims the CH720N is its lightest pair of over-the-ear ANC headphones. Even though they are the lightest, you can still plainly feel their weight, and I never once forgot I was still wearing them.

Sony WH-CH720N

The earpads are very fluffy and supple. Your ears are separated from the foam cushioning that covers the driver enclosure by around 2.5 cm. In contrast to the shallower 1000XM5 earpads, I felt the room to be adequate for my ears.

The CH720N don’t fold inward like the more expensive 1000XM5, instead the earcups just swivel till they lie flat against your chest. Additionally, since they don’t come with a carry case, they take up more room in your bag. That’s not a significant problem, given the price difference, but it would be wonderful if Sony returned to fully foldable designs given how many people purchase these headphones expressly for travel.

Sony WH-CH720N

Overall, the CH720N are reasonably well-built with an understated design and good comfort but the lack of folding is a hassle.

Software & Features

The Sony Headphones Connect app for iOS and Android is supported with the CH720N. This software has been a mainstay of Sony wireless gadgets for a while and has recently become pretty bloated.

To begin with, you must make at least 17 clicks to get to the programme’s home page after installation because the software overwhelms you with setting options as soon as you load it. Other on-screen prompts won’t go away unless you search through the tutorial section for instructions on how to do so. It’s perplexing that no one at Sony sees it this way, and everything is getting more and more annoying. Instead, they simply keep adding features to the app and adding new prompts when you first open it.

Sony WH-CH720N
Status and System settings
Sony WH-CH720N
Status and System settings
Sony WH-CH720N
Status and System settings

The same UI that we have had for a long now greets you once you have completed the setup task. The Adaptive Sound Control menu, which modifies ANC by monitoring your motions and location, is displayed on the Status page along with playback controls for the tune that is presently playing.

The interesting options are all on the sound page. The ANC choices can be customised using the Ambient Sound Control menu, albeit this is currently only possible by switching between ANC, Ambient Sound (transparent mode), and Off. The degree of ANC on Sony devices was formerly adjustable manually, but it is now configured to adjust automatically dependent on the level of background noise. The manufacturer probably realised it could extend battery life by changing it automatically as opposed to allowing the user to maintain it at maximum capacity all the time.

Sony WH-CH720N
Sounds settings
Sony WH-CH720N
Sounds settings
Sony WH-CH720N
Sounds settings

The equaliser option features a five-band EQ with a sixth Clear Bass dial, numerous presets with blank ones to keep your personalised values, and several other features. The 360 Reality Audio feature of the CH720N also supports creating a HRTF map of your head and ears using the camera to generate a unique profile. Applications that provide 360 Reality Audio content, which are admittedly few and far between, use this data after that.

DSEE, or Digital Sound Enhancement Engine, is the final addition. The purpose of this option is to restore the detail that was lost during compression, however I’ve never truly noticed a difference when it’s turned on. The 1000X series headphones’ DSEE Extreme is not supported by the CH720N; it just receives DSEE. The difference appears to be Extreme’s usage of AI, but even that change was never heard.

Other features of the CH720N include the ability to connect to two devices simultaneously (both of which can be managed through the app), the inclusion of Amazon Alexa as a voice assistant in the app, the ability to customise the options you can toggle through the ANC button, and an automatic power off mode the capability to upgrade the firmware when the headphones have been idle for a predetermined period of time (15/30/60/180 minutes).

Sony WH-CH720N

Automatic pause when the headphones are taken off is a valuable function that is missing from the CH720N. Full-sized wireless headphones haven’t typically come with this function, but Sony just started included it with the 1000XM4 model of its 1000X series of headphones. Before it’s gone, you don’t realise how much you miss it. There were instances when I forgot to put the headphones back in and the music continued playing for hours. Given that it’s practically a given on TWS earbuds, it’s reasonable to expect this feature even on full-sized headphones at this point.

Sony’s Integrated Processor V1 handles all processing on the CH720N. The more expensive 1000XM5 also uses the same chip, but it additionally has a second QN1 processor specifically for ANC. This is why the CH720N’s reported ANC effectiveness is lower than that of the 1000XM5, combined with the CH720N having two fewer microphones per earcup (2 against 4 on the 1000XM5).

Each ear of the CH720N has a single 30mm dynamic driver. The 1000XM5 drivers are different from these in that they have a wider frequency response and a lower impedance, despite having the same size as them. Only SBC and AAC are supported by the CH720N, while LDAC is also added to the 1000XM5. Both are Bluetooth 5.2 compliant.

Overall, the CH720N has a lot of useful functions, but there are also a few that don’t really offer much, and the companion software urgently needs to be condensed and simplified to enhance the setup process.


Audio Quality

The audio on the CH720N isn’t bad. According to Sony, they have a balanced tuning, which presumably sets them apart from the company’s other products, more specifically the XB series.

The CH720N nevertheless has a warm, bassy tone. There is a broad bass shelf, especially in the mid-bass and upper-bass ranges, like most of Sony’s headphones. Since the majority of the bass in music falls in this range, you get a fairly significant increase in low-frequency energy that gives your tracks a significant thump and rumble. It feels less overpowering and boomy in comparison because it isn’t nearly as wide and doesn’t extend as low as on the XB series headphones. However, the bass’s somewhat lumpy and dense quality does cause some congestion in the low frequencies.

Sony WH-CH720N

The lower mids do sound thicker than they should since the mid-range does receive some of this extra energy from the low-end. The mid-mids have a small peakiness that gives them a little honkiness and uncomfortably projects them further into the mix for some singers. Although this slightly alters the timbre, most voices and instruments sound natural overall.

Sadly, there is a problem with the upper mids’ transition to the treble. Given how lacklustre and deflated the upper mids sound, it appears like Sony either neglected to account for pinna gain in the tuning or made the decision to ignore it. Headphones effectively bypass our outer ear and head shape, which is why they need to be calibrated to account for how our head and ear shape affects how we hear the environment around us. Without that, headphones just won’t sound realistic, which is what the CH720N is doing.

Vocals sound compressed and dry without the 2–5 kHz bump, and the lower treble is dull and scratchy since the majority of the treble energy is present higher in the frequency range. Due to the majority of the energy coming from the low end and insufficient assistance from the top end, this contributes to the sound’s somewhat ominous tone.

Sony WH-CH720N

Despite this, the tuning isn’t bad and, depending on your musical preferences, can still be quite entertaining, especially if you’re outside and don’t worry too much about sound quality. Although the Sony app’s frequency range is rather constrained, I also found it to be fairly simple to fix with the EQ feature.

As a side note, when ANC is disabled, the tonality differs noticeably. With the ANC turned off, bass frequencies in particular are less accentuated, which does produce a slightly tighter, cleaner low-end presentation.

The CH720N are not particularly impressive in terms of technical performance. The drivers are to blame more for the poor resolution and detail than the codecs, as there isn’t much of a difference when the included cable is plugged in. The speakers sound particularly terrible in wired mode without the audio processing, demonstrating once more how little effort is put into developing and tuning the drivers on Bluetooth headphones and how much work the internal audio processing needs to perform to make them bearable. In wireless mode, imaging and soundstaging are also fairly subpar, and in passive connected mode, the headphones might as well be mono.


The CH720N’s microphone performance is respectable. Voices have clear, understandable sound and sufficient volume so that you don’t have to shout to be heard. Even though the tonality isn’t as natural as it would be with a good wired microphone and the telltale Bluetooth compression is still audible, the quality is still excellent for phone calls.

Noise Cancellation

The CH720N greatly outperforms its predecessors in terms of active noise cancelling capability. You obtain good coverage across the spectrum for all different forms of ambient sounds since the attenuation operates effectively over a wide frequency range. Although Sony has excelled at mid- and upper frequencies, which are frequently lacking on products from other brands, low-frequency attenuation is particularly good. Although I’m sure there is a discernible difference between the 1000XM5 cancellation and the CH720N cancellation, without a direct comparison, even the less expensive model sounds good enough to prevent you from missing the flagship.

Sony WH-CH720N

Even though Sony prefers audibility over accuracy, the Ambient Sound or Transparency mode also performs admirably. Because of this, the sound isn’t completely natural, but you can still hear everything around you, which is usually what you want. In contrast to noise cancellation, voice passthrough lets you control the amount of transparency while also focusing on voices while muting other frequencies.


The CH720N perform well in terms of latency. The latency is so minimal for non-video jobs that it shouldn’t be an issue, and many users probably won’t even notice it. Video hasn’t been an issue for a while because mobile operating systems will automatically sync the video to make up for the delay.


During testing, the CH720N demonstrated good connectivity performance. During testing, there were no problems with connection drops, hiccups, or stutters of any kind. The headphones need to function effectively under typical operating circumstances.

Battery Life

With ANC turned on, the CH720N’s continuous music playback time is listed at 35 hours, and it rises to an astonishing 50 hours when ANC is turned off.

Sony WH-CH720N

The CH720N played for 47 hours and 9 minutes with ANC turned on throughout my testing, which was an incredibly impressive performance. Although Sony headphones frequently exceed their rated battery life, this may be the biggest discrepancy ever. Yes, ANC was verified to be enabled throughout the test.

The headphones played for 5 hours 51 minutes with ANC when I tested battery life after a 10-minute charge from 0%, which is also an excellent result.

I didn’t try it, but DSEE is believed to dramatically reduce battery life and use up extra battery power. AAC was used for all testing, however SBC should also be applicable because their power usage is frequently comparable.

Our Verdict

Although the WH-CH720N is normally $150, you can currently get one for about $128. I didn’t feel like I was missing anything compared to the $400 1000XM5. The 1000XM5 are better tuned and have better ANC, but you can compensate for the tuning with EQ, and in most circumstances, it’s difficult to notice the ANC difference. Both headphones are not foldable, but the 1000XM5 comes with a case. Additionally, the CH720N has a longer battery life, and I thought it was more comfortable.

Sony WH-CH720N

Being able to get the 1000XM5 for less than half the cost is alluring. The pricing disparity is much worse in India, where the 1000XM5 costs INR 29,990, and the CH720N costs INR 9,990. There aren’t many reasons to choose the 1000XM5 over these, especially if all you’re interested in are travel headphones. Sony may have simply made the CH720N a little too wonderful for its own good. The CH720N set a new standard for travel headphones in terms of both cost and performance.

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