Review of full-size wireless headset Sony WH-CH710N with active noise canceling system
For a long time, Sony’s flagship headphones have been one of the most interesting in terms of the effectiveness of active noise canceling systems – literally a couple of models from other equally famous manufacturers can compare with them. However, along with the “noise reduction” top-end devices offer an original design, pleasant finish, extensive equipment and other bonuses for which the user has to pay.
But if you need good noise cancellation, but there is no desire to pay for the “premium” – you can consider solutions from the middle price segment, one of which we will talk about today. The lower cost was achieved due to the use of simpler materials, minimal configuration, lack of support for proprietary software, and so on. But the ANC system suffered the least from the reduction in cost – it even knows how to automatically adapt to environmental conditions, as in older models. Unfortunately, the “economy mode” also affected the sound – small speakers with a diameter of 30 mm provide an acceptable level of sound quality, but nothing more.
There is also a “sound transparency” mode, good autonomy and a fast charging function, a call button for a voice assistant – in general, all the necessary minimum in full. There are even some “frills” – for example, connecting using NFC. And in terms of design, everything is very good – the device has borrowed many features from the external appearance of its “older brothers”. In general, everything you need for a relatively low cost.
The headphones are delivered in a white box with a number of inscriptions and logos, as well as a large image of the device on the front side. Inside there is another box made of kraft cardboard, inside of which headphones in a separate plastic bag and other parts of the kit fit quite tightly.
The set, as already noted, is minimal – no carrying cases and other frills. The headphones themselves, documentation and two cables: a mini-jack to a mini-jack (120 cm long) for wired connection to the source, plus USB – USB Type C (20 cm long) for charging.
Design and construction
The appearance of the headphones, albeit far from “premium”, but at the same time they look quite stylish and modern. Most of the case is made of matte black plastic, with decorative elements – perhaps only the logos on the outside of the cups. The headset is compact and lightweight – it weighs just over 220 g.
The cups rotate 90 °, which allows you to conveniently place the headphones when worn around your neck, or put them in a compact case, which will have to be purchased separately.
The upper part of the headband is covered with artificial leather, on the surface adjacent to the head there is a small soft lining. On the inside of the arc, near the cups, the designations of the right and left headphones are applied.
The fastening parts of the swivel mechanism are made of plastic, but they do not cause special concerns about their reliability. No backlashes or creaks were also noted. The inner part of the headband near the cups is finished with a carbon look.
The headband is adjustable, the power reserve on each side is 4 cm. The adjustment is performed with a soft click, the fixation in each of the positions is reliable. Brief information about the device is printed on the sliding part from the inside.
From the outside, the sliding element is additionally reinforced with a metal plate.
The total length of the headband arch varies from 29 to 37 cm, which should provide a comfortable fit on heads of different sizes, including those of rather large ones.
In the lower outer surface of the right cup, there are volume buttons for controlling playback or call, a little further from them there is a key for switching active noise canceling modes. Above it you can see the microphone hole for voice communication.
On the left cup, we see two connectors: a 3.5 mm jack for wired connection to a sound source, plus USB Type C for charging. Next is the button for turning on and activating pairing, and next to it is an LED indicator of operating modes. There is also an NFC tag and a microphone hole for voice communication on the outside of the cup.
Compensation holes are located in the upper part of the cups near the attachment to the headband.
The ear cushions are made of quite good quality artificial leather. The inner filling is soft, perhaps even too much – no foam with a “memory effect”, after all, the headset is budgetary. The size of the hole is 40 × 70 mm, a medium-sized ear will fit perfectly. But the depth is relatively low – about 15 mm, which is why the auricle can touch the protrusion on the speaker grill.
The speaker, by the way, is relatively small – only 30 mm in diameter, while the “unspoken standard” for compact full-size headphones is 40 mm. This made it possible to slightly reduce the dimensions of the device and, probably, played a role in making it cheaper. But, of course, it was reflected in the sound – we will talk about it in detail a little below. The bundled charging cable has an acceptable level of quality, one of the connectors has the Sony logo – in general, the cable is like a cable.
The audio cable for wired connection is also well made – it is rather thin, but soft and with a pleasant-to-touch braid. One of the connectors is L-shaped.
For quick pairing with Android gadgets, the WH-CH710N has NFC, which we used. The process is simple and extremely fast – we put the mark on the left cup to the back of the phone, we get an offer to connect a headset. We agree, we see a pairing request. We accept it – and you’re done. Headphones are connected, the default is AAC.
The headset does not support a full-fledged multipoint, but it is possible to use different devices for voice communication and listening to music. For details on how to do this, see the online instructions on the manufacturer’s website. We managed to listen to music from a PC running Windows 10 and receive calls from an Android smartphone; in parallel, using the Bluetooth Tweaker utility, we obtained a complete list of supported codecs and their modes.
There are only two codecs – a little more “advanced” AAC and basic SBC. They are quite enough for a budget headset, but in the middle price segment I would already like to see aptX, of course. But there are almost no problems with the stability of the connection – for the entire time of testing, the connection was interrupted only a couple of times outdoors in places with a high level of radio interference, where most of the tested wireless headphones behave in this way. There were no serious “out of syncs” in the picture and sound when watching video and playing games. Small problems appeared only in “heavy” games, demanding on the resources of the smartphone.
And finally, with a wired connection, everything is extremely simple – wire there, wire here. As soon as the headset detects that Bluetooth is no longer needed, it immediately turns it off. In this case, you can use the headset both in passive mode and in active mode – with the noise reduction system involved.
Let’s start with the positive aspects of the conversation about how comfortable the headset is to use. It is light, the headband is adjustable within a fairly wide range – that’s good. The material of the ear cushions is quite digestible – with prolonged wearing, the ears will inevitably sweat, but this is a feature of most full-size models.
But there are also annoying little things that spoil the impression a little. Firstly, the filling of the ear cushions could be a little more elastic – so it would provide more comfort and better passive noise isolation. And secondly, the ear pads themselves, as already mentioned, have a small height. And on the speaker grill there is a very massive protrusion, which, when worn, can rest against the auricle – the feeling is not pleasant. But here the question is individual, many users may not face this problem.
In general, the wearing comfort of the headset is average; it is quite suitable for everyday use. It is generally quite difficult to recommend full-size headphones for sports and various activities, and with so many nuances, even more so. In general, in this area the WH-CH710N performs about the same as in all others – not bad, but far from at the level of flagships.
The manufacturer claims that from one full battery charge, the headset can work up to 35 hours with Bluetooth and ANC turned on. In practice, it turned out a little less, but also good – about 32.5 hours. It will definitely be enough for several days of active use. After completely discharging the headphones, we tested the quick charge function three times. On average, after 10 minutes of connecting to the memory, the headset worked for 50 minutes – a very good result, close to the declared hour.
The quality of the built-in microphones is “very average”, let’s just say. Our test interlocutors complained of a “metallic tint” and a sound “in the nose”, as if the speaker had a slight cold. In a noisy environment, background sounds are heard by the interlocutors, sometimes you have to noticeably raise your voice. In general, it is difficult to recommend the WH-CH710N for long conversations, but it will allow you to simply answer the call and have a little chat.
Sound and frequency response measurements
The headset sounds pretty good, although it has a number of features that not everyone will like. For example, bassheads are unlikely to be satisfied – speakers with a diameter of 30 mm cope with the low frequency range, there is even a slight accent on it. But the bass is “booming”, which is especially noticeable in compositions with a “fast” kick, which eventually merges into an indistinct buzz. In pop music, this is rare, there will be no problems with it.
The lower middle is thoroughly emphasized, which can even create a false impression of the “bass” of the headphones – the music sounds emphatically energetic, although there is not much real “deep bass” here. The second point that determines the nature of the sound of the headphones is a small dip in the upper part of the mid-range register, depriving the parts of the solo instruments and vocals of some of the detail. In general, the sound has nuances, and quite controversial. But they are expressed to the extent that it is still quite possible to call them features, and not obvious disadvantages. Let us illustrate the above using the frequency response graph.
Traditionally, we draw the attention of our readers to the fact that all frequency response graphs are given solely as an illustration to demonstrate the main features of the sound of the tested headphones. You should not draw conclusions from them about the quality of a particular model. The actual experience of each listener depends on many factors: from the structure of the hearing organs to the force of pressing the ear pads, which can seriously affect the transmission of the low frequency range.
The frequency response graph above is shown against the background of the HEQ curve (headphone compensation for flat EQ target) provided by the manufacturer of the stand used. Its purpose is to help compensate for resonance phenomena in the simulated ear and the characteristics of the equipment by creating a “sound profile” that most accurately illustrates how the sound of the headphones is perceived by the listener. It can be seen as a device-specific analogue of the so-called “Harman curve” created by the Harman International team led by Dr. Sean Olive. Let’s compensate the resulting frequency response graph in accordance with the HEQ curve.
Headphones Sony WH-CH710N – this is what is called the “strong middling”. They have everything, everything works correctly. And the sound is generally good. One problem is that it can be better, and tangible. But there’s nothing you can do about it: when developing budget models, manufacturers always have to make numerous compromises. I was a little upset only by the “sound transparency” mode – here it can definitely be made more effective. As for the rest, the WH-CH710N headset proved to be a worthy representative of its segment. Even if it does not amaze the imagination, but if budget headsets did not differ from the flagships, then who would buy the latter?