Sony WH-CH710N wireless noise-canceling headphones review

The Sony WH-CH710N are a relatively affordable pair of noise-canceling headphones. They are the successor to the CH700N, which we quite liked when we reviewed them two years ago. The CH710N continue the tradition of offering active noise-canceling at more reasonable pricing while also having a solid battery life.

Design

The design of the new CH710N is made to be more in line with the recent 2019-2020 Sony headphones. This means a more uniform and, frankly, a boring exterior that is just a single material, color, and texture used for the entirety of the headphone frame and earcups. The use of plastic here is also not particularly high quality, with a smooth matte texture that looks and feels a bit cheap. The headphones are also quite light, which further adds to the feeling of cheapness.

Sony WH-CH710N wireless noise-canceling headphones review

The CH710N offers a limited range of motion. You can adjust the headband height and the cups swivel back so you can place them flat on your chest when not in use but they don’t collapse inwards to make them easy to carry. There’s also no carry bag or case provided in the box.

The bottom edges of the earcups house all the buttons and ports. The right earcup has controls to adjust the volume and playback, along with a button that toggles between noise canceling and ambient sound modes. On the left ear cup are the power/pairing button, USB-C port for charging, and an audio jack for using in wired mode.

Sony WH-CH710N wireless noise-canceling headphones review

The overall build quality of the headphones is fine, even if they look and feel a bit cheap. They are unlikely to break easily but at the same time, I wouldn’t be too rough with them.

Comfort

The CH710N are quite average in terms of comfort. The main issue here is with the earpads, which are neither plush nor particularly deep. They create a decent seal around your ears but the lack of depth means my ears were constantly touching the inside of the speaker grille. They are broad enough to accommodate wider ears but I just wish they were deep enough.

The headband also has only a barely sufficient amount of padding on them and the choice of material once again is quite mediocre.

Sony WH-CH710N wireless noise-canceling headphones review

Being noise-canceling headphones, the earcups also allow very little air to move around, making these headphones unsuitable for use in warm weather.

Software and features

The CH710N feature active noise-canceling, which uses microphones on the outside to analyze and cancel out the ambient noise. On these headphones, you have an option to either have noise-canceling either fully on or off. There’s also an ambient mode that lets you listen to your surroundings by piping in certain frequencies through the speakers while still reducing some of the noise. This is great for when you want to hear someone around you, listen to an announcement at the airport or train station, or while walking on the street.

What these headphones don’t have is support for the Sony Headphones Connect app. Without this app, there is no way to dial in the exact amount of noise-canceling or control other features like EQ and other audio effects. You also can’t upgrade the software on these headphones.

Sony WH-CH710N wireless noise-canceling headphones review

The CH710N support Bluetooth 5.0 with NFC. The NFC enables quick and painless pairing on compatible Android phones. The CH710N lacks support for any of the fancy codecs and you get just SBC and AAC support here.

Noise-canceling

The CH710N are active noise-canceling headphones. They have two microphones on the outside that constantly monitor ambient sound and feed it into the system that then works to cancel it.

The noise-canceling performance on the CH710N is pretty underwhelming. It does reduce some of the noise but there’s still a fair bit that seeps through. This is admittedly the norm for noise-canceling headphones in this price range. If you need good noise-canceling performance, you are looking at spending at least twice as much. These should be fine for daily commutes but not for long haul flights.

Performance

The CH710N are a decent sounding pair of headphones. The sound is slightly bass-forward but with reduced emphasis on the mids and highs, resulting in a dark and somewhat muddy sound.

The low-end of these headphones has a small but notable boost, which results in a generally warm and punchy sound. The level of bass here can be quite enjoyable as it has just enough heft and slam without being overwhelmed by it like with the Sony Extra Bass headphones. The small amount of bass boost complements most genres well without getting in your way.

Sony WH-CH710N wireless noise-canceling headphones review

The mid-range performance is a bit of a mixed bag. The bottom end of the mid-range is a bit on the heavier side and as we go up the frequency spectrum it dials back a fair bit. This gives vocals a heavy, indistinct quality. Male voices in particular sound heavier than they should while female voices sound less focused. Listening to podcasts on these made me want some sort of EQ, which most podcast apps don’t have.

The high-end is where the sound completely fizzles and loses energy. The descent starts somewhere in the mid-range itself and by the time we get to the high-end of the audio spectrum we are a fair bit down from where we should be. There’s just no nuance or definition to high-frequency sounds and everything is just dull and lifeless. Instruments lose their sparkle and energy and some of the vocals also sound cloudy and distant.

This sort of sound can be fine for someone who prefers a more laidback, warm sound. It can smooth out an overly bright track and make it less fatiguing but that’s not a trick you want to apply to every piece of music. The good thing is that it is fairly easy to EQ these headphones to sound more balanced. You can’t magically add detail that’s missing but you can easily brighten up the sound and add more high-end energy. The CH710N also work fine if all you want to do is watch videos or movies with them, as the drawbacks that apply to music aren’t as bothersome here.

Sony WH-CH710N wireless noise-canceling headphones review

The CH710N have good imaging performance. The soundstage is average considering these are closed-back headphones and it feels further congested due to the restricted high-end but it’s also not particularly narrow or hemmed-in.

The microphone performance is mediocre. The voice sounds compressed and robotic with a slightly nasal tone to it. It’s okay for voice calls the people I called didn’t have any complaints but not for things like voice recordings.

The CH710N also has acceptable latency for most use cases. Listening to music was fine but even watching videos and movies didn’t pose any problem. Even casual gaming was fine. The issue mostly is with more competitive games where the latency could be an issue. There was a noticeable delay in the sound of the gunshots after tapping the button on Fortnite when paired with a OnePlus 8 Pro.

Battery

The CH710N have a rated battery life of 35 hours, a pretty generous figure. Sony also claims an hour of use after just 10-minutes of charge.

We set the headphones to loop our usual test track at a comfortably high volume. I was expecting the headphones to reach about the rated figure, perhaps a bit less. But I was not ready for what was about to happen.

Sony WH-CH710N wireless noise-canceling headphones review

Not only did the CH710N completely blow past the rated 35-hour battery life figure, but they also went on for a staggering 52 hours. At first, I assumed the noise-canceling may be off, but that wasn’t the case. The headphones just went on for 52 hours and had that not been the case, this review would have been published a day early.

Something similar happened when testing Sony’s 60 minutes usage with a 10-minute charge claim. The CH710N went on for 2 and a half hours with just 10 minutes of charge. Once again, the noise-canceling was enabled.

It’s not clear what’s happening here; I’ve seen headphones occasionally last longer than the manufacturer specified figure. After all, we don’t have the same methodology to test battery endurance as the companies that make these headphones. But an increase of nearly 50% is unprecedented. It’s possible the battery consumption changes based on the ambient noise and admittedly, I didn’t exactly run these headphones next to a busy street. Whatever the case may be, it seems the CH710N will comfortably reach the manufacturer specified figure and perhaps even longer based on your use.

The only thing that sours the experience for me is the time it takes to charge these headphones. Seven hours is the figure quoted by Sony and it does take that long if you want to charge them completely from flat. This is an overnight activity unless you want to spend your entire day watching your headphones charge.

Conclusion

At $130, the Sony WH-CH710N are unfortunately a fairly underwhelming pair of headphones. The build quality is a bit cheap and they aren’t the most comfortable. The sound quality is mediocre and so is the noise-canceling. They aren’t terrible at anything but there’s also not much that particularly stands out. The only thing these headphones excel at is battery life, but even that is slightly offset by the ridiculously long charging time.

Sony WH-CH710N wireless noise-canceling headphones review

I also think the CH710N are quite a downgrade over their predecessor. The CH700N were better designed and built, more comfortable, had better sound quality and they did all that for the same price. They’ll be discontinued eventually but are a better purchase over the CH710N while you can still buy them.

That leaves the CH710N in a tough spot. Perhaps you are someone who only really needs a long battery life or maybe just adequate if not exceptional noise-canceling while catching up on your favorite TV shows during your daily commute. In that case, you can be reasonably happy with these headphones, especially since they aren’t necessarily bad in any way. But I had high hopes for the successor to the CH700N and the CH710N failed to deliver.