The Sony WH-1000XM3 (Review) are the best wireless headphones you can buy right now. But at Rs 29,990, the 1000XM3 aren’t well within reach for a lot of audiophiles out there. It would have been great if Sony could somehow bring the same design, comfort and quality as the 1000XM3 to a pair of headphones that’s more affordable. Well, Sony seems to have heard our prayers, which is why the company introduced the WH-CH700N noise cancelling headphones in India.
Priced at Rs 12,990, the WH-CH700N aims to bring a 1000XM3-like experience to a price point that’s friendly on your wallet. The WH-CH700N brings a similar design language along with Active Noise Cancellation and excellent sound quality as the 1000XM3. Sony claims that it hasn’t made a lot of compromises with the WH-CH700N, and after trying these headphones for close to two weeks, I more or less agree with Sony here.
Design and comfort
The WH-CH700N come close to mimicking the design language and ergonomics of the 1000XM3. It comes with a good amount of padding around the ear cups and headband, and the ear cups can tilt a good degree thanks to a hinge-like design. The lack of metal on the CH700N makes it look less premium, but that’s no different than the 1000XM3s. Even the Rs 30,000 headphones lacked that premium feel apart from the use of some copper accents here and there. The CH700N gets some metallic glitter finish on the back of the ear cups, but the overall look is fairly simple in black and will not turn any heads while you sport it in public.
Unlike the 1000XM3, which offered touch-based gesture controls, the CH700N is more traditional. All the buttons worth using are on the bottom of either cups. The bottom of the right earcup offers volume controls and a toggle to control playback. On the bottom of the left ear cup, you have the power button, which requires you to long press to turn it on or off, a NC button that can be mapped to either turn on/ turn off noise cancelling or for Google Assistant, and a 3.5mm port to connect the headset to a device using a cable. There is a also microUSB port as well, rather than a Type-C port, which is kind of bummer in 2019. Lastly, the NFC sensor on the left earcup will let you connect to your Android device on a single tap.
The headband can extend to a good length and there is metal inside, which helps make the extension and retraction feel firm. Thanks to a good amount of pleather around the ear pads and headband, the CH700N is comfortable to wear without becoming a strain. The ear cup is big enough to enclose your ears completely, making sure the sound feels immersive. However, the lack of any breathable room will warm up your ears after a while.
The Sony WH-CH700N headphones are quite comfortable for purposes of traveling or for wearing them in the office. The lightweight design make them easy to keep on for a stretch, and the soft cushioning feels good against the ears, even while wearing glasses. That being said, Sony has not provided any carrying case for the headset, and the headphones don’t fold up as much as the 1000XM3, so traveling with the CH700N may not be the easiest.
Sound quality and Noise cancellation
The CH700N houses 40mm dynamic drivers in each ear cup, which allows the headset to deliver a pretty balanced audio quality. The headphones offer a nimble bass that doesn’t overpower the mid-range. The bass hits that sweet spot between soft and punchy, which is how I like my headphones. But this also means the CH700N aren’t for bassheads looking for that extra bit of punch. The mids and high-end also compliment each other, and there is good separation among instruments and a decent soundstage on offer.
I checked out songs from various genres and found the CH700N to suit mostly anything you throw at it. I started off with India 91 (Gully Boy) and Ta Dhom by Viveik Rajagopalan as these songs blend Hip-Hop with traditional Carnatic instruments, making for an excellent combination of sounds. These songs managed to keep the bass sounds prominent without sounding boomy and ruining the mids. The vocals are clear and the sound feels rich and immersive.
I moved on to some Alternative tunes like Black Candle by Iron and Wine and Skyscrapers by OK Go. These songs offered a combination of gentle yet catchy bassline sounds along with some electric guitar and soft vocals, all of which work in tandem with each other and sound balanced. I also went back to Simulation Theory by Muse (a personal favorite), which is a techno-rock album that involves a number of instruments at play including drums, electric and bass guitars and synthesizers. It was here that I felt the soundstage could have been wider, but I’m satisfied with the stereo sound the headset offers at this price.
Next up, I listened to Slow Burn and Oh, What a World by Country singer Kacey Musgraves where I found the acoustic guitaring to sound crystal clear, complimenting Kacey’s aching vocals. The high-end sound signature in this song is bright and lively, and there were times when Kacey’s voice felt sharp and sibilant, but it never got too much to handle. The good thing is you have the option to tweak the equaliser in the Sony Headphones app to make certain songs sound just the way you like it.
Speaking of the Sony Headphones app, you can download it on iOS or Android. I found the iOS app to be pretty annoying as it kept asking me to connect to the headphones even while it was connected and I was listening to songs. The app itself is pretty basic, offering features like Equaliser, Noise Cancelling, and the ability to map the NC button on the headset to Noise Cancelling or Google Assistant. Sadly, there is no support for Siri at the moment.
The Sony CH700N supports a number of codecs such as AAC, aptX and aptX HD, which is nice to see. I tested the headphones with the iPhone XR and the OnePlus 6T and pairiing worked seamlessly. I did not encounter any drops in connectivity or delay between audio and video while watching shows. The CH700N’s stereo sound is also excellent for playing PUBG. With the cable connected, the headphones can work even on zero battery. I checked out the same songs mentioned above over wired connectivity and found found the volume levels on the lower side.
The WH-CH700N offers Active Noise Cancellation and it does a decent job at blocking out external sound while listening to music. However, the headphones don’t do a good job with isolation if you use them as ear muffs for sleeping during flights or in noisy environments. Even in an office space, you’ll be able to hear yourself typing on the keyboard or general chitter chatter that goes on around you. The WH-CH700N will not offer the same level of noise cancelling performance that the high-end WH-1000XM3 deliver, but I wouldn’t be too hard on them considering the pricing.
The Sony WH-CH700N does one better than the XM3s by offering up to 35 hours of battery life on a single charge. That’s what Sony claims, at least, and the headset comes very close to delivering on that promise. I typically use headphones for about 4-5 hours in a day, mostly while commuting and sometimes during work hours. With the WH-CH700N, I managed over a week of usage on a single charge and with sound level around 50 to 60 per cent. The battery life may vary depending on how loud you prefer them on default.
It’s a good thing that the WH-CH700N comes with a long battery life, because charging the headphones is a whole different, rather annoying experience. The headset takes about 5-6 hours to charge up from zero to full over the microUSB port, which will require a lot of patience from your part. In my opinion, the only good time to charge the headset is overnight.
Should you buy the Sony WH-CH700N?
Sony has done a commendable job at creating the WH-CH700N as close to the more expensive WH-1000XM3 as possible without compromising on a lot of features simply to keep the price down. The WH-CH700N offers great comfort and an attractive sound quality that make it worth buying at Rs 12,990. What makes it a no-brainer is the added bonus that you also get a long-lasting battery life, so you won’t need to reach for the charger frequently.
The sound delivered is balanced with just the right amount of bass so that it never overpowers the mids and vocals. These headphones work well with mostly all genres, but I enjoyed them the most while listening to Hip-Hop and Country. The only feature about the headset that will disappoint you is the noise cancelling, which is pretty average and doesn’t quite meet up to the 1000XM3. If you’re looking for good isolating headphones, then the CH700N isn’t the one for you. For everything else, the WH-CH700N is the only wireless pair of over-ear headphones worth buying in this price segment.
Sony WH-CH700N review
- Great sound quality
- Superb battery life
- Comfortable, low-key design
- Average noise cancelling
- Slow charging
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