Noise cancellation: Now within range

Mala Bhargava | Updated on February 06, 2019

Sony’s WH-CH700N headphones bring a mix of pros as a cheaper alternative to the more expensive WH-1000XM3

For those who were wowed by the much-acclaimed WH-1000XM3 headphones with their excellent sound quality and impressive noise cancelling, there’s something that doesn’t cost quite as much. Sony has brought its over-the-ears WH-CH700N to India, at a price of ₹12,990. Sony is trying to ride on the success of the premium 1000XM3 set and offer something to those who can’t afford them. Which is a lot of people, of course.

To bring the CH700N into an affordable range, Sony cuts back on many things — fancy high-end features such as touch control, ambient sound activation with a gesture, design, material, and overall quality of both sound and noise cancellation.

But the end result is still very compelling.

The CH700N have a very quiet design. There’s nothing much that’s been done to make them stylish or stand out in any way. For most, that’s perfectly acceptable.

Functional design

In the black version we saw, the headphones are understated but very neat and minimalistic. The ear muffs are soft enough and entirely envelop the ears.

Steel hinges on either side of the headband actually add a bit of a design element and extend the band to fit larger heads. The headband has cushioning underneath in the centre as is absolutely necessary. The fit is very good and firm and though they’re not light enough that you forget you’re wearing them, they’re not troublesome for a couple of hours at a time.

The CH700N are wireless but there is also a connecting cable in the box. However, the charging slot is a regular old style USB and not USB Type-C, with a very short cable and no adapter. There shouldn’t be trouble finding a longer cable should you need one, though, as these are very much still around.

These headphones take a long time to charge up, but once done, you have backup for up to 35 hours.

If you need a quick top-up, they do support quick charge and can give an additional hour of play with ten minutes of charging.

You can skip charging altogether for a short trip out, for example, because 35 whole hours with listening spread out in sessions would work very well for most people.

Noise still heard

If you’re considering the CH700N purely for the noise cancelling and thinking you would be in a dead silent zone of your own in noisy places, forget it.

The earcups themselves filter out some noise passively and of course loud music hides noise in any case, but despite active noise cancellation, you still can hear sounds on the outside. I could even hear the reduced hum of my hot air blower when noise cancelling was on.

Turning it on or off seems to make very little difference to the sound quality, which may mean it’s really not that strong.

There’s a dedicated button for noise cancellation but the same button also does the job of triggering the Google Assistant. If you’re using that, you’ll need to use the Sony Headphone Connect app to keep noise cancellation turned on. With other noise cancellation headphones, including Sony’s flagship 1000XM3, you can’t even hear a person talking in front of you. But the CH700N just manage a bit of noise muffling.

That said, there is a good reason to buy these headphones and that’s sound quality. Music sounds vibrant and rich with clean bass and balanced highs and mids.

It’s a more balanced sound than other Sony headphones. In fact, there’s an Xtra Bass set of headphones for the same cost but officially without the noise cancelling that bass-heads may want to consider. The sound quality is pleasing overall and works very well for movies as voices sound nice and clear as well.

It gets loud if you like but sounds good at lower volumes too. The app, not the best to use, has some avoidable equaliser presets and you can adjust the sound a bit there as well but it’s best left to default settings.

This pair of headphones don’t sport the touch controls and you need to familiarise yourself with the full complement of buttons on both ear-cups, including one dedicated to moving to the next or previous track.

Ultimately, we would recommend the CH700N for its sound quality, thinking of noise cancelling as a bit of bonus, but not a full feature.

Price: ₹12,990

Pros: Great sound signature, nice clean bass, comfortable fit, affordable, sturdy

Cons: Noise reduction rather than cancelling, headphones don’t fold up, short charging cable, not USB-C, aging companion app

Published on February 06, 2019

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