Although blocking out a plane’s engine noise on a long flight is probably the best use-case scenario, there are good reasons to leave your pricey, $400+ ANC headphones at home when traveling. A better alternative might be Sony’s new WH-CH720N which bring excellent ANC to an incredibly lightweight pair of over-ear wireless cans that are much cheaper—although they’re still not cheap.
In the ever-escalating arms race of active noise cancellation in wireless headphones, we still think the $400 Sony WH-1000XM5 best the competition in blocking noise while still sounding fantastic. They also have a folding design that’s easy to travel with, but accidentally forgetting a pricey pair of headphones on the plane after a long flight will certainly put a damper on your vacation mood. Sony’s new WH-CH720N aren’t a redesign of its WH-1000XM5 that somehow manage to knock $250 off the price tag, but instead, sound like a ‘lite’ alternative that won’t disappoint if you don’t ask too much of them.
The WH-CH720N’s biggest selling feature is that they use the same V1 processor that you’ll find in Sony’s WH-1000XM5 wireless headphones, and the company’s WF-1000XM4 noise-cancelling earbuds. So, at least in theory, their noise-canceling capabilities should be as good as Sony’s flagship ANC earbuds. They won’t, however, be able to compete with the ANC performance of the $400 WH-1000XM5, which benefit from an additional noise-canceling processor inside them, and eight microphones in total. The new WH-CH720N rely on four microphones to pick up unwanted ambient noises, similar to the WH-1000XM5's predecessor, the WH-1000XM4.
With ANC turned on, the WH-CH720N promise up to 35 hours of music or podcast enjoyment, and a three-minute charge provides an additional hour of use. The headphones also include Sony’s DSEE technology (Digital Sound Enhancement Engine) which the company promises will help improve the sound quality of highly-compressed digital files and 30-millimeter drivers, so even if they can’t block out all unwanted noises, they can at least help drown them out.
The WH-CH720N also benefit from Sony’s excellent multipoint connection capabilities, allowing them to be connected to multiple devices at the same time and quickly switch between them, like a laptop and a smartphone. And longtime users of Sony’s flagship ANC headphones will be happy to hear that the WH-CH720N are better at handling and quieting the ambient sound of wind with a new “Wind Noise Reduction Structure” around the mics on each earcup.
The Sony WH-CH720N Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones are available for pre-order now in black, blue, or white finishes for $150, with delivery expected as early as later this week.