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Sony Comfort and Quality!!!Posted
The Sony WH-CH700N is an exceptional entry to the already established line of quality Sony headphones that provides both an excellent listening experience as well as being an affordable wireless and wired option. At its price point, it offers competitive sound quality, noise cancelling, voice control as well as hands free calling. It also supports several codecs for wireless operation including SBC, AAC, APTX and APTX HD. Furthermore, the WH-CH700N is extremely compact and lightweight, making them a perfect choice for traveling and prolonged use. Completing the feature rich packaging, the WH-CH700N also includes a micro USB cable for charging as well as a 3.5mm cable for wired operation. Opening the box for the first time, I was surprised to see how small and compact they were. Stored with the cups facing flat down, the left and right sides are able to partially swivel (roughly a little more than 90 degrees). Initially, I thought this might be bothersome but it is actually quite helpful as it allows you to position them accordingly to maximize comfort. Connectively, the cups can be slightly adjusted upwards or inwards towards your ears. As someone who listens to music on a regular basis, these are extremely comfortable and I was able to easily listen for a few hours without any discomfort. In addition, they fit relatively secure and did not fall off nor was I able work them loose. This was impressive as it is quite rare to find something comfortable yet snug so they will not fall off. As for the construction, the external portion of the headphone cups are plastic, though it felt solid and sturdy, but it did not feel cheap. Additionally, the black model has a slight granite appearance on the outside of the cups that enhances the aesthetic. The internal leather cups were soft and durable and provided quite a bit of cushion, including the top inside of the headphones. The adjustable band on both the left and right side was seemingly sturdy and with some force, I still could not bend the frame. At the top of the headband, however, there was some slight weakness, but overall the construction was solid. As for the operation controls, you will note familiar territory. On the bottom left cup resides the power button, the micro USB port for charging, the headphone jack, and lastly the noise cancellation button. Connectively, on the bottom right hand side, you will find the pause/play and track buttons as well as volume control for Bluetooth only (wired mode requires you to control volume on the specific device you use). Paring the headphones was quite simple and both my Xperia Z3+ and my Xperia Z4 tablet connected without any issue. As somewhat of a music enthusiast, I listen to a wide variety of music genres including Classical, World, Metal, Rock, Rap, Jazz, Latin, R&B, Trance, so naturally I was quite excited to test the WH-CH700N and see how it performs across multiple genres. All my files that I played are lossless FLAC files that I have made from my personal collection. They all have been aggressively analyzed with various audio software and spectrograms to verify that they are indeed in proper quality. Lastly, all sound altering settings were turned off and I tested both wired and wireless connections using my Xperia Z3+ as well as connecting it directly to my computer's SoundBlaster XZr. For software playback, I used MusicBee 2.4 using WASAPI mode for output. Overall, the WH-CH700N handed every genre relatively even, aside from perhaps some slight muddy places in some of my metal tracks. However, the longer I used them the sound seemingly improve; connectively, my ears adjusted to the sound as well. In addition, on Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" and Metallica's "Enter Sandman", I thought the headphones were consistent in reproducing a nice warm vocal clarity as well as instrument separation. As for more bass oriented genres such as Trance and some Rap, the bass was quite punchy and definitely rumbled more than I was expecting. On Eminem's "Stan", I was quite pleased with the bass reproduction. I do want to stress though to keep your bass expectations reasonable as this is not going to shatter windows, but nonetheless you should at least be able to feel it depending on the song. During more dynamic Hi-Res tracks (96 KHz/24 Bit), such as Sonny Rollin's "St. Thomas" or Schumann's "String Quartet In A Minor, Op 41" the middle and high sounds were clear and pronounced. I could easily make out each instrument of the quartet. The results were quite intimate. While testing in wired mode, I did notice that the headphones were able to work either with the headphones on or off. When they are on, the sound is amplified as noise cancelling headphones of what I assume is the AINC (Artificial Intelligence Noise Cancelling) feature. However, by holding down the noise cancelling button, the headphones chimed to notify it was off, but after a few seconds it would seemingly reactivate itself automatically as the music increased drastically in volume. I could not get it to stay off. This occurred on my computer as well as my phone, and it affected both wired and wireless modes. Nonetheless, it is not an issue or a complaint, as most will undoubtedly leave the AINC on, but merely an observation that one should be aware of. As for wireless operation, the sound results were excellent. For my wireless test, I left the codec to APTX to maximize the wireless transmission (despite it not being technically/mathematically full lossless) and left all sound enhancing features off. During wireless playback, I was pleasantly surprised about the volume level; at roughly half volume on my Xperia Z3+ everything was loud and clear. This is a huge plus as typically on some Bluetooth devices you usually end of having to max out the outgoing volume; definitely not the case here as I was thoroughly impressed. Musically, everything sounded clear and punchy as it had with wired mode; highs were reproduced quite well. For my personal listening experience, I usually always prefer a wired connection. However, I thoroughly enjoyed the ability to use the headphones as either wired or wireless. It is definitely a great advantage to have as you can switch back and forth depending on your needs. Overall, as far as sound goes, I am confident that almost everyone will be pleased with the results. Once again to reiterate, as a bit of caution since sound quality, generally speaking, is quite subjective from person to person, I strongly recommend to keep your expectations within reason. No complaints here. For a noise cancelling test, I wanted to see if I could detect a difference depending on the environment. While listening indoors, the WH-CH700N did a fairly decent job of isolating out the noise from several TVs as well as conversations without even turning the noise cancelling on. Moving outside, while the wind was quite breezy, I still could not fully distinguish between toggling manual noise cancelling on or off. During a hands free call outside, my conversation was clear and I could hear the other person without any issue nor could they hear the wind. As part of a worst case scenario, while in the passenger seat of our car with the window rolled down, I again tried to see I could discern any differences between the noise cancelling but to no avail. I still heard the wind whipping around me on both settings, but it never distracted me from the music. Overall, I do not have any complaints as I thought it did a decent job, despite still hearing the wind from the car test. For most environments, they are more than adequate. Lastly, I would like to mention some features of the Sony Headphones connect application as there are several features worth noting. First and foremost, the application allows you monitor the Bluetooth battery which I found quite helpful. It also shows next to the battery symbol which current codec you are currently using. Furthermore, you can also change the codec setting by preferring quality (APTX) or prioritize the connection (SBC). Strangely, for some reason, Sony's LDAC codec is not supported on these headphones. In addition to codecs, you can change the sound altering features that I mentioned earlier such as the equalizer or the Virtualphones technology (VPT) for different effects. However, both the equalizer and VPT effects can only be used as long as the prioritize connection is selected (SBC). Lastly, the equalizer has 11 different presets including the familiar treble and bass booster or vocal and custom settings. The VPT has 4 different ones including arena, club, outdoor stage, or concert hall. You can also toggle the DSSE setting on or off, which is supposed to dynamically restore missing sound that is erased with lossy encoded music. In conclusion, the WH-CH700N noise canceling headphones provided an excellent listening experience, enhanced by both its ability to be used either wired or wireless. While I am disappointed in Sony's decision not to include their LDAC codec, the WH-CH700N nonetheless still supports a wide range of codec choices for wireless operation. Furthermore, other features such as noise cancelling and hands free calling, in combination with its sleek and sturdy construction, solidifies its value and overall performance. At a relative reasonable price point, the sound quality was excellent and they were extremely comfortable. Given Sony's audio reputation over the decades, I have no doubt that most will be pleased with the WH-CH700N. It is definitely worth a listen. Highly Recommended.
I would recommend this to a friend
Stellar Performance & Bass; Needs More NC OptionsPosted
Disclaimer: I love Sony audio gear. From my first Walkman in the 80's, to my stereo components in the 90's, to a ton of different pieces in the 21st century, I have never been let down by Sony. My favorite headphones of all time are the latest WH-1000XM2 (and I have owned some pretty expensive audiophile gear with price tags 2-3 times the price of those headphones). They are the top of the heap when it comes to noise cancelling, tight sound, and comfort. I use them predominantly at work because my environment there is ridiculously distracting but even if I don't have music on, it gives me an oasis of quiet. I wanted another pair of NC headphones for traveling but didn't want to worry about banging them around in my carry on or buy a second pair of the M2s even though they are a reasonable price as well. I haven't yet had the chance to wear the 700Ns on a plane so I can't speak to the noise cancelling ability of these cans in that environment (sorry next business trip isn't for another month). I can speak to how they do in a relatively noisy public space and home. I can also speak to their audio quality. Let's start with the audio because it is the easiest. These things rock! The sound quality is superb across the spectrum with nice highs (that don't get shrill or sibilant), good mids for vocals, and a tight bass end with some serious oomph. The great thing is that if you download the Sony Headphones Connect app (and I highly recommend you do so), you can tweak the settings/equalizer to your liking but I thought they were great out of the box. Running it through my test playlist that I have used since I was buying $1000+ headphones, show the Sony 700Ns to be a solid piece of audio hardware. Now to noise cancelling. The noise cancelling on the 700Ns is very good but not the top of the line level that you get with the Sony 1000XM2. I don't think it is that they couldn't be as good but there are two things holding it back: the ear cushions and the available NC settings. The ear cushions are great, as is the headband (I have no cushion of hair on the top of my head so I am always appreciative of a nice headband) but the material in the earpads is not as dense as that in the 1000XM2 and so it misses out on some of the passive noise cancelling there. The settings for the Active Noise Cancelling are On, Artificial Intelligence Noise Cancellation (AINC), and off. Switching between on and off is a simple 2 second press of the ANC button. To start up the AINC you have to hold down the button for a few more seconds. The AINC is supposed to take care of selecting the right amount of NC for the setting it detects with its microphones. The higher end Sonys have a similar setting but there are also a TON of other options in the app that really let you dial in the perfect amount of noise cancelling (to the point that you can wear them with no music on and have a VERY quiet environment), you can not do that with these. In both the On and AINC, it seems to be pulling voices a little too much, which is fine and good if you want to be able to still hear people ask you something or to just be aware of what's going on around you. If your GOAL is to shut people out (as it is mine), the 700Ns don't do it. They will actually pick out voices and amplify them to ensure you hear them. My wife thinks that this is the way they all should work, but I respectfully disagree. I did sit outside of a rather busy outlet mall next to a major interstate to see how they would handle the drone of the cars going by. Here the 700Ns did a very good job of blocking the drone of engines and tires so I'm sure these would do well with the sounds on an airplane or train but again, when people walked by my bench these headphones picked them up a little too much. As for the quality of the headphones for calls, they sound great and my wife said that I sounded clearer than I do when I'm just holding the handset to my face. It is also really easy to invoke Siri (or Google Assistant) with just a long press of the play button on the headphones. I don't really like using Siri so I will not be using that feature much but it works well if you do want that feature. I will make one caveat to this whole review. A lot of what holds these headphones back is firmware/software. There is a strong possibility that Sony could update one or both to give more options through the app or through the controls on the headphones themselves. Speaking of which, the controls are all really easy to use without looking and make a lot of sense (unlike some of the touch controls on some other headphones). If Sony does upgrade the software/firmware, these could easily be 5-star headphones but as it stands right now, I would have to give them 4. If you are looking for that extra star and the solitude that the Sony 1000XM2s provide, I would recommend you drop the extra cash and pick up a pair of those, and I guarantee you will not be disappointed. If you are looking for a pair of noise cancelling headphones with straightforward controls, great sound, and very good noise cancelling, feel free to get these because they are great and will save you a not insignificant amount of money. Plus the 700Ns come in some sweet colors; I love the blue on these. Like I said at the start of this review, Sony has never let me down in the audio department, and while these may not be 5-star NC headphones, they are still what I would expect for their price point. Actually they are better than what I would expect but it is hard standing in the shadow of the 1000XM2s!
I would recommend this to a friend