Sony's talent for creating class-leading, wireless, noise-cancelling headphones is irrefutable. Its WH-1000XM3s are multi-What Hi-Fi?-Award winners, and last year we heralded the cheaper options in the company's line-up – the WH-CH700Ns – very capable, musical performers.
Today, Sony has launched successors to WH-CH700Ns; the $200 WH-CH710Ns arrive as the new affordable alternatives to the WH-1000XM3s. And if they are anything like their predecessors, they will be serious propositions for anyone looking for versatile, great-sounding over-ear headphones on a budget.
The WH-CH710Ns' battery life is still 35 hours, an hour of which can be replenished from just a 10-minute charge. Bluetooth connectivity can still be achieved quickly through NFC, and the familiar button to launch your smartphone's voice assistant, the swivel ear cup design, and the blue, black and grey finish options, also remain.
What justifies the WH-CH710Ns' existence is the new noise-cancelling tech they house – which Sony calls Automatic Artificial Intelligence Noise Cancelling (AINC). This design is based on the common method of using dual microphones to feed forwards and backwards to cancel out unwanted sound, and is smart in the way it automatically adjusts itself based on how noisy your surroundings are.
Considering we called the WH-CH700Ns' ANC ability "more a case of noise quietening than cancelling", we do hope this new, more versatile tech proves more effective.
A new Ambient Sound pass-through mode (which is becoming increasingly common in noise-cancelling pairs) lets noise of your surroundings in so you can handily hear, say, traffic noise or train announcements.
Surprisingly, the size of the new drivers is 30mm compared to the 40mm units in the WH-CH700Ns – but as long as they keep their predecessors' likeable punch and weight, and perhaps offer greater timing assurance while they're at it, that size discrepancy won't matter.