DHRME Audio,Over-Ear Headphones Sony WH-CH720N vs. Top 5 $150 Headphones: In-Depth Comparison & Battle for Audio Supremacy

Sony WH-CH720N vs. Top 5 $150 Headphones: In-Depth Comparison & Battle for Audio Supremacy

The WH-CH720N is Sony’s admission that smaller companies like SoundCore, 1More and Edifier have been eating its breakfast. So let’s do it – here’s the Sony and 5 other competitors around the $150 price bracket – with a little gem sprinkled in at the end. And of course – all the recordings, so you can listen to it for yourself.

Edifier WH950NB ($180) 

Starting with the most expensive on this list… first up is the WH950NB by Edifier. Yes, they’re $180 we know. That’s why we said ‘around’ $150. The others are all 150 or less, so stop judging us. The WH950NB offers more than just competition to Sony for strong password inspired model names. They’re one of the best built headphones on this list. The ear cups are roomy for those of us with well endowed auditory organs. There’s soft faux leather on the ear cups and headband with good heat management so you’re not left with a sauna for your ears. The clamping force feels just alright. Not bad for a pair of headphones that can fold, right! There’s also multipoint support for you folks two timing your devices. We rank noise cancelling on 6 tiers. The ANC on this one came in at Tier B – not bad, but not the best either. The low end is eliminated very well but does an average job at the mid and higher frequencies. The transparency mode ranked at Tier A, pretty damn good! Now, there was definitely some level of resonance in the lower frequencies, which can drown out speech. Good to keep that in mind. 

And keep in mind that these are good enough for phone calls. Especially in quiet work from home conditions. Outdoors it has a tendency to be harsh on noise cancelling meaning that it can cut out your voice if there is a lot of ambient noise. 

Mic samples are visible in the video above.

Edifier WH 950NB Frequency Response: Out of the box, the bass was a bit too much for our taste

The biggest downside with phone calls is the occlusion effect. You hear the sound of your own voice through your skull. It just feels unnatural to talk with them for longer periods of time. Unfortunately you cannot change the ANC mode while on a call either to relieve that occlusion effect.

But it’s also good to keep in mind the areas the Edifier didn’t quite live up to our expectations. We were generally very happy with the build quality, but we had two issues with it. The padding on the ear cups and headband was quite thin, meaning that after some time you’ll feel it on your ears and crown. The other issue was the headband – it sharp! We haven’t cut ourselves, but every time we hold the headband to adjust it, it definitely feels odd. Although the WH950NB comes with multipoint support, you won’t be able to pull the connection from a previously connected device. There’s also no device list in the app. Another extra feature you’re missing on this model is smart pause. So make sure to hit pause on your device before removing the headphones, because it won’t do it for you. And out of the box, the bass didn’t do it for us. It was too much for our taste. But yeh, if you identify as a bass head then this will be right up your alley. There is a 4 band parametric EQ in the Edifier Connect App that you can use to tweak your sound. But man – that app and permissions – they shady AF.

One of the best built headphones on this list

Then there’s the battery life of 34 hours with ANC on, and it’s alright. But we’re seeing some serious competition from others giving you north of 50 hours, so depending on your convenience needs, it’s something to factor into your buying decision. 

SoundCore Space Q45 ($150)

The SoundCore Space Q45 came out last year – and we’ve not changed our view on it. It’s still an incredible product from Anker. At 150 bucks, these are still a very easy recommendation.

A very solid build without any creakage. And plush earpads. On the other hand, it’s a bit bulky looking with the earcups having earcups. The earcups tend to clamp on the heavier side and can get hot after long periods of use. They also don’t sport a wear sensor, so they won’t be pausing or resuming audio automatically based on whether you’re wearing them or not. The hard case you get will protect the headphones, no problem. But where we do have a slight problem is that there is absolutely no place to store cables. You just have to fling them in there and hope they don’t jump around scratching your headphones. 

They compete on sound quality with the best by performing on the highs, mids and treble. However, there’s something ever so slightly problematic about that treble. SoundCore counters this by giving you a gazillion EQ presets and a custom 8-band EQ in the app, but we still think that treble is a bit of a problem. Add to that the BassUp toggle, which adds oomph to the bass. It’s really a mixed bag for us in terms of the SoundCore sound – SO good at so many things, but a bit problematic on others.

The SoundCore app is very well-designed and quite extensive giving you adjustability in almost every aspect of the headphones.

The ANC did not disappoint us and in our opinion is in the Tier B category. It’s able to cancel out low end noises very well and transparency is Tier A. The noise cancelling is even adjustable in the app which you don’t see on all headphones. The SoundCore app is very well-designed and quite extensive giving you adjustability in almost every aspect of the headphones. You can also use the app WITHOUT needing to log in, which is a plus. 

And the battery life can handle all these high-end features. 50 hours of juice in these bad boys. And the kicker: that number is with ANC on. Having high performance headphones is one thing, but if the experience isn’t up to the mark, you don’t pick them up to use them. The comfort on the Space Q45 is incredible, plush and spacious earpads. Let’s also quickly touch upon the controls side of things, there’s no touch. And we dig that. Good ole buttons all the way. A button for power, ANC, volume and play-pause. With those four buttons you can do everything for audio and even for phone calls. 

On the topic of phone calls, the Space Q45 is average. They get the job done but the speaker’s voice is on the tinny side. 

Mic samples are visible in the video above.

Sony WH-CH720N ($150)

This is the only mainstream brand on this list. At $150 does the Sony WH-CH720N bring enough to the table to compete with the others? Staying true to its price class, Sony gives you buttons instead of touch controls. We’re button-o-philes and we don’t mind buttons, even prefer them over poorly done touch surfaces. In terms of comfort, we thought it was… ok. Thankfully there was no strong clamp and due to the shape of my head, I didn’t feel any force on the crown either. Luckily the ANC and transparency aren’t there for “spek en bonen” but actually pack a punch. The ANC is at Tier B. It’s able to eliminate the low end very well but the mids and highs less so. Then the transparency mode is even better at Tier A. Lets you hear all frequencies and it is quite loud. There is however a lot of white noise which you’ll mainly notice in quiet conditions. In our testing it was very easy to follow a conversation with the headphones in this mode. And having conversations using the microphones on these for phone calls are actually also quite good. Personally I did a 30 minute call outdoors while walking and the other person could understand me perfectly fine

There are some mic samples in the video above.

What did you think? If you plan to take calls on your phone but also your laptop then there’s good news. The CH720N supports multipoint. And our favorite multipoint implementation at that. It’s got Google Fast Pair, Microsoft Swift Pair, you can pull the bluetooth connection from a previously paired device AND you can see the connected device list in the app. Yes there’s an app, and you get it with all the Sony goodies you’ve come to expect from their flagship headphones. Adaptive sound control, 360 degree audio, DSEE audio upscaling, a 20 ANC slider and an EQ as well.

But… how do these sound? Well – we’re surprised – pretty good! The reason we’re surprised is that their previous iteration was CLEARLY a step down in terms of sound. But these… not so much. In fact, we could put them up against the Sony WH 1000 XM5 and be pretty satisfied. Let’s be clear though, the tuning is great, but everything is a bit worse. Especially resolution. The bass is a little less clean, there’s a teeny bit less of refinement in the treble, the soundstage appears that little bit narrower. Overall, the XM5 is still better, especially at low volumes, but here’s the thing… if your philosophy is ‘good is good enough’, well… these are good enough! 

But life isn’t all sunshine and raspberries is it? The build and materials on these headphones feel cheap. There’s no way around it. The moment you pick them up the plastic is very much in your face. The comfort is hit or miss. I felt that after about 30-60 mins of use I would feel the inside of the ear cups pushing against my ears. No bueno. What these mid-rangers do have in common with their flagship sibling is that they both don’t fold. Where they differ is the inclusion of a protective carrying case. None on the CH720N, we’re afraid. So either buckle up for some wear and tear, or get yourself an aftermarket one. Additionally, there’s no wear sensor to automatically pause your music when you take your headphones off. So you’re going to have to make the Herculean effort of hitting the pause button. And good luck finding that button, because even though you get buttons as controls, they’re all very flat and hard to distinguish from each other. 

On the topic of connectivity, it’s only fair to mention that we’ve faced some bluetooth connection drops. First we thought this was because of multipoint. But it happens way too often – even while we’re out and about and have only one device with us. Very annoying and hopefully fixable via a software update. 

Cleer Enduro ANC ($120)

We want to make one thing very Cleer to you guys, ok. This next one can Endure a lot! It’s got 60 hours of battery with ANC on and comes with fast charging so you can get 2 hours of use from just 10 mins on the charger. It’s the Cleer Enduro ANC. 

In terms of sound too, the Cleer Enduro ANC is EXACTLY what it says on the label. The sound is clear AF. Whether it be those crispy mid and treble frequencies or the nice wide soundstage. And it has this really nice thump in the bass. If you have a device that supports APTX Adaptive, these are a VERY VERY capable set of headphones for sound. We might have underrated them to start with, but they’ve clearly grown on us. Especially since we now have this Asus ZenFone 9 that supports Snapdragon Sound. You also get a 5 band EQ in the app.

Keeping with the Cleer theme, these get you a very clear transparency mode – in the A tier for us, so if you wanna have a conversation and keep your headphones on, these are clearly one of the err… clearest choices out there. The voice prompts are also Cleer – a very pleasant voice telling what’s going on as opposed to a cryptic ding or an insect crawling in your ear leaving you guessing as to which mode you’ve activated.

The buttons on the Cleer Enduro ANC headphones are also the CLEAREST of any of the ones we have here, except maybe the SoundCore.

It supports APTX Adaptive, sports massive 40mm drivers and… they sound good! Good soundstage but really good on the bass! Bass heads, this one might be another option for you guys. We did feel that the elevated mid-bass sometimes bled into the mids, but luckily that is fixable using the 5 band EQ in the app. The Flat EQ is a good place to start. 

The buttons on these headphones are also the CLEAREST of any of the ones we have here, except maybe the SoundCore. Two clearly elevated buttons on the left earcup for power and ANC control and flanking the power you get the volume buttons. Something we can use with our eyes closed, as we kinda have to do. 

Now that’s enough praise, these ain’t perfect.

The Cleer Enduro ANC Frequency Response Curve: They sound great, but we found that the bass extension wasn’t AMAZING, so the lowest of low frequencies were often quite underemphasize

You must be wondering why they called it the Cleer Enduro ‘ANC’. Yeh, we don’t know either. The ANC sucks. We put them all the way in Tier E. Practically non-existent. And then there’s multipoint. Yes, it does support it. But we had issues with audio cutting out. From our testing it seemed like the first device it connected to gets priority. Playing audio from the second device caused audio skipping issues.

But don’t skip this part. If you’re able to endure what we do here at the channel, then check out shop.dhrme.nl and grab some DHRME merch. We’ve got stuff from hoodies to water bottles to happiness. Ok maybe you can’t buy that last one. But the other stuff gets you close too. 

Back to the Cleer – these sound great, but we found that the bass extension wasn’t AMAZING, so the lowest of low frequencies were often quite underemphasized. Phone calls were also unimpressive outdoors because it would let in the ambient noises. They’ll be fine if you plan to use them indoors though. Here, have a listen.

Mic samples are visible in the video above.

And these are the creakiest headphones on this list – no contest. Like the Sony, there’s no hard case for these either, but you at least get a soft pouch. And that excellent transparency? It also gives excellent white noise – annoying in quieter environments. So all in all – if great sound, solid battery life and transparency are important to you – the choice might be Cleer? Ok enough puns… we got 1More.

1More Sonoflow ($100)

At a $100 you’re getting some serious value out of the 1More Sonoflow. Foldable headphones with plush ear cups and enough padding on the headband making them comfortable to wear for long listening sessions. You get killer battery life of 50 hours with ANC and 70 hours without. The 1More also supports LDAC and the best part is that you can turn it on in the app and still continue using multipoint to stay connected to two devices. Not something you see on every set of headphones that has LDAC *cough* Sony *cough*. Sorry about that, where were we?

ANC on the 1More SonoFlow is ranked at Tier B, not the best but not bad either! Plenty for most people.

Oh yeh LDAC – the sound is pretty damn good. Very neutral sounding out of the box. The bass and sub-bass are awesome! And 1More added a 10 band EQ to tweak the sound after release. The microphones are fine unless you plan to use them outdoors, if so be careful of the wind. And finally the ANC is ranked at Tier B, not the best but not bad either! Plenty for most people. And if like most people, you’re going to use these for phone calls indoors with the odd call outdoors, then you’ll be fine. The 1More does well even in windy conditions. You hear the wind a bit, but you can have a conversation. If there’s a lot of background noise, try to keep that call short. Here are a few samples.

Despite the neutral sound signature, the soundstage on the 1More SonoFlow is on the narrow side and the sub-bass isn’t quite as tight as we hoped for. Also there’s an ever so slight channel imbalance.

Where it did not flow so much has to be in the build quality. To be honest, it felt cheap in the hands. We mainly noticed it with the button presses, the jerky hinges and that loud 1More branding across the headband on both sides. Although the buttons have enough space between them, the power button is placed in an awkward position. On the front side of the right ear cup! Very counterintuitive since it also doubles as the play-pause and answer-hangup button. Then there’s the transparency mode. Tier D here guys. Sub-par and definitely not a reason to buy these. If you tend to remove your headphones when talking to people or you’re not outdoors with them, then the lack of good transparency isn’t going to get you killed. 

Despite the neutral sound signature, the soundstage is on the narrow side and the sub-bass isn’t quite as tight as we hoped for. Also there’s an ever so slight channel imbalance. An annoying fact about 1More devices in general is that they never allow you to change the ANC mode when you’re on a phone call. They force you to stay in transparency mode. We’d love to be able to have ANC on and take calls at the office. And finally, if you’re one to suffer from audio FOMO then look elsewhere. The 1More Sonoflow is unable to pause and resume your music automatically depending on whether you’re wearing them or not.

Edifier W820NB ($60)

*sigh* alright guys – the final pair on this list. We end with the same brand we started with. But this one costs a third of that one. At $60 we got the Edifier W820NB. Let’s start off with the good. The ear pads and headband feel very comfortable combined with the general lightweight of the headphones. So no pressure on the crown after a long listening session. The ANC is Tier B and does an especially good job at cancelling out the low end. The higher end sounds are muffled too. These are definitely on the higher end of the tier. Where the W820NB really took us by surprise was how it performed in the phone calls test in windy conditions. Probably one of the best out there. So if you’re one to be out in the wind often when you make calls, these might be it. Mic samples are in the video above.

There’s also a gaming mode. And finally the sound signature you get out of the box is very fun and easy – comparable to the Sony, but…  this is where we talk about the not so good. 

The sound signature you get out of the box on the Edifier W820NB is very fun and easy.

The treble feels a little bit thin and lacks just that little bit of detail. The sub-bass lacks a little bit of oomph. Despite them not sounding very hi-fi, it has a multipurpose sound signature. It works across genres surprisingly well. However the whole sound is a little narrower than the Sony. And buyer beware – what you hear is what you get. No take backs and no EQ. That’s right, the Edifier Connect app has no EQ support for this model. But come to think of it, the app barely has anything at all. Just an ANC and transparency mode toggle and a game mode toggle. So you could save some space on your phone and skip the app altogether. And save on some privacy too. In terms of build quality, you get what you pay for. The buttons feel cheap and are loud when you click them. There is definitely some creaking when you bend them. The headphones are not foldable and you also get no case in the box. So these are either your beater headphones you just toss into your bag or your DHRME hoodie pouch or you’ll find yourself buying some third party carrying case. 

The Edifier WH820NB is probably not a recommendation for tiny heads, since it doesn’t get very small.

If you planned to use these wired, the type C port fortunately can be used for a wired connection. And since you’ll use the same port for charging, let’s talk about the battery. You get an acceptable 29 hours with ANC on. As you’ve seen from the likes of Cleer, 1More or SoundCore, anything below 50 hours isn’t top tier anymore. You also get no multipoint support, so this Edifier will only stay connected to a single device at any one time. And finally the transparency mode comes in at a poor Tier E. In the app you do get a slider, but it didn’t affect the transparency much in our testing, only the white noise. In transparency mode, all the frequencies are let in but the issue is that the volume isn’t very loud. This makes it hard to hear what’s going on around you or even have a conversation with someone. Oh – and this one is probably not a recommendation for tiny heads, since it doesn’t get very small.

So that’s it guys – hope you enjoyed this roundup. We’ll leave recordings of various genres of music for our YouTube and Patreon Icicle and Tested Members. So please consider joining our community and supporting us. 

You’ve been sampling and we’ve been DHRME. Namaste!

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