A few months ago I reviewed Sony’s entry-level CH-720N noise-canceling headphones. They’re quite good, but if you can’t afford them — they list for $150 — the company’s new budget on-ear CH-520 headphones are an intriguing option, as they’re on sale again for $38. That’s 37% less than their list price of $60 and matches the CH-520’s lowest price to date.
As I’ve said before, I initially had low expectations for the CH-520s. They look and feel a bit cheap, lack noise canceling and are pretty no-frills. However, it turns out they offer good sound for their price, are lightweight and pretty comfortable for on-ear headphones, and also have excellent battery life (they’re rated for up to 50 hours at moderate volume levels). Additionally, they’re equipped with multipoint Bluetooth pairing, so you can pair them with two devices simultaneously (such as a smartphone and computer) and easily switch audio between those devices. Voice-calling performance is decent, though not up to the level of what you get with the CH-720N.
Note that there’s no wired option — these are wireless Bluetooth-only headphones. The CH-520s offer overall balanced sound with decent clarity. The bass has some punch to it but doesn’t pack a wallop, and you aren’t going to get quite as wide a soundstage as you get from Sony’s more expensive over-ear headphones. But these definitely sound better than Sony’s previous entry-level on-ear headphones, and they sound better than I thought they would.
I tried the white color but they also come in blue and black (alas, no protective carrying pouch is included). It’s also worth noting that they link with Sony’s Headphones Connect app for iOS and Android, which allows for upgrading the firmware and accessing an equalizer to tweak the sound, as well as activate multipoint Bluetooth pairing.
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