Sony has a wide range of headphones to choose from. Their Bluetooth selection is one of their main staples, with the WH-1000XM5 being their main showcase for their wireless line. The CH720N is one of their most recent releases not part of their main line of wireless headphones, but they’re more economical than the $398 XM5. Is the CH720N a better budget option, or should you just save up for the XM5?
What You Get
Look & Feel
Both headphones don’t have the best builds, but the case of the CH720N, it fits the price range. The XM5 has the most comfortable fit and the more stylish design, but there are a lot of similarities between the two in terms of materials.
Design & Functionaliy
If you’re looking for all the great features that Sony brings to their wireless products, then you’ll find them in both headphones. Everything from Sony’s industry-leading ANC, their 360 Reality Audio, DSEE, and more are all accessible with both the CH720N and XM5. However, the XM5 is the only headphone of the two that lets you use touch gestures.
Both headphones use the same version of Bluetooth, which is 5.2. Their connections are quick and it should be perfectly stable no matter if you have the CH720N or the XM5. The only aspect of the XM5 that puts it above the CH720N is the use of an LDAC CODEC, which is better for Android users.
It’s surprising to see that the less expensive CH720N comes with better battery life than the flagship XM5. You’ll get 35 hours from the CH720N, while the XM5 only gives you 30 hours.
When talking about Bluetooth Sony headphones and soundstage, you always need to take 360 Reality Audio into account. Otherwise, their wireless options don’t exactly have the most extensive width or the most impressive imaging. The XM5 is more or less what you’re used to getting out of Sony’s soundstage, but the CH720N surprisingly offers a lot more. At least without spatial audio, the CH720N shows a bit more dimension and spaciousness in its stereo field compared to the XM5.
Both headphones still aren’t the widest, and they share a similar level of congestion in the middle of the stage. However, the CH720N is able to provide a bit more layers of separation, and the sound elements actually seem a bit taller. It’s the best at making your tracks appear in a bubble, even without spatial audio. With 360 Audio turned on, the XM5 does a better job showcasing spatial elements. While the CH720N comes off more naturally, the XM5 is what you’re going to want to make the best out of this feature.
No matter what Sony wireless headphones you’re using, the bass will more than likely hog the spotlight. Both headphones are heavily bass-centric, doing exceptionally well with heart-pounding electronic music, and Hip-Hop. They both have a sufficient kick and punch to them, with the CH720N giving you more shape, and the XM5 giving you more booming tone. The XM5 with EQ and Clear Bass can get massive, considerably more than the CH720N, but if you’re looking for something smoother, then the CH720N will have lows that feel like they’re in the right place.
Neither the XM5 nor the CH720N is going to have the most elegant midrange, but the CH720N does seem to give you the most balance. A lot of the lower mids on both headphones feel muddy and a bit bloated, but the CH720N does a better job of compensating for this timbre and gives you more clarity than the XM5. Instruments come through with less of a veil over them and it gives you a tighter grasp on certain details. The XM5 is more recessed in comparison, but some efforts from EQ can yield somewhat satisfying results.
If you’re worried about bright frequencies then neither one of these headphones shouldn’t bother you. They both have moderate treble detail, with the XM5 showing the fullest response of the two. With the CH720N, the high-end is a bit more rolled-off than the XM5, and even with EQ, the XM5 sounds the most natural here. Neither pair of headphones will offer the most clear or detailed treble performance, but they don’t feel hollow either.
If you’re looking for the best noise-canceling and exciting bass, then you can’t go wrong with either model. The XM5 and CH720N have tons of similarities, and when you see what price these headphones go for, it’s easy to make up your mind on which one to go for. You’re only really sacrificing the stylish build, and touch-sensitive controls, otherwise, the sound offers enough on the CH720N to prefer it. However, if you must have every possible feature that Sony offers, then the XM5 is worth spending the extra cash for.