STEREO GUIDE test verdict
+ good bass, good spatiality
+ Excellent battery life
+ good app with EQ
- Voices somewhat narrowed
- little resolved sound
- loose, but not long-term fit
Sound: naturalness / transparency7
Sound: Bass / Dynamics6.8
Practice / Connectivity8.6
Price / Performance9.4
Without noise cancelling, but with compact ear cups, for only 60 euros to buy and an amazing battery life of up to 50 hours – that is the Bluetooth on-ear headphones Sony WH-CH520 sufficiently characterized. Unlike the over-ear model WH-CN720, its cushion rings are also small enough to rest on the ear cups in any case.
And that’s where the problems with the lightweight Sony start: For one thing, you already notice when putting it on that a few tenths of a cent too much have been saved on the artificial leather. It does sit loosely on the ear and never presses. However, the material of the wide cushion rings does feel distinctly like plastic and prevents air exchange. In other words: It quickly gets hot underneath. On the other hand, it also sits too loose. In combination with the not very confidence-inspiring headband, it is quite easy to accidentally pull the whole construction off the ears.
The four quite stylishly selected colors from black to white to beige and blue don’t help either. Unfortunately, the plastic surface looks too cheap and the construction not very stable.
A lot of technology with Bluetooth app
The installed technology actually inspires confidence in the manufacturer. Well, some features of the bigger WH-CH720N were not adopted, such as the passive mode. But besides the powerful battery, we also find the 30 mm driver and a Bluetooth 5.2 receiver with multipoint connection in the package. This allows you to keep your smartphone and laptop connected in parallel. In home office times, this is an advantage that should not be underestimated. Besides the standard codec SBC, even AAC can be found for higher-quality streams. Bluetooth is supposed to be particularly stable in the connection due to a special design of the receivers and antennas – which we can confirm in the practical test.
We were also quite convinced by the operation via push-buttons at the bottom of the casing: You can feel relatively clearly whether you have caught volume or playback control. And the pressure point is also clear. The buttons can also be used to answer calls via the headset and make calls via the integrated microphone.
Equalizer on board
Most additional features are only accessible via the Sony Headphone Connect app. As usual from Sony, everything really worked out during setup and connection. An explicit praise from our side!
The app for the Sony WH-CH520 is also prepared for much more complexly equipped headphones and TWS and accordingly offers a somewhat confusing sorting of settings. However, you will find your way around after a bit of familiarization, and you will be amazed at how well thought-out many functions are. This also applies to the built-in equalizer. It looks like a 5-band graphic EQ, but it only works in the mid-high range. The bands are also not evenly distributed over the octaves, but this makes the targeted sound intervention rather easier and more meaningful.
The bass tone can only be adjusted via the “Clear Bass” slider in the app, there are no separate controls for low and kick bass.
This is how Sony’s lightweight on-ear sounds
From the first beat of the listening test, we were taken with the bass range of the Sony WH-CH520: It reaches deep, remains crisp and promises an authority that one would hardly have expected from such a lightweight and inexpensive headphone. Electronic beats could have used more punch, but despite a somewhat quiet pace and rather distant imaging, the lightweight Sony cut a good figure with Pop.
This rather relaxed tuning let us switch to voices and acoustic music. Not an unqualified good idea. The Sony WH-CH520 did not make any major mistakes. However, the Bluetooth on-ear lacked both resolution in the high-frequency range and a really appealing voice reproduction during the review. Vocals in particular sometimes sounded a bit like older speakers and changed their tonality slightly depending on where the capsules were placed on the ear.
Turning the equalizer in the app did not help. The bands for presence and sibilance could be raised unerringly. But that took away from the Sony’s relaxed pace, and brought a bit of intrusiveness into play.
Conclusion of the review and alternatives to the Sony WH-CH520
As a very affordable and lightweight travel headphone, the Sony WH-CH520 is absolutely fine and also offers a surprising number of features as well as a very convincing battery life. However, the overall concept did not really convince us. For this, the Bluetooth earpiece is simply not really perfect for any area of application. It sits too loosely for traveling and could be more compact and fit better to the ear for a long time. The sound quality is only average for demanding music listeners.
Specifications: Sony WH-CH520
- Manufacturer’s suggested retail price: from 60 euros
- Type: On-Ear
- Transducer principle: Dynamic
- Weight: 147 g
- Special features: Passive mode possible, app control, 50 hours of battery life, hands-free microphone.
- More at: www.sony.com