The Sony WH-CH520 prove to be on-ear headphones with a good price-performance ratio. Stylish design, balanced sound, a practical runtime and simple operation with complementary app functionality complete a comprehensive package.
The new Sony WH-CH520 start at an attractive price of 59.99 euros. The device we tested comes in matt white but is also available in black, blue and beige.
At first glance, removing the headphones from their plastic-free cardboard packaging shows that Sony has a good design department: The headphones look modern and stylish and, despite weighing less than 150 grams, seem robust enough for everyday use. The gridded, length-adjustable headband and the rotatable and angled earpieces are padded. The plastic design is not foldable but dangles comfortably around your neck.
The WH-CH520 provide Bluetooth 5.2, a USB-C port and a considerable battery life of between 35 and 50 hours, depending on the level and the codec used. However, higher-resolution formats like SBC and AAC audio codecs are not offered. The built-in sound optimisation DSEE (Digital Sound Enhancement Engine) is part of the equipment, and this can be activated via the tried and tested Headphones Connect app for iOS and Android. In the app, you can configure advanced functions such as an equaliser and, of course, perform firmware updates. The app also offers an unspecified optimisation for the manufacturer’s 360 Reality Audio 3D format for use with some streaming services.
The Sony WH-CH520 in practice
The WH-CH520 are recommended as inexpensive headphones for mobile use, for entertaining listening fun as well as for online conferencing. In view of the price, it is understandable that no exchangeable components are used and cable operation is not provided.
In my case, the test device fitted quite comfortably on my head and stayed securely in position thanks to reasonable contact pressure – sufficient for everyday movement but not so much for sporting activities.
These headphones are operated via three buttons on the lower side of the right earcup: The middle multifunction button is used for switching on and off, pairing, triggering start and stop commands during music playback, handling phone calls and calling up voice assistants from a smartphone. The buttons to the left and right are used for volume control and can also trigger track jumps.
Using the app, you can configure the 5-band equaliser with additional clear bass function in the form of pre-sets and storable manual settings and adjust them to suit your own taste. In addition, you can also activate the aforementioned sound enhancement DSEE or activate multipoint functions to switch between two Bluetooth transmitters and call up some status functions.
The battery life is considerable and should last several days in everyday use and is thus also ideal for long journeys.
The wireless link turned out to be stable in operation with an Apple iPhone and lasts over several rooms. Finally, telephone calls are also handled with good voice quality, thanks to dedicated noise suppression from the built-in microphones.
How the Sony WH-CH520 sounds
The Sony WH-CH520 don’t aim to be rated as audiophile headphones. It’s obvious that for this price, you shouldn’t expect neutrality, detail resolution or transparency. To my mind, the WH-CH520 flourish when given a bit of level. To do this, I used the equaliser to provide a slight boost in the bass and treble. The result was a punchy sound that was thoroughly enjoyable.
The bass was powerful but not annoyingly overemphasised. It reached deep down and was sufficiently contoured. As a result, it provided a punchy sound image without booming.
At the other end of the spectrum, the WH-CH520 performed without harshness but fortunately did not sound at all overblown. They presented enough detail and transients to illuminate the stereo stage and make quieter signals heard. The depth of the room, on the other hand, remained underrepresented.
The central midrange was adequately illuminated considering the price: Voices, acoustic and electronic instruments, rock and metal productions and even dynamic jazz and classical music were reasonably reproduced – sometimes it sounded close and intimate, sometimes spatial and yet compact and powerful. Given the affordable price, there is little to criticise here. Thus, with the settings mentioned, the Sony WH-CH520 delivered a thoroughly balanced sound image with attendant listening pleasure. However, the neutral setting lacked a bit of bass and air at the top.
In my opinion, the DSEE function doesn’t really bring a noteworthy increase in sound, but perhaps in combination with a provider of high-quality content such as Tidal, there would be a slight additional sparkle. According to the manufacturer, the circuit plays to its particular strengths when using MP3 compressed formats.
With the WH-CH520, Sony succeed in creating stylish on-ear headphones that deliver balanced, powerful listening pleasure at a really attractive price. The headphones fit comfortably, are straightforward to use, have considerable battery life and can be customised to suit your own taste thanks to the app.
- reasonable price
- long operating time
- powerful app
- Ear couplingOn-ear
- Transducer principledynamic
- Frequency response (headphones)20 - 20.000 Hz
- Weight without cable147 g
What's in the box
- USB cable
- available in black, white, beige, blue
- BT codecs: SBC, AAC
- BT version: 5.2
- BT profiles: A2DP, AVRCP, HFP, HSP
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