By Anand Parthasarathy
April 16, 2023: I had the opportunity to try out a very recent model of a wireless active noise cancelling over-the-ear headphone – Sony’s WH-CH720N -- which the company has recently launched in India.
The electronics of noise cancelling are all-digital these days, the chips that do the work are smaller, lighter and faster – which means they don’t call for a pair of penlight sized batteries, but use a tiny rechargeable Lithium-ion cell. In the CH720N, I could charge the new headset in about 30-40 minutes and the makers assure that it is good to go for 50 hours, 35 hours if you keep the noise cancelling circuit active since they consume power.
It was also remarkable how light the Sony headset was in spite of the onboard circuitry and the V1 chip they use for noise cancelling– just 192 grams. They also use a special Wind Noise Reduction structure around the built-in microphone, useful for outdoor users.
To get the full benefit of noise cancelling one should install and link the headphones to the Sony Headphones Connect app on your smartphone. This takes the control of the ambient noise beyond the simple Ambient/Noise Cancelling on-off control and lets you adjust the ambient sound to any one of 20 levels. This can be very useful, if you are waiting for a train or plane—you don’t want to miss any loudspeaker announcements. But if, like me, noise cancelling equals welcome silence, you can go all the way.
The CH720N works very well when Bluetooth-synced with your phone – and the phone conversations are crystal clear. So is the sound when I connected the headphones to my television set via Bluetooth and watched a movie which had 4K and surround sound tracks. The audio experience was far superior to the TV’s built-in speakers.
The Sony WH-CH720N has an MRP of Rs 14,990 and is said to be the lightest from Sony’s over the ear wireless noise cancelling headphone range. However online sites like Amazon and Flipkart offer it for as low as Rs 9,990—which is very sound value (pun intended!) for the dynamically adjustable noise cancelling feature alone.
Sony also has more advanced noise cancelling head-ware with multiple microphones, priced at Rs 25,000 – Rs 30,000.
When Simon and Garfunkel celebrated the ‘Sound of Silence’ on the soundtrack of that seminal 1967 film, ‘The Graduate’, it was a metaphor for the mental cocoon in which the mixed-up hero, played by Dustin Hoffman lived. Today, that phrase is high praise for technology that cuts out the noisy world around us -- and incidentally, delivers great music.
For a personal note on noise cancelling headsets, see our Image of the Day spot.
Both articles appeared as a feature on the SwarajyaMag site yesterday