The Sony WH-CH500 are on-ear headphones that have a lightweight but cheap design that are okay for mixed usage. They have a good 20-hour battery life and amazing wireless range. Unfortunately, their sound signature is not as good as other on-ears we've reviewed so far and they don't have a great isolation performance. On the upside, they are stable enough for running.
The Sony CH500 are lightweight but cheap looking headphones. Unfortunately, their build is all-plastic, and they don’t feel very solid. The headband has no padding which makes them a bit uncomfortable, but the padding on the ear cups is fairly comfortable. On the upside, the cups swivel into a more portable format and the control scheme offers more options than on the MDR-ZX110NC.
These on-ears are pretty simple and feel a bit plasticky. Their build resembles the Sony MDR-ZX110NC. Everything is made of plastic and the headphones come in an all-black, grey or blue design.
The WH-CH500 are lightweight headphones, with decent padding on the ear cups, but none on the headband. They don’t put too much pressure on the head, but they do feel a bit stiff after long listening sessions. The smaller cups of the on-ear design might not be as comfortable for everyone.
The control scheme is simple and relatively easy to use. You have common functionalities like a volume rocker, a play/pause button that also takes and ends calls and your power button. However, the volume buttons are a bit hard to differentiate without any distinction or separation between them, other than a small notch on the volume up. The feedback is good and clicky.
These on-ears are fairly portable headphones. They are obviously bulkier than in-ears, but they can still swivel into a more portable design that will be easy to store in a bag or they can rest easily around your neck too if you like to keep them on you.
The Sony WH-CH500 is an average sounding pair of closed-back on-ear headphones. They have a decently powerful and punchy bass, and excellent and nearly flawless mid-range, and a decent treble. However, their bass is a bit muddy, lacks thump and rumble, and is inconsistent across different people. Also, their treble lacks a bit of detail and could sound sharp on S and Ts for certain people. Overall, they are a decent choice for a wide variety of genres especially vocal-centric music, but won't be ideal for the fans of a deep and rumbling bass.
The bass is decent. LFE (low-frequency extension) is at 32Hz, which is decent. Also, low-bass is lacking by more than 3dB. This means that these headphones aren't able to produce a lot of low rumbles and thumps, which is common to bass-heavy music and sound effects. However, mid-bass and high-bass are hyped by 5dB and 2dB respectively. This does compensate for the lack of low-bass a little bit, but it will be at the expense of making the bass a bit boomy and muddy. Also, their bass delivery varies significantly across users, and is sensitive to the quality of fit, seal, and whether you wear glasses. The response here represents the average bass response and your experience may vary.
The mid-range of the WH-CH500 is excellent. The overall response throughout the range is even and flat, which is important for the clear and well-balanced reproduction of vocals and lead instruments.
The treble performance is decent. The response throughout the range is relatively even, which is good, but not quite balanced. The 10dB dip around 5KHz negatively affects the detail and brightness of sound, especially on vocals and lead instruments. Also, the peak around 10KHz could make these headphones a bit sibilant (sharp on S and Ts) which will be mostly noticeable on vocals and cymbals.
The Sony WH-CH500 have a mediocre frequency response consistency. The maximum deviation in the bass range across our five human subjects is more than 9dB at 20Hz, and about 6dB throughout the bass range. This means depending on the shape and size of your head, and whether you wear glasses or not, you may experience a reduced bass. In the treble range, however, the delivery is quite consistent below 10KHz.
The imaging is great. The weighted group delay is at 0.63, which is decent. The GD graph also shows that the group delay response in the mid and treble range is below the audibility threshold, suggesting a transparent mid and treble range. The relatively high group delay around 60Hz won't be very noticeable to most people, due to the inability of these headphones to produce low-bass frequencies, which is not good. Additionally, the L/R drivers of our test unit were well-matched in amplitude, frequency, and phase response, which is important for the accurate placement and localization of objects (voices, instruments, video games effects) in the stereo image.
The soundstage is poor. Due to the on-ear design, these headphones don't interact with the pinna much, and therefore don't activate its resonances in a way a loudspeaker would do. This can be seen in the PRTF graph, where there's little pinna activation below 5KHz, and the interaction above that has little accuracy. There's not a notch present around the 10KHz area either. This suggests a soundstage that is perceived as small and located inside the listener's head.
The harmonic distortion performance is average-at-best. The amount of THD produce in the mid-range is within good limits, and actually the 100dB SPL pass shows less distortion than the 90dB SPL pass. This could be due to the high self-noise of the headphones in that region which is being masked at higher volumes, or due to the increased flexibility of the driver under heavier loads. The high distortion levels below 40Hz is due to the inability of these headphones to produce low-bass. Also, the spike in THD around 4KHz can make the sound of that region a bit harsh and impure.
The Sony WH-CH500 do not have an ANC feature like the wired MDR-ZX110NC. However, the ANC on the wired model is subpar and will not be a better choice if that's your only criterea. A lot of noise will seep into your audio but they don't leak too much. They should be fine for office work if you don't listen to your music at very high volumes, but won't be a great choice for a busy daily commute.
The isolation performance of the WH-CH500 is sub-par. These closed-back on-ear headphones don't have ANC (active noise cancelling) and therefore don't isolate in the bass range. This means they will let in all the low rumbling noises of airplane and bus engines. In the mid-range, important for blocking out speech, they reduce outside noise by about 7dB, which is mediocre. In the treble range, occupied by sharp S and T sounds and computer fan noise, they isolate almost 30dB, which is good.
The leakage performance is about average. The significant portion of the leakage of these headphones is concentrated in the mid and treble ranges between 700hz and 7KHz, which is a relatively broad range. However, the overall level of the leakage is rather quiet. With the music at 100dB SPL, the leakage at 1 foot away averages at 41dB SPL and peaks at 54dB SPL, which is just above the noise floor of an average office.
The Sony WH-CH500 have a mediocre microphone. In quiet environments, speech recorded or transmitted with this mic will sound relatively thin, noticeably muffled, and lacking in detail. It may also be prone to pops and rumbling noises. In noisy situations, it will struggle to separate speech from ambient noise, even in moderately loud environments such as a busy street.
The WH-CH500's microphone has a mediocre recording quality, slightly better than the JBL T450BT. The bump around below 50Hz makes these headphones prone to pops and rumbling noises. The 10dB dip around 130Hz means speech recorded/transmitted with this mic may sound a little bit thin. The HFE (high-frequency extension) of 2.5KHz results a speech that is muffled and lacks detail.
The noise handling of the microphone is mediocre. In our SpNR test, it achieved a speech-to-noise ratio of 15dB, meaning it is best suited for quiet environments since it will struggle to fully separate speech from ambient noise even in moderately loud situations.
The Sony WH-CH500 have a good battery life but are not compatible with an app for customization options. At moderate volumes, you can expect about 21 hours of continuous playback, with up to 200 hours if the headphones enter their standby mode to save battery life.
The WH-CH500 battery life is around 21 hours of playback at moderate volumes, which is good for headphones in that price range. That number may vary depending on your listening volume. They should last you a couple of days before having to recharge them fully, which should take around 4 hours. They also have a standby mode to save battery life for up to 200 hours according to Sony specs’ sheet.
They do not have a compatible app for customization options.
The Sony WH-CH500 are Bluetooth-only headphones that have excellent wireless range. They do not have any wired connection, but there is a similarly designed wired model which is the Sony MDR-ZX110NC. The wireless WH-CH500 has NFC support which is great for a quick and easy pairing procedure. Unfortunately, they can’t connect to 2 devices which would have been useful to switch between a computer and a phone.
These headphones have a Bluetooth connection and have NFC support for quicker and easier pairing. Unfortunately, they do not connect to 2 devices simultaneously.
The Sony WH-CH500 do not have any wired connectivity. However, there is a similarly designed wired model which is the Sony MDR-ZX110NC.
There is no charging dock or base for these headphones. For good headphones with a dock, check out the SteelSeries Arctis 7, but they won't be as portable.
The wireless range of the Sony WH-CH500 is excellent, one of the best we’ve measured so far. You should have no problem walking around a small apartment or in your office without your audio source thanks to the 59ft of obstructed range. You should have no issues with range, especially if you keep your audio source near you, like a phone while working out.
Like most Bluetooth headphones, the Sony WH-CH500 have too much latency to be used for watching video content or for gaming, and they do not support lower latency codecs. Also, 328ms is higher than average on Bluetooth headphones we've reviewed.
The Sony WH-CH500 are cheaply-made headphones that don't feel very durable but can be used decently in a variety of cases. Their wireless range is amazing, one of the best we've ever measured and it has a good 20-hour battery life that is usually higher than other on-ears in the same price range. Unfortunately, when compared to headphones below, they seem to perform worse in sound quality and have a very high amount of latency. They also don't have a wired connection that other models provide, which can be useful since you can use the headphones passively even if the battery is dead. See our recommendations for the best on-ear headphones, the best headphones under $100 and the best wireless headphones.
The JBL T450BT are better on-ear headphones than the Sony WH-CH500. They have a similar cheap feeling but they sound better and leak less, so you can raise the volume in loud commutes. They have more than half the latency of the Sonys and are more stable for sports, making them a bit more versatile. However, the Sony WH-CH500 have a slightly better microphone and a longer battery life. They also support NFC for quicker and easier pairing, and they have an amazing wireless range.
The JBL E45BT are better headphones than the Sony WH-CH500 in every way. They have better sound quality, build quality, sound quality, battery life, they can be used wired, even if the battery is dead, and they support full multi-device pairing. On the other hand, the Sonys have slightly better feedback on their control scheme and have NFC support for easier pairing, with better wireless range. The Sonys are usually cheaper than the JBL.
Overall, the Skullcandy Grind are better headphones than the Sony WH-CH500. Their sound quality is better, and their on-ear design is more comfortable. They can also be used wired, even if the battery is dead, and they don’t feel as cheap as the Sonys. On the other hand, the WH-CH500 have a slightly better battery life with power saving features, which the Grind lacks, and have better wireless range.
The Mpow H5 are better headphones than the Sony WH-CH500. They have a more stable fit thanks to the over-ear design and they also block more ambient noise with their ANC feature, making them a better choice for commuting and office work. Their build quality is decent and a bit more high-end than their price suggest and they can also be used wired. They also have better sound quality. On the other hand, the Sonys have better battery life, wireless range, and a better microphone for calls.