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Sony WH-CH500 Wireless Headphones Review

Tested using Methodology v1.4
Updated Nov 20, 2018 at 10:57 am
Sony WH-CH500 Wireless Picture
Test Methodology v1.4
6.3
Mixed Usage
6.5
Neutral Sound
6.5
Commute/Travel
7.1
Sports/Fitness
6.0
Office
5.0
Wireless Gaming
4.9
Wired Gaming
6.0
Phone Calls
Type On-ear
Enclosure Closed-Back
Wireless Yes
Noise Cancelling No
Mic Yes
Transducer Dynamic

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.

Our Verdict

6.3 Mixed Usage

Okay for mixed usage. The WH-CH500 don’t have as good sound quality as other on-ear headphones in their price range and they don’t isolate much noise. Their leakage performance is decent so you can mask a bit more noise by raising your volume. They are stable and comfortable most more casual sports, but their very high latency make them unusable for watching video content or gaming.

6.5 Neutral Sound

Decent pair of neutral listening headphones. Their low-bass is extended but bass is overall overemphasized and muddy. They have excellent mid-range, but their treble-range varies a lot and might feel piercing on some S and T sounds, while lacking detail on others.

See our Neutral Sound recommendations
6.5 Commute/Travel

Average for commuting. They don’t isolate much noise so expect a lot of noise to seep into your audio. Their leakage performance is decent, so you’ll be able to raise your listening volume slightly without bothering people around you too much. The on-ear fit might also get fatiguing for some after long periods of wearing the headphones.

See our Commute/Travel recommendations
7.1 Sports/Fitness

Above-average for sports. They are stable enough for more casual sports and running. The cups can also swivel to lay flat, making them easier to slide into a bag. They are breathable since the on-ear fit will help with air-flow.

See our Sports/Fitness recommendations
6.0 Office

Okay for office use. The on-ear fit might not be as comfortable for everybody and might get fatiguing after a while. However, the battery life of the WH-CH500 is great and will last you a couple of days if you use them at work. They also leak a bit but should be fine in an average office if you don’t blast your music.

See our Office recommendations
5.0 Wireless Gaming

Bad for gaming. Like most Bluetooth headphones, they have too much latency to be a viable option for gaming, so what you will see won’t match what you will hear.

See our Wireless Gaming recommendations
4.9 Wired Gaming
6.0 Phone Calls
  • 6.3 Mixed Usage
  • 6.5 Neutral Sound
  • 6.5 Commute/Travel
  • 7.1 Sports/Fitness
  • 6.0 Office
  • 5.0 Wireless Gaming
  • 4.9 Wired Gaming
  • 6.0 Phone Calls
Pros
  • Great wireless range.
  • Lightweight and stable.
  • Decent battery life.
Cons
  • Poor noise cancellation.
  • Build quality feels a little cheap.
  • Very high latency.
  1. Update 2/12/2020: Converted to Test Bench 1.4.
  2. Update 11/21/2019: Converted to Test Bench 1.3.1.
  3. Update 11/6/2019: Converted to Test Bench 1.3.

Check Price

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style

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.

6.5
Design
Comfort
Weight 0.3 lbs
Clamping Force
0.89 lbs

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.

6.5
Design
Controls
OS Compatibility
Not OS specific
Ease Of Use Okay
Feedback Good
Call/Music Control Yes
Volume Control Yes
Microphone Control No
Channel Mixing
No
Noise Cancelling Control No
Talk-Through
No
Additional Controls No

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.

8.0
Design
Breathability
Avg.Temp.Difference 2.2 C

The WH-CH500 are breathable on-ears since the ear cups don’t cover your ears entirely, so not as much heat is trapped inside your ear. You shouldn't sweat more while wearing them.

6.6
Design
Portability
L 7.7 "
W 6 "
H 1.2 "
Volume 55 Cu. Inches
Transmitter Required No

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.

0
Design
Case
Type No case
L N/A
W N/A
H N/A
Volume N/A

They do not come with a case to protect them.

6.0
Design
Build Quality

The build quality of the WH-CH500 is below average. Everything in the build is made out of plastic and feels flimsy. The headband is not flexible enough to be put under physical stress and feels like it would snap. The cups are dense, which is nice, but still made of cheap plastic. If you want a better built and more premium on-ear design that won't set you too far back then consider the Skullcandy Grind or the JBL Everest 310.

7.0
Design
Stability

These Sonys are decently stable and should not slip off your ears if you use them for more casual sports and running. They don’t apply much pressure on the head and since they are wireless, you don’t have to worry about a wire getting caught on something and yanking the headphones off your head.

Design
Headshots 1
Design
Headshots 2
Design
Top
Design
In The Box

  • Sony WH-CH500 headphones
  • Charging cable
  • Manuals

Sound
Sound
Sound Profile
Bass Amount
-2.69 db
Treble Amount
-2.43 db
6.2
Sound
Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
0.85 dB

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.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
6.6
Sound
Bass Accuracy
Std. Err.
4.68 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
34.13 Hz
Low-Bass
-4.53 dB
Mid-Bass
5.35 dB
High-Bass
2.95 dB

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.

9.0
Sound
Mid Accuracy
Std. Err.
1.38 dB
Low-Mid
0.44 dB
Mid-Mid
0.71 dB
High-Mid
1.52 dB

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.

6.5
Sound
Treble Accuracy
Std. Err.
4.62 dB
Low-Treble
-1.97 dB
Mid-Treble
0.19 dB
High-Treble
-7.73 dB

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.

6.0
Sound
Peaks/Dips
Peaks
2.9 db
Dips
1.73 db
8.0
Sound
Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
0.63
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
0.38
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
2.34
Weighted Phase Mismatch
6.93

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.

3.8
Sound
Passive Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
4.13 dB
PRTF Size (Avg.)
1.95 dB
PRTF Distance
1.23 dB
Openness
5.2
Acoustic Space Excitation
3.7

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.

0
Sound
Virtual Soundstage
Head Modeling
No
Speaker Modeling
No
Room Ambience
No
Head Tracking
No
Virtual Surround
No App
6.8
Sound
Weighted Harmonic Distortion
WHD @ 90
0.687
WHD @ 100
0.283
Sound
Test Settings
Firmware
Unknown
Power
On
Connection
Unknown
Codec
SBC, 16-bit, 48kHz
EQ
No EQ
ANC
No ANC
Tip/Pad
Default
Microphone
Integrated
Isolation
4.7
Isolation
Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
Overall Attenuation
-12.12 dB
Bass
0.28 dB
Mid
-7.22 dB
Treble
-29.93 dB

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.

6.7
Isolation
Leakage
Leakage Audio
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
41.13 dB

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.

Microphone
Microphone
Microphone Style
Integrated
Yes
In-Line
No
Boom
No
Detachable Boom
No
6.3
Microphone
Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
LFE
216.68 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
3.1 dB
HFE
2523.3 Hz
Weighted THD
5.902
Gain
39.51 dB

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.

6.3
Microphone
Noise Handling
Speech + Pink Noise
Speech + Subway Noise
SpNR
15.33 dB

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.

Active Features
7.5
Active Features
Battery
Battery Type
Rechargable
Continuous Battery Life
21.7 hrs
Additional Charges
0.0
Total Battery Life
21.7 hrs
Charge Time
4 hrs
Power-Saving Feature
Standby mode
Audio While Charging
No
Passive Playback
No
Charging Port micro-USB

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.

0
Active Features
App Support
App Name No App
iOS No
Android No
macOS No
Windows No
Equalizer
No
ANC Control
No
Mic Control No
Room Effects
No
Playback Control
No
Button Mapping No
Surround Support
No

They do not have a compatible app for customization options.

Connectivity
7.5
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
4.2
Multi-Device Pairing
No
NFC Pairing
Yes
Line Of Sight Range
223 ft
PC Latency (SBC)
328 ms
PC Latency (aptX)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX HD)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX-LL)
N/A
iOS Latency
122 ms
Android Latency
151 ms

These headphones have a Bluetooth connection and have NFC support for quicker and easier pairing. Unfortunately, they do not connect to 2 devices simultaneously.

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.

0
Connectivity
Non-Bluetooth Wireless
Non-BT Line Of Sight Range
N/A
Non-BT Latency
N/A
0
Connectivity
Wired
Analog Audio
No
USB Audio
No
Detachable No
Length N/A
Connection No Wired Option
Analog/USB Audio Latency
N/A

The Sony WH-CH500 do not have any wired connectivity. However, there is a similarly designed wired model which is the Sony MDR-ZX110NC.

Connectivity
PC / PS4 Compatibility
PC/PS4 Analog
No
PC/PS4 Wired USB
No
PC/PS4 Non-BT Wireless
No
Connectivity
Xbox One Compatibility
Xbox One Analog
No
Xbox One Wired USB
No
Xbox One Wireless
No
0
Connectivity
Base/Dock
Type
No Base/Dock
USB Input
No
Line In
No
Line Out
No
Optical Input
No
RCA Input
No
Dock Charging
No
Power Supply
No Base/Dock

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.

Compared to other headphones

Comparison picture

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.

JBL T450BT Wireless
Unavailable
BestBuy.com

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.

Sony WH-CH400 Wireless
SEE PRICE
B&H

The Sony WH-CH400 are slightly better headphones than the Sony WH-CH500 Wireless. While the CH500 model feels better made, there’s a big difference in sound quality that favors the CH400. They also have better wireless range, but they don’t have the same great 20-hour battery life as the CH500. They also offer better value overall since they are cheaper.

JBL E45BT Wireless
Unavailable
BestBuy.com

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, 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.

Skullcandy Grind Wireless
Unavailable
BestBuy.com

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.

Mpow H5 Wireless
Unavailable
BestBuy.com

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 suggests, 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.

JBL Everest 310 Wireless
SEE PRICE
B&H

The JBL Everest 310 are better mixed usage headphones the Sony WH-CH500. They feel better built and have a noticeably longer battery life. Their sound quality is also a bit more neutral and you can share your music with another Bluetooth headset, which is a unique feature. However, the Sonys feel more stable on your head and are more breathable, which can be great for sports. Nevertheless, the JBL should still be the best option between the two since they also isolate more noise. They can be used wired, which you can’t do with the Sonys.

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Sony WH-CH500 Wireless Price

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