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Sony WH-CH520 Wireless Headphones Review

Tested using Methodology v1.5
Review updated Apr 09, 2024 at 12:49 pm
Sony WH-CH520 Wireless Picture
Neutral Sound
Wireless Gaming
Wired Gaming
Phone Calls

The Sony WH-CH520 Wireless are the successor to the on-ear casual use Sony WH-CH510 Wireless. Updates include a more modern design with monochromatic colors and additional padding along the headband. This model represents more than just a cosmetic change, with upgrades like multi-device pairing and an extended battery life. They include added compatibility with the Sony | Headphones Connect companion app allows for sound customization via graphic EQ and virtual surround sound.

Our Verdict

7.4 Neutral Sound

The Sony WH-CH520 are decent for neutral sound. The bass and mid-range are very well balanced, making genres like EDM and rock sound punchy, full-bodied, and somewhat warm. By default, their treble range makes harmonic details in vocals and cymbals sound dark and dull. Fortunately, you can change the sound profile with the companion app's graphic EQ and presets. However, there's distortion in the low bass and low to mid-treble that makes your audio sound less clean at moderate and high volumes.

  • Graphic EQ and presets in-app.
  • Bad passive noise isolation.
6.3 Commute/Travel

The Sony WH-CH520 are mediocre for commuting and travel. They're decently comfortable but can't passively isolate you from much background noise due to their on-ear design and lack of active noise cancellation (ANC). Fortunately, their long battery life means you won't need to worry about them dying during a long flight. While they aren't large headphones, they don't fold down smaller or come with a case to make them more portable.

  • Long battery life.
  • Comfortable and well-built.
  • Bad passive noise isolation.
  • On-ear design impacts stability during moderate movement.
7.0 Sports/Fitness

The Sony WH-CH520 is decent for sports and fitness. They're comfortable enough for a long run or hike, but their on-ear design limits their stability. As such, they're okay for upright movements like squats, but they'll likely fall off if you do box jumps or move around during a more intense workout. Due to their smaller ear cups, they'll also require some adjustment to ensure a comfortable fit.

  • Comfortable and well-built.
  • On-ear design impacts stability during moderate movement.
6.6 Office

The Sony WH-CH520 are reasonable for office use. They're comfortable enough to last a long shift unless you wear glasses, in which case the on-ear fit pushes your ears into the arms over time. Their long battery life means you'll likely only need to charge them once a week. They also support multi-device pairing, meaning you can easily switch between your laptop and phone. However, they don't have ANC and struggle to block out sound, though they do a good job of isolating you from higher-frequency noise like a whiny AC unit. If your work requires occasional video conference calls, their mic performs well enough in most offices and home offices.

  • Long battery life.
  • Bad passive noise isolation.
5.7 Wireless Gaming

The Sony CH520 aren't designed for wireless gaming. They can only connect to devices via Bluetooth, and their latency is too high for gaming.

5.5 Wired Gaming

The Sony WH-CH520 are wireless-only headphones; you can't use them for wired gaming.

6.7 Phone Calls

The Sony WH-CH520 Wireless headphones are alright for calls. Their integrated mic makes your voice sound clear but slightly thin and unnatural. The mic also does a good job separating your voice from moderate background noise, but your voice can get drowned out in louder environments, like a busy subway station. Their lack of ANC and bad passive noise isolation also means you won't hear your call well, especially in moderately loud environments.

  • Comfortable and well-built.
  • Bad passive noise isolation.
  • 7.4 Neutral Sound
  • 6.3 Commute/Travel
  • 7.0 Sports/Fitness
  • 6.6 Office
  • 5.7 Wireless Gaming
  • 5.5 Wired Gaming
  • 6.7 Phone Calls
  1. Updated Apr 09, 2024: This review has been updated to maintain its accuracy.
  2. Updated Apr 11, 2023: Review published.
  3. Updated Mar 20, 2023: Early access published.
  4. Updated Mar 13, 2023: Our testers have started testing this product.
  5. Updated Mar 09, 2023: The product has arrived in our lab, and our testers will start evaluating it soon.
  6. Updated Feb 28, 2023: We've purchased the product and are waiting for it to arrive in our lab.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The Sony WH-CH520 come in four color variants: 'Black,' 'White,' 'Beige,' and 'Blue.' We tested the 'Black' variant; you can see our model's label here. If you encounter another variant of these buds, please let us know in the forums, and we'll update our review.

Compared To Other Headphones

The Sony WH-CH520 are the next generation of the casual use on-ear Sony WH-CH510 Wireless. What makes them a significant upgrade from their predecessor is their customizability via the Sony| Headphones Connect app. It lets you adjust the sound profile and access Sony's 360 Reality Audio virtual soundstage software. Their sound is better balanced out of the box than the Beats Solo3 2019 Wireless, and they have a longer battery life, although they connect wirelessly only. They lack active noise cancelling (ANC) and fit on-ear, rather than over-ear like the higher tier Sony WH-CH720N Wireless, but they otherwise boast similar functionality and app support. Overall, these on-ear headphones pack in many premium features, making them worth checking out.

For more headphones, check out our recommendations for the best Sony headphones, the best on-ear headphones, and the best wireless Bluetooth headphones.

JBL Tune 510BT Wireless

The Sony WH-CH520 Wireless are more customizable and versatile on-ear headphones than the JBL Tune 510BT Wireless. The Sony's companion app lets you customize the sound to your liking or make changes to the controls. The JBL, on the other hand, have no app compatibility and can't be customized at all. Their mic also makes your voice sound much quieter than the Sony headphones' mic, meaning you'll have to speak louder when answering calls. The Sony's battery also lasts a lot longer than the JBL headphones' and will get you through a whole workweek without needing a recharge.

Sony WH-CH720N Wireless

The Sony WH-CH720N Wireless and Sony WH-CH520 Wireless use the same companion app with access to the brand's virtual surround sound and EQ. Their construction is alike, but the over-ears fit of the WH-CH720N Wireless is a bit more comfortable. These have ANC to make noisy environments more tolerable. In addition, they have optional wired connectivity alongside their Bluetooth connectivity. Their sound is much more hyped by default, with more rumble, muddiness, and brightness. Lacking the battery hog of ANC, the WH-CH520 Wireless' battery lasts longer, and they connect via Bluetooth only. They fit on-ears and are smaller overall. They have a warmer and more neutral sound profile out of the box. It depends on how much you want to cut out your environment because the WH-CH520 Wireless have poor isolation compared to the WH-CH720N Wireless.

Beats Solo3 2019 Wireless

The Sony WH-CH520 Wireless are better wireless on-ears than the Beats Solo3 2019 Wireless. The Beats are better built than the Sony, but they lack some key features that the Sony headphones provide. For instance, their companion app doesn't have a graphic EQ, meaning you can't change the sound if you're not a fan of the Beats' bass-heavy sound profile. The Beats also don't support multi-device pairing and have a shorter continuous battery life than the Sony, making them less ideal for use at the office. You'll want to consider the Beats if you're already in Apple's product ecosystem. Thanks to their H1 chip, they can pair seamlessly with Apple devices.

JBL Tune 660NC Wireless

The JBL Tune 660NC Wireless and Sony WH-CH520 Wireless are on-ear Bluetooth headphones. Of the two, only the JBL have active noise cancelling (ANC), which isn't impressive, but it reduces ambient chatter and traffic noise more effectively than the Sony. They also fold down smaller with more comprehensive controls. Their sound is much more bass-heavy without an app to adjust the EQ. The battery life of the Sony headphones lasts longer. Their sound profile is more balanced with an app for EQ and virtual surround sound. Unfortunately, their passive-only noise isolation only suppresses high-pitched sounds like shrill brakes. However, their headband is better padded and more comfortable to wear.

Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless

The Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless are better for most people than the Sony WH-CH520 Wireless, unless you care about virtual surround sound. The Anker headphones supply active noise cancelling (ANC) to effectively reduce environmental noise. They have a companion app with an equalizer to adjust their sound profile, although it's otherwise fairly simple. The on-ear-fitting Sony headphones have a better mic and longer battery life. They also have virtual surround sound. They're wireless-only and lack ANC, so you'll hear your environment much more.

Sony WH-CH510 Wireless

The Sony WH-CH520 Wireless are better headphones than the Sony WH-CH510 Wireless. The WH-CH520 can connect to the Sony| Headphones Connect app, which features a graphic EQ with presets, playback control customization, and much more. The WH-CH510, in contrast, have none of these features, so you're stuck with their default controls scheme and sound profile, which is well-balanced but slightly bass-heavy. The WH-CH520 also have a longer continuous battery life and support multi-device pairing, so they'll last a whole workweek on one charge, and you can switch between your laptop and phone effortlessly.

Skullcandy Riff Wireless 2

The Sony WH-CH520 Wireless are slightly better headphones than the Skullcandy Riff Wireless 2. Both headphones have a graphic EQ and presets for sound customization and support multi-device pairing. However, the Sony headphones' clamping force is slightly lower than the Skullcandy, and their ear cups are better padded, making them more comfortable for long commutes and days at the office. Their battery also lasts longer and can isolate you from more mid-range ambient noise, like background conversations or leaking audio from a co-worker's headphones.

Anker Soundcore Life Q20 Wireless

If you're a basshead, the Anker Soundcore Life Q20 Wireless are better than the Sony WH-CH520 Wireless. They have a very bassy tuning whether you activate the 'BassUp' function or not. The headphones are more comfortable, and their active noise cancelling (ANC) makes them more commute-friendly, alongside their folding design. They can connect via analog or Bluetooth. The Sony cans offer the flexibility of their companion app's EQ settings, virtual surround sound, and multi-pairing. They work wirelessly only, and their battery lasts nearly twice as long. They fit on-ears instead of over-ears and do a poor job of blocking environmental noise. The Anker headphones are the better pick if you prioritize noise cancelling above EQ, multi-pairing, and battery life.

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Test Results

perceptual testing image
Type On-ear
Enclosure Closed-Back
Wireless Yes
Transducer Dynamic

The Sony WH-CH520 on-ear headphones have a sleek and understated design. The yokes rest flush with the ear cups, and there's a subtle manufacturer's logo on the side of the headband. The matte plastic and subdued color options match most workplaces or outfits. They're available in four monochromatic colorways: 'Black,' 'White,' 'Beige,' and 'Blue.'

Weight 0.32 lbs
Clamping Force
0.6 lbs

The Sony WH-CH520 are decently comfortable. They don't exert much clamping force and feel light on the head. The headband and ear cups are well-padded, which is a notable upgrade over the previous Sony WH-CH510 Wireless' unpadded headband. Their light weight is evenly distributed across the headband. However, due to their on-ear design and relatively small ear cups, you'll need to adjust them to get the right fit on your ears. People who wear glasses will find them less comfortable because the force exerted presses your ears against the arms of the glasses.

OS Compatibility
Not OS specific
Ease Of Use Good
Feedback Good
Call/Music Control Yes
Volume Control Yes
Microphone Control No
Channel Mixing
Noise Cancelling Control No
Additional Controls Voice Assistant

The Sony WH-CH520 have adequate controls. They're intuitive, labeled, and easy to use. They have good tactile feedback with voice prompts to let you know when you've reached max/min volume, as well as the battery level when you turn them on. However, it can be hard to differentiate between buttons despite having raised or indented indicators. You also can't alter their controls in the app. The controls are as follows:

(+) Button:

  • Single press: Raises the volume.
  • Press and hold: Plays the next track.

(-) Button:

  • Single press: Lowers the volume.
  • Press and hold: Plays the previous track.

Middle button:

  • Single press: Plays and pauses audio. Also answers and ends calls.
  • Double press: Activates the voice assistant.
  • Press and hold: Turns the headphones on and off.
  • Press and hold for five seconds: Makes the headphones enter Bluetooth pairing mode from power off.

L 7.1" (18.0 cm)
W 6.7" (17.0 cm)
H 1.6" (4.0 cm)
Volume 70.23 inยณ (1,150.80 cmยณ)
Transmitter Required No

These headphones have passable portability. The ear cups can rotate to lay flat, but you can't fold them up, so they'll take up space in your bag. You can let them rest around your neck with the ear cups out of the way. Unfortunately, they also don't have a case to protect them during storage.

Type No case
Volume N/A
Build Quality

These headphones are reasonably well-built. Their frame is almost entirely made of plastic, which is not very dense but seems acceptable. The earpads and headband have a decent amount of faux leather covering foam. The yokes sit flush with the ear cups, which makes them less susceptible to getting yanked or damaged. Like most on-ears, they don't have an IP rating against water or dust. While they don't feel as cheap as their predecessor, the Sony WH-CH510 Wireless, they still don't feel as solid or durable as other on-ears, like the Jabra Evolve2 65 Wireless.


The Sony WH-CH520 have okay stability. They'll stay put while sitting at a desk or walking around. However, they can move around with moderate movements, like a light run, and fall off during an intense or dynamic workout.

Headshots 1
Headshots 2
In The Box

  • Sony WH-CH520 headphones
  • USB-A to USB-C cable
  • Manual and warranty

Sound Profile
Bass Amount
-0.53 dB
Treble Amount
-2.53 dB

The Sony WH-CH520 have a slightly warm and fairly neutral sound profile by default. The majority of the bass and mid ranges are very flat and well-balanced, save for the low-bass roll-off, which only impacts sub-bass rumbles. As a result, lead instruments like keys and guitars come through, sounding full-bodied and lush. However, the treble range is less well-balanced due to a dip in the low-treble into mid-treble. This de-emphasis makes harmonics in vocals, cymbals, and sibilants (S and T) sound dark. If you want a different sound, their companion app has a graphic EQ and presets for full control over your listening experience.

Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
0.57 dB

These headphones have decent frequency response consistency. Because they're on-ear headphones, you'll need to adjust their fit each time you put them on for consistent audio delivery. Most headphones suffer inconsistencies in the bass region, but these sound rather predictable in the low-end, with slight variation to the low treble between wears and wearers. However, the uppermost treble frequencies are particularly impacted by different ear shapes and how the on-ear fit sits on different people.

Raw Frequency Response
Bass Accuracy
Std. Err.
1.52 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
31.29 Hz
-2.02 dB
1.37 dB
1.01 dB

The Sony WH-CH520 have excellent bass accuracy. The range is well-balanced without significant exaggerations, so genres like rock and folk sound full and punchy. For instance, the bass guitar in songs like Venasque by Ian Pooley sounds rich and full without overpowering synths and vocals. While they roll off the lower bass registers, there's not a lot of musical content that low besides very deep rumbles in EDM.

Mid Accuracy
Std. Err.
1.2 dB
0.1 dB
0.3 dB
-0.48 dB

These headphones have remarkable mid accuracy. The range is very well-balanced, ensuring that instruments and vocals are clear and present. In songs like Sauna by Vulfpeck, the singers are right in front of the mix, and the twinkly pianos sound true to life.

Treble Accuracy
Std. Err.
5.16 dB
-1.69 dB
-3.57 dB
-6.97 dB

These headphones have reasonable treble accuracy. The low treble is fairly accurate, so vocals sound present and somewhat detailed. However, the rolled-off mid-treble causes sibilants (S and T sounds), like cymbals and harmonics in vocals, to sound dark and veiled. The peak in the upper mid-treble region adds some airiness to the top end.

1.38 dB
1.53 dB

The Sony WH-CH520 have good peaks and dips performance. Due to a mismatch in our unit's L/R drivers, each side performs somewhat differently. A small bump in the mid-bass makes kick drums and bass parts sound punchy. It's most prominent in the right driver and extends into the high-bass, which makes them slightly boomy. A wide peak in from the mid-mid to low-treble makes instruments and vocals sound forward and slightly honky in the mix, especially in the left driver. Due to both a deep dip and peak in the mid-treble range, sibilants, like S and T sounds in dialogue, sound alternatingly dull and piercing. It's noticeable in both drivers.

Weighted Group Delay
Weighted Phase Mismatch
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
Weighted Frequency Mismatch

These headphones have great imaging performance. Sony is known for good quality control and ergonomics. Their weighted group delay falls beneath the audibility threshold, resulting in tight bass and transparent treble. Our unit's L/R drivers have a slight phase response mismatch in the mid-range, with warping coming from the right driver, though it's not noticeable when listening to regular audio content. However, keep in mind that imaging varies between units.

Passive Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
5.11 dB
PRTF Size (Avg.)
1.46 dB
PRTF Distance
-0.01 dB
Acoustic Space Excitation

These headphones have a poor passive soundstage. This is normal for closed-back, on-ear headphones. While they can create a more open-sounding experience than most in-ears, the experience isn't immersive. As a result, the soundstage seems unnatural and centered, as if the sound is in your head rather than from around the room.

Virtual Soundstage
Head Modeling
Speaker Modeling
Room Ambience
Head Tracking
Virtual Surround
360 Reality Audio

The Sony | Headphones Connect app's 360 Reality Audio can analyze your ear shape and lets you integrate a virtual soundstage via compatible apps, like Tidal and Sony's own 360 Reality Audio Live. The technology uses object-based virtual surround audio to give you a more immersive listening experience, but they don't support head tracking. Note, also, that most of these other programs require a subscription to use them and have limited but growing libraries.

Weighted Harmonic Distortion
WHD @ 90
WHD @ 100

The Sony WH-CH520 have mediocre weighted harmonic distortion performance. Distortion is present in the low-bass and the low to mid-treble ranges at moderate and high volumes. It's noticeable with real-life content like EDM and hip-hop, which have artifacts in their thump and rumble that make audio sound less clear. Additionally, in the higher registers, voices and instruments are affected by distortion, but it's less noticeable because the distortion occurs when the frequency response rolls off treble significantly. Please let us know in the forums if your unit is also experiencing distortion.

Test Settings
Bluetooth 5.0
PCM, 16-bit, 44.1kHz

These are the settings used to test these headphones. Our results are only valid when used in this configuration.

Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
Overall Attenuation
-9.24 dB
Noise Cancelling No
0.01 dB
-4.69 dB
-23.27 dB

The Sony WH-CH520 have poor noise isolation performance. They don't have active noise cancellation (ANC) like their over-ear sibling, the Sony WH-CH720N Wireless. Their on-ear design doesn't create a seal around your ears that blocks incoming noise. As such, bass-range noise, like the rumble of a bus engine, isn't cut out at all. They barely isolate you from noise like ambient chatter, so you'll hear your fellow passengers in an airplane cabin. However, they do a better job of reducing treble-range noise, like the piercing sound of a subway train braking.

Leakage Audio
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
38.66 dB

The Sony WH-CH520 have decent leakage performance. Leakage is moderately present across a lot of the range. Audio that escapes sounds thin and bright, equally mid-rangey and trebly at high volumes with a bit of bass content. While patrons in a loud cafรฉ won't hear your audio, coworkers in a quieter office may be bothered by leaking sound.

Microphone Style
Detachable Boom
Mic Yes
Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
261.43 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
2.43 dB
6,358.31 Hz
Weighted THD
6 dB

These headphones have good recording quality. Their integrated mic makes your voice sound clear and understandable but slightly thin and unnatural. It can make sibilant sounds (S and T) a bit exaggerated and yet slightly lispy on frictives (TH sounds).

Noise Handling
16.46 dB
Noise Gate
Always On
Speech + Pink Noise Handling
Speech + Pink Noise Audio Sample
Speech + Subway Noise Handling
Speech + Subway Noise Audio Sample

These headphones have reasonable noise handling performance. You'll be clearly heard if calling from a moderately noisy environment, like a busy street. Depending on the background noise, a hiss might still be present, but the mic prioritizes your speech. However, the mic struggles to prioritize your voice with the introduction of sudden and loud background noises. While your speech is still audible, it may get drowned out.

Active Features
Active Features
Battery Type
Continuous Battery Life
52.8 hrs
Additional Charges
Total Battery Life
52.8 hrs
Charge Time
1.9 hrs
Power-Saving Feature
Standby mode
Audio While Charging
Passive Playback
Charging Port USB-C

These headphones have great battery performance. They last nearly 53 hours continuously, which is close to their advertised 50 hours of battery life. They'll have enough battery life to get you through several workdays without needing a recharge. However, when you need one, three minutes of charging yields 90 minutes of playback, according to the manufacturer. Their standby mode also lasts 200 hours, so you won't need to worry about them running out of power if you accidentally leave them on overnight. However, these headphones are Bluetooth-only, meaning you can't listen to them passively with an AUX cable if the battery dies. Keep in mind, though, that battery life depends on usage.

Active Features
App Support
App Name Sony| Headphones Connect
iOS Yes
Android Yes
macOS No
Windows No
Graphic + Presets
ANC Control
Mic Control No
Room Effects
Playback Control
Button Mapping No
Surround Support

These headphones have a good companion app. The Sony | Headphones Connect app works for both iOS and Android. It allows access to customize the sound with EQ presets and a 5-band graphic EQโ€”6 bands if you include the 'Clear Bass' slider, which doesn't specify which frequencies it impacts, just bass, but you can have more or less of it. You can toggle on/off DSEE, which is the lowest tier of the brand's digital signal processor (DSP) used for upscaling lossy and compressed audio. You can also control the multi-device pairing through the app and choose between prioritizing sound quality or stability for the Bluetooth connection. In the app, you can customize the voice guide, adjust the sidetone for phone calls, and receive firmware updates. It's also where you can access the Sony 360 Reality Audio feature, which creates a virtual soundstage based on the shape of your ear. You can see how the app works here.

Bluetooth Version
Multi-Device Pairing
2 Devices
NFC Pairing
Line Of Sight Range
334.65 ft (102.00 m)
PC Latency (SBC)
312 ms
PC Latency (aptX)
PC Latency (aptX HD)
PC Latency (aptX-LL)
iOS Latency
137 ms
Android Latency
135 ms

These headphones have great Bluetooth performance. They can stay connected with up to two devices at a time, but to play audio from a second device, make sure you pause playback on the first device. They use AAC and SBC codecs, which are standard, and if you own an iOS device, AAC pairs well. They don't support the brand's own LDAC codec for higher bitrate audio. LDAC is available on headphones like the bassy Sony WH-XB910N Wireless and the flagship Sony WH-1000XM5 Wireless, but AAC and SBC connect to any operating system without issue.

If you're watching a video on an iOS or Android device, you'll experience a bit of noticeable latency, but it's not too bad. However, PC latency is high, so you'll encounter audio lag when watching live streams or playing video games. Although the Sony | Headphones Connect doesn't have a specific setting for games or video, different video apps and devices compensate for latency differently.

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

You can't use these headphones wired. The USB-A to USB-C charging cable included in the box is meant for charging.

PC Compatibility
Wired USB
Non-BT Wireless

These headphones have full mic and audio compatibility with PCs via Bluetooth. You can't use them wired.

PlayStation Compatibility
PS4 Analog
PS4 Wired USB
PS4 Non-BT Wireless
PS5 Analog
PS5 Wired USB
PS5 Non-BT Wireless
Xbox Compatibility
Xbox One Analog
Xbox One Wired USB
Xbox One Non-BT Wireless
Xbox Series X|S Analog
Xbox Series X|S Wired USB
Xbox Series X|S Non-BT Wireless
No Base/Dock
USB Input
Line In
Line Out
Optical Input
RCA Input
Dock Charging
Power Supply
No Base/Dock