Sony WH-CH700N with Google Assistant – the best budget headphones you can buy

I’ve been using the Sony WH-CH700N (with Google Assistant) wireless Bluetooth headphones for six months now. Since the day I bought them, they’ve been my daily companion and I finally feel qualified to write a review. All things considered, I believe they truly are the best budget (alright, ‘premium budget’) headphones you can buy.

Best compared to what?

Before I bought these Sony WH-CH700N headphones, I must have trialled about four or five different budget sets of noise cancelling earphones. By budget, I mean sub-£80 and you know the usual suspects: TaoTronics, August, Lindy, Cowin and more. While each pair of these budget cans had redeeming features considering the price, I found they all lacked what I really wanted: comfort, with decent sound and decent noise-cancelling. I wasn’t looking for perfection. You won’t find perfection at three times the price. But I wanted to find that sweet spot between cheap as possible, best value for money, and quality. As I write, these Sonys are that perfect compromise and can be bought for less than a £100.

Things I like about them
  • Decent sound

  • Decent noise cancelling

  • Nice, roomy ear-cups and not too ‘clampy’ on the head. Something of a rarity at the cheaper end of the scale

  • Excellent battery life. 30+hrs compared to the average of around 15 – 25hrs at this price point

  • Google Assistant built in. A recent software update for these headphones allows you to use the Google Assistant through your phone. You won’t get Google Assistant on ANY of the other budget headphones at the same price point. Google Assistant on these is incredibly useful. Incoming notifications are dynamically alerted to you, and with a press of the NC button, the assistant speaks the time and reads your notifications to you. If you press and hold the NC button, it invokes the Google Assistant (wait for the assistant ‘chime’ before speaking) and you can ask her all sorts of questions and issue commands. Release the button when you’re done speaking and wait for her response. It allows you to use your phone completely hands free.

  • NFC chip in the left ear cup. If your phone has an NFC chip in it (most decent modern phones do), all you need to do is tap the back of your unlocked phone to the left earphone (it might take a bit of jiggling to find the right position) and the headphones will automatically power up and be connected to your phone.

  • English-language voice feedback. Various power button touches yield:

    (Press and hold) “Power on” or “Power off”

    (Press) “Your battery level is high” “Your battery level is medium” “Your battery level is low”

  • Hardware control buttons. You can keep your capacitive touch controls – I prefer tactile buttons and rockers any day.

    The left earcup has the power button (nice and long so you always hit it) and the small round NC button.

    The right earcup has the volume up and down button (with a ‘braille’ like bump on the ‘volume up’ to tell you it’s volume up), and a rocker switch that controls playback. It rocks backwards and forwards (next song, previous song) and if you press the rocker ‘in’, it plays or pauses what you’re listening to. The play/pause works in music apps and I’ve also noticed it starts and stops what I’m listening to on the BBC iPlayer Radio app. This ‘rocker in’ action also controls hands-free call answering and hanging-up.
  • Two built-in mics. There’s one on each earphone for superior pickup ability – again, something you won’t find on other budget headphones. The mics on some of the cheaper headphones I tried were truly dreadful – on a call, the person I was talking to would report horrific feedback and echo to the point where I had to cancel the call and try again without the earphones. NOT so with these Sonys. While they’re not perfect, they are perfectly usable as a hands-free phone headset.
  • They have the Sony logo on them. Call me vain but I’d much prefer to sport a well known name on my head rather than a no-name brand.
Any negatives?

Not really. I suppose I could nitpick. It’s a shame Sony went for microUSB charging over USB-C. It’s a shame these Sony WH-CH700N only twist inwards and don’t also fold back up. While well made, they are a plastic-fest. The only accessories you get are a short microUSB cable and a 3.5mm to 3.5mm audio jack cable. There’s no case or anything to protect them when not in use. But I say, forget all that and focus on what you ARE getting for your money.

Can I change the sound profile?

If you’re not happy with the sound of these Sony WH-CH700N out of the box, make sure you download the Sony companion app from your phone’s app store. Within the app, you can tweak the sound settings and make them more to your liking. Personally, the default sound settings were just fine for me.

A few words about activating and using the Google Assistant

The NC (noise cancelling) button was originally designed to control whether you wanted noise cancelling on or off. But there is now an option to activate Google Assistant on these headphones via the  Sony companion app, where you remap the NC button to be the Google Assistant button. I highly recommend you do this. Having Google Assistant literally at your fingertips is one of the best reasons to buy these headphones. As for the noise cancelling, you can always switch it on or off in the Sony companion app.

Looking good. Where do I get mine?

Glad you asked 🙂

UK: https://amzn.to/2GGoNFZ

US: https://amzn.to/2L3WLGO

 

If you have any questions, drop me a message below and I’ll be happy to answer them.