16.8 C
Tuesday, June 6, 2023
HomeScienceAre these the best-sounding Bluetooth headphones under $150?

Are these the best-sounding Bluetooth headphones under $150?


Sony makes some of the best headphones in the world – and THE best if you’re not willing to spend fortunes for your Bluetooth cans.

Sony’s $350 WH-1000MX4 headphones are the iconic Bluetooth go-to for any smartphone user who takes music seriously. But what if you could get something similar for $150?

That’s the promise of Sony’s new WC-720H headset, a budget cousin of the WH-1000MX4, armed with the same technology under the hood.

Launched this spring, we’ve tested the headset indoors, outdoors and on public transport – and this really is an unbeatable audio bargain.

Sublime sounds? Testing the new wireless headphones (included)

The headphones come with their own app for extensive control (included)

The headphones come with their own app for extensive control (included)

The WC-720H offers Sony’s new Integrated Processor V1 (the same as in their more expensive cousin) for advanced noise reduction, plus a very decent 50 hours of battery life (35 with the noise reduction enabled).

At this price you’re lucky to get noise reduction at all, and Sony’s is excellent.

Sony’s Dual Noise Sensor technology uses two microphones on the surface of the headphones, then creates a reverse sound wave that takes the world up a notch.

There are a lot of functions to play around with here (you CAN run them without Sony’s Headphone Connect app, but if you do you’re missing out on Sony’s do-it-all approach).

The Headphone Connect app lets you adjust the level of ambient noise by 20 notches – and you can also let the app adjust the audio itself based on your location (it remembers the sound level of your office or bedroom, for example).

You generally want to use the lowest level that is acceptable, as noise reduction hurts sound quality.

When you’re on the go, you can also switch noise canceling on and off via a button on the cans.

In practice, we found it could reduce very loud train noise to an acceptable whisper – it doesn’t quite match the electrical silence of the WH-1000MX4, but it comes close.

You can also listen in wired mode if you prefer (included)

You can also listen in wired mode if you prefer (included)

Listen in.  Testing the new Bluetooth headphones (included)

Listen in. Testing the new Bluetooth headphones (included)

There are preset equalizer settings (I found the Bright setting to be good for uplifting guitar rock and a Bass Boost) and you can also manually set your own eighties style.

If you use Tidal or a few other streaming services, there’s also the option for 360-degree audio, putting you right in the middle of the sound.

The headphones obligingly measure your ear shape to deliver this – but while it’s pleasant to listen to, it’s mostly a gimmick.

For some odd reason, the app also offers you awards and badges as you master the features from ‘Headphones Connect Lover’ to ‘Bus Stop Listener’ (if you spend a lot of time listening at bus stops).

Seems completely pointless to me, but whatever floats your boat.

The headset comes with Sony’s Digital Sound Enhancement Engine (DSEE) for clear calling – in our tests, calls come through crisp and clear, even in high winds.

Audio can sometimes get ‘lost’ with over-ear headphones, but these allow you to have a clear conversation away from home (and use Google Assistant or Alexa, with alerts and commands read into your ear)

Music-wise, these deliver the goods, but just lack that final 5 percent sparkle that puts Sony’s flagship WH-1000MX4 in a league of its own.

But for the price, they’re frankly stunning, with crisp, detailed sound that flatters vocals (especially on the Bright EQ setting) and solid, driving bass.

Sony uses audio technology that ‘upscales’ digital music to make it sound sharper, and these delivered crisp sounds even when outside and streaming music over the mobile network.

Many headphones deliver cartoonishly large amounts of bass in an attempt to convince users they’re getting ‘good sound’ (we’re looking at you here, Beats) – but these deliver a fantastically solid, understated experience that’s a delight with any genre.

The things you’re missing here are a bit of finishing – these feel plasticky and cheap (although to be fair, the flagship WH-1000MX4 isn’t exactly clad in leather trim either).

The buttons are clicky plastic too, and there’s no auto-turn-on feature like you get on more expensive headphones (they do turn themselves off after 15 minutes).

But these are minor comments on what is clearly a great audio bargain – and the most you get for this amount of money, bar none.

Other great Bluetooth noise cancellers

Focal Bathys ($799)

1678625824 787 Are these the best sounding Bluetooth headphones under 150

These are truly amazing headphones, provided by a French company with a long history of making wired cans (the incredibly expensive kind).

They look and sound absolutely fantastic if you can get to the bottom of the price, and you can enjoy better-than-CD hi-res sound from services like Tidal when listening via a USB-C cable.

JBL Tune760 NC ($129)

1678625824 578 Are these the best sounding Bluetooth headphones under 150

These cheap headphones offer noise canceling for a fantastically low price, but they’re no match for Sony on the audio front.

JBL is always a good choice for value, and these don’t break the bank with solid sounds and decent noise cancellation.

Bose 700 Noise Canceling Headphones ($320)

1678625825 254 Are these the best sounding Bluetooth headphones under 150

Over the years, Bose has slowly overtaken Sony in noise-cancellation, but these are still excellent headphones for travelers, with touch controls and quality materials that look (and sound) businesslike.

The author of what'snew2day.com is dedicated to keeping you up-to-date on the latest news and information.

Latest stories