Tech reviews

I ditched my TWS for Sony’s new on-ear wireless headphones, and I am not going back

A lot of you will hate me after reading this review, especially those who just bought a new pair of TWS. Your pair of cheap truly wireless earbuds are trash. They slip out of place as you move your head around, experience a lot of signal issues in the form of lost connections, and do not come with proper app support. After a long relationship with my TWS, I am dumping them in favour of the Sony WH-CH250 on-ear wireless headphones. The form factor differences are obvious but I had my own reasons for ditching true wireless earbuds. Here are my thoughts on Sony’s latest budget on-ear wireless headphones.

Sony WH-CH250 price in India (as reviewed): Rs 5,990

Sony WH-CH250 on-ear wireless headphones (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

Why I tried the Sony WH-CH250 in the first place

Last year, I bought a pair of true wireless headphones during an online Diwali sale. Although they were small enough to toss in my pocket, I had some difficulty keeping them in my ears when moving around. The audio quality was not great either. My sole reason to buy them was that they cost me less than Rs 2,000 and nothing else. Then the unthinkable happened. While on an official tour, they stopped working. These were the only earphones I had. That was a pretty miserable experience and I was without headphones when I needed them the most.

Headphones are an integral part of life. I spent a large chunk of my time outdoors. My headphones give me the freedom to enjoy my own company when I am commuting to work, and help me relax when I go for an evening walk. But at the same time, headphones also help me focus on work when I am transcribing an interview or attending calls.

Disappointed with low-cost TWS (which obviously was a big mistake I still regret), I had been looking for a new pair of headphones for many months. The Sony WH-CH520 came at the right time. I don’t call myself an audiophile and probably wouldn’t want absolute high-end headphones. I wanted nicely designed wireless headphones that can provide both comfort and performance, but not at a very high cost.

After using the WH-CH250 for a few days, I have started appreciating on-ear headphones more than ever (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

First, what makes these new headphones so appealing?

Design and comfort: These headphones have a classic style(ing). They have a clean, simple design that matches the aesthetics of other headphones from Sony. The headphones (including the headband) have matte plastic(y) finish to them, and although the construction isn’t premium they seem to be designed like an everyday pair of headphones. The headphones are available in beige, white, black and blue finishes – the colour we tested.

Rather than going for a fancier finish, I think Sony wanted these headphones to appeal to a younger demographic, especially kids. They have a toy-like feel to them. But that’s not a bad thing; sometimes you want to be carefree with a device. There shouldn’t be too much to worry about handling them in daily use- and the headphones are pretty solid, anyway. In fact, they only weigh 147 grams, which is pretty light. The first time I put them on my head, I couldn’t believe how comfortable they were. The headband rightly balances the weight; I don’t really feel like the headphones are resting on my ears after an hour of listening to my favourite music. After using the WH-CH250 for a few days, I have started appreciating on-ear headphones more than ever. Some may favour larger, over-ear design over on-ear headphones, and while it is up to personal choice, I always have had difficulty putting them on since I wear glasses. On the WH-CH250, the ear cups are more airy and do not put pressure on the ears.

These headphones have a classic style(ing) (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

Although the on-ear design may not block sound as effectively as over-ear cans, headphones like the WH-CH250 are better suited for people with smaller ears.

One major change that may seem to have upset some users is that the WH-CH250 cannot be folded into themselves for better portability but yes, the cups do swivel. Play/pause and volume control buttons are placed in the cups, along with a power button and the USB Type-C port for charging the headphones. You will also find a built-in microphone and a small LED on the right ear cup.

Listening experience: The WH-CH250 sound fantastic. They sound wonderful. Enrique Iglesias’ “Hero” (a track that instantly boosts your mood), sounded right and well-balanced. I could pick up every instrument clearly and crispiness of the music on the WH-CH250 is surprisingly good. I haven’t heard headphones sounding as vibrant as these at this price point, but then it’s a personal thing. The bass is less boomy, but it can’t be traded for the pure quality that these headphones deliver.

I don’t currently have any other on-ear headphones with which I can put them up against but I do have the JBL CLUB950NC, a pair of semi-premium over-the-ear headphones. In comparison to WH-CH250, they sounded flat. I tested Sony’s on-ear headphones with the iPhone 14 and they work just fine with no lag or drop in connection. They also have the ability to switch between two devices.

The Sony Headphones app (Android and iOS) is a great add-on. The app can be used to tweak EQ so that the music sounds exactly how you want it to be. The Sony WH-CH520 supports the SBC and AAC audio formats as well as 360 degrees audio.

The app can be used to tweak EQ so that the music sounds exactly how you want it to be (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

Battery life and call quality

The battery life on the Sony WH-CH250 is 50 hours. On the bright side, 50 hours is a lot of battery life, and a 3-minute quick charging offers around 1.5 hours of music playback. The headphones also work great for calls, both indoors and outdoors. I could attend Google Meet and Team calls right from the phone with the headphones on. It did manage to isolate annoying background noise.

The battery life on the Sony WH-CH250 is 50 hours (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

Where do the Sony WH-CH250 fall short?

Though these headphones sound terrific, they lack active noise cancellation, meaning they simply won’t silence the world around me as you pass by a bus or a car. You will hear the neighbour’s dogs barking as on-ear headphones do not wrap around the ears to block the background noise. But I think it’s too much to ask for features like ANC on a headphone that cost just Rs 6000.

The WH-CH250 are aimed squarely at recapturing youngsters with their first pair of headphones (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

Should you buy the Sony WH-CH250?

All in all, I have enjoyed using the Sony WH-CH250. I think Sony has hit the perfect balance between price and performance. The WH-CH250 are aimed squarely at recapturing youngsters with their first pair of headphones. The lower price point of the WH-CH250 coupled with their lightweight design made them ideal for kids. However, what’s interesting about these headphones is that they not only appeal to a younger demographic with the lower price point and simple design but also offer super sound for anyone who wants on-ear headphones at an entry-level price.

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First published on: 07-05-2023 at 11:38 IST


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