Sony WH-CH510 are yet another splendid budget headphones from this reputable brand. They might not exceed in every category, but for the price, they’re worth checking out.
Sony WH-CH510 wireless headphones feel like a logical upgrade over the cheaper Sony MDR-ZX110 wired headphones that I’ve tested recently.
They upgrade the overall sound quality on all fronts and deliver a competent audio performance for just under $40 (more on that later).
The battery life is impressive, lasting for around 31 hours on a single charge. Headphones use a USB-C port and can also fast charge.
Stability is superb so you can use them for workouts. Just be aware they lack sweat resistance.
Sadly, the on-ear fit isn’t for everyone, and with the addition of a slightly tighter clamping force, your ears might start hurting after half an hour of use.
The price of under $40 seems very attractive, so should you pick these? Find out all the strengths and weaknesses of these Sony headphones in the full review below.
- Lightweight and portable
- Clear sound
- Impressive battery life
- Excellent stability for working out
- On-ear fit isn't for everyone
- Cheap plastic construction
- No padding on the headband
The WH-CH510 produce a reasonably tight sound with a mild bass boost, forward midrange, and smooth treble. They work nicely with all music genres.
Check the Sony WH-CH510 Sound Test
Sony continues to apply a similar frequency response to their budget on-ear headphones.
For example, the cheaper Sony MDR-ZX110 have an almost identical sound signature to the WH-CH510. And that isn’t bad since you can expect a reasonably natural, balanced response.
Bass: It’s Capable for On-Ears
Due to a relatively loose seal, our measurement tool can’t fully capture the bass response. In reality, it has a good extension in the sub-bass region and is ever so slightly boosted.
Thankfully, not to the point of sounding bloated. It’s decently fast and controlled, producing tight, precise punch.
Since it isn’t overpowering, it plays nicely with most genres I throw at it, from pop, EDM, rock, you name it. Even the drum-focused “Contact” by Daft Punk sounds excellent.
Of course, it isn’t the fastest out there, which is evident when listening to genres like metal. But for the price, it’s more than acceptable.
Midrange: It’s Boosted
Mid frequencies are somewhat boosted, making the instruments and vocals sound more upfront.
However, that only creates an imbalance where some instruments become loud and quiet soon after (some frequencies are louder than other).
It isn’t as distracting as it sounds, but compared to more neutral-sounding headphones, the difference is noticeable.
Regardless, the overall presentation is natural enough, so your brains quickly adjust to the slight boost.
Thankfully, there’s no sibilance, either.
Treble: It’s Okay for the Price
Higher frequencies are tuned quite well, but they aren’t the most transparent. While individual cymbal crashes sound crisp, they lose a bit of detail when a track gets busy.
However, budget headphones always struggle to reproduce the treble region faithfully. So, in that context, the WH-CH510 perform pretty well for the price.
Sony WH-CH510 Frequency Response
Moving to the soundstage, it’s about as big as with standard in-ear headphones. The sound doesn’t feel trapped in your head, but it’s also not particularly wide.
The imaging is okay-ish. Sometimes it’s OK, whereas sometimes, you can’t quite pinpoint the location of the sound.
Sony WH-CH510 are a noticeable step forward compared to similarly tuned Sony MDR-ZX110. They sound crisper and more controlled.
However, they still aren’t very dynamic, lacking resolution in higher frequencies.
And that’s also the case with other similarly priced headphones.
Of course, it’s only so much you can do for under $40. And at that price, they offer a decent sound and I could easily recommend them to casual users.
Comfort & Fit
Thanks to a relatively strong clamping force, the stability is excellent, and you can easily use Sony WH-CH510 for working out. Sadly, that also makes them a bit uncomfortable.
On-ear headphones have always had a hard time providing good comfort, and these Sony headphones are no different.
Earcups are on the smaller side. The relatively shallow padding doesn’t do much to ease up the pressure against your ears.
As a result, you feel your ears squished against your head, which isn’t ideal for long listening. After a while, my earlobes started to hurt a little.
Earpads are fairly thin and filled with regular foam instead of memory foam. They use faux leather, which isn’t as soft as in more expensive headphones with leather pads.
On the other hand, a more generous clamping force contributes to better stability during movement.
The WH-CH510 manage to endure jumping, running, sprinting, and even head shaking in all directions.
What’s the bottom line?
I see no issues with someone wearing these headphones at the gym or running. Just note that your ears might get extra sweaty due to non-breathable earpads.
The build quality isn’t that impressive, with lots of cheap-feeling plastic.
While you can’t expect much from headphones under $40, the build quality of the WH-CH510 still leaves much to be desired.
Sony had to cut some corners, and they did it by using primarily plastic parts.
The headband extender and the headband itself are all-plastic. Something that looks like a plate inside the headband is actually a wire connecting the two ear cups.
You can see that wire again where the ear cups rotate. Thankfully, the cable is neatly tucked inside the frame, so you can’t accidentally break it.
However, it shows Sony’s cutting measures to bring down the cost.
Speaking of ear cups, they appear to have thin walls and have a hollow sound when knocked on. There’s also no waterproof rating for runners and gym-goers.
The earpads are decent for the price, but they could start cracking after a year of use without proper maintenance. See how to care for your earpads properly.
One positive note is that the earpads are replaceable, but it’s difficult to find them (eBay link).
Then again, the build quality could be worse, especially compared to the similarly-looking Sony MDR-ZX110. The latter feel noticeable worse when holding in hand.
In conclusion, don’t expect a superb build with Sony WH-CH510. However, with proper care, they can last for quite some time.
The excellent battery life of 31 hours and 35 minutes on a single charge is undoubtedly a highlight of these headphones. They also use USB-C and support quick charging.
Sony WH-CH510 Battery Comparison
Enduring battery life is essential for most users. They don’t want to charge their headphones every day on top of charging smartwatches, mobile phones, and other gadgets.
Fortunately, the WH-CH510 comes packed with a beefy 31.5-hour battery cell. That’s enough for at least a couple of days of use.
Another good news is that headphones use a USB-C charging port, so you don’t have to deal with proprietary or outdated cables.
Headphones support fast charging which provides an additional 1.5 hours of playtime after a 10-minute charge.
Headphones provide essential on-the-fly controls and voice assistant commands. Sadly, the call quality is pretty bad.
Compared to the competition, Sony WH-CH510 are pretty standard when it comes to features. They rely on physical controls for music playback and can summon smart assistants (like Siri or Google Assistant).
Buttons produce a decent click and work reliably every time.
These are primarily wireless headphones as they lack a headphone jack. Thankfully, with their great battery life, you don’t need it.
Sony WH-CH510 controls
- Play/pause – single press on the power button
- Volume up – single press on the + button
- Volume down – single press on the – button
- Skip track – long-press on the + button
- Repeat/previous track – long press on the – button
- Voice assistant – double press on the power button
Unfortunately, the call quality is rather disappointing. Sony Bluetooth headphones use weird noise cancellation for calls, which heavily distorts your voice.
Sony WH-CH510 microphone test
The mic struggles to keep your voice clean even in a quiet environment. You can hear “signature Sony” pops in the background, indicating poor noise reduction performance.
In WH-CH510, the noise reduction seems to cut out small bits of your voice and stitch them together. As a result, it appears as if you’re speaking really fast. That can be super annoying to the person speaking to you.
Furthermore, these Bluetooth headphones act as monitors, playing your voice into your ears during calls. Since the audio isn’t clear, this feature only serves as a distraction and becomes annoying fast.
The bad mic performance continues after adding background noise, producing even more distortion.
Sony WH-CH510 really aren’t meant for making phone calls, no matter what Sony says on their website.
Passive noise isolation is passable, and it should be sufficient for commuting. However, be aware of sound leakage.
Despite a stronger clamping force, headphones don’t isolate background noises very well. On-ear earpads aren’t big nor plush enough to seal off your ears completely.
Consequently, headphones only manage to block a small portion of the ambient noise. Therefore, if you want to drown out noise entirely, you also have to play some music.
Furthermore, you have to be aware of sound leakage if you want to listen to music on public transport or in a library. Others will hear your music even at modest volumes.
Bluetooth connection is stable, but the range is only average. Headphones also support multipoint and zero-lag video watching.
With their Bluetooth 5.0 support, Sony headphones offer a stable connection without random stutters.
However, the Bluetooth connectivity range is only average. They maintain the connection for around 40 feet, cutting the audio completely right after passing the second brick wall.
Of course, that’s still a respectable range for Bluetooth version 5.0, but other headphones in the price range can do better.
How to pair Sony WH-CH510?
- The pairing process starts as soon as you turn on the headphones for the first time.
- For all the pairings afterward, you have first to turn off the headphones, turn them back on and hold the power knob for 7 seconds (or until you hear a “pairing” prompt).
Thankfully, these on-ear headphones support multipoint so that you can connect them to two devices simultaneously.
What Bluetooth Codecs Do They Use?
Like most Bluetooth headphones, these too use standard SBC on top of AAC Bluetooth codecs. With that, they cover both Android and iOS devices, but no “Hi-Fi” codecs.
Is There an Audio Lag?
If you like to watch movies or YouTube videos, the audio delay is unnoticeable. There’s a tiny one when playing mobile games, but it isn’t too distracting.
Should You Get Sony WH-CH510?
There’s much to like about these wireless on-ears. They’re light, offer superb stability for an on-ear headphone, good quality sound, and long-lasting battery life.
If you seek Bluetooth headphones for working out or want to fill your daily commute with music, these are an excellent budget choice.
Sure, the build isn’t impressive, and the comfort isn’t optimal either. But for the price, making compromises is inevitable.
Overall, Sony WH-CH510 are among the best Bluetooth headphones under $50 and worth checking out. I can easily recommend them to a casual user.
How Sony WH-CH510 compare to the competition?
- They produce an overall more natural sound than the competition, while the detail retrieval stays about the same.
- Headphones pack a considerably better battery life, lasting for as long as 31.5 hours.
- The Bluetooth range is somewhat average but lags behind some of the competitors.
- The build quality is rather basic, with almost no padding. I’ve seen better from the competition.
- Microphone quality is subpar and easily bested by other headphones at this price.
Sony WH-CH510 Alternative
Over-ear headphones alternative with a better build, included carrying case, and comfort.
Sound-wise, these are two different headphones. Their sound quality isn’t good with quite a bit bass-heavy playback (unless you plan to use them in wired mode).
In contrast, the battery life is similar if you plan to turn off the active noise cancelling mode.
They’re decent headphones with on par good audio quality. However, the JBL’s boost their bass more.
Despite a very similar design, they’re also slightly better made and come with a padded headband. Earcups can also fold to save space.
On the other hand, they only pack half as much battery life (18 hours).
What’s in the Box?
- Sony WH-CH510 wireless headphones
- USB-C charging cable
- User manual
|Mic & Controls:||Yes|
|Charging time:||4.5h + quick charge – USB-C|
|Active noise cancelling:||No|
|Bluetooth codecs:||SBC, AAC|
|Wireless range:||40ft (12m)|