Sony WH-CH520 review

This affordable headset delivers on battery life and performance

A photo of the Sony WH-CH520 wireless over ear headphones, resting on a stone surface against a black marble block and a blue background
Editor's Choice
(Image: © Future)

Tom's Guide Verdict

A step-up from its budget predecessor, this headset delivers on battery life and performance. At $59 these are an impressive and affordable pair for the casual but regular headphones user. They remain comfortable over the course of several hours while delivering high quality audio, and can be partially re-charged in a matter of minutes if you want to swiftly squeeze out another hour of listening.


  • +

    Impressive audio

  • +

    Strong battery life

  • +

    Quick recharge

  • +

    Clear controls


  • -

    Lack of noise cancellation

  • -

    Tinny microphone

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Sony WH-CH520: Specs

Price: $59 / £49 / AU$79

Colors: Matte Black

Battery life (rated): 50 hours

Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.2 with SBC, AAC

Weight: 5.1 ounces

The affordable Sony WH-CH520 headphones, currently available at $59 / £49 / AU$79 prove that the best cheap headphones needn’t sacrifice comfort or quality.

Picking up from where their predecessor, the WH-CH510 left off, Sony's latest iteration boasts a significantly longer battery life, a quicker charge time, and the option to fine-tune the audio settings to make the most of your music.

With an in-built microphone and the ability to simultaneously sync to multiple devices at once, the Sony WH-CH520 headphones are primed for the casual but consistent listener, both at home and in the workplace.

To find out if they’re the right headphones for you, keep reading our Sony WH-CH520 review.

Sony WH-CH520 review: Design & comfort

A photo of the Sony WH-CH520 over ear headphones in use

(Image credit: Future)

The Sony WH-CH520 is a budget headphone set — this can be easy to forget thanks to its subtle Sony branding, sleek matte finish and impressive quality build. Despite being lightweight at just 5.1 ounces, they have a solid and sturdy feel, with an extendable headband that doesn’t become flimsy at maximum reach.

The headband has a small but effective cushion and there’s padding on the earcups as well, so it sits and remains comfortable over lengthy periods. I wore the headphones on and off over the course of several hours in one day, including a stint of 2 hours straight and they felt pleasant for the duration. However, towards the tail end of my listening experience I did start to notice some vague listening fatigue in the form of a very slight ache on both ears — this faded quickly after I put them down.

A photo of the Sony WH-CH520 over ear headphones resting against a black marble block

(Image credit: Future)

Sony has found a nice balance here between making these headphones feel snug and secure, but not too tight. This means you can recline with a lengthy podcast, or pop out for a walk with an audiobook on the go, without worrying the headphones will slide or slip off.

A photo of the Sony WH-CH520 over ear headphones resting against a black marble block

(Image credit: Future)

All the buttons you’ll need, including the power and volume adjustment (which you can also use to skip tracks backwards and forwards if you hold them down for 5 seconds) are easy to find on the right earcup, and are tactile enough to navigate with ease.

If you’ve got your hands full, you can also rely on the voice command option once it’s synced up to your smartphone.

Sony WH-CH520 review: Battery life

A photo of the Sony WH-CH520 over ear headphones resting against a black marble block

(Image credit: Future)

The Sony WH-CH520 can deliver up to 50 hours of active battery life, according to Sony. This is much longer than the WH-CH510 (35 hours), and makes the WH-CH520 ideal for extended use. They claim just three minutes of charge should provide 1.5 hours of function too, which would make them great in a pinch.

Sony isn't clear about how exactly it came to the 3-minute charging figure and what wattage is required to achieve it. After completely exhausting the battery over the course of several days, I charged them using the supplied USB-C cable connected MacBook Pro — it took around five minutes for them to turn back on and provided over an hour of play time. This was close to but not quite as impressive as Sony’s claims, but charge times may vary based on the power adapter you’re using.

Sony WH-CH520 review: Sound quality

A photo of the Sony WH-CH520 over ear headphones in use with one of the buttons being pressed

(Image credit: Future)

The Sony WH-CH520 delivered impressive audio quality in our testing, especially given their price. To get things started, I turned to the streaming service Tidal and listened to the bass heavy track “All I Want” by A Day To Remember, which features a thumping double-kick pedal. The Sony WH-CH520 delivered the bass well without being overbearing, and did a good job of differentiating between the various components of the drum kit, like the floor tom and bass drum. 

The midrange also came across well when playing Lana Del Ray’s "Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd" as her mournful voice and backing piano came through crisp and clean. 

In both cases the effects appeared slightly dampened when I switched to Spotify, but not enough for it to be an issue or hugely noticeable without playing them side by side. This is also to be expected, as Tidal provides a particularly high level of audio quality, and comes at the top of our list for best music streaming service.

A photo of the Sony WH-CH520 over ear headphones next to a phone with the Spotify app open

(Image credit: Future)

If you’re looking to tailor the headphones to your favored genre, you can fiddle with the simple but effective equalizer function and manually change elements like the bass levels, or cycle through the presets.

The headphones have a multipoint function, which basically means you can connect them to two devices at once. Sync them up to your laptop and smartphone simultaneously, and you can work while keeping an ear out for incoming calls, and avoid the hassle of constantly reconnecting.

When taking phone calls the built-in microphone delivered sound clearly, although it was a bit tinny and echoey at times. According to those I was chatting with, the audio they received from the headphones often picked up a lot of background noise, so may be best suited to a quiet environment. When it came to receiving sound through calls however, the cushioning of the headphones seemed to do a good job of limiting external noise, which made up for the lack of a noise cancellation feature.

Sony WH-CH520 review: Verdict

The Sony WH-CH520 more than delivers on its affordable price point, making them a great go-to for the casual but regular headphone user, whether at home or in the workplace.

They have a strong battery life that can be speedily topped up, and can simultaneously connect to multiple devices, which means you can go from chatting in a video call with the built-in microphone, to comfortably sitting back with an audiobook after a long day.

It provided an impressive audio range, delivering a thumping but nuanced bass and crisp midrange, which makes it a great all-rounder. If the pre-settings are not to your liking, you can also use the nifty equalizer to play around with the music settings too. 

Overall, the Sony WH-CH520 are a great quality and versatile option for those on a budget.

Andrew Lloyd
Staff Writer

Andrew Lloyd is a staff writer on the Reviews team at Tom’s Guide. He has a passion for investigating and testing the latest tech on the market, and has experience covering everything from smart watches and gaming accessories to gardening gear, office equipment, and travelling gadgets. He has previously written product round-ups and buyer’s guides for BBC brands like Science Focus, Countryfile, and BBC Wildlife Magazine, as well as Gardens Illustrated and YourHomeStyle, where he focused on homeware and appliances.