What are the best headphones for noise-cancelling? It’s a question we’re asked a lot, and the answer depends on your budget and requirements. That said, two of our favourite pairs of wireless and noise-cancelling headphones are the AKG N60NC and Sony WH-CH700N. Both are top-notch when it comes to blocking out the world and both offer superb sonics – but which is better, Sony or AKG? We compare these popular headphones in detail…
We reviewed the AKG N60NC Wireless noise-cancelling headphones back in 2019, praising their ‘comfy build and solid bass’. In fact, they picked up a well-deserved What Hi-Fi? Award that same year.
The Sony WH-CH700N debuted back in 2018, winning plaudits for their “musical performance and impressive battery life”. These classy on-ear headphones remain some of our favourite wireless noise-canceling headphones of recent times.
So, in a head-to-head battle, which wireless headphones win out? So you can choose the best headphones, we’ve compiled a comparison of the pros and cons of each pair, covering everything from sound quality and features to comfort, price and noise-cancelling.
AKG N60NC Wireless vs Sony WH-CH700N: price
We tested the AKG N60NC Wireless at £200 but they’re currently available for less than £125 ($180, AU$400). That’s a significant drop, which makes them even better value for money.
The Sony WH-CH700Ns originally cost £150 but are now available for around £100 ($200, AU$299). Again, it’s great news for your bank balance and only adds to their appeal.
If you’re on a tight budget, the Sonys tick the affordability box, but it’s well worth considering battery life, features and sound quality before you splash the cash.
**Winner** Sony WH-CH700N
AKG N60NC Wireless vs Sony WH-CH700N: battery life
The AKGs are great on-the-go headphones, offering 15 hours of playback (with Bluetooth and noise-cancelling). However, if you switch off noise-cancelling and use them as wired headphones you stretch the battery life to around 30 hours before you need to recharge via micro-USB.
Not bad – but the Sonys last more than twice as long as the AKGs. They return up to 35 hours wireless playback with active noise-cancelling on. They also feature a fast-charge function: ten minutes charging will see them rock on for about an hour.
**Winner** Sony WH-CH700N
AKG N60NC Wireless vs Sony WH-CH700N: comfort and fit
If you’re looking for a pair of wireless headphones that slip easily into your pocket as you dash out the house, the compact AKG N60NCs could be just the ticket. They’re nicely constructed too, with a sturdy metal headband and plenty of padding.
They’re only available in black, though, whereas the Sonys come in black, blue or grey and cut more of a dash. Sony’s design is a bit sleeker, and the WH-CH700N’s sturdy build quality only enhances their premium looks.
Some may find Sony’s padding a little plusher, but the AKGs are notably lighter (150g vs 240g). Overall, though, there’s little in it and both offer a high degree of comfort. We’d happily wear either of these headphones all day.
AKG N60NC Wireless vs Sony WH-CH700N: features
Both these headphones do a solid job of cutting out ambient noise such as cars and jet engines. AKG’s active noise-cancelling automatically kicks in when using these headphones wirelessly and it’s hugely impressive for the money. Prefer to use them as wired noise-cancellers? You’ll find a headphone cable with a 3.5mm jack in the box. Sony’s active noise-cancelling isn’t quite as effective – “more a case of noise quietening than cancelling”. If you want a greater feeling of isolation, we’d go with AKG.
What’s more, the Sonys will appeal to those who love extra features. There is NFC for easy pairing with Android devices, a built-in microphone for hands-free calling, support for Siri and Google Assistant, voice prompts and Sony’s highly-regarded Digital Sound Enhancement Engine (DSEE).
Pair the headphones with Sony excellent Headphones Connect App and you can tweak various audio modes and EQ settings.
By comparison, the AKGs are humble fare. There are physical buttons for playback, volume and answering calls, plus a built-in microphone so you can use them as a headset. But that’s about it – no NFC pairing, no option to personalise the sound and no voice assistant compatibility.
Clearly, the Sonys offer more features set but the AKG’s offer the superior noise-cancelling. This round is closer than you might think.
AKG N60NC Wireless vs Sony WH-CH700N: sound quality
Time to get down to brass tacks: which pair of headphones sounds better?
Let’s start with the AKG N60NC Wireless headphones. They produce a fantastic thump of bass while remaining transparent and natural; beats are smooth and rhythms are delivered with verve and precision. When testing these cans by streaming Tidal tracks and FLACs, we praised their ‘detail and delicacy’. Put simply, these five-star Award-winners are up there with the best in their class.
The Sony WH-CH700Ns are similarly impressive in their own way. They produce a wonderfully-musically sound underpinned by taut bass. They’re balanced, not overly rich, and energetic enough to keep up with most genres. That being said, they stop short of a five-star performance. Timing, for example, could be a touch better.
So, while both these pairs of wireless headphones scored well, we found the AKGs delivered the best sonic performance.
**Winner** AKG NC60NC Wireless
AKG’s N60NC Wireless headphones are compact, convenient and some of the best-sounding headphones we’ve heard at this price point. Great noise-cancelling and superior sonics, combined with added portability, means the light, pocketable AKGs are the obvious choice for commuters and those who want the best audio quality.
That said, the Sony WH-CH700Ns boast a rich feature count and superior battery life. They might not be perfect (sonically speaking) but they offer decent noise-cancelling and currently cost less than the AKGs. It really depends where your priorities lie and which model you like the look of, but either pair represents a pretty solid buy.