You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars to get good noise-canceling headphones.

Noise-canceling headphones are all the rage these days. They’re great for long flights and coffee shop writing sessions alike, and best of all you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg to get a decent set anymore. While Sony’s popular WH1000XM2s are still class-leading in their active noise-canceling tech and high-quality audio delivery, there’s a much cheaper pair that’s been getting quite a bit of attention lately, the WH-CH700N.

While neither pair of headphones has a terribly memorable name, they’re both great products that fulfill different needs and uses cases. So which one is right for you and your needs?

Why the WH-CH700N is a great buy

For a couple dollars shy of two Benjamins, the CH700Ns are a great deal for even casual music listeners. Sony advertises a whopping 35 hours of playback on the CH700N’s rechargeable battery, and you can easily pair them to your NFC-capable phone by just tapping it against the left ear cup — of course, simply putting the headphones into Bluetooth pairing mode works just as well.

The CH700Ns are more than enough for most casual listeners who just want some peace and quiet.

Sony is known for delivering great-sounding audio no matter the price, but if you don’t like the out-of-box voicing on the CH700Ns, you can use the Headphones Connect app to EQ to your heart’s (and ears’) content. Of course, these headphones also support noise canceling, and even though it’s digital rather than active noise canceling, it still uses the built-in microphones to listen to the noise around you and adjust the effect accordingly. That’s pretty great for $ 199 headphones (though they’re down to $ 128 right now).

You can also use the included cable (assuming your phone still actually supports 3.5mm wired audio) to extend the life of the battery for noise canceling — or if you’re fine without noise canceling, you can listen to wired audio even after the battery is fully depleted. Then again, with 35-hour battery life, you probably won’t need to take advantage of that all too often.

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Why the WH1000XM2 is worth the extra money

The CH700Ns suit the needs of most casual listeners, but if you really need active noise canceling or you’re just after the best audio you can get from a pair of Bluetooth headphones, you may want to shell out the extra money for the WH1000XM2s. Yes, they’re expensive — almost twice the cost of the CH700N — but they’re well worth the money for the right kind of user.

You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on headphones, but you probably won’t regret it if you do.

Like the CH700Ns, the 1000XM2s support conveniences like NFC pairing and a rechargeable battery through Micro-USB, but its noise canceling goes much further. Not only does it do a significantly better job at blocking out sound (it’s actively powered, after all), but it features Ambient Sound mode, which pumps some audio back into the headphones while still canceling out the majority of background noise, so that you can still hear and hold conversations, even with the headphones on.

Sony has also built in touch sensitivity on the right cup that allows you to quickly jump in and out of Ambient Sound mode by placing your hand over the cup, or tap and swipe in various directions to play, pause, or skip between tracks without having to pull out your phone. Once you get used to using these gestures, it quickly becomes hard to imagine going back to living without them.

On top of all of its conveniences and noise canceling, the 1000XM2s are just great-sounding headphones. Audiophiles will still scoff at the idea of using Bluetooth audio, and sure enough, you can get better sound quality from similarly priced wired headphones when you aren’t paying for everything else the 1000XM2s do, but to my ears at least, these sound even better than their direct competition, the Bose QC35s.

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Which headphones would you buy?

It’s hard to compare headphones at such vastly different price points, but it gets a little easier when you remember that they’re intended for different users. Yes, of course the WH1000XM2s are better headphones than the WH-CH700Ns for triple the price, but not everybody needs to spend $ 300 on headphones. For the vast majority of people, the CH700Ns are more than good enough, and they’re a significantly better value.

If, on the other hand, you’re a frequent traveler who doesn’t want to sacrifice audio quality, the 1000XM2s remain not only my recommendation between these two options, but some of my top-recommended headphones overall. The combination of great audio, powerful noise canceling, and convenient features make these headphones worth every penny.

Which headphones would you buy between these two? Have you already been rocking a pair for a while now? Or do you have an alternative you’d recommend over either? Let us know in the comments below!

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