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Ten of the best... noise-cancelling headphones

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Round-up When we organized a round-up of noise-isolating headphones recently, we were able to get hold of a couple of models that cost as little as £10. However, noise-cancelling headphones are a different kettle of fish. Rather than simply plugging up your ear canal to prevent external noise from getting through, noise-cancelling headphones are packed with sophisticated electronics – including microphones that allow them to analyse background noise and then generate their own sound waves that are designed to counter and nullify that background noise.

Ten of the Best... noise-cancelling headphones

Noise-cancelling headphones - ideal for the frequent flyer

This approach works particularly well with regular, consistent noises such as the drone of an aircraft engine, or the trundling wheels of a train. However, it also means that noise-cancelling headphones are a lot more expensive than conventional headphones. No great surprise that many of these headphones are aimed at well-heeled business users who travel a lot and can afford to pay a price that the average iPod owner would probably baulk at. The best models reviewed here all cost close to £300, although more modestly priced noise-cancelling headphones can be found for £100 or less, if you shop around.

Denon AH-NC732

Denon AH-NC732

Slipping the NC732 headphones on makes you feel as though your ears have been vacuum-packed in cling-film, so soft and clingy is the padding on the earpieces. They do an excellent job of cutting out background noise, and produce a nice warm sound with lots of detail in the higher frequencies. The bass could be a little stronger – as could the maximum volume level – but they’ll be great if you just want to lie back and relax to some soothing music on a long plane or train journey. We’ve seen online prices for these ranging from £85 to £250, but we’d snap them up for anything under £150.

Reg Rating 80%
Price £250
More Info Denon

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7

Audio-Technica ANC7

At just over £100, Audio-Technica’s ANC7 headphones sit at the lower end of the price range for noise-cancelling headphones, but we were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the sound they produced. Less expensive noise-cancelling headphones sometimes have a slightly muffled sound that is caused by the internal sound-waves that they generate to cancel out background noise. However, the ANC7 produces a very clean and natural sound. Our only minor complaint is that a little distortion does start to creep in on the higher frequencies when you crank the volume up really high.

Reg Rating 75%
Price £109 Click for the best online price
More Info Audio-Technica

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Next page: Sony MDR-NC500D

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