There’s no way that the MDR-NC500D headphones cut out the 99 per cent of background noise that Sony claims, but they do a pretty good job thanks to the ‘artificial intelligence’ feature that analyses the background noise around you and adjusts the headphones to suppress it as effectively as possible. The sound quality is very good, particularly on the higher frequencies. However, the bass lacks punch, which is disappointing in such an expensive set of headphones. There’s a built-in rechargeable battery that lasts for almost 15 hours, and you also get an external battery pack that can hold two AA batteries to give you another 10 hours of music if the main battery runs flat.
Reg Rating 75%
More Info Sony
Philips doesn’t make any extravagant claims about cutting out 99 per cent of background noise with its SHN9500 headphones, instead settling for a more realistic ‘85 per cent less external noise’. The noise-cancelling feature works well, especially as the thickly padded earpieces give a little extra help to the internal noise-cancelling electronics. Unfortunately, the sound quality is no more than average. The headphones do capture a good level of detail, but they suffer from the slightly muffled sound that can sometimes be caused by the internally-generated sound waves that noise-cancelling headphones create to nullify external noise.
Reg Rating 65%
More Info Philips
Next page: Bose QuietComfort 3
Nokia Bluetooth Stereo Headset BH-905, altough a lot pricier (?), would seem still to be the pair for me. It works with cable also. Shame you didn't review them here as well. They seem to beat all of your choices.. Atleast in pr-speek.. :P
Poor Quality Bose
If you go out and spend all that money on the Bose product, don't expect them to last. I spent the money on some Bose QC2s which fell apart at the cheap plastic part joining the headband to the cups. I'm not alone. See here http://getsatisfaction.com/bose/topics/warning_bose_will_not_repair_or_replace_broken_qc2_headphones. Bose will tell you that they have improved the design in this area - they won't repair my pair because they are the improved design!
How about passive cancelling?
Etymotic ER4p FTW.
Although, not everyone gets on with the inner-ear headphones.
But, amazing sound reproduction. Top-notch noise-cancelling. No bulky ear-pieces. And no batteries required.
The last round-up failed to consider...
...the more bearable over-ear types. And this one doesn't make it clear if these active ones perform any better at noise reduction, nor whether a single-cell MP3 player then has enough power to drive them.
Or why it's worth spending any more than some regular ear buds with a £10 pair of B&Q (or even cheaper Wickes) ear defenders over the top. Unless they're hugely effective at noise cancellation on an aircraft then sound reproduction quality is hardly an issue; you might as well use the free ones.
Various questions... and answers
A question to The Reg: Why not add the Bose QC2 headset? They are different to the QC3 in size and powering method.
Those asking about carrying cases, Bose ships a semi-rigid case for theirs that fits the QC2 and QC3 perfectly.
And the customer service you get from them is definitely worth the money... And yes, their headphones ARE worth that much for the quality of sound and quality of noise cancelling.