Everyone has heard of noise-canceling headphones but surprisingly few people actually used noise-canceling headphones. It is understandable, shelling several hundred dollars to get something that “might provide more comfort” is not tempting, at first. Off course, the best thing is to try some for yourself, but we might have an easier time to get tests units, so here’s our review of the Sony MDR-NC500D noise-canceling headphones.
Let’s get into it: I have taken the headphones for a trip to Europe. That’s a 9 hours flight right there – an ideal testing ground for our gadget. So how does it work?
In short: it is good. It does not completely remove the plane’s noise, but the engine noise goes from “surrounding you” to being a “distant noise”. I have been impressed with the quality of the noise reduction.
Related: Bose Quiet Comfort 15 hands-on
In fact, the noise-cancellation quality was so good that I had to lower the sound almost to the minimum. It is great to watch movies (on the plane) with these on.
The noise- cancellation is good, but what about wearing the MDR-NC500D for hours at a time? Surprisingly, they were comfortable. I was expecting the headphones to be annoying after a couple of hours, but I wore them for 8 hours straight and there was not too much pressure or heat on the hears. Note that I slept for about 3 hours with the headphones on.
I was surprised that a compatible connector for the planes was not included in the package – I had to watch the movie in mono, on the left ear. Adapters are easy to find, but I ran out of time before leaving for the trip. Update: I confirmed with Sony that the adapter is in the box. I might have missed it, or may be it was missing in my test unit’s nox, but it should be included in retail packages
We found that the quality of the MDR-NC500D and its functionality was excellent. Now it all comes down to pricing. Are they worth $400? Well, let’s put it this way: if you want good noise cancellation, I’m not sure that there are many options at a lower price. I’ve tried the Bose a long time ago, but it’s been too long to draw a comparison. The Creative Labs ones (I will get back to you with the model #) were just horrible.
Ask yourself if you travel enough or if you can afford to drop that money to have a more pleasant trip. Noise canceling headphones make a big difference on a flight, even a short one. Now does it make a $400 difference? That is your choice, really.
Available in March 21st 2007 for $399. Product page