Review – Sony MDR-NC6 Noise Canceling Headphones

October 13, 2008 by
Filed under: gadget 

Somehow I got it in my head that I wanted a pair of noise canceling headphones. I don't fly all that often, so I'm not sure why I even need them. Anyway, not wanting to part with several hundred dollars, I decided on the Sony MDR-NC6 headphones which can be found in most big box stores in the US for about $50. The headphones require 1 AAA battery for the noise cancelling function. With noise canceling turned off they work as normal, passive headphones.

What's In The Box

  • The MDR-NC6 Headphones
  • A faux leather carrying pouch
  • A dual plug airplane adaptor

What I Like

  • The one sided cord means fewer tangles to deal with.
  • The large speakers produce a good volume from your music player, requiring less amplification than earbuds, thus extending the players' battery life.
  • The provided pouch is nice to keep the headphones and your music player separate from the rest of your junk.
  • The sound quality is decent for the price.

What I Don't Like

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  • The noise canceling circuit creates a noticeable hiss.
  • The noise canceling circuit increases the output volume (this seems to be what gives the greatest impression of reduced noise).
  • Overall, the noise canceling just doesn't seem to work all that well. When using these on an airplane, the noise canceling circuit seems to reduce quite a bit of noise for about 1 second when it is first powered up. After that, most of the noise just seems to come back.
  • The foam pads don't block external sounds.
  • Lastly, the force the headphones exert on my ears becomes painful after about two hours of use. I think it may be a bit worse for me because I wear glasses. My ears just get crushed against the earpieces of my glasses. This could be problematic for the cool people too since they'll likely be wearing sunglasses all the time.

In my opinion, you should pass on these headphones and look for a good pair of passive, circumaural headphones. Good old low tech noise blocking is an important first step before attempting noise cancellation.


One Response to “Review – Sony MDR-NC6 Noise Canceling Headphones”

  1. Sharon says:

    I love this review, thanks Jon! I especially love the line about how the cool kids will have problems too, because they will be wearing sunglasses - ha! :-) Good work!

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