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Sony MDR10RNC Premium Noise Canceling Headphone
- Dual noise sensors provide up to 99.4% noise cancellation. Precision-engineered for wide frequency response (6-24Hz). Comfortable ear pads with swivel design.Connectivity Technology: Wired
- 20-hour music playback from one AAA battery. Can be used as standard headphones without battery. 2 supplied cords: normal and in-line mic/remote.
- Free SmartKey App for custom in-line remote function. Handy travel case and in-flight adaptor supplied.
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Unmistakable Sony sound. Superior comfort. Precision noise canceling. They're everything great headphones should be. Bring out the most in your music while canceling up to 99.4% of ambient noise with our exclusive Dual Noise Sensor technology. With a passive listening mode that works even if the batteries die, plus super comfortable ear pads, these head phones don't miss a beat-and neither will you.
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Being somewhat a tightwad and a researcher, I began my search for a new set of cans by scouring the internet for prices and reading “professional” reviews of the various products. I decided on several models but didn’t want to buy until I was able to try them out. After fairly extensive research I decided to try-out the following headphones: AKG K 490 NC ($214); Bose QuietComfort 15 ($299); Polk UltraFocus 8000 NC ($299); and Audio Technica ATH-ANC7b QuietPoint ($179). I added the following headphones after finding them on sale at my local retailers: Sennheiser PXC 450 ($100 off retail at $249) and Denon AH-NCW500BK Globe Cruiser ($300 off retail at $199). If you notice the title of this review and take note of the list above, you should notice that a set of Sony headphones was not on my radar. I decided to add the Sony MDR 10RNC ($49 off at $199) only after strong encouragement from a knowledgeable sales associate at a local retailer.
I found that most of the headphones that I wanted to sample were not on ‘try me out” displays at the retailers where I shop. So, I decided to take advantage of the return policies and purchase two sets of headphones at a time so I could evaluate them in my home environment. Although I couldn’t replicate the sound of an airplane in flight, I do have the average HVAC system that is quite noisy and a swimming pool pump that produced a constant frequency that proved ideal to test the noise canceling feature of the headphones. I don’t have expensive equipment to measures stuff and, although I fancy myself as knowledgeable about sound fidelity, I’m not a studio pro or audiophile freak. All I know is what sounds good to me. I prefer a sound that is not extreme on either end of the spectrum but more even over all. I like bass, but not too much and I like crisp, clear midrange and highs. Additionally, if I’m going to spend the extra money for noise canceling, it better make a noticeable difference when you switch it on.
As a note, I was unable to try the Audio Technica ATH-ANC7b QuietPoint as I could not find a store in my area that carried them. So, below is the rank order, from the least to most favorite, and opinions of the headphones I auditioned:
6. Denon AH-NCW500BK Globe Cruiser: Didn’t fit me well and disappointing sound quality. I expected a lot more from such an expensive set of headphones. Awesome packaging, though.
5. Polk UltraFocus 8000 NC: Not crazy about the style and controls, but sounded really good. Noise canceling feature didn’t seem to work as well as others.
4. Sennheiser PXC 450: Great sound and noise canceling feature but the impedance is so high on these cans that I couldn’t get them loud enough using a tablet or cell phone. Kind of ugly, too.
3. AKG K 490 NC: These are awesome little headphones. However, they are “on-the-ear” and don’t block out some of the ambient sound around you. They sound great and have really good noise canceling. There are a lot of complaints about these cans breaking around the net and they do feel a little fragile. Also, I think that a $200 set of headphones should come with more than a cloth pouch to carry them in for travel.
2. Bose QuietComfort 15: The standard on which all others are measured. These phones sounded good, were comfortable and the noise cancelling kicked butt (best of the bunch). But, they cost $100 more than my favorite pair and, my biggest gripe, when the battery dies you’re dead-in-the-water. There is no passive listening through the Bose.
1. Sony MDR 10RNC: This is the pair I didn’t take back to the store. I don’t know why these cans didn’t pop up on my initial internet search. I’m glad the sales guy pointed them out to me in the “big box” electronic store that starts with a red “F”. They are “over-the-ear” phones and are extremely comfortable. To me, the sound and fidelity of these headphones was on par with the Polks and AKGs and much better than the Bose. In evaluating the ANC feature, the only difference between these and the Bose was that the Bose were really silent (with no music playing) and the Sony had an ever so slight hiss in the background. This set of headphones is also feature rich. The have a built in amp, so loudness in not a problem. The Sony cans come with two cords (one regular and one for a cell phone). The phone cord only has one button, but it can be customized via an Android App (SmartKey). I’ve got my cord set to answer/hang-up with one click, Vol + with two clicks and Vol – with three clicks. There is also a SmartConnect App that can be used to direct the behavior of the cell phone when the headphones are plugged and unplugged. If you find yourself without batteries, they work well in passive mode. These headphones also look sleek and are really sturdy. The come in a hard travel case and have a small cloth pouch for batteries and accessories. If you are in the market for a set of quality ANC headphones don’t settle until you have tried the Sony MDR 10RNC. I can’t wait for my next flight to really test them out. I don’t think I will be disappointed.
Sound quality: The Sony really emphasized the midrange frequencies, with the highs less well defined (the lows were a bit clearer, but not a significant difference). It may be possible that allowing more time to "burn-in" these would have improved the sound (as other reviewers have mentioned), and I might have given them more of a chance if I had no other reasons to return them.
Comfort: I wear glasses, and need to be able to wear these for several hours (office mates that type very loudly make it very difficult to concentrate). Here the clear winner for me was the Bose - not that the Sony headphones were uncomfortable, but the Bose were so much more comfortable.
Noise cancelling: both worked as expected and muted out any monotonous background noises (such as the AC and quiet voices), however, that only makes the typing sounds even more distinct. The noise cancelling on the Sony is supposed to have 3 modes, and can "listen" to the environment to select the most appropriate setting. If this feature was able to defeat my enthusiastic typing of my office mate, I would have kept the Sony headphones despite the compromises in sound and comfort. The bad news is that, at least for me, the special noise cancelling circuitry was no match for my "maniacally-loud-typist-neighbor", and I had to accept the higher cost (50% more expensive) Bose headphones, and return the Sony (1 star for comfort, and 1 for sound quality / noise cancelling).
If you like their sound, and the noise cancellation is good enough, these are probably a better buy value-wise compared to the Bose. I really wanted the Sony headphones to work for me, maybe others are more lucky.
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