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on May 17, 2012
I was in the market for a high end noise canceling headphones as my old Sony NC Headphones died out. As with all of my other electronics purchases, I perform a thorough research before making a final decision. Although the old Sony ones cost me $50 back when new, they performed exceptionally well. I bought a pair of the Ultimate Ears Triple Fi 10 Earphones back when Amazon had it on sale for $99. The UE are the BEST pair of earphones I've ever owned and were the top choice for flights. Although they were not active noise canceling, they sealed out most of the ambient noise including dramatically reducing Air Cabin noise. My UE Triple Fi were taken on a long airplane trip by my wife to visit my in-laws, but on the way back, she left them there. T.T :(

Back to the search and it came down to either the Bose Quiet Comfort or these Sony ones. The Bose obviously are well known and received raving reviews. However, the deciding factor was the difference of price. The $100 difference made a huge difference. Given the fact that I was very happy with the previous Sony pair that died and so I decided to take the plunge. After receiving the package from Amazon, I used the included battery and test out the headphones. They seemed at first glance to be solidly built and felt very comfortable. Music was much better with the noise canceling on as the other reviewers stated. With the NC off, music sounded bland, like it was missing the ooomph.

Now for the test. I was on a long International flight and it gave me a real chance to test these babies out. For 14 hours, I had these things on and they drowned out most of the noise, but some noise was still audible. Taking a pad off one ear and putting it back on, you can really tell that the NC mechanics really do a great job. My ears not being exposed to so much noise made it easier for me to catch some z's. However, where the problem occurred was the comfort. I wear glasses and the pressure the pads caused on my ears were unbearable after about a few hours. I had to take them off every 20 minutes to massage my ears. After taking off my glasses and falling asleep, the pressure from the pads were better relieved. I still took them off almost every hour to massage my ears.

After thinking about it, it must have been the temples of my glasses pressing on to the back of my ears and on my skull from the weight of the pads. I tested the headphones with my glasses off days after my trip and I still felt pain in my ears being pressed on to my skull for too long.

PROS:
+ Great noise canceling performance (so necessary on flights)
+ Active noise canceling monitoring system (changes noise canceling frequency depending on situation)
+ Monitor Button (to cut the noise canceling function and music to hear stewardesses and activity going on)
+ Amazing music reproduction
+ Works without noise canceling on (YES!)
+ Comes with nice carrying case and airplane adapter
+ Foldable for easy storage

CONS:
- Uncomfortable after long use (read review above)
- Music loses oomph factor without noise canceling on
- Battery Life on the short side

Although $200 is a lot for headphones, the main purpose of these headphones are to cancel out ambient noise and for that I give it 5 stars for doing it well. Took off a star for the discomfort. Before making your decision, try to see if over ear instead of on-ear headphone (like these) will be better for you.

UPDATE 8/17/2012
After 5 months of moderate use, the cable has become unusable as there were tears on one of the ends. Luckily, Sony was able to replace the cable without much hassle. I will have to send the old cable back and wait for the replacement. Right now, I am using a Mediabridge 3.5mm to 3.5mm male to male headphone cable, which seems to do the job as a temporary replacement. The ends are too fat to fit in to the phone jack on the left ear and so it will fit perfectly. If your cable get slit or damaged from use, make sure to call Sony 1800-222-7669 for a replacement within the 1 year parts warranty. I also noticed that the headphones were eligible for a exchange for a flat fee of $25. That gives me re-assurance that Sony is willing to stand behind their products. The headphones are well built and keeps on going, but it's the cable that's not.

UPDATE 9/14/2012
Sony sent me the wrong item. Instead of sending me the replacement cable, they sent me the Airline dual jack adapter. Now, I have 2 of them. I will be sending it back on Monday to get this thing straightened out. I DID tell them it is the cable many many times. It may be a simple mistake, but it surely is annoying. However, I still use the Mediabridge Cable instead and it has absolutely been nothing, but great. The headphones are still going strong without any issues except the cable.

UPDATE 11/30/2012
Still no cable. Sony hasn't sent me a replacement cable as of yet, but they keep sending me reminders of surveys about the warranty claim. Mediabridge cable is still holding up well. In fact, it makes the headphones look MUCH better and is much more durable.
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on December 31, 2015
Got this for my 15-hours flight (for 149.99 usd when it was on sale in 2013 btw).
The noise-cancelling wasn't as good as what you will find in Bose- I can still hear the engine sound while using it in-flight, but found the noise significantly reduced.
More importantly, the comfort factor isn't as good as what Bose excels at either. It is after this headphone that I know on-ear headphone is not the thing for me (especially for someone who wears glasses). I usually use this headphone for 30mins to 1 hour for some light music listening session, beyond which I would feel very uncomfortable and a little too hot for my ears.
Sound-wise I think these headphones did quite a good job (which is why it stays as my main headphones if I wanna enjoy some good music). The sound is even better when you turn on the active sound cancelling mode, which supposedly create this vacuum effect around your ear so you can hear more sounds. You would need two AA batteries for powering the active noise-cancelling mode though.

The headphone comes with a leather case for holding the headphones, the 3.5 mm audio jack, and the in-flight audio adapter (all included). I usually try squeezing two AAs batteries inside the case as a backup. For 150, this headphone is quite passable. But it is also after this headphone that I realize one should always test out any headphone physically before buying it- the comfort factor is just too important for me.
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on December 5, 2012
I typically sit at a desk with many loud air filters and computer fans within close proximity. All of that - in addition to the ambient noise that leaks in through the walls around me - disappears almost completely when the N/C is activated. The headphones themselves do not cover the entire ear, but rather snugly lay atop the ear providing a tight-but-comfortable fit that very effectively prevents unwanted noise from creeping in. I've noticed that some headphones I've used in the past push a little too hard against the ear, which can produce pain after about an hour or more of continuous wear (particularly if you're wearing glasses at the same time). Happily, I've worn these Sony headphones for up to four hours consecutively and have experienced almost no pain at all. They're very comfortable.

The sound quality seems quite good, especially when the N/C is activated.

The included cord is somewhat short, but useful for my purposes. If you need a longer one, you'll be pleased to know that it can be disconnected from the unit easily and replaced with a longer one at your discretion.

The buttons took some getting used to. For example, I still sometimes hit the "AI NC" button when I'm trying to toggle the "On/Off" switch. I don't like having to take the headphones completely off of my head in order to find the button I need in a given moment, and my past headphones have generally had much better (i.e. less awkward) button placement. But I consider this to be a minor annoyance that's not worth docking a star over. It'll just take some more time getting used to.

Also, I bought mine refurbished for about 100 bucks, which is an unbeatable deal if you're budget-minded but want high performance N/C with respectable sound quality.
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VINE VOICEon September 28, 2011
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Sony MDR-NC200D Digital Noise-Canceling Headphones

The obvious comparison for any noise canceling headphones, is against the Bose Quiet Comfort series - which is arguably the industry standard, at least from a familiarity and brand recognition perspective. Fortunately, I have a pair of Bose Quiet Comfort 2 and was able to do a good side-by-side comparison.
In my case, Sony edged out Bose and won this comparison. Here's why:

I am not a qualified audiophile, and can't quote impressive specifications and explain in mathematics why one thing sounds better than another. Having confessed that though, I am a very picky listener, and I have a high standard of quality for audio products.
How I tested - I used the Sony MDR-NC200D's extensively in a number of environments, with a variety of music. Environments included sitting in a room with a loud TV going, other music playing, conversations taking place, outdoor traffic and lawnmower noise, and even during a long vacuuming session. Music ranged from hard rock to classical, but for my benchmark side-by-side testing I used Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon.

I found the Sony headphones to be superior in producing very clear, crisp sound compared to Bose. The most subtle of elements in the audio are crystal clear with very good separation. Bose seems to muddy some of these nuisances, most likely a result of the noise canceling signal they use. Sony is able to block the ambient noise at least as well as Bose (I think slightly better) but without the side effect of dullness to the audio you are listening to. This example won't mean anything to people not familiar with the album, but during "Great Gig In The Sky" you can clearly hear the soft spoken background words far better with the Sony's than with Bose. I did not try to deafen myself with too much volume, but did not experience any distortion at all.

Ergonomics - Slight edge to my Bose headphones here, but very very slight and with qualifications. My Bose set is the over-the-ear design (cups that enclose the entire ear), whereas these Sony's are on-the-ear design. The slight edge to Bose goes to a marginally more comfortable headstrap, and a more secure fit. I found that the Sony headphones were a bit easier to "shake loose" if wearing them during normal activity. The flip side to this is that the Sony headphones seem better suited for longer wear. They don't apply as much pressure to you head and are more comfortable for long periods. For an on-the-ear design, I was very surprised at the quality and comfort of the fit. The padding is extremely good, and creates a great seal against your ear. It will be hard for any noise to bleed through due to air gaps. Sony's unit is lighter than my Bose, which also aids wearability over time.

Miscellaneous :
- The cord attaches better to Sony than to Bose. It seems more secure, and does not have to be in one special direction in order to fit.
- The case is half the size. If you are packing these in your carry-on or shoulder bag, this is important. When stored in their case (which is a good case), the Sony's take up 50% of the space that is occupied by Bose.
- The switch for on/off of the noise cancelling function is better on Bose. I found the switch on the Sony headphones nearly impossible to find and operate with the headphones on. Not a big deal, but can be mildly annoying at times.

All in all, it is a close comparison - and in many ways subjective. I still like my Bose headphones, but I found the Sony MDR-NC200D's to be slightly better. And, when you factor in the price difference... Sony leaps way ahead! A very good pair of noise cancelling headphones that are comfortable and easy to use, and produce high quality sound and very good noise cancelling.
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on October 5, 2013
I bought these headphones primarily to use on business travel, 50% large plane, 50% commuter jet. They were replacing an older Bose set. I had a love/hate relationship with Bose. From a noise reducing perspective they were great. But after 3 years my set tended to get a high pitched whine/interference and the padding was falling apart. It wasn't excited about dropping $300 for another set. So I did some research and bought these Sony's.

Overall they are a mixed bag.

On the plus side, noise reduction is decent...not as good as Bose, but good enough on a big plane. It doesn't do as good a job on a commuter jet. I also like how they work as regular headsets when the battery is dead. There were a couple of times where the rechargeable battery died mid- flight and I was SOL.

On the down side....they are bulky sets that aren't really comfortable. The on/off/mute switch isn't intuitive. They feel somewhat flimsy and cheap. The sound is decent...but there are much better regular headphones out there. And there are much better noise reduction options.

I feel like I went cheap on a compromise product...and that's exactly what I got....
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on February 8, 2013
Prior to these headphones I had a pair of Bose noise cancelling headphones that surrounded my ears, even though I loved them, they eventually stopped working after 6 years. I decided to replace them with these because of the price for a new pair of Bose. My first reaction upon taking them out of the box was that they felt fragile compared to the Bose. However, they take up much less space then the Bose, which make traveling with them much easier.
I took them out, put them on and they fit very well and comfortable. Daily, I use the headphones that came with my phone on the way to work, but I need a pair of noise cancelling for travels (planes, trains and buses), which isn't that often, but I can't imagine a plane ride or train ride without them.
I'm a young guy and a lot of my music is 'club' music, which obviously has deep bass. The first song I listened to in that genre sounded AMAZING. Great sound, deep bass, and the vocals sounded crystal clear. That was with the power and noise cancelling on. A lot of reviews said that when you turn all that off, the sound suffers. That was simply not the case. When I turned the power and noise cancelling off, you could notice a slight change in the richness, but the sound was still really great.
The other thing people had mentioned as a negative in their reviews was the sound gets distorted at high volume. Again, that was not the case with my headphones. I don't listen to my music that loud, but I did turn up the volume as high as it would go and there wasn't any distortions that I could hear.
If you're looking for a great pair of noise cancelling headphones, with great sound, that are light and compact and easy to travel with for a decent price then these headphones are for you.
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on October 3, 2013
I work in a generally quiet office. Unfortunately I sit across from a co-worker nicknamed Fartman because of his gaseous emissions. If that weren't bad enough he constantly clears his throat with such force that I'm surprised he hasn't thrown out his back. Earbuds just weren't cutting it to block out the noises, and I was close to snapping. Instead I bought these headphones and bliss has arrived. When music is playing I hear nothing but the music. Between songs I might hear muted conversation or a quiet throat clearing, but they really do filter out ambient noise to a great degree even when no music is playing. Also the sound quality does not appear to be distorted at all-I stream classical instrumental music on Pandora all day while working and they reproduce a full, rich sound. They do compress my ears and cause some minor pain, but are otherwise comfortable. I could not be more happy with them, Fartman continues to live and I have not been arrested.
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on December 10, 2011
I recently purchased a pair to replace my old Sony noise cancelling phones (MDR NC6, an inexpensive but surprisingly well-performing set. The replacement in Sony's line for the NC 6, the NC 7, was purchased and returned due to very poor sound quality. Frankly, they don't hold a candle to their predecessor).

Having just completed my first transcontinental round trip with the new phones, here's the pluses and minuses:

SOUND QUALITY: Very good. Nice frequency response, all across the audio spectrum.

NOISE REDUCTION: Good, with a caveat. If you don't have these precisely adjusted (i.e., positioning of each earpiece) and seated properly on your ears, sound reduction is almost minimal. Proper adjustment isn't hard to do but you do need to find the sweet spot. Sony claims "intelligent" noise reduction based on environment, with three different options. Having fiddled with this feature in several different environments (Airplanes: turboprops, rear-engine jet seated at rear; rear-engine jet seated forward; on-wing jet seated mid-cabin, airport environment) this seems to be more of a marketing gimmick than an actual feature.

ERGONOMICS: Only fair. It's very easy to accidentally put the phones into mute mode if you grab the left ear piece to remove the phones (like when a flight attendant wants to speak with you).

COMFORT: Fair. They're fine for an hour or two but after that you'll want to take them off for a while. I do, anyway. This is noticed both with ear pressure and the headband.

QUALITY OF CONSTRUCTION: So far, I'm pleased. These seem to be pretty sturdy and feel solid (particularly the earpiece lengthening adjustments).

PORTABILITY: Very good. They fold into a compact shape, which then fits into a compact and sturdy carrying case. The case does have a pocket capable of holding an iPod and it will zip shut with iPod in place. It would have been nice if the pocket had some mechanism (such as a velcro strap or other closing mechanism) to keep the player from slipping out. It doesn't.

VALUE FOR MONEY: I'd call it good. Solid construction and $100 less than a Bose, with very good audio quality and nearly-as-good noise reduction.
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on February 23, 2015
These headphones were an excellent deal - refurbished. The appear to be new. I spent a good deal of time trying to find headphones that would overcome the squelching and rumbling noise on the subway, so I wouldn't have to play my music at damaging volume levels. I tried passive over the ear headphones (my ENT advised against ear buds), which were supposed to attenuate noise by 30 dB, however they work at higher frequencies much higher than what I described. My initial thoughts were that noise cancelling would work poorly due to the random character of subway noise. Before buying them I got a spectrum analyzer app for my phone to try and learn about the noise on the subway. The app is free and I recomend doing this prior to buying headphones if you're really interested in getting an idea of what frequency band and intensity you are trying to remove. These work better than the "muffs' , though noise still bleeds through. They are very comfortable and the switches are easy to operate while the phones are being worn. They fold up nicely into a well made carrying case.
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on July 26, 2015
The noise-cancellation feature works very well in situations with "uniform" background noise, such as in an airplane. In my last flight it even worked "too well", as the music was a bit too loud for my taste, even at the lowest possible volume setting on the armrest control.

In environments with changing background noise, such as in a gym, the noise reduction is satisfactory.

The headphones are well made and worth of the Sony name. I bought them to replace a set of Sennheiser PXC-250 that worked well but unfortunately deteriorated due to "old age" in spite of careful and very limited use.

This Sony model has the convenience of being a single piece, without a separate battery compartment that has to be connected by a wire, as in the Sennheiser PXC-250.
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