Headphones seem to be one of the few product segments that have escaped the economic malaise of the past few years. When you look around you see quite a few high-end brands being used by more people than just your typical audiophile. Last year Sony released the MDR-1RNC, with active noise cancellation. That feature does work well, but has some side-effects. Hardware.Info tested the most expensive model.
Sony perhaps isn't the best-known brand for headphones in an age when many companies use famous rappers for their product branding, but Sony has been around the block in this product segment. Perhaps you even recall the infamous MDR-R10 headphones from 1989, constructed out of rare, 200-year-old 'Aizu zelkova' wood. With a pricetag of 2,499 dollars (more than 4,500 dollar with inflation), they were 'slightly' more expensive than the set we are reviewing today, the MDR-1RNC.
The basic, wired model costs a 'mere' £299, and the wireless Bluetooth versions cost £399 on the Sony site. Then there's the version we received, wireless Bluetooth and active noise-cancellation for £449. These have the suffix 'NC'. The Sony site is the most expensive, you can find better deals in other places.
£150 is a huge difference between the cheapest and most expensive model. Sony claims this is justified as its noise-cancelling filters out 99.7 percent of ambient noise. The headphone has also been designed together with artists and specialist from the music industry, including singer/songwriter Katy B, dubstep artist Magnetic Man, and mastering engineer Naweed Ahmed from Whitfield Mastering, one of London's oldest music studios. Reason enough to have a closer listen.
Sony at least sells the MDR-1RNC as a complete package, ours came with a travel case, two cables, airplane adapter and a USB charger.