Noise cancelling headphones: do not disturb

8 headphones with noise cancellation tested


Test participants and test method

There's a decent amount of manufacturers these days that offer headphones with active noise cancellation. Therefore it's high time to compare their products. In total we tested eight models for this article: AKG N60NC, Bose QuietComfort 35, Creative Aurvana ANC, JBL Everest Elite 700, Parrot Zik 3, Sennheiser PXC 550, Sony MDR-1000X and Teufel Mute. The Bose, Parrot, Sennheiser and Sony cost between 250 and 350 pounds, the AKG and JBL will set you back about 200 pounds, while the Creative, Jabra and Teufel will cost about 110 pounds.

We test headphones and headsets with a high-quality microphone, mounted inside a 'test head', in a soundproof environment. We playback a number of pre-defined tones using the headphones and after that we analyse the playbacked sound using specialized software. Based on that we can determine the frequency response curve and the harmonic distortion. Of course we also listen to a plethora of music genres, based a fixed selection, in addition to a changing number of other songs. All measurements are performed with noise cancelling enabled, which generally means that the bass will be more pronounced compared to the other parts of the frequency spectrum. The noise cancellation tests are performed with a vacuum cleaner that is turned on at a distance of about one or two meters, after which we enable noise cancellation. We do this while not listening to any music. The vacuum cleaner has a fixed noise level of 67.1 decibel in our test setup. We'll discuss all models in alphabetic order on the following pages.

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