The Sony MDR-NC500D headphones are not lacking for features. Examining the right earcup reveals several of them. Here, there's an audio input analysis key, a monitor button for muting playback, and a switch for turning the headphones on, which automatically activates the noise-cancellation function, as well. These cans cannot be used without this function, which is a bit of a bummer if your battery runs out.
The cups are oblong to conform to the shape of the standard ear. However, the surrounding padding is narrow and not very cushy. That, combined with the oval shape and overall tight fit of the headphones, caused some discomfort as the earcups pressed against the pressure points at the back of the jaw. To be fair, though, other users tried them with varied results, so it may not be an issue for everyone.
On first glance, the Sony MDR-NC500D's design offers nothing to complain about. They're clearly well made, with an adjustable band made out of thick plastic that's padded at the top for extra comfort. It can take quite a bit of outward stress without worry that it'll break, which is a good sign.
No doubt thanks to the built-in digital software and aptly-placed ambient noise mic, the MDR-NC500D headphones offered superior noise cancellation during testing in the office and on the bus. We were also not disappointed by the overall sound quality, though the bass had a mushy quality at times.
Sony includes an excellent hard shell carrying case. The right half has various straps for organizing the many cables, as well as molded fittings for the earcups. The left half has a small pouch for storing AA batteries and the airplane adapter.