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The world is an extremely noisy place, full of chattering teenagers, screaming babies and big cars revving engines. If you can't cope with that aural assault, you'll need a pair of sound-cancelling earphones.
The Sony MDR-NC100Ds are just such a pair, offering active cancellation and a quirky design.
They're available now from Sony for £150.
Design and build quality
The NC100Ds' aesthetics are pretty unusual. The earpieces are made up of a large stalk, with a big circle attached to it, on which is perched the silicone ear tip. It's certainly a design that's different to others on the market, and one that will undoubtedly split opinion -- you'll either love it or hate it.
Although they're pretty chunky, each earbud weighs only around 5g, so they're not so heavy that they'd rattle out of your ears as you walked down the road. The reason there's such a big disc stuck on them is that they house 13.5mm drive units, which is massive for earphones, so I was hoping for a similarly big sound. I'll come to that later.
The earpieces are made of plastic that feels firm although I don't reckon they'd survive being stamped on, so make sure you always put them safely away in the leather case that's provided. The 1.5m cable is rubberised and feels no more or less sturdy than most headphone cables. It seemed rather prone to tangles, which doesn't bode well for the long-term life of the product.
Halfway down the cable you'll find the unit that powers the noise-cancelling system. The NC100Ds use active noise cancelling, which requires the earphones to 'listen' to ambient noise and then -- through some wizardry I don't understand -- cancel it out. Unlike passive sound isolating, which just seals off the ear from external noise, active cancelling requires power, so you'll have to put up with the extra weight of a battery.