Sony is certainly no stranger to the headphone market. The company's portable line may very well be the most popular aftermarket earphones. It has quite an array of full-size "cans" as well as a decent selection of noise-canceling models. The latest high-end set to hit virtual retail shelves combines the two. The MDR-NC500D Digital Noise Canceling Headphones offer solid sound, high-quality construction, plentiful features, and a luxury price tag ($400) to match. These 'phones aren't without their flaws, but they're still a great option for frequent fliers who have cash to spare and a distaste for low-end rumble.
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. As is typical with Sony products, the style is quite understated. The earcups, which fold flat for storage, are ensconced in a strong, lightweight magnesium alloy that's just 0.6mm thin and trimmed with a chrome ring. 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.