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JVC HA-NC100 review: JVC HA-NC100

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The Good The JVC HA-NC100 Noise Canceling Headphones are inexpensive and feature comfortable ear cups, a convenient fold-up design, an autoretracting 5-foot cord, and solid sound quality. They also include a carrying case and an airplane adapter.

The Bad The noise-cancellation feature of the JVC HA-NC100 Noise Canceling Headphones affects only lower frequencies, plus the headphones are a bit weak on bass.

The Bottom Line The cushy JVC HA-NC100 Noise Canceling headphones don't block out ambient noise entirely, but they do a good job of reducing it--and for an affordable price.

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7.7 Overall

JVC HA-NC100 Noise Canceling Headphones

What good is that fancy new iPod if you can't hear your tunes while riding the subway or flying coast to coast? A good pair of noise-canceling headphones can mean the difference between enjoyable listening and potential ear damage from having to crank the volume too high. JVC's HA-NC100 Noise Canceling Headphones are just such a pair, combining comfort, convenience, and a low price: $79.95 (closer to $50 on the street). We just wish they blocked out a bit more noise.

JVC's HA-NC100 Noise Canceling Headphones have the substantial look and feel of pricier models, with large, thickly padded ear cups and a heavy-duty plastic frame. A single AAA battery--good for 50 hours, according to JVC--installs in one of the ear cups; the other houses a retractable 5-foot cord, which rewinds automatically with the push of a switch. How cool is that?

Equally impressive, the JVC HA-NC100 folds up to become a far more compact travel accessory than you'd expect from full-size headphones. JVC also supplies a drawstring leather carrying case and a two-prong airplane adapter.

JVC includes handy travel-friendly accessories with the HA-NC100 Noise Canceling Headphones.

The JVC HA-NC100 combines passive noise reduction--the padded cups that cover your ears--with active circuitry designed to block low-frequency noise, such as the hum of a train or the deep roar of a jet engine. It's an effective one-two punch, though the result is definitely noise reduction, not complete cancellation. If you're sitting in a crowded airport lounge, don't expect much dampening; the noise there is largely mid- to high range. But the active circuit does a commendable job with the low-end stuff, making public-transportation environments seem considerably quieter.

As for the headphones themselves, we found sound quality to be decent overall. Bass response seemed a little weak, and during quiet music passages, we could occasionally detect a bit of the hiss produced by the active circuit, though only in the right ear. In passive mode, this hiss was eliminated, improving the overall listening experience a bit. Audiophiles may find the JVC HA-NC100 Noise Canceling Headphones wanting, but for everyone else, it's an almost unbeatable deal.

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