Nocs NS700 Phaser review: Decent headphones that don't stand out

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The Good The Nocs NS700 Phaser on-ear headphones offer decent sound for the money, fit snugly, and seem well built. They also have an Apple-friendly in-line remote/microphone,

The Bad The headphones don't do much to distinguish themselves from the competition. Several other headphones have the same design and while the sound is decent, it doesn't exceed expectations for a $99 headphone.

The Bottom Line The Nocs NS700 Phaser headphones are decent headphones that are hurt by the fact that they don't do enough to distinguish themselves from the competition -- from either the standpoint of design or performance.

6.7 Overall
  • Design 6
  • Features 7
  • Performance 7

In case you've never heard of Nocs, it's a Swedish company, and it has a growing line of headphones, most of them in-ear models. I've reviewed the NS400 ($79.99) and the NS600 Crush ($149.99) and liked them both, but I was a little less enthused about the NS700 Phaser, the on-ear model reviewed here.

Why didn't I like it as much? Well, for starters it's got a pretty ho-hum design. It's not a bad design, but there are several other headphones out there with the same design, so it does nothing to set itself apart.

To put another way, Nocs' engineers have taken a common, off-the-shelf headphone, slapped the company logo on it and presumably put a decent driver inside it and customized the sound to their liking. There's a little more to it than that, but that's the general snapshot of the situation -- or at least my impression of it. (Note: After this review posted, a Nocs rep informed me that, "They might look somewhat generic but it's not an off-the-shelf product. It's our own tooling and the headband is made of TR90 Dupont Nylon, which is nearly unbreakable.")

Several other headphone models have the same design as the NS700 Phaser. Sarah Tew/CNET

As I said, the design's not bad. While the headphones don't fold up in anyway, they're fairly compact and comfortable enough, though not supercomfortable. They have textured, soft-to-the-touch finish and an Apple-friendly integrated remote/microphone.

You'll be able to make calls with Android and other smartphones but the remote features are only guaranteed to work with iOS devices such as the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. Call quality was good in my tests with an iPhone 4S.

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