CNET First Look
Sony's disappointing noise-canceling in-ear headphonesThe Sony XBA-NC85D is marginally effective at canceling noise and its disappointing sound quality does nothing to offset the exorbitant price.
Hi. I'm Justin Yu, Head Phone Editor here at CNET.com. Today we're taking a closer look at the Sony XBA NC85D, noise cancelling headphone unlike most of your (buzz?) that just claim to reduce noise. This headphone actually feature a battery built right into the ear pieces. That's a good concept in theory because it eliminates the ball (key?) battery case that comes with most noise cancelling headsets. But here's with Sony went wrong. The battery inside are made of nickel metal hydride and our proprietary to the Sony brand which means you can't just insert your own alkaline batteries to power it up. The other thing is that if you do happen to forget this charger while you're out and the battery is due run out, the headphone will seize to work until you get home and plug them in. This type of proprietary design approach isn't very user friendly and they should have at least supplied two chargers, if they're gonna charge 500 bucks for the device that only works with their accessories but you know one advantage of the USB charger has is that you can of course plug it into any computer with a USB port for the charge. Now onto the noise cancelling features, the circuitry actually has three modes built in, one that needs the sound of airplanes, another to drawn out commuter noise like buses and trains and the third one for the office noise. Thankfully Sony does automate that selection for you and the company does claim to reduce outside noise up to 96.5%. Unfortunately however our reviewers Steve (Gottenberg?) was unimpressed with the switching and he didn't really notice the change and he walked around the city and it's also worth knowing that the headphones in that a pretty distinctive background noise that's usually for artificial intelligence processing but that is more of general complain about noise cancelling headphones and it's not specific to Sony's alone. Steve also thought the NC85D sound which far behind compare to Sony's other ear (bug?) for example the XBA 4 that is also reviewed on CNET. The single armature design of the driver is a peculiar choice for Sony specially of such an ambitious price and the sound is definitely lucking in base in power. Finally Steve described the greedy harshness to the trouble levels and the sound distorted severely even when played with base heavy music. So we just not recommend them for (fans?) hip hop and electronic music. Finally, Steve also describes plenty of (cheap braltered?) if that sound much better namely the $230 that (??), CXC700 and you can check that out in a full review on CNET.com but that's gonna do it for me. I'm Justin Yu. These are the Sony XBA NC85D noise cancelling headphone and that sounds just okay with me.