Sony MDR-NC500D

Comfortable and stylish noise-cancelling headphones

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Sony MDR-NC500D
  • Sony MDR-NC500D
  • Sony MDR-NC500D
  • Sony MDR-NC500D
  • Expert Rating

    4.25 / 5

Pros

  • Stylish and scratch-resistant exterior, comfortable padding, battery pack for extended use, good sound quality, noise cancelling works exceptionally well

Cons

  • Tight fit may annoy some, must be powered to work

Bottom Line

The Sony MDR-NC500D noise-cancelling headphones do a fantastic job of blocking out repetitive ambient noise. When listening to music they also acquit themselves well, with clear sound and a pleasant character.

Would you buy this?

The Sony MDR-NC500D headphones are suitable for music listening or movie watching, and they pack in some high quality noise-cancelling technology which makes them great for commuting or long-haul plane trips. Sound quality is good and the headphones are well constructed, but they are expensive.

Sony has taken a leaf out of the Bose QuietComfort 3 school of headphone design, with an over-the-ear ear-cup design that lets the headphones nestle comfortably on the head without looking too ridiculous. The cups are finished in a glossy, deep black which lends a sense of class and occasion — these headphones look like they're worth every penny of their $799 sticker price.

The noise cancelling of the Sony MDR-NC500D headphones is exceptionally good. In the PC World offices there are a multitude of keyboards tapping away, not to mention the constant drone of myriad computers and the air conditioning. The headphones’ noise cancelling blocked out constant ambient noises entirely, as well as significantly lowering the clatter of keyboard strokes. It can be quite uncanny, however; we found it difficult to adjust to the different air pressure when wearing the headphones.

Thankfully this is solved by listening to any audio — once there is music playing the noise cancellation is much less invasive and unsettling. The headphones do a good job of reproducing audio, with strong and punchy bass response as well as smooth, sweet treble.

The Sony MDR-NC500D headphones have a relatively even frequency response, with no particular emphasis to either bass or treble. Bass response in our test rock music tracks was powerful but restricted to lower notes, giving music a significant kick rather than bloating or sounding muddy. We prefer this as it gives music presence and richness without detracting from mid-range or higher frequencies.

Mid-range frequencies had plenty of detail and gave a warm tone to our music, with guitars and male vocals sounding rich and involving. Treble was also well handled with brass music, and female vocals sounding clear and airy.

The Sony MDR-NC500D headphones have a wide soundstage, with significant separation noticeable between musical instruments. Music and other audio had an enveloping, immersive quality that made it very engaging and easy to listen to.

There is not much we don’t like about these headphones, apart from the painfully high price tag. They do a great job of blocking out ambient noise.

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