Sony MDR-NC500D

Posted on: 02/16/09 by Alex Paita

To put Sony's new digital noise-canceling headphones, the MDR-NC500D, to the ultimate test, we took a non-aircon bus at a peak hour and traversed EDSA with Belle and Sebastian's whole discography queued in our miniplayer. The result was ear-splittingly astounding.

Soft, sad-bastard songs that normally needed level-11 amplification to be heard gusted clearly under mid-volume out of the MDR-NC500D's earcups, uninterrupted by the horns of other buses scrambling for passengers and the, er, horniness of other passengers scrambling for the prime seat (beside that one chick in a miniskirt, we assumed). This is because the NC500D uses a minimicrophone that samples the ambient noise, reverses its waveform, and feeds it right in your ears. And if you're wondering how mamang kundoktor ever got us to pay the fare, the NC500D does offer a Monitor button, which stops both the sound and the noise-canceling function, ideal for a quick check with the outside world.

As for sound quality, the NC500D did great with mid- and high-range tones, though it initially had us thinking it lacked some much-needed oomph in the bass department (we're talking about the Thin Lizzy-inspired "I'm a Cuckoo," for one). We had to stray to Chumbawumba for a moment to get a second opinion, and the tub-thumping difference in depth pointed out that the problem was with a song's recording, not with Sony. Perhaps it helped that the NCD500D has a digital equalizer built in. A little sifting through the three environment modes -- Airplane, Train, and Office -- didn't affect the quality either, just the amount of stress-inducing noise being reduced.

Judging from the curious stares we drew from fellow commuters (enough of the chick in a miniskirt), we looked good doing all this, too. It's not much of a surprise, actually, considering the MDR-NC500D's got a sleek glossy-black and chrome-accent finish and a bluish-green LED light that flashes on function. Tucked underneath is its hidden beauty: leather pads covering each oblong-shaped earcup (which may not work best on the pasmado).

What may appear as another downside is the rechargeable lithium-ion battery, which renders this digital (read: power-dependent) can totally useless once it gets drained. It lasts for roughly 16 hours, but after that you can make use of a separate AA battery pack to go on for another 12 hours or so.

The Sony MDR-NC500D is pricey, yes, but if you can't afford to go to places without your favorite music coming on to you effortlessly, then strap this on. It will be worth it.

 

Performance
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Value
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Overall
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+
  • Vacuum-like noise cancellation
  • Sleek design
  • Light weight
  • Built-in rechargeable battery and AA battery option
-
  • Not really safe for work
  • Too expensive to be used on EDSA buses
  • No Tricycle environment function
Bottom Line
  • Buy only if you have money to spare
Editor's Pick No
Price P24,999
Tech Specs
  • Headphone Type: Closed, dynamic
  • Battery Life: 16 hours
  • Headband: Adjustable, foldable (swivel)
  • Frequency Response: 5-24,000Hz
  • Sensitivity (dB): 102dB/mW (on)
  • Weight: 195g (including built-in battery)



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