By August 17, 2008

Sony MDR-NC500D Digital Noise Cancelling Headphones Review

Sony MDR-NC500D Digital Noise Cancelling Headphones
Sony MDR-NC500D Digital Noise Cancelling Headphones

Do you find that as soon as you get on a bus, train or plane that you have to turn the volume up on your MP3 player because the surrounding noise is too loud? Maybe you can not ever get a long enough sleep on the train because you have that person making plans with there friends sitting next to you. Well doing the long commute to work everyday I’ve come across this and a lot more. This is where Sony’s Digital Noise Cancelling Headphones (MDR-NC500D) come in. If you have never heard of noise cancelling headphones the easiest explanation I can give you is a microphone is placed near the ear, an anti noise sound wave with the opposite polarity of the sound is created and arrives at the microphone and this cancels out the external noise (and that was the simple explanation).


  • Excellent build quality
  • Very comfortable
  • Great range of accessories
  • Better for your hearing
  • Nice styling
  • Built in battery
  • Good sound production


  • Expensive
  • Size of carry case
  • No way to turn the noise cancelling off


Open Air Type


Closed Type


Capacity (W)


Driver unit (mm)


Frequency response (Hz)


Sensitivity – POWER ON (dB/mW)


Sensitivity – POWER OFF (dB/mW)



Neodymium (360kJ/m3)

Impedance – POWER ON (Ohm)


Impedance – POWER OFF (Ohm)


Noise reduction effective range

40 – 1,500 Hz

Noise reduction rate (at 300 Hz)

17 dB

DC power source (V)


Battery power source


Battery life (h)


Power switch


Noise cancelling ON/OFF switch


Cord type

OFC single sided

Cord length (m)



L shaped stereo mini plug (Gold)

Weight (g)




Headphone Case


I will start with a few of the disadvantages of those headphones, firstly the biggest complaint I have is that you cannot run the headphones with the noise reduction turned off. You might ask why you would want to turn it off! Its not necessarily you that wants it turned off but if you are on a long train journey and the battery dies you cannot use them anymore I had this happen to me once whilst testing them and it is very annoying, not to mention the really loud set of beeps that the headphones emit just before the power runs out.

The next is the size of the carry case, now there is keeping your headphones safe and then there is this. I have seen laptop bags smaller, if you where going away on a business trip for a couple of days you would have to take a large case just because of the headphones, although it does come with a shoulder strap.

Now I’ve had my little moan I have to admit these are the best headphones I have ever used. To start with when you open the case up you can see that everything has its place, even the aeroplane converter(which is included) has a little pocket.

You can either power the headphones using the internal battery which Sony claims 16 hours of usage or you can use an additional two AA batteries and this takes it up to 28 hours. From my first charge I only got around 11 hours but I am sure once the battery had been used a few times this would increase.

Once you put the turn the headphones on its very hard to explain the feeling, I passed them around at work to see if anyone could describe the sensation and after I managed to get them back the best description we could come up with would be when you go diving and your ears block the water out. If you’ve never been diving then it could also be when you take off in an aeroplane and the pressure builds in your ears (but without the uncomfortable feeling). Its very weird your ears are working but don’t hear anything. I was wearing these headphones for 2 hours at a time and they are so comfortable that you forget you are wearing them, well apart from the flat line across the top of your hair. They feel very sturdy and are finished to an excellent quality, even the carry case has a good finish.

I tried these on in the office and on the train, in the office they took out the noise of the air conditioning and most of the chatting. On the train most of the noise was reduced by a substantial amount and made it a pleasant journey. Just a warning to all you train commuters, because the noise is reduced this also means the station announcements are reduced as well and if you happen to fall asleep then you are most likely going to end up waking up at the end of the line. I had a few lucky escapes waking up just before I pulled into the station. Also walking to and from the station all the background noise is taken away this means that where ever you go wearing your headphones you can have the volume on your MP3 player lower. This is great when reports are showing slight deafness in younger people due to loud music. Finally there is a ‘monitor’ button which while held allows you to turn off the anti-noise and mutes the MP3 player and listen to the surrounding noises whether it is a train announcement or to listen out for cars if you are about to cross a road.





These are the best headphones I have ever put near my ears. The build quality and style of the MDR-NC500D is second to none and they come with all the accessories you could ever want.


Would I buy a pair? Unfortunately not, to me the £200 price tag is to expensive for a pair of headphones, even if they are as good as the MDR-NC500D. If you do a lot of travelling and money isn’t so much of a decision maker then you’ve got to have to buy these headphones.


Review by: Russell

Posted in: Reviews

About the Author:

More than 20 years in the IT industry. Blogging with a passion and thirst for new technology since 2005.
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