Table of Contents
  1. Intro
  2. Design
    1. Style
    2. Comfort
    3. Controls
    4. Stability
    5. Portability
    6. Case
    7. Build Quality
    8. Cable
    9. Front
    10. Angled
    11. Side
    12. Rear
    13. Top
  3. Sound
    1. Bass
    2. Mid
    3. Treble
    4. Total Harmonic Distortion
  4. Isolation
    1. Noise Isolation
    2. Leakage
  5. Active Features
    1. Wireless
    2. Battery
    3. App Support
  6. In the box
  7. Conclusion
  8. Q&A
Reviewed on Feb 26, 2016 , Marc Henney

Sony MDR-NC8
HEADPHONES REVIEW

Usage Ratings
5.8Mixed Usage
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What it is This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
Score components:
6.9Critical Listening
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What it is The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
Score components:
5.1Commute/Travel
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What it is How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
Score components:
5.6Sports/Fitness
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What it is How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
Score components:
5.8Office
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What it is How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
Score components:
Type : On-ear
Enclosure : Closed-Back
Wireless : No
Noise-Cancelling : Yes
Mic : No
Transducer : Dynamic

The Sony MDR-NC8 deliver surprisingly decent sound reproduction. However, they are flimsy, below-average headphones with terrible noise isolation and subpar build quality. They feel cheap and are hard to recommend.

Test Results
Design 4.8
Sound 7.0
Isolation 4.9
Active Features 4.5
Pros
  • Decent audio reproduction.
  • Earcups don't leak much sound.
Cons
  • Very poor noise cancelling.
  • Flimsy, weak build.
  • Lack in bass is noticeable.

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4.8

Design

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Score components:
Sony MDR-NC8 Design Picture

The MDR-NC8 feel and look cheap. They are extremely flimsy, lack severely in build quality and do not offer any in-line controls. They also feel uncomfortable because of the lack of padding and tension on the weak headband which is very disappointing.

Style
Sony MDR-NC8 Design Picture 2

There's nothing that really stands out with the design of the MDR-NC8. They look bland and utilitarian but also but also a little cheap because of the low-grade thin plastic used. They come in a matt black color accentuated by a glossy finish at the hinges and a subtle SONY branding on the back of oval ear cups. The headband is thin and not padded which does not help with the already bland esthetic.

5.5 Comfort
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What it is: Adjustability and degrees of freedom, pressure, stiffness and weight.
When it matters: When the headphones are going to be used for long durations.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
Sony MDR-NC8 Comfort Picture
Weight : 0.40 lbs
Clamping Force
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What it is: The force that the headphones exert on your head, once you have them on. This is purely a measurement of the force applied, which does not take into account the earpad's surface area and the resulting pressure you will feel, on or around your ears.
When it matters: The tighter the headphones, the more force they put on your head. This can get uncomfortable or cause pain and soreness during long listening sessions.
:
0.76 lbs

The padding on the ear cups is soft and the MDR-NC8 are lightweight. These are the only benefits to an otherwise uncomfortable set of headphones. The lack of padding on the headband and the overall flimsiness of the headphones do not feel good on the head. The stereo audio cable is not detachable and can get in the way, as they link both ear cups which can be frustrating.

5.0 Controls
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What it is: The control scheme of the headphones; the number of functions provided, button layout and ergonomics as well as the quality of tactile feedback.
When it matters: If you want to control volume, pause your music or make phone calls without directly interacting with, your audio device.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
Sony MDR-NC8 Controls Picture
Call/Music Control : No
Volume Control : No
Additional Buttons : Noise-Canceling

Button layout is non-existent. There is only one button and its to switch on/off the noise cancelling. The MDR-NC8 offer no in-line controls so you will have to pull out your device every time you want to turn up the volume or skip and stop a tracks which is very disappointing.

5.5 Stability
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What it is: How the headphones are designed to prevent them from slipping off your ears or falling off your head.
When it matters: If you plan on using the headphones while doing sports or other physical activities that requires a lot of movement.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
Sony MDR-NC8 Stability Picture

The Sony MDR-NC8 are not stable headphones. The headband is not tight enough to keep the headphones in place during physical activity. They sway a lot while running and are not ideal for the gym. They also have a non-detachable cable that will pull the headphones off your head if it gets hooked on something.

6.4 Portability
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What it is: The volume of space occupied by the headphones when folded into their most compact format.
When it matters: If you're often on the move and need to carry your headphones in a bag, purse , or pocket.
Score components:
Sony MDR-NC8 Portability Picture
L : 4.33 "
W : 5.51 "
H : 2.76 "
Volume : 65.72 Cu. Inches

These headphones are fairly portable. They fold up into a compact design that will easily fit into larger bags and purses. However, they're not portable enough to comfortably carry around on your person. They also do not come with case or pouch, which is a little disappointing

0 Case
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What it is: The provided carrying options to protect your headphones when transporting them.
When it matters: To prevent damaging your headphones, if you often carry them in your bag or pocket.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
Type : No case

3.5 Build Quality
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What it is: Durability; material quality; cheap/expensive feel.
When it matters: When the headphones are going to be used by multiple users (classes/studios), by children, in tough conditions, on a daily basis, or for exercise.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
Sony MDR-NC8 Build Quality Picture

The build quality for the MDR-NC8 is abysmal. They feel cheap, weak and look extremely susceptible to breaking. The hinges are loose and the headband is super thin and not padded. The ear cups flimsily move about without much force and would not withstand more than a few drops.

Cable
Sony MDR-NC8 Cable Picture
Detachable : No
Length : 3.97 ft
Connection : 1/8" TRS

Front
Angled
Side
Rear
Top
7.0

Sound

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What it is: How accurately the audio is reproduced. The tests are performed with the headphones' most commonly used features enabled (noise-cancelling, wireless, etc.)
Score components:
Sony MDR-NC8 Frequency Response

These headphones have surprisingly decent audio reproduction. The relatively flat audio profile is flexible and works well with vocals and instrumental tunes. They do, however, lack bass, so listeners looking for a deep low end to go with their Hip/hop or EDM will be disappointed. Distortion is also a concern and is noticeable at mid-to-higher volumes.

6.9 Bass
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What it is: Frequency Response from 20Hz-250Hz
When it matters: When the material is heavy on bass frequencies, such as those of kick drums and bass guitar.
Score components:
Sony MDR-NC8 Bass
Std. Err.
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What it is: The amount of deviation (weighted standard error) in bass frequency response (20Hz-250Hz) as compared to a target response that would sound perfectly balanced to most people.
When it matters: When a balanced and neutral (reference) bass performance is desired.
Good value: <4dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
5.36 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
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What it is: The lowest frequency at which the frequency response reaches -3dB of the target response.
When it matters: Shows how extended the bass is.
Good value: <40Hz
Noticeable difference: 5Hz
:
45.55 Hz
Low-Bass
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 20Hz-60Hz.
When it matters: Kick drums and low frequency effects get their 'thump' from this range. Mostly felt than heard.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
-7.33 dB
Bass
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 60Hz-120Hz.
When it matters: Melodic bass instruments have most of their fundamental frequencies in this range. This is where the 'body' and 'punch' of the bass sits.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
2.19 dB
High-Bass
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 120Hz-250Hz.
When it matters: Most instruments get their warmth and full-ness from this range. When over-emphasized, mixes tend to get muddy and boomy.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
3.05 dB

Decent performance. The bass response is flat down to 80Hz but the roll-off in to the low-bass region means that these headphones don't have a lot of thump to them.

8.0 Mid
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What it is: Frequency Response from 250Hz-2KHz
When it matters: When the material is heavy on mid-range frequencies. This is the case for the majority of audio content.
Score components:
Sony MDR-NC8 Mid
Std. Err.
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What it is: The amount of deviation (weighted standard error) in mid frequency response (250Hz-2.5KHz) as compared to a target response that would sound perfectly balanced to most people.
When it matters: When a balanced and neutral (reference) mid performance is desired.
Good value: <4dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
2.61 dB
Low-Mid
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 250Hz-500Hz.
When it matters: Most instruments have their fundamentals or low harmonics in this range. Over-emphasis in this range sounds boxy. Under-emphasis, thins out the vocals and lead instruments.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
0.88 dB
Mid
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 500Hz-1KHz.
When it matters: This range is occupied mostly by upper harmonics. Over-emphasis sounds forward and honky. Under-emphasis pushes instruments to the back of the mix.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
3.19 dB
High-Mid
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 1KHz-2.5KHz.
When it matters: Most instruments, especially vocals, get their intensity and clarity from this range. Over-emphasis sounds harsh, under-emphasis sounds weak and distant.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
1.17 dB

Very good performance. The bump in the mid region makes these headphones very slightly forward sounding.

5.6 Treble
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What it is: Frequency Response from 2KHz-20KHz
When it matters: When the material is heavy on high-range frequencies, such as voice, cymbals, and any other material where brightness, brilliance and airiness is desired.
Score components:
Sony MDR-NC8 Treble
Std. Err.
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What it is: The amount of deviation (weighted standard error) in treble frequency response (2.5KHz-20KHz) as compared to a target response that would sound perfectly balanced to most people.
When it matters: When a balanced and neutral (reference) treble performance is desired.
Good value: <4dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
5.77 dB
Low-Treble
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 2.5KHz-5KHz.
When it matters: Almost all instruments rely on this range for their presence, detail, and articulation. Over-emphasis can sound harsh and painful. Under-emphasis hurts the comprehensibility of vocals and lead instruments.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
-1.31 dB
Treble
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What it is: The average amount of over/under emphasis in frequency response from 5KHz-10KHz.
When it matters: This is the sibilance range. Cymbals, vocals, and lead instruments rely on this range for brightness and presence. Over-emphasis sounds piercing and painful, under-emphasis sounds dull and lispy.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
0.51 dB
High-Treble
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 10KHz-20KHz.
When it matters: This range gives brilliance and airiness to the sound. Over-emphasis sounds hissy, under-emphasis sounds closed-up and lifeless.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
0.8 dB

Poor, inconsistent performance. The dip surrounding 6KHz noticeably dulls the presence of vocals and other lead instruments. On the other hand, the peak around 8KHz makes sibilant material slightly sizzly and hyped.

8.5 Total Harmonic Distortion
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What it is: The subtle, unwanted frequencies (harmonics) produced alongside the intended frequencies.
When it matters: When clean and pure sound reproduction is desired, though its effect is not as noticable as frequency response.
Score components:
Sony MDR-NC8 Distortion
Weighted THD @ 90
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What it is: The overall amount of harmonic distortion measured at 90dB SPL. To make the score more perceptually relevant, more weight is given to the higher frequencies.
When it matters: How pure the sound is at moderate listening levels.
Good value: <0.100
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
0.186
Weighted THD @ 100
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What it is: The overall amount of harmonic distortion measured at 100dB SPL. To make the score more perceptually relevant, more weight is given to the higher frequencies.
When it matters: How pure the sound is at loud listening levels.
Good value: <0.300
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
1.055

Very high distortion. The 90 dB SPL result is worse than some other headphones' 100 dB SPL performance. Distortion at 100 db SPL at 70Hz is 10%.

4.9

Isolation

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Score components:

The MDR-NC8 have very poor performance when it comes to cancelling ambient noise. The active noise cancellation changes nothing in the amount of ambient noise that get into the earcups and their padding does not add much passive isolation either. The MDR-NC8s won't leak much sound but are definitely not recommended for use in noisy environments or for travelling.

3.4 Noise Isolation
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What it is: How much outside noise is blocked out by putting the headphones on.
When it matters: If the headphones are going to be used in a noisy envinronment (airplane, subway, etc.)
Score components:
Sony MDR-NC8 Noise Isolation
Overall Attenuation
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What it is: The overall amount of environmental noise reduction in dB.
When it matters: In loud envinronments like planes, trains, offices, etc.
Good value: <-20dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
-6.71 dB
Bass
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What it is: The overall amount of noise isolation in the bass range (20Hz-250Hz).
When it matters: When the outside noise is bass-heavy, like in airplanes.
Good value: <-15dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
0.16 dB
Mid
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What it is: The overall amount of noise isolation in the mid-range (250Hz-2.5KHz).
When it matters: When the environment's noise is mid-heavy, like in an office.
Good value: <-15dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
-5.67 dB
Treble
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What it is: The overall amount of noise isolation in the treble range (2.5KHz-20KHz).
When it matters: When the environment's noise is treble-heavy. Although uncommon, areas with sharp sounds fall under this category.
Good value: <-30dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
-16.16 dB
Self-Noise
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What it is: The amount of noise created by the active electronics of the headphones (if applicable), measured from 200Hz-20KHz. Applies mostly to wireless and noise-cancelling headphones.
When it matters: If too loud, it could become distracting when listening to quiet material like podcasts and audiobooks.
Good value: <18dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
16.33 dB

Amazingly, the active noise cancelling on these headphones doesn't seem to be doing anything. The passive isolation is also sub-par, only starting to isolate at around 400Hz. It does best at 5 KHz, where it provides -20dB of isolation.

8.0 Leakage
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What it is: The amount of sound bleeding out of the headphones.
When it matters: When the listener doesn't want people around them (in office, recording studio, etc.) to hear what is being listened to.
Score components:
Sony MDR-NC8 Leakage
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
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What it is: The amount of sound leakage heard 1 foot away from the user, while the user is listening to a 100dB SPL signal.
When it matters: When you don't want people hear what you are listening to.
Good value: <35dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
35.12 dB

Good leakage performance, which is expected of on-ear headphones. Listening to music at average volumes should not be an issue, but the profile is relatively broadband. It ranges from 500Hz and up to 4Khz.

4.5

Active Features

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What it is: Headphones with active components that require a battery. This includes noise cancelling and wireless headphones that actively reduce noise or transmit audio via a wireless connection.
When it matters: How suitable the power and wireless specifications of an active headphone will be, depending on your listening habits. The range and/or discharge time of the active headphone you select will be important if you're often on the move or have long uninterrupted listening sessions.
Score components:

The MDR- NC8 only have noise canceling as an active feature. This makes them less versatile for other use cases except as noise canceling headphones, as they lack both wireless features or an app, to enhance and customize their sound. On the upside, they have an incredibly long battery life at 88.5 hours with a single fully charged AAA cell. 

0 Wireless
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What it is: Headphones that offer a cable-free listening experience over a wireless network, typically via Bluetooth or radio frequency.
When it matters: If you don't want to be limited by the length of an audio cable. This means having the freedom to move around in your home or office with a much greater range than an audio cable could provide, especially, if the Bluetooth source is heavy or difficult to carry.
Type
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What it is: The type and version of the wireless network, the headphones use to connect to the audio source. This could either be Bluetooth or radio frequency.
When it matters: The Bluetooth version will determine how compatible the headphones are with your Bluetooth enabled devices. Typically, newer Bluetooth versions are backward compatible with older ones but may lack the additional features that more recent Bluetooth protocols provide.
:
N/A
Obstructed Range
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What it is: The range that the wireless headphones can reach before dropping any audio when the Bluetooth source was placed in another room.
When it matters: If you can't or prefer not to carry your Bluetooth source on you, while listening to your audio in an indoor environment. Although, the obstructed wireless range will slightly depend on your home or office layout.
Good value: >35ft
Noticeable difference: 5ft
:
N/A
Line of Sight Range
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What it is: The range that the wireless headphones can reach before dropping any audio when in direct line of sight of the Bluetooth device.
When it matters: If you can't or prefer not to carry your Bluetooth source on you, while listening to your audio in a large and open environment.
Good value: 170ft or more
Noticeable difference: 10ft
:
N/A
NFC
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What it is: Near Field Communication technology that allows you to quickly, pair your headphones with your Bluetooth and NFC-enabled device.
When it matters: This makes pairing with an NFC-enabled device a lot easier than the typical and often tedious hold-to-pair procedure that most wireless headphones have.
:
No

8.6 Battery
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What it is: The power source of your headphones. All headphones with active features have a battery that will deplete over time.
When it matters: To continue using the active features of your headphones. Some models lose features or switch off completely when the battery is drained, which limits what you can do with them until the next charge.
Score components:
Battery Type
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What it is: The type of battery that the headphones use. Usually AAA or embedded, Li-ion rechargeable batteries.
When it matters: When your headphones run out of power. Rechargeable batteries usually charge via the headphones Micro-USB port whereas AAA batteries have to be replaced or charged with an external device.
:
AAA
Battery Life
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What it is: The amount of time it takes for a headphones' battery to be completely drained. Battery life will vary depending on the active features used and volume level.
When it matters: For active headphones that connect wirelessly, have noise cancellation or other audio-enhancing features, that cease to work once the battery is dead.
Good value: >10hrs
Noticeable difference: 0.5hrs
:
88.5 hrs
Charge Time
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What it is: The amount of time your active headphones have to be connected to a power source to charge from 0 to a 100%. However, charging time will vary depending on your power source.
When it matters: To be able to use the active features of your headphones. Especially, wireless ones that completely switch off and need to be recharged when the battery is dead.
Good value: 2h or less
Noticeable difference: 0.25h
:
N/A
Auto-off
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What it is: A feature that turns off the headphones, after a set time, when they're not in use.
When it matters: To prolong battery life when the headphones are not being used, or if you forget to manually turn off your headphones.
:
No
Audio while charging
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What it is: Some active headphones remain usable while charging. They continue to stream audio and do not disable other active features.
When it matters: This makes sure that your headphones's battery are not being drained when your relatively close to a power source. However, this means wireless headphones will need a wired connection to the power source during the charging process.
:
N/A
Passive Playback
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What it is: Active headphones that still work when all their active features are turned off or out of power.
When it matters: If you run out of power and do not have spare AA/AAA batteries or access to a power source to recharge your headphones.
:
No

The MDR-ZX110NC have great battery life that will easily deliver above 80 hours of continuous playback. They use a AAA battery but thanks to the long battery life you won't have to swap out the battery as often. Unfortunately, like the MDR-ZX110NC they have no power saving features, but can be used passively when the battery runs out.

0 App Support
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What it is: The additional app provided to enhance your listening experience. They typically deliver a set of practical features that give you more control over the sound, noise cancelling and effects that the headphones produce.
When it matters: An app with a lot of features allows you to customize your listening experience to suit your taste and preferences. For example, additions like an equalizer can give you more bass or treble and room effects can simulate a bigger Soundstage in closed back headphones.
Score components: Subjectively assigned

No compatible app.

In the box

Sony MDR-NC8 In the box Picture

  • Sony MDR-NC8
  • Airline adapter
  • AAA Battery
  • Manual

Conclusion Amazon.co.uk CHECK PRICE Right

5.8Mixed Usage
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What it is This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
Score components:
The Sony MDR-NC8 mediocre and cheap everyday headphones that do not excel in a particular use case. Their isolation is not efficient enough for traveling or the office and their sound is an average at best.
6.9Critical Listening
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What it is The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
Score components:
Not intended for pure critical listening. The closed back design and small earcups limit the soundstage these headphones can create. Their audio reproduction is decent with instruments and vocals but lacks bass and detail.
5.1Commute/Travel
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What it is How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
Score components:
Poor for commuting. They don't block or cancel enough noise for loud environments.
5.6Sports/Fitness
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What it is How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
Score components:
Mediocre for sports. These headphones are lightweight and not too bulky. However, their not tight enough to stay put during physical activity and the non-detachable audio cable gets tangled a lot.
5.8Office
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What it is How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
Score components:
Mediocre for office use. They have low leakage and won't distract your colleagues. But they also won't block the office chatter because of the weak noise isolation.
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Questions & Answers

1 ANSWERED QUESTIONS
5
Would love to see a review of the mdr-1000x. You seem to have a well defined procedure for testing which is really nice.
Thanks for your suggestion. Added to our to list, but it may take us a while to get to it.
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