World’s First Noise-Canceling Digital Headphones

The Sony booth had a lot of interesting products on display, but hardly anything specifically dealing with audio. Last year, the only product I found I could find in the Sony booth that I could mention in my CES blog was a pair of headphones. This year, the product that I spotted that I thought would be interesting to Stereophile readers was "a pair of headphones!"

No, these were not the same headphones, but the new MDR-NC500D ($399), the "World’s First Noise-Canceling Headphones using digital technology for precise noise reduction." I listened to them, and although it was difficult to judge the ultimate quality, they seemed to sound pretty good. However, what was really impressive was the sound they didn't make. With no input signal, just turning on the noise-reduction circuitry produced a reduction in noise that was quite eerie. It was like suddenly entering an anechoic chamber. A lithium-ion battery powers the headphones for up to 16 hours. After that, the noise returns!