Active vs passive noise cancelling headphones

Samtb

macrumors 65816
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Jan 6, 2013
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Which is generally better? I'm looking at Sony MDR-ZX600 and MDR-NC200D.
 
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Gofre

macrumors regular
Feb 7, 2011
178
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Samtb said:
Which is generally better?
Active noise cancelling works by picking up the external noise through microphones in the earpieces and overlaying an inverted signal to block out the sound. In the vast majority of headphones this compromises sound quality in some degree, ranging from an audible hiss to distorting the sound signature, depending on how well it's implemented. There are a few headphones that do a decent job of it, but if sound quality is the top priority and you don't spend your life on public transport or plains, then I would go passive every time.

In terms of recommendations, what music do you listen to? What's your price range?
 

Samtb

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Original poster
Jan 6, 2013
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Active noise cancelling works by picking up the external noise through microphones in the earpieces and overlaying an inverted signal to block out the sound. In the vast majority of headphones this compromises sound quality in some degree, ranging from an audible hiss to distorting the sound signature, depending on how well it's implemented. There are a few headphones that do a decent job of it, but if sound quality is the top priority and you don't spend your life on public transport or plains, then I would go passive every time.

In terms of recommendations, what music do you listen to? What's your price range?
I use public transport quite a bit but il be using it mainly for home listening and actives are a lot more expensive than passives and I'm trying to decide is its worth the extra money.
 

Gofre

macrumors regular
Feb 7, 2011
178
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I use public transport quite a bit but il be using it mainly for home listening and actives are a lot more expensive than passives and I'm trying to decide is its worth the extra money.
I personally think a pair of passives with high levels of isolation suffice for people who won't be using them for regular air travel or listening at low volumes. The headphones I use on the go, the Sennheiser HD25-1 II and Sennheiser Amperior, both do a great job of blocking out background noise while I'm on the tube in London.
 

Samtb

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I personally think a pair of passives with high levels of isolation suffice for people who won't be using them for regular air travel or listening at low volumes. The headphones I use on the go, the Sennheiser HD25-1 II and Sennheiser Amperior, both do a great job of blocking out background noise while I'm on the tube in London.
Thanks. And are Sony good for audio quality. I've also looked at Sennheiser, AKG and audio technica.
 

Samtb

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Those are all good brands. How much are you looking to spend?
Below 150 dollars. Which is better for sound quality out of Sony and Audio Technica for portables. They seem to fit my price range and portability.
 

Gofre

macrumors regular
Feb 7, 2011
178
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Below 150 dollars. Which is better for sound quality out of Sony and Audio Technica for portables. They seem to fit my price range and portability.
You should be able to find a pair of Audio Technica ATH M50s for about that price (They're going for $159 on Amazon), which will have probably the best sound you can find at this price point :)
 

Samtb

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You should be able to find a pair of Audio Technica ATH M50s for about that price (They're going for $159 on Amazon), which will have probably the best sound you can find at this price point :)
How about the ATH-ES700 and ATH-ES88? Are they any good in terms of sound quality?