Sony MDR-NC6 Noise-Cancelling Headphones

I bought these just before getting on an 11-hour plane ride to California from Seoul. Unfortunately, they don’t include the AAA battery needed for the noise canceling functionality, but they were handy for the plane ride none-the-less.

Why were they useful on the plane still? Well, the NC6 headphones retained some noise-blocking functionality even though they are open cans. They also included an airline adaptor which was useful for the in-flight movies once I discovered that bit-torrenting the TV Series Lost wasn’t a great choice for viewing during a flight.

The sound quality is decent, certainly not as good bass as I’d like. On the plane I watched the movies “Mad Detective” and “Three Kings”, both of which sounded good on these ‘phones. My main complaint would be with the noise-canceling functionality: it can give me a headache if I use it with anything that doesn’t have constant noise (music, movies, etc). So, for example, listening to This American Life at work with the MDR-NC6’s gives me a headache after an hour or two due to the white noise produced when the noise canceling functionality is enabled.

Also note that these headphones do not fit the iPhone (Edge) by default, for that you’ll need some kind of vile adapter.

Overall, I’d say they have good enough sound quality, and are definitely worth an airport purchase. Office workers may enjoy the MDR-NC6’s especially for their ability to quickly toggle between hearing everything around you and what you’re listening to, to noise-cancellation mode where you can focus on your work, with the switch on the right earpiece.

If you want some other recommendations, check out David Pogue’s recent video review of some similar sets, or the text version of his article.

Score: 3/5 Alien Skulls

Author: Jack Slater

A Philadelphian living in Hawaii. You can follow or contact me on Twitter where I'm @TimeDoctor, via the contact page, or via e-mail to Find out more about Nuclear Monster here.

5 thoughts on “Sony MDR-NC6 Noise-Cancelling Headphones”

  1. Noise calceling headphones give me headache too.
    It might be a common problem with this technology.

  2. I’m pretty sure I’m in the minority here, but noise-canceling headphones bother me as well. Putting on a pair is fine, but as soon as I switch on the noise-canceling…I feel as though I’m getting un-wanted pressure right on the inside of my ears. Unfortunately, it bothers me enough where I don’t want to use them. And afterward, I feel as though my ears and neck slightly ache.

  3. And here I thought I was just nuts. Whenever I use the noise-canceling feature (i.e. the reason I got these in the first place) I feel like my head is going to explode, kind of like taking off in an airplane and having the pressure bother me. It’s just sound, so I don’t understand how it could feel like pressure and pain. Weird.

  4. I also get a headache when using my Bose noise-canceling headphones! I kind-of upset b/c the cost of these was $300!! Is there anything to do to help with this? Why is it happening to some and not others?

  5. I tried my boyfriend’s noise-canceling headphones and felt like throwing up after a few seconds. My eyes watered up, I pressure behind them and in my head. I had a headache for about 30 minutes afterward. He called me a hypochondriac, lol, but it was instantaneous discomfort.

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