A cheap but effective noise cancelling solution
- Small size, light
- Cheap construction, poor noise cancelling
TDK's NC-100 headphones offer a convenient portable profile, but their pleasant sound is hampered by poor noise cancelling.
Price$ 49.95 (AUD)
As the less expensive brother of the TDK NC-200, the NC-100 offers the same noise cancelling technology, but in a smaller, more portable build. The sound quality is decent and is a step up from the stock earbuds of your favourite MP3 player, but the noise cancelling system introduces a lot of background hiss into the audio.
The NC-100 looks very similar to TDK's standard ST-100 portable model. The ear-cups swivel up and the headband is hinged in the middle, allowing for the headphones to be folded into a smaller size. They're slightly too large to fit into a pocket, but the package includes a soft carry pouch for them to be stored in.
They're comfortable to wear, with only a small amount of clamping force and an adjustable headband. The headphones are also very light and don't become heavy during long listening sessions; the trade-off for this is the noticeably flimsy build quality.
The sound isn't audiophile-quality by any stretch, but it is better than what you'll get out of the standard earphones bundled with an MP3 player. Audio is relatively neutral throughout the frequency range, with a slight emphasis on the mid-bass range.
Treble is even and it doesn't sound harsh until high volumes. However, it was a little muffled and lacked clarity, which gave the music in our tests a quality as if we were listening to it in a tunnel, with an echoey and distant effect. The mid-range was balanced and not bloated, though vocals were a little pronounced compared to the instrumental tracks in the same piece. There was a nice amount of bass, giving the music a smooth sound without overpowering any of the instruments.
Surprisingly for a budget pair of headphones, the NC-100s have an impressive soundstage. Positional audio is created well; when listening to live music there is distinct separation and noticeable three-dimensional staging.
The noise cancelling feature of the headphones produced both negative and positive results for the sound quality. We found that once the noise cancelling was activated, the music sounded richer and fuller. It's common for noise-cancelling headphones to sound veiled and distant when the noise cancelling is deactivated and this model was no exception, so it's recommended to keep the noise cancellation feature activated. We've had the noise cancellation active on these headphones for over 24 hours with music playing, so battery life will be more than sufficient for casual users.
The downside of the noise cancelling feature is that, especially during quiet periods of music, a large amount of background hissing could be heard. This was very noticeable, and was significantly worse than with the powered noise cancelling off. Despite this issue, the active cancelling does a passable job at reducing the volume of background noise.
With the addition of sound-enhancing noise cancellation over the ST-100s, the NC-100 headphones from TDK are a solid option at a competitive price.
Join the PC World newsletter!
Gadgets & Things
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Finally! LG OLED TV 2016 range review
- 2 Google Daydream View VR full, in-depth review
- 3 Google Pixel XL full, in-depth smartphone review: Phones just got smarter
- 4 Apple iPhone 7 Plus review: including Portrait Mode
- 5 MSI GS70 laptop review
Latest News Articles
- Apple's AirPods could deliver audio with multiple wireless protocols
- First look: Nuheara IQbuds smart Bluetooth ear buds do more than just music
- Convoy International restructures business focus
- Beats Solo2 headphones go wireless for $399
- Astro A38 review: A staggering price to pay for convenience
GGG Evaluation Team
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.
The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.
My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.
- The top 10 best and worst tech gadgets and products of 2016
- TV of the year award 2016
- Best phone of the year 2016
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?
- FTTechnology Portfolio - Performance AnalystACT
- FTWinforms Developer - European Integration ProgramVIC
- CCBI/DW Lead DeveloperVIC
- CCTechnology Specialist-AWS MigrationNSW
- CCSharePoint DeveloperACT
- CCSuperannuation Research ConsultantACT
- FTTraining & Implementation Manager, PlatformNSW
- FTICT Manager - DefenceACT
- FTTechnical Business AnalystNSW
- FTSenior UX DesignerVIC
- FTSenior Reporting Data Analyst - TelcoVIC
- CCInfrastructure Project ManagersACT
- FTProject Manager (Cyber Security) - Permanent - IT Services - North Ryde areaNSW
- FTMarketing Automation DeveloperVIC
- CCGuidewire ArchitectNSW
- FTFront End DeveloperVIC
- TPIntegration DeveloperWA
- CCService Desk Consultants - Urgent - Large multinational!!NSW
- CCService Desk AnalystACT
- CCProject Manager DW BINSW
- CCTechnical AnalystACT
- CCWindows Systems Engineer - AD, VMware, RedHat experienceNSW
- TPProject Coordinator - IT Projects - State GovernmentVIC
- FTDevOps/L2 Support EngineerVIC
- FTPractice AdvisorQLD