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By Mike Joubert 4 November 2010

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Noise-cancelling headphones are great. Not only do they provide an excellent environment to listen to music, but even on their own they offer a great way to cancel out office drone. Try donning a pair of Bose headphones and you can immediately hear the difference.

This is unfortunately not the case with Philips’ SHN5500 noise cancelling headphones. But then again they are not setting you back R2 500, rather an easy-on-the-pocket R350.

Smart noise canceling technology

The SHN5500 makes use of "Smart noise canceling technology", activated via a relatively large in-line control panel (also housing your volume control), powered by a small AAA battery. According to Philips this technology is good at removing low frequency noise such as jet engines, also claiming a 75% cancellation in external noise. 

While this might be the case while flying (we did not test it onboard a flight), it did little to remove regular ambient noise in the office. Switching them on did create a bit of an effect but nothing drastic, so we are reluctant to accept such a bold figure from Philips.

What we did experience though was good quality sound, so while the actual noise cancellation left us unimpressed, at least the beats sounded good.

Air and Rail

Philips seems to aim these at the air travel market, seeing that the headphones include an airplane adapter, fitting the double-mono inputs used for in-flight entertainment systems. Taking into account the paltry sound provided by aircraft earphones this is a really nice addition if you travel a lot.

Taking into account it is aimed at travelling we were a bit perplexed by the choice of headband for the device. Philips decided upon a neckband styled approach that fits around the back of the neck, securing the headphones via flexible rubber earhooks. These are a pain to put round your ears, especially if you’re not the crew cut type of guy, and also uncomfortable to wear for an extended period of time. We would have preferred a simple traditional headband design.

Conclusion

Although Philips claim the Smart noise canceling technology is good at eliminating low level noise found for example on an airplane, they did little to help with regular ambient noise as other noise cancellation headphones do. But at a budget conscious R350 it’s simply not fair to compare the Phillips with a pair of Bose. At least the sound quality on the SHN5500 is good even though Philips could have done more for a comfortable fit. The headphones are available from selected Musica stores.

Pro

Decent quality sound, good price.

Con

Little regular noise cancellation to speak off, uncomfortable fit.

PROS
Decent quality sound, good price.
CONS
Little regular noise canceling to speak off, uncomfortable fit.
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