Noise Canceling Immersion - The Verdict

March 02, 2016

Good March to one and all! 

A few weeks back, we started the Noise Canceling Immersion Series where we took a look at 3 really awesome in-ears.

They were the Sony MDR-EX750NA, the Bose QuietComfort 20 and the Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay H3 ANC. For noise canceling earphones, these are no doubt 3 of the hottest models you can find in the market today.

The big question was how good were these and how do they match up with each other?

Packaging contents

USB ChargerYYY
Total Eartips4 (SS / S / M / L)3 (S / M / L)5 (XS / S / M / L / Comply Foam T-200 M)
Carrying PouchYYY
Flight AdapterYNY
Clothing ClipYYN
User GuideYYY

Sony MDR-EX750NA
Bose QuietComfort 20
Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay H3 ANC
Feature Comparison

Weight27g (exc. cable)44g40g
Volume ControlsNYY
Controls LocationY-connectorY-connectorLeft cord
ANC Power Button LocationY-connectorBattery moduleBattery module
Awareness ButtonNYN
Device CompatibilityiOS / Android (no vol controls)iOS / AndroidiOS
Battery Life16h16h20h
Charging Time2h2.5h2.5h

Sony h.ear in NC - Control module with ANC switch
Bose QC 20 - Control module with Aware button on the edge

B&O BeoPlay H3 ANC - Control module
We pitted them in the several tests and obtained some interesting results.

So now, let's announce what is the top choice in the following categories.

Best Value
> Sony MDR-EX750NA (h.ear in NC)
From USD 140 at Amazon

Putting things in perspective, the Sony h.ear in NC at SGD 199 was priced way lower than the B&O BeoPlay H3 ANC (SGD 349) and the Bose QC 20 (SGD 499). However, value is measured not just by the monetary value but by the overall experience you get vs the price. While the plasticky build material didn't inspire much confidence, the active noise canceling (ANC) of the Sony was just a notch below the QC 20 and sound quality was decent. Features-wise, the Bose's Aware button gave some brownie points. 

As you can guess, the Sony MDR-EX750NA average overall performance paired with an agreeable price make this a winner in the value category.

Best Sound Quality
> Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay H3 ANC
From USD 249 at Amazon

The Bose QC 20 boasts a resounding bass that gives some punch yet is let down by a somewhat muddied mid-range and is not so clear as expected. It appears that Bose emphasizes the bass over all else. 

Sony on the other hand, attempts to juggle the audio pretty well. Bass is solid but vocal delivery ain't too clean.

Bang & Olufsen is no doubt the best of the 3, using the silicon buds. There's good balance where bass and treble have distinct separation though clarity comes across more than the lows. Should you need more bass on your travels, just swap to the Comply Foam tips.

Best Noise Canceling
> Bose QuietComfort 20 (QC 20)
From USD 249 at Amazon

All the 3 earbuds were put through a series of tests to check out the active noise canceling (ANC) ability. 

Tested in car with Stereolab's Parsec on the car audio. No music on the ear buds.While the high frequencies still squeeze through, the bass from Parsec is reduced considerably. Slight hiss can be heard. Muffled vocals are still able to come through. However, the constant bass from Parsec is not just reduced but is almost completely eliminated.With Comply Foam tips - While ANC is effective, low frequencies can still be heard though the sound is the most natural sounding.
Tested at the back of a bus with a revving engineLow frequencies are quite well filtered but rumbles can still be picked out by the ear.Low frequencies of the bus accelerations are delightfully obscured.Bus accelerations while blocked sufficiently, are still quite audible.
Tested at a bus stop with helluva lot of traffic coming and goingTraffic is blocked considerably but there's no denying that the Sony is relatively effective. Highs and the higher lows still reach the ear though.Traffic sounds are surprisingly blocked out with exception of the higher frequencies like car honking .Traffic sounds come through with relative ease. Had to toggle taking out the Comply tips and switching the ANC on/off to hear the difference

The winner for ANC was quite clear. Only one unit, in the form of the Bose QuietComfort 20, blocked low frequencies to such a degree that you'd actually worry about your safety when you cross the road. Quite astounding.


So, what does this tell us? Is there a perfect noise canceling earphone? It's not so simple to say. There are a multitude of factors in play. Some want purely noise canceling, others may need excellent sound, some may desire value, etc. 

There are actually so many other considerations such as weight, microphonics and comfort (to name a few) which you can look at in the respective reviews below for further insight.

At the end of the day, it all depends what you need. All 3 choices were undoubtedly top in their respective categories. One thing's for certain - the experience we had with all 3 was freakin' awesome. We had an absolute whale of a time in the testing process. 

If you have any thoughts on the review process, feel free to ping us. We'll duly oblige :)

Noise Canceling Immersion - A 3-Part Series 
Part 1 - Sony h.ear in NC (MDR-EX750NA)
Part 2 - Bose QuietComfort 20 (QC 20)
Part 3 - Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay H3 ANC
The Verdict

You Might Also Like


  1. Hay, I was wondering if the ANC of the H3s is much better than a pair of good noise 'isolating' in ear?

    1. It really depends. Noise isolation in non-ANC in-ears is dependent on how snug the fit of the buds are inside your ears and some can be really good, even more so with solutions like the Comply Foam Isolation eartips.


Related Posts Plugin for Blogger

recent posts