CHOICE's experts independently test a wide range of products and services to bring you unbiased reviews, product comparison tools and buying advice that is trusted by 160,000+ members.
Get access to all
*Billed quarterly as $23.95
Brands and models tested
- AudioTechnica ATH-ANC7b
- Bose QuietComfort15
- Creative Aurvana X-Fi
- Koss QZ900
- Panasonic RP-HC700
- Sennheiser PX360BT
- Sony MDR-NC500D
- AKG K390NC
- Panasonic RP-HC31 (A)
- Panasonic RP-HC55
- Philips SHN2500 (A)
- Pioneer SE-NC31C
- Sony MDR-NC13/M
(A) Not available in Australian retail stores, but may be available via online sellers.
How we test
The following areas of comfort are appraised by three testers at 10 and 30 minute intervals, both wearing glasses and without them.
- Fit and stability of the headphone
- Pressure of the headphone on ears and / or head
- Heat accumulation
- Subjective weight of the headphone
During use the headphone is checked for any interaction with clothing, such as cable friction noise. Also the length of cables is taken into account where applicable.
Ease of use
The following areas of ease of use are appraised by three testers:
- Charging or changing batteries (Noise-cancelling models)
- Using the device buttons
- Quality of left-right inscription
- Using the device buttons
- Sharp edges or other problematic parts
The following technical tests are performed where appropriate:
- Noise reduction in passive mode (all models on test). This is done across frequencies from 50Hz to 10kHz, as well as an A weighted reading.
- Noise reduction with active noise-cancelling enabled (only noise-cancelling models). The test is similar to the passive mode test, but with the active noise cancellation turned on.
- Sound leakage is measured by producing a sound pressure of 90dB in an artificial test head (HATS). A reading is taken at 0.3M from the head. This is done in both active and passive modes for noise-cancelling headphones.
- GSM interference is only tested on noise-cancelling models. This indicates whether the headphone is likely to interfere with a GSM phone call.
- Efficiency is measured according to the European Standard DIN EN 50322-2. This standard requires a maximum sound pressure level of 100 dB(A) with the maximum allowed output voltage of the player of 150 mV. There are players available on market that exceed this level and others which only have output voltages of 20-30 mV.
Three experienced listeners appraise each headphone for use with the following pieces of music played from a CD player via a headphone distribution amplifier:
- Classic music: Händel - Mariengesänge - Sophie von Otter, Burmester-CD II
- Jazz: Miles Davis - Freddie Freeloader - Kind of Blue
- Pop / Rock: Red Hot Chili Peppers - By the way - Stadium Arcadium
This test is done in both active and passive mode for noise-cancelling headphones.
What else you'll get in this report
As well as the test results for 13 models you'll also get:
- Prices and features for all models.
- Invaluable buying information: Practical advice and tips. Read this before you buy!
CHOICE tests are different. We buy the audio products we test — no freebies from manufacturers. Companies can't buy ads on our site and our work is funded by people like you.
Get access to our independent testing reports and save yourself time and money.