Someday, some creative inventor will design some noise canceling headphones that removes office conversations or screaming kids completely. Until then, we will have to survive with noise canceling headphone that simply remove droning background noise that happen in airplanes or on trains. I don’t travel much, so I wasn’t able to test this out on a plane, but I do sit in an open office environment where there is lots of noise, so when I got a pair of iHome iB50 Noise Canceling Headphones, I was pretty excited to test them out.
The premise behind headphones that cancel out ambient noise is pretty straight forward. Using a built-in microphone, the headphones “listen” for low-level noise to capture a sound wave of that noise. Then, within its circuitry, the inverse of the noise is generated and pumped through the headphones, effectively canceling out that noise.
Out of the box, the iB50 Noise Canceling Headphones are literally a snap to put together. First you need to install the two included AAA batteries into the right headphone. You must have power (e.g., via the batteries) in order to enable the noise cancellation feature. Then simply attach the detachable cord to the left headphone, making sure that the mic/pause controller is close to the headset. With that, you are ready to go.
The iB50 Noise Canceling Headphones are quit comfortable to wear. They weigh in at just 15 ounces and include a 3.5 mm headset plug which is compatible with most phones and computers. Also included is an airplane plug adapter and a travel pouch. The headphones themselves are padded and easily adjustable to fit most heads. As mentioned, the right headphone houses the batteries. And the left headphone has a mute button which is only active when the noise cancellation is on. There is also a switch that turns the noise canceling on and off. There is a red light that shows when the noise cancellation is active or not.
In order to simulate an airplane to test out the noise cancellation, I used a “sound machine” app on my iPhone and chose the “airplane” sound and plugged the iB50’s into my MacBook Pro to listen to music on iTunes. While I know it wasn’t a true test scenario, it was close enough for a non-scientific review.
It was pretty amazing how flipping the noise cancellation switch on and off affected the noise or lack thereof. The iB50’s were able to also zero out the sound of a fan running in the room. One thing to note, since these are over the ear headphones, the fact that your ears encapsulated allows for some ambient noise to be removed as well, even with the noise cancellation was not active.
In an office environment, some of the background conversations seemed to have the bass of the voices simply chopped out (the treble of the voices were still present but without the bass, they seemed muted). Sound didn’t seem to bleed out either, meaning that my co-workers couldn’t hear me cranking Elvis Costello.
In terms of playback, the results were interesting. Highs were crisp and clear. And there was definitely plenty of bass available. With the noise cancellation active, the bass was more subdued however as compared to when the noise cancellation was off. With it off, you definitely could hear more range at the lower level. I actually preferred the playback of music with the noise cancellation on as the sound of highs and lows felt more balanced.
Occasionally I noticed a low-level rumble when the noise cancellation was active. I found that if I tilted my head to one side or another, the rumble disappeared. This rumble, for lack of a better term, was present whether music was playing or not. It almost seemed like my neck muscle vibrations were somehow being picked up. While this rumble was not always present, it got a bit bothersome. As I don’t have any other noise canceling headphones to compare against, I’m not sure if this is a common thing or not.
While the manual does mention volume control, the iB50’s that I tested did not have this feature. There was simply the mute button on the left headset (only active when the noise canceling was active) and the play/pause button near the mic on the cord.
One thing that I do feel is appealing to people is the reasonable price point. Coming in at just $60, this is a good entry level noise canceling headphone set. On Amazon, you can pick up the iHome iB50B’s (supposedly discontinued) for $60 with free shipping. There is another iHome Headphone, the iB40S, which are a little less expensive ($47.50 on Amazon) but doesn’t have the noise canceling features. Better to pay just a little bit more to have the extra feature. There are other similar products on the market that come in around the same price point. Set up and usage are extremely easy and it takes only a few minutes.
Being able to drown out low rumbles in airplanes, trains or even in office spaces is great. The comfort and light-weight nature of the iHome iB50 Noise Canceling Headphones are an added bonus. If you are looking for a good, entry-level noise cancelling headphones, definitely check out these.
Disclosure Text : I have a material connection because I received a gift or sample of a product for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was/am not expected to return this item or gift after my review period. All opinions within this article are my own. More information can be found in my About page.
HTD says: Get rid of those annoying ambient noise with the iHome iB50 Noise Canceling Headphones.