The best noise-cancelling headphones for every budget

Philips SHB8850NC

Price: RM328

For less than RM500, the Philips SHB8850NCs give you a whole lot of tech for your money. They have wireless, active noise cancellation and even NFC, which lets you pair them with most phones just by waving the things close to one another.

So, how does Philips manage it? The obvious corners cutting can be spotted in the finer points of these headphones’ build. Rather than using high-quality fake leather, for example, the pads are coated in stuff that looks like it might be made of old bin liner. And the faux-metal on the cups is about as convincing as the acting in a primary school play.

So, you can get more expensive-feeling headphones for £90, but does it matter? The SHB8850NCs are very light, manage to steer clear of feeling flat-out flimsy and are pretty comfortable to wear, even for a few hours at a time. They also have controls on the cups, including an ultra-accessible play/pause button right on the back of the right one.

Don’t expect too much from the active noise cancellation, though. It reduces some low-frequency noise but its effects are minor compared with the best from Bose and Sony, and it adds a bit of hiss to the sound that you'll might notice in softer music. Unlike some, though, it doesn’t radically alter the tone, just smoothing out the mids a little, in quite a pleasant way. 

These aren’t the best-sounding wireless headphones at £90, but they’re good. Bass is neither anaemic nor dominant, the treble isn’t veiled and there are no strange black holes of detail. Despite so-so mid-range detail, they can handle complex arrangements with decent authority. However, the soundstage is unremarkable and the best pairs at the price provide a smoother, more refined tone and make vocals sound more realistic.

Buy the Philips SHB8850NC headphones here

Stuff says ✭✭✭✭✩

A jack of all trades for those who want a lot of tech in their headphones