Last time I went to the airport, I was properly obsessed with some big over-ear headphones which had noise cancelling technology built in. I put them on, pressed the switch on the side and – instantly – the noise of the airport vanished. It’s all down to something called “Active Noise Cancellation Technology”, which works thanks to microphones which detect the ambient noise level and reflect sound waves back into your ear to cancel out the sound.
For this to work, you need batteries in your headphones. Opposing sound waves are generated by the earphones so that you can enjoy your music without being interrupted.
Those headphones, which were big (and extremely expensive) Bose ones, were amazing. A busy, bustling airport suddenly turned into a concert hall. Nothing but me and the music. It was surreal.
So I approached these new KitSound noise cancelling earphones with a lot of expectations. These are in-ear headphones and have a controller hanging off the right ear. This lets you adjust the volume and control tracks. The multi-function button in the centre starts the pairing process, make and receive calls and power the device on and off. You can also use voice control facilities within your smartphone. On the side there’s a small switch which does the noise cancelling magic. Flick it on and there’s a small white LED to indicate that the noise cancellation tech is working.
Sometimes you won’t want this on for safety reasons. Kitsound have a page in the helpful manual which states that it’s not a good idea to turn this on whilst walking, driving or cycling as it’ll prevent you from hearing traffic noise etc.
What this noise cancellation stuff does do, however, is stop you having to turn the volume up so much just to remove the outside sound. In theory that’s going to save your ears.
Although these are sporty-looking headphones, they’re not waterproof. You get a selection of silicone tips and those shark fin “stabilisers” so that they sit comfortably in your ear. Not only that, but you should get around 5 hours of play time and these include an auto power-off if you don’t use them for 3 minutes.
I guess what’s good about the whole noise cancellation thing is that it’s not really a big change to your routine. At the end of the day, these are Bluetooth headphones, so you’re going to be familiar with charging them anyway. The fact that the charge is for the Bluetooth to work and something else really isn’t an issue.
The charging system is pretty clever too. A charging point, which hooks into a USB port on your laptop, computer or smartphone charger, comes supplied and has a USB / microUSB connector so that you can power this from your phone if it supports that. The connector on the headphones magnetises itself to the charging point to maintain a reliable connection during charging. It’s works quite well, I must say. No fiddly charging, just snap it to the charging unit and you’ll be ready to rock in less than 2 hours.
When you put the headphones on they do protrude a little, and the rather angular design of that charging point can sit against your neck a little uncomfortably, so you’ll need to ensure that it’s over your collar. Likewise, the controls sit around 8cm off your right ear, so you’re using the power of feel to locate the buttons. Luckily there’s only three main controls and they’re pretty easy to locate.
The sound quality is decent enough for Bluetooth in-ear headphones. At louder volumes the bass came through pretty well, although I would definitely advise trying the different tips so that you get a comfortable insertion into your ears. This is important because, even if you think they’re sat in your ears well enough, you need a good seal in order for that noise cancellation to work properly.
Ah yes. That noise cancellation. Now, I’ll be honest and upfront about this. This isn’t as good as the enclosed over-ear headphones. The fact that you have effectively just a “bung” in your ear means that some noise still gets in, and in some instances I really couldn’t tell when the noise cancellation tech was on. It wasn’t as noticeable a change as those Bose headphones in the airport, but you could tell there was an element of deadening going on.
Ensure that you get the tips setup correctly so that they’re comfortable and cling to your ears properly. The sound quality is quite strong with a fair helping of bass when you turn it up, but the active noise cancelling isn’t too noticeable and you might find that you’ve got to turn that volume up anyways.
Make sure that you try out all the tips and stabilisers to get a good fit as they’ll be sliding out fairly easily otherwise. Whilst perhaps not secure enough for a vigorous run or gym session, these will serve you well on the bus or train journey to work.
Get them from the Kitsound website here for £60.