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Philips SHB8850NC Active Noise Cancelling Headphones review – no wires, no noise

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The notion that decent active noise cancelling headphones have to be expensive has been shattered by Philips who has come up with a quality wireless pair for less than $200.

Active noise cancelling headphones can set you back up to $500 and they are usually the wired versions.

But Philips has come along with a value pair –  the SHB8850NC – which have a comfortable design with soft earpads and a padded headband.

There are 32mm neodymium drivers onboard plus a closed-back acoustic design and a soft seal for passive noise cancellation when you put them on.

At the press of a button, users can activate the Philips ActiveShield technology to reduce the ambient noise even further.

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It does this by monitoring the outside noise through four exterior microphones to reduce it by up to 97 per cent or by up to 20 decibels.

You can hear the difference when NR is activated – you can’t quite notice it cutting in as clearly as you can on other more expensive brands – but it’s there.

Being wireless is a huge plus for the Philips SHB8850NC so you can connect to your device via a simple Bluetooth pairing.

And then you hardly have to touch that device because you have all of your navigation controls, playback and volume controls on the headphone’s earcups.

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It didn’t take long to get familiar with the button layout so we could keep our smartphone in our pocket or in our bag.

And if we got a call – we could also answer it thanks to the hands-free microphone that’s also onboard.

On the audio side, the Philips wireless active noise cancellation headphones deliver an impressive and satisfying sound.

High and mid levels sounded great but the bass levels were about average.

Volume wise – the headphones didn’t have the power to be really loud.

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We had to have it at its absolute top volume to get the sort of levels we liked.

This might be a deal breaker for some other listeners who like to crank their music to a decent volume.

The battery life was quite impressive with up to 16 hours of playback before you need to reach for the charger.

But even if you do run out of juice on the move, you can easily connect a 3.5mm audio cable to headphones and then to your device to keep on listening.

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There’s also an airline plug adaptor if you want to take the Philips headphones on a flight and connect your audio cable to the onboard entertainment system. Bluetooth connectivity just isn’t available yet on an aircraft for individual passengers.

VERDICT

The Philips SHB8850NC Active Noise Cancelling headphones are great value and offer respectable performance to hear your music without wires and without that annoying ambient noise.

They don’t quite have the same audio quality as the more expensive brands but that’s why those other brands are a lot more expensive.

But these still hold their own and definitely punch a few divisions above their weight.

PHILIPS SHB8850NC Active Noise Cancelling Headphones

Price: $199