A robust feature set at a very sharp price point proved a winning combination for Sony, whose MDR NC6 headphones topped unit sales of active noise-canceling headphones for the 12 months ending in May.
Starting out at a suggested price of $59.99 when it debuted in late 2004, and now widely available at a street price less than $45, it is the least-expensive model on the list except for the Philips HN060 ear buds.
The NC6 feature swiveling earcups to allow the unit to fold flat for stowage and a single-cord design to reduce tangling and snagging. It also ships with a soft storage bag.
The headphones' switchable noise-canceling circuit blocks solid-state noise from 40 to 1,500 Hz. Ambient sound can be reduced over 10 dB at 300 Hz, according to the company.
Features include a plug adapter to connect directly to a stereo and a dual jack for in-flight entertainment systems. It operates on one AAA battery which can drive the noise-cancelling function for up to 30 hours.
Top 10 Active Noise-Canceling Headphones
Unit volume share at retail
June 2007 - May 2008
Sony MDR NC6
Philips SHN2500 In-Ear Earbud
Audio Technica ATH-ANC7
Philips HN060 Ear Bud
Bose QuietComfort 3
Koss QZPRO Collapsible
Bose QuietComfort 2