Anyone who’s tried listening to music on the London Underground will know that the amount of ambient noise that intrudes is significant. Likewise, listening to music on a plane is just as difficult with the roar of the engines overpowering your tunes. In most cases the only solution is to crank the volume up so high that it hurts your ear drums, but even then you can hear that annoying background noise creeping in. It’s therefore not surprising that a great deal of research has gone into noise cancelling headphones lately.
Although there have been some very good noise cancelling headphones available for a while, most of them are very expensive items from high-end audio manufacturers like Sennheiser or Bose – the Bose QuietComfort 2 headphones are staggeringly good, but then they should be for £275! That’s not to say that there haven’t been cheaper options available, but they just haven’t been much cop.
No one will argue that Creative knows a thing or two about sound, with its latest X-Fi soundcards taking PC sound quality to the next level. The company has also had some success with its MP3 players, such as the excellent Zen micro. But now Creative has turned its hand to headphones, getting the ball rolling with the HN-700 noise cancelling headphones.
The HN-700s definitely look the part. The large cans cover your ears completely and are extremely comfortable, even when used for extended periods. One aspect that I really like is the removable cord – this means that if the cord wears out, or gets damaged you can simply replace it, rather than having to buy a new set of headphones. It also means that if you’re not happy with the length of cord that Creative supplies you can go out and buy a different one.
The problem with large headphones is that portability can be an issue. Thankfully Creative has tried its best to address this issue by making the HN-700s foldable. Of course even folded up these headphones aren’t going to slip unobtrusively into your pocket, but they will take up less space in your bag. There’s even a mock-leather carrying pouch to put them in when you’re not using them – the pouch also has a separate bag inside for your MP3 player.