Comfort and fit
The Creative HN-900 headphones use a circumarual or over-ears design. Faux-leather lined foam pads cover your ears entirely. Most people find this design easier to live with than smaller on-ear sets, which can cause ear discomfort and are often much harder to get a good fit with.
These headphones exert a little more pressure than their popular Bose counterparts, the QuietComfort 15, but are nevertheless very comfortable. Light weight, soft padding and avoiding the head-vice clamp feeling of some sets, they're headphones you can wear for hours on end without discomfort. The headband is also fairly well-padded, which helps.
Creative packs-in a few neat extras that will come in handy for frequent travelers. There's an airplane converter and a soft fabric case. It won't protect the HN-900 from anything but scratches and scrapes - unlike the semi hard case included with the Bose and Able Planet noise cancelling headphones - but is a welcome inclusion.
To make them easier to transport, the earcups swivel through 90 degrees, so they happily sit flat on a surface. The headphone cable is also removable. A standard stereo 3.5mm jack plug slots into the left can, and the other end of the cable is finished-off with an angled 3.5mm jack. There's a small single-button handsfree housing on the cable, letting you take calls when plugged into an iPhone, and control music with an iPad or iPod.
Using a standard 3.5mm stereo connector makes it very easy to replace the cable, or snag a much longer alternative. Head over to eBay and you can get a 5m 3.5-to-3.5mm cable for under two quid. Headphone nuts among you may cry that you can't subject a £100 pair of headphones to a naff £1 cable, but the truth is these aren't really high end-sounding headphones.
They're bassy and warm, but in trying to be fun and bass-happy, the sound becomes a bit congested. There's a reasonable amount of top-end detail, but its hamstrung by the over-emphasised low-end. It's certainly not an offensive sound, and doesn't have the highly problematic "wall of sound" presentation of the lower-end Beats by Dr. Dre headphones, but you can do much better for £100. Mid-range texture is also poor, making vocals sound a bit lifeless. To start with, we noticed a difference in tone between the two ears too, but this appeared to subside after a "burn in" period.
The impression these headphones leave is not that far off that of the admittedly-better-sounding, and more balanced, Bose Quietcomfort range. And of course, you can much get better sound for the money from any number of non-noise cancelling headphones like the Cresyn C720H, Lindy Premium or Shure SRH550D.
We were able to forgive middling sound quality in the Bose models because the noise cancellation is so spectacular, but here - where it's just so-so - we can't be so merciful. You're better off either spending a bit more, opting for something like the Sennhesier PXC 310 at around £140, or at this price forgetting noise cancelling altogether.
The Creative HN-900 are noise cancelling headphones that undercut several other big names including Bose and Sennheiser. They're comfortable, offer excellent battery life and a handy removable cable with a remote control and handsfree calling. But performance elsewhere isn't so hot. The noise cancellation feature can't match the best and sound quality is unremarkable. You may save some money compared to better-known solutions, but you lose a lot too.