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In-Depth Review

Philips HN050 Noise Canceling Headset

Since Bose came out with its QuietComfort noise canceling headphones years ago, based on technology the company had refined for its aviation headseats, there's been a plethora of me-too products on the market. These other headphones are usually less expensive and end up doing little to dispute the adage that "you get what you pay for."

However, there are some genuine gems on the market that are designed well, do a decent job of canceling background noise, and deliver reasonably good sound without the $300 price tag that Bose commands. Unfortunately, the HN050 noise canceling headsets from Philips is not one of these gems.

The most attractive feature of the HN050 is its completely un-Bose-like price: just US$29 Amazon (US$59 list). For that price you get the headsets, an alkaline AAA battery, and an adapter for use on airplanes that feature special headphone ports.


Plug the HN050 into your iPod and you'll be pleased to hear reasonably good sound. The padded phones sit on your ears and attempt to reduce background noise without active noise canceling. We found the padded phones to be comfortable, but they do poor job of isolating sounds around us. Turn on the active noise canceling and sounds like a lawnmower, which should be greatly reduced, was only reduced slightly so. The mower roar drowned out the music we had played from our iPod, and we had to really crank the volume up so that the tunes could be heard, defeating the purpose of buying noise canceling headphones in the first place. The roar of an airplane, although not tested, is also likely to be too great for the HN050 to adequately handle.

Another feature of the HN050 that we disliked is its neckband. The HN050 is not designed to allow some adjustment of the neckband to accommodate the basic differences it the size and shape of a potential wearer's head and neck, resulting in a neckband that we found to be stiff, clumsy, and uncomfortable to wear for any extended period, no matter how we positioned it.

There are some who will find that the price of the HN050 makes up for the uncomfortable neckband and its meager ability to cancel background noise, but we believe there are not very many in that group. Others in the market for noise canceling headsets may want to consider models from other makers that sell for around the same price as the HN050's list for but offer better quality and greater comfort.

Just The Facts

HN050 from Philips Electronics

MSRP US$59.99
Street Price: US$29.44 - From Amazon.

Pros:lightweight, low price

Cons:meager noise caceling ability, uncomfortable, unadjustable neckband

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