H501 headphones are a great listening companion.

I’ve been fortunate throughout my life and have been able to travel. One thing that I make sure and have with me is music and sometimes even movies or TV shows. I store them on my iPad or iPhone so I have entertainment in my pocket for those lengthy plane rides. Unfortunately, it’s very hard to block out airplane noise. Aside from the background chatter of the other passengers, there is always the constant low hum of from the airplane engines. Standard earbuds just don’t make it possible to hear everything in that situation. Noise cancelling headphones are the best option for blocking out ambient noise like what you hear on an airplane. The H501 Active Noise Cancelling Headphones are a good option for just this occasion.

H501 Active Noise Cancelling Headphones REVIEW

When the H501 headphones arrived, the first thing I noticed was the weight of the box was surprising considering the contents of the box. As it turns out, most of the weight (3.8 pounds) is packaging. The actual headphones are only 7 ounces. Once I dug through the outer packaging, I found a nice zippered case, which the headphones were stored in. These headphones are not wireless and they come with two separate aux cables – one with an inline microphone and the other without. The headphones also ship with stereo jack adapters so that you are never left without an option to listen to your favorite music or movie audio.

Comfort & Sound
Throughout a normal day for me, I will be sitting at my computer for about 8 hours. It’s not unusual for me to have headphones on for 75% of that time. So, comfort is a big deciding factor for me when I am looking at headphones. The H501 headphones have soft ear cups that fit completely around the ear. The headband has a nice cushion on it so that it doesn’t cause headaches after long-term use. I’ve found some over-the-ear headphones to be too tight, but these have just the right amount of give to be comfortable, but still feel comfortable. The only thing that would make them more comfortable to me was if they were wireless. The provided cables are very generous in length, which is better than being too short, but the cables still get in the way.

H501 Active Noise Cancelling Headphones REVIEW

The sound quality is gorgeous. I tend to listen to a mixture of instrumental music and rock genres. There are a lot of highs and lows in both styles so I get a good range to test headphones. The H501s provided a crystal clear, full sound. When you activate the ANC, it does change the timber of the sound and causes it to be more ‘bright’ rather than bass filled. I didn’t feel as though my listening experience was dampened by the change, but it was noticeable.

Active Noise Cancelling
The packaging states that these headphones provide up to 92% noise cancelling. I did a couple of different tests to try out the feature. The first was done in a noise-filled living room. The TV was blaring in the background and two people were carrying on a conversation. I flipped the switch to see if I was isolated. I noticed that the noise in the room did die down a little bit, but I could still clearly hear what was going on. When I turned up the music I was listening to, I definitely noticed a difference in the noise cancelling feature than when I wasn’t using it at all.

H501 Active Noise Cancelling Headphones REVIEW

The second test I did was a much quieter environment.When I’m sitting at my desk at work, I typically only hear two things – the air handling from the HVAC system and distant voices. It’s a pretty quiet office. When I don’t have the ANC on, I can hear the air blowing from the vents as ambient noise. Once I flip the switch, it sounds like someone turned off the A/C. My conclusion on the ANC is that if you are in a fairly quiet environment, it works wonders. If you are in a noisy area, though, be prepared to hear some background noise.

H501 Active Noise Cancelling Headphones REVIEW

Conclusion
The H501 Active Noise Cancelling Headphones are a nice set of headphones. The sound quality is better than most wired headphones I’ve tested and the ANC option really makes these worth the investment. The in-line controls for iOS users is a great bonus and the comfort can’t be beat. I love the traveling case that comes with the headphones, but think that the price of them could be controlled by the company revisiting the outer packaging, which seems like it is just too much. The H501 headphones are a great listening companion for any device.
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