Sony MDR-NC7 Review
We strongly recommend that you avoid buying these headphones.
Well, they’re not the worst headphones we’ve reviewed, but we’ll go out on a limb to say that you should probably reconsider if you find these on a shelf somewhere and feel like dishing out dough out for them. The Sony MDR-NC7s (MSRP $49.99) massively underperform and, despite their claims to the contrary, don’t actually cancel more than 2dB of ambient noise. On top of that, they require batteries to give you subpar performance at a price that just isn’t really a good match for their quality. In short: it would be very easy to find a better buy.
Comfort Design & Features
Comfortable phones with some basic features.
Overall, these headphones give you the basics that you'd expect with a pair of bargain-bin cans: they're made of cheap plastic, they have standard features that really don't set them apart from any other set of cheap cans, although their defining feature is a factory of sadness and mendacious claims: the "noise cancellation" function is an outright lie, which we'll get into later.
The Sony MDR-NC7s don’t have any in-line accessories, but they do have an airplane adapter that allows you to turn your standard 1/8th inch plug into a pair of slightly-better airplane headphones. Additionally, they come with a small pouch that you can place them in for your travels; be warned that this pouch does not offer much in the way of protection from the elements or other potential damage.
When you first put these cans on, you’ll notice that the thick foam padding makes for a fairly comfortable wear. Because they are also lightweight and require only a single triple-A battery, they don’t rest heavily on your head or cause fatigue. Of all the concerns we have about these headphones, comfort is not one of them.
The Sony MDR-NC7s truly fall flat when it comes to producing good audio.
The NC7s are far from "noise-cancelling." Noise cancellation, called isolation or attenuation, is a passive or active feature found on some headphones. The NC7s claim to be active noise cancellation headphones, but their noise cancellation setting—when enabled— does not block out ambient noise: all it does is make the bass a little louder, and that's it. You'll be paying for triple-A batteries for no reason.
This is horrible for many reasons, but probably worst because instead of cancelling out dangerous levels of sound, they actually increase the level of pressure that reaches your inner ear. While it may seem like they block out a tiny bit of noise, it's actually increasing your risk for noise-induced hearing loss.
As for their basic audio quality, the Sony MDR-NC7s are likewise disappointing. They very poorly handle audio output, resulting in an imbalanced range of pitches that at best are distracting, and at worst will make your favorite song sound completely, well, wrong. They track terribly, meaning they favor one audio channel (the left) with more sound than the other. They also distort sound more notably than comparably priced headphones. There's really nothing good to say about them.
You can find much better headphones at literally almost any price point.
If it wasn’t bad enough that they flat-out lie about their noise-cancelling abilities, the NC7s also massively underperform at a hugely inflated cost. You can do much better for relatively the same price, and who doesn’t want to get the best value for their money?
It would be one thing if the active noise cancellation unit did anything resembling what it was advertised to do, but instead they make high-volume situations more dangerous for you as a listener. If you were trying to hold an egg without cracking it, you wouldn't squeeze down harder, would you?
For their price point, these are pretty terrible headphones, disappointing in sound performance, noise attenuation, and durability. Though cheap consumer headphones typically disappoint, they don’t typically run you $50 for something a $10 pair of earbuds can do better. The bottom line? Avoid the Sony MDR-NC7.
Get Our Newsletter
Real advice from real experts. Sign up for our newsletter
Thanks for signing up!