JVC is not exactly a newcomer to the world of noise-cancelling headphones, but most of its previous cans were aimed at the budget end of the market.
With the HA-NC250, costing around £70, the company is looking to take on the likes of the Bose QuietComfort range, but have these 'phones got what it takes to play with the big boys?
The first thing you notice when you put on these 'phones is just how comfortable they are. The ear cups are covered with a soft leatherette type material and are oblong in shape so they fit snugly on your ears. There's also not too much tension from the headband so you don't feel like you've got your lugholes trapped in a vice.
When not in use, the cans can be folded flat and stored away in the hard case that JVC supplies in the box. As most people will make use of these 'phones while travelling, JVC has also included a dual plug adaptor, so you can connect them to the headphone sockets commonly found on planes. There's also a 1/4-inch adaptor plug for use with hi-fi's that have larger-sized headphone sockets.
The noise cancellation circuitry is powered by a single AAA battery hidden in the right hand ear piece and controlled by a simple on/off switch. A single battery will power the 'phones for around 50 hours of noise-cancelling time, which is not too shabby.
However, JVC has really taken a twin approach to noise cancellation on these cans. The headphones are built using a double housing construction, which helps to insulate them from background sounds, even with the noise cancellation circuitry switched off. It certainly works well, but when you flick the switch to the 'on' setting, things get even better. They tend to work most effectively on background low frequency rumble and the air conditioning type noises you get on airplanes and trains than they do on cutting out people talking in the background, but they're still very impressive.
But these headphones aren't just about blocking out background noise -- they're also about sound quality when listening to your tunes and on that front they can't be faulted either. They've got wonderfully tight bass response and cymbals and hi-hats on rock and dance tracks really fizz with energy. Mid range frequencies sound very natural too.
Noise cancelling designs are obviously aimed at those who travel often and although the HA-NC250's fold flat so they can be placed in the supplied hard case, they don't completely fold up like those from other manufacturers. This means they're more bulky to carry around or to pack in a suitcase.
Also, when it comes to replacing the battery, things aren't as straightforward as they could be. Instead of having a battery slot on the outside of the right hand headphone cup, JVC has hidden the battery away on the inside, underneath the headphone cover. It means you have to prise away the headphone cover from the actual speaker driver which feels rather strange. Worse still, getting it back into place once you've replaced the battery is a hit and miss affair as it's quite difficult to correctly line up the protector cover with the snap clips to get it closed again.
Another minor gripe is that the cable that comes with the headphones is only four foot long. This is fine for use with portable equipment while on the move, but it's not really long enough for use with a hi-fi or PC at home.
We hate the hard-to-get-at battery compartment, but this is a small fault on what is otherwise an impressive pair of headphones. If you're after a comfortable set of cans with good sound quality and great noise-cancelling features then these 'phones are definitely worth checking out for £70.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Jon Squire