Philips SHN5500 vs JBL Reference 510
| by Siddharth Bhatia
When it comes to sound, Philips is a trusted brand; at least when you draw parallels with other brands in the same category. Yet, when it comes to noise cancellation as a technology, a lot of undue premium comes into play. The Philips SHN5500 comes very close to offering you most of what noise cancellation claims, but some design flaws (and most importantly, the price tag) can be a big deterrent.
Another good brand in this space is JBL. An interesting piece of equipment from them is the Reference 510 headphones, which are also of the noise cancellation type. So now it’s ‘choice filtering time’, and since the look and function of both these products are practically the same, let's pit them against each other.
The form factor features a 3-way adjustment unit that allows you to customize how it sits on your ears. I tried all of them and my ears still hurt! I'm not a big fan of the neckband design; the sole reason being that your ears have to bear most of the weight, at least in this case.
Another design flaw happens to be the odd placement of the noise cancellation kit. Instead of being where you can reach it easily, it happens to be just a few inches above the 3.5mm pin, close to the bottom. So when you have the headphones plugged into your computer, the noise cancellation kit will have to be lying on the ground.
You will need one AAA battery to operate the headphones. One good thing is that the headphones work passively, although the sound isn't that very loud.
JBL Reference 510
The NC circuit is placed in a separate kit housed in a black cigarette lighter-shaped casing, positioned halfway down the length of the cord. The cord in turn has three juxtaposed wires: two for the stereo signal and one that goes into the isolated remote unit. The unit has a clip that lets you attach it anywhere you like. An on/off slider switch controls the circuit to cancel noise.
Overall the JBL looks better than the Philips, with a smoother, more refined finish. Comfort-wise too, the JBLs score higher, thanks to the headband and ample cushioning for the ear cups.
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