The new JVC HA-NC250 combines outstanding sound quality with advanced noise-canceling and isolation technologies to provide a superior listening experience. The HA-NC250′s noise cancellation circuitry includes feedback technology that constantly monitors the noise cancellation process. As a result, the headphones eliminate up to 85 percent of extraneous background noise.
To further block noise, the HA-NC250 offers two JVC innovations that help isolate the listener from outside sounds. First, each earpiece employs a double housing structure for an extra sound insulation layer. Second, JVC developed a new technique for attaching the headphone’s smooth memory foam cushioned ear pads to the housing that helps isolate background noise. The smooth pads also enhance comfort.
These sound isolation features, for which patents have been applied, are especially important since the HA-NC250 can be used with the active noise cancellation switched off. For the best possible sound quality, the new headphone uses a 40mm neodymium driver in each earpiece. For comfort and portability, the HA-NC250 is one of the lightest headphones in its class, weighing just 5.3 ounces.
It folds flat, and when folded is slimmer than most competing models. Included with the HA-NC250 are a slim carrying case, a four-foot detachable cord, airline dual plug adapter, and ¼-inch plug adapter for use with many home audio and video components. The headphones use a single 1.5-volt AAA battery for powering the noise cancellation circuitry. Battery life is rated at about 50 hours.
- Advanced noise-cancelling design offers 85% noise reduction for superior listening
- Noise-cancelling can be switched on/off, and is powered by AAA battery for up to 50 hours use
- Double housing for sound insulation; foam-cushioned ear pads for comfort and further isolation
- Headphones weight just 5.3 ounces, and fold flat to fit in included carrying case
- Includes four-foot detachable cord with airline and 1/4-inch adapters
- Product Dimensions: 8 x 2.8 x 8.1 inches ; 1 pounds
- Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
- Shipping: Currently, item can be shipped only within the U.S.
- ASIN: B000U07C1U
- Item model number: HANC250
- Batteries: 1 AAA batteries required. (included)
- Date first available at Amazon.com: July 7, 2004
Excellent performance, comfortable, great value for money
1. Quite tight around the head, difficult to wear for long periods of time.
2. Good sound quality, particularly bass, but an annoying hiss and missing treble and highs during audio playback.
3. Fairly heavy owing to needing 2 AAA batteries.
A colleague at work bought the JVCs and we did a comparison. Initially I was skeptical because my Solitudes were around the ear vs the JVCs which are over the ear. We went into a very noisy server room to do the test and I have to say the performance of the JVCs was astoundingly good.
All three issues that I had with the Solitudes were absent.
1. Extremely comfortable and light. Great build quality.
2. Even better noise canceling performance despite the over the ear design. Even with the active noise cancellation off, merely wearing the headset provides good sound insulation.
3. Great sound quality, very balanced bass and treble, zero hiss.
4. Better battery life than the Solitudes despite needing only one battery.
In addition, the JVCs have some of the benefits of the Solitudes over the industry’s most famous headset (Bose).
1. Conventional cable (not proprietary like Bose).
2. Audio passthrough even when the battery dies.
3. Single AAA battery, non-proprietary (if you forget to charge your proprietary Bose battery, your headphones are dead).
4. Great price/value tradeoff compared to the Bose QCII or III.
The only negatives of the JVCs I could perceive are:
1. No volume dial control on the headset itself which is less of a convenience as you now have to turn down the volume from your ipod or computer rather than just reaching up and dialing down.
2. Headphone cable is fairly short (43in) so its difficult (not impossible) to use it with home stereo equipment.
3. Replacing the battery is a bit difficult and involves popping the right earpiece out.
Update (Jan 2008): I was able to compare these against the Bose QC3s. The Bose sound quality (you will not believe this) is really bad compared to the JVCs. Specifically the sound of the QC3s is muddy with extremely muffled treble. I am even happier now that I bought these instead of the Bose.
Update (Feb 2013): A few months ago I bought the QC15s from Bose and absolutely love them, especially on long flights when they are more comfortable due to their around the ear design. Still love the JVCs for value for money.
Excellent for long plane flights
I have always been thinking about buying noise cancelling headphones, and with a pending trip to Australia (from New York) I decided that now was the time.
Great sound quality
Excellent Noise Cancelling
Long battery life (changed the battery 2X over a 48hr use period)
Changing the battery under the ear cup is not the best design, but not that hard to do either
1. Keep a couple extra batteries in the accessory pouch inside the headphone case
2. Put a business card in the same pouch in case of loss
UPDATE: Feb, 2009
After owning the JVC HANC250 for a year they are still the best headset I have ever owned. I travel by plane almost every week, and they are always along for the ride. The hard cover case has well protected them and the headphones look like new. I comfortably wear them for hours at a time and use them with the airline sound system, my BlackBerry and notebook PC. There is no hiss and excellent sound quality.
UPDATE: May, 2010
Unfortunately I damaged the audio cable (totally my fault). There is a replacement part available from JVC [...] the part p/n J34915-001 is pricey at $33.69 + tax + shipping but I like original equipment.
Amazing noise blocking, but lots of small problems
Although I did not have as much time with the Bose, I was able to use all three pairs to listen to city street noise outside my building as well as co-worker chatter in my office.
Although all three pairs did a fantastic job of removing the low frequencies (the ventilation system hum, etc.), the Bose really excelled here. It’s really true that speaking while wearing them let’s you hear your voice absent its lowest octave! The JVC and Panasonic pairs could not quite compete in that sense.
But for blocking higher frequency sounds, the JVCs were the winners. With the noise cancellation turned on, but without any sound playing, the voices of my office mates were muffled to the point where I could hear that they were speaking, but often could not make out what they were saying. The others muffle the chatter as well, but to a lesser extent.
Interestingly, it was sometimes hard to compare the Panasonics, as they produced audible hiss when the noise cancelling was turned on. The hiss was low, and wasn’t distracting with even soft music, but the JVC’s near-complete lack of hiss sometimes made me question whether the Panasonics were blocking as much sound as I thought, or just masking it.
But overall, the Panasonics and the JVCs were very comparable. There was a noticeable difference for office chatter, running a dishwasher, and air blowing, but the difference was always subtle–even factoring in the hiss issue. I was only able to try the QC2′s in a couple of situations, but on the whole, they were not sufficiently better than even the Panasonics to justify their price tag.
-The Winner for Noise Canceling: JVC.
Since I only had 20 or 30 minutes with the Bose, I can’t say too much about them, except that they seemed typical for circumaural headphones. But I was able to try out the Panasonic and JVC pairs for several hours each.
The JVCs are incredibly comfortable at first; they’re small, light, and even look decent. But I wear glasses, and after a while the pressure they were applying to my ears against my glasses’ frame started to hurt.
The Panasonics, by contrast, apply far too much pressure to my head at first, and seem big and heavy. But after gently stretching them apart, they actually feel alright. They won’t win any awards, but I could wear them–with my glasses–for probably at least an hour without them hurting. Although I may still need to stretch them out again, every so often.
In terms of strange sucking feelings that some people describe with noise cancellers, I did not experience anything like that with any of these headphones. But of the three people who also tried them out, one said that the Panasonic pair made an unpleasant sensation in her ear and she did not even want to try them out again. The others did not seem to notice any problems, though.
It’s also worth noting that the Panasonics and Bose are circumaural (they go around the ear, and rest against the head directly), and the JVC’s are supraaural (they rest right on the ear). So after a lot of use, I imagine the JVC’s would be least likely to make your ear feel hot or sweaty, since they cover the least amount of your head. But also, if you have large ears, the fairly small space that the Panasonics expect your ears to fit into may be too small and therefore uncomfortable as well.
-The Winner for Comfort: a tie between JVC and Panasonic, but it depends on your ear size and whether you wear glasses.
I didn’t really listen to music with the Bose, so I’ll keep this section only to the Panasonics and JVC’s.
I listened to a handful of styles on both pairs of headphones; mostly rock, folk, and even some an capella solo. Consistently, the Panasonics sounded better. As one friend described it, the JVC’s didn’t have tight bass. I would add the highs weren’t that great either. They’re fine for occasional use on a plane, but were surprisingly poor compared to the Panasonics.
The Panasonics aren’t a panacea either for sound quality. No one will confuse them with high end headphones (say, Sennheiser HD-590′s); particularly, they have a fairly narrow sound stage.
-The Winner for Sound Quality: Panasonic
In spite of the poorer sound quality, I was still going to keep the JVCs, until I discovered that I could not use them with my laptop! For some reason, as soon as I plug the JVC’s into my laptop (with the noise canceling on), they make a strange hiss, and I also hear a 60 Hz hum from the electrical outlet. I have a Dell Latitude D820 (not exactly known for its sound card), so I figured it was the computer. But I experienced the same problem with other people’s laptops as well. And none of my other headphones (even with comparable or lower impedance) make any audible hiss or buzz at all. I exchanged the JVC’s, but the replacement was the same. For what it’s worth, there was no hiss or hum with my friend’s mac, or with any of my portable music players.
Some reviewers also mentioned the poorly designed battery replacement scheme on the JVC’s. I agree that it’s an odd design, but I personally didn’t find it a problem at all. But speaking of batteries…
The battery life on the JVCs was significantly worse than Panasonic. I don’t recall just how long it went, but it was probably about 15 hours or less. The Panasonics, by contrast, were used many hours more, and still haven’t used up a battery. Both headphones use a single AAA.
-The Winner for Other Issues: Panasonic
The JVC HANC-250 headphones are very, very nice and have really remarkable noise reduction. If the Panasonics weren’t available, I’d have gladly kept the JVCs. But not being able to use them with my laptop, a well as the mediocre sound quality, pushed me to Panasonic instead.
Quality product and a great value
The first test took place on a window seat of a 757 right by the engines. What I found is that these headphones successfully cancelled out the low- and low-mid frequency noise of the engine. It does not mean you hear nothing altogether – there is a “white noise”-like background – but the 85% figure in JVC specs seems to be about right. Once the music is on, you barely notice that. My previous headphones were in-ear Shure e2c, which blocked out the sound pretty well (I used foam heads). In comparison, JVCs are a very nice improvement. The sound quality is quite good – nice and clean across the range, for various types of sound – music and movies.
I am normally quite sensitive to wearing on- and over-ear headphones, so I was pleased to find that these cans are light and comfortable over time – I tried them on 2 and 3 hour flights and my ears were just as comfortable at the end of use as they were at the beginning. Considering its on-ear design, that is remarkable in my opinion. At the same time, they do reach a nice seal on the ear. The padding on the earpieces and the headband help that a lot. Plus, I believe these are the lightest headphones in the class (vs. QC2-3s, AudioTech). So that helps too.
My only real complaint, and the reason for 4 instead of 5 stars is the design of battery placement. To replace the battery you have to take off the ear pad from the right earpiece. I can foresee that being a prime opportunity for something to break, thus creating doubts about the durability over long-term.
To summarize: this is very good pair of noise-cancelling headphones that do the job at least as well as any other headphone out there (particularly Bose QCs which I had a chance to try in the past), but a half or third of the cost of the more expensive ones. My research before buying suggests that $100-150 is the actual reasonable price range to get good NC headphones today. Anything over that makes very little sense and is a waste of money. My only concern is the placement of the battery, where replacement may result in your breaking something off – you have to be careful.
One note: In some reviews there was a mention of an air-popping sensation when NC is on. Amazingly enough, I got to experience that the first time I wore the headphones, but it turned out to be strictly a matter of headphone placement on the ear, the fit. I moved the earpiece a smidgeon back and the effect was gone.
Updated on 11/28/2008: 9 months later, I am still very happy about my purchase. I have had flights where I wore them for more than 3 hours and still no significant discomfort. Which is a first with any of the over-the-ear headphones I have ever had. I am also less concerned about the placement of the battery – I have changed it a few times now, and it appears to be much sturdier than I thought originally.
Outperforms Bose QC3 at a fraction of the cost
With the Noise canceling standard set by the QC2 Bose had to take a much more aggressive approach for the active part of Noise Canceling for its over the ear QC3. The QC3 do an excellent job (actually better then the QC2) of canceling noise. The downside for me is the extreme audio pressure exerted by the noise canceling on my ears and I can’t keep them on for more then 15 minutes (I feel the discomfort in 15 seconds) but every one is different in their tolerance.
Now to the JVC HA-NC250 with an over the ear design but slightly larger then the QC3 the JVC ear pads do a very good job of dimming the sounds. But with noise canceling off you can hear most common sounds (kids, TV, fridge, furnace). Switch on the noise canceling and something strange happens all the low frequency sounds just vanish fridge, furnace or in a plane the jet engines you can still hear the kids and TV (till you switch on the music). The other big difference for me is I feel no audio pressure and I have kept them on for hours. Bose with the QC3 eliminates a much wider frequency range than the JVC but introduce much greater audio pressure in the process. The JVC are more targeted for the low frequency hence cause less discomfort. If you are looking to use the headphones in a noisy environment and can bear the audio pressure the QC3 have a slight edge but for plane travel the JVC win hands down. My wife just took them on a 16-hour flight (that’s in the air 16 hours non stop) and never took them off and felt no discomfort.
With noise canceling on the JVC are better then the QC3 with good tight bass, clear mid range and crisp high end not as sparkly as the QC but more similar to the Bose non noise canceling over the ear headphones. The JVC will work with the noise canceling off (in case you run out of batteries) the Bose will not but the sound quality will suffer. Buy a 15 minute quick charger and a bunch of AAA rechargeable batteries.
Though you won’t get the envious looks from other passengers that you would with the Bose but for about the cost of one QC3 a family of four can have the same comfort and sound quality as you get with the Bose. At the same price I would take the JVC NC250 over the QC3 but at a fraction of the cost this is not even a contest the JVC wins.
I got them for work since I recently took a job that involved a cube farm. Putting these headphones on and turning on the noise canceling instantly makes me breathe a sigh of relief. It’s like having my own little haven to go to in order to get away from the noise of the cube farm.
They block all lower frequency sounds (low voices, air condition, computer fans, etc.) and muffle higher frequency sounds (women’s voices, etc.). Combined with some music I can’t even tell I’m in a cube anymore.
Speaking of music, I have found the sound from these headphones to be superb! Sure, it doesn’t have huge amounts of bass, but what is there is clean and pure. Also, the detail in the mid and high range is exceptional…. I find myself hearing lyrics and background music details that I never heard before.
Finally: comfort. I was really looking for a pair of over the ear headphones because I knew I would be wearing these all day long. But after reading the positive reviews (and looking at the price) I went with this… and I’m glad I did. Firstly, they are _very_ light. I couldn’t believe how light they were the first time I picked them up. Secondly, the cushions are very high quality, mating well with your ears, sealing out sound while not making your ears hot. Finally, the headband is of similar good quality, never bothering the top of my head (although it does put a crease in my hair!).
I have worn these headphones for about 5 hours a day for the past month and can’t come up with anything bad to say about them….
good product for price
i was a bit scared to purchase this after reading some of the negative reviews; however, most of the issues people had seem exaggerated and i found work arounds for them.
the whole no noise on the computer for itunes happened to me too, but if you reverse the cord (so there is one side with an ‘L’ and a straight side) the ‘L’ shaped side must be put into the computer and the straight side into the headset … if you do this, the problem goes away.
and as far as the static in the left ear … i heard it too, but it was not nearly as bad as someone stated … the work around here is you have to put the ear cup just on the right spot (closer to the back) and the noise is almost un-noticed.
after wearing these for long international flights for 4-6 hours (even 14) i would agree that your ears will hurt (i was wearing glasses which didnt help any) … the battery did not last the 50 hrs as advertized; only about half that (25 hrs), but it is a good product … i would recommend the purchase.