Review: Blackbox C20 noise cancelling earphones

, posted: 25-Oct-2012 07:00

I spent all of last week in New York for meetings - before flying out I attended the Sony launch, and after hearing about "must have" noise cancelling headphones for long haul flights, I decided to pickup some of my very own.

C20-Product-ImageWhile Sony's offerings were nice, they were far more than I was prepared to spend ($600 range).  Doing some quick research online, I found Phitek's Blackbox C20s, and at only $157 from JB Hi-Fi they were just what I was looking for.

The Blackbox earphones aren't new to the market - Rod Drury (Xero) reviewed them back in 2007, and Mauricio Freitas (Geekzone) later that same year.

The flight to the east coast of the USA isn't a short one - 13 hours to LAX, then 6 hours across the continent.  I chose earphones as I knew I'd be spending much of my cattle-class flight asleep, and headphones aren't comfortable to sleep in (a trip earlier this year to Europe with my Bose AE2s taught me this the hard way).

The C20s are really comfortable to wear, and I kept mine in for most of the flight there and back (approximately 40 hours of flying in total).  They come with a hard carry case to keep everything together (a blessing especially when trying to find them in your carry-on in the dark) and they come complete with an airline adapter (dual pins), extra ear-buds, cable clip and a AAA battery (if the battery goes flat, the earphones still work, just without the noise cancelling).

If you own an Apple device, it has a small remote on one of the cables to answer/end calls, plus play/pause/next/previous music track control.  Included is an adapter to allow the earphones to work with all non-Apple devices.

After turning on the noise-cancelling (there's a small slide switch on the battery pack), the difference is phenomenal: the aircraft cabin turns to near silence.  It doesn't block out all sounds, but the continuous, monotonous drone of the aircraft's engines disappears.  Even when I wasn't listening to music, I kept them in my ears to block out most of the background noise.

The sound quality through these earphones is superb.  While the devices I was using aren't known for their high fidelity audio output (my laptop and Android tablet), the earphones allowed me to fully appreciate the sound they do put out.  I'm by no stretch an audiophile, but to my amateur ears these sound amazing.

I highly recommend these earphones - they look good, sound great, are a fantastic price, and, even better, are developed by a company here in NZ.


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I'm Nate Dunn, and I work for 3Bit, own Tuihana Cafe, run the gardening.co.nz forums and a moderator here at Geekzone.

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The views and opinions represented on this blog are personal and belong solely to the blogger and do not represent in anyway those of 3Bit Solutions Limited or any other company.

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