I have been using the Blackbox i10 noise-cancelling headphones for commuting to work and to aid concentration at work. The headphones come in a hard box which can also hold an iPod which is a nice thoughtful detail. The headset themselves aren’t very bulky at all. Instead of a headphone jack it is has an iPhone connector. This is a careful choice, Steve Jobs himself said that a product is often defined by what is left out. Using the power of the iPod means that you don’t have a bulky battery pack, but aren’t as versatile.
I personally think that this was the right call. The middle module on the headset has a volume control and a kill switch to allow the ambient noise back in. You need the volume control because the click wheel on your iPod won’t control it, it took me a little while to work this one out as I tried to use the wheel out of reflex. The wheel still works for track and menu navigation though. This module also seems to be where the microphone is for the electronics to measure the sound and cancel it out. More expensive headsets have a microphone on each headphone, but for 89 quid I think you get your money’s worth.
The headphones themselves have an unusual shape which looks uncomfortable but works really well and they are held in with a silicone casket.
So do they work? In terms of cancelling out noise it is effective unless its directional, this is because there was only microphone in the device. In terms of the sound that comes from these headphones, its a little bright and on a couple of tracks, notably the introduction to Hellalujah by The Happy Mondays you hear high-end distortion.
What you need to remember however is that BlackBox came up a set of great value noise-cancelling headphones.