Noise-cancelling headphones are suddenly all the rage. It certainly seems as if every big player in the audio game has at least one model that features active noise-canceling, usually accompanied by other luxury features — and with a corresponding luxury pricetag. Even manufacturers who’ve only recently begun making cans, like Logitech UE and Klipsch, prominently feature active noise-canceling in their model lineups.
It may even seem as if the technology has been added to some models simply because it’s become the feature du jour — an impression strengthened by the fact that not all noise canceling is the same. Not even remotely.
None of the headphones in our showdown — the Klipsch Mode M40 ($350), the Logitech UE 6000 ($200) or the Monster Inspiration ANC ($300), the noise-canceling version of the regular, passive Inspiration model we reviewed last year — exhibits the powerful noise-canceling ability that can almost completely drown out noise, like that of the Bose QuietComfort 15. Nor do they sit on the next level down, with NC performance similar to, say, Audio Technica’s ATH-ANC7b (although one here comes close).