Beginning late last year, Sony has released its MDR-10 series of headphones with noise cancelling features, to compete with Bose’s QuietComfort series.
The Sony MDR10RNC Premium Digital Noise Cancelling Headphones are one of three models within the MDR-10 line and is the successor of the well received and more expensive MDR1-RNC.
Sony MDR-10RNC Review
Design and Features
The MDR-10RNC looks similar to Sony’s higher end MDR1RNC with only subtle differences. The black and silver MDR-10RNC with red accents look expensive and modern compared to its rival, the Bose QuietComfort 25.
The right cup holds the AAA battery for the noise cancellation and the left holds the jack, on/off switch and the mode selector for noise cancelling.
The cups are smaller than your typical over ear headphones and the padding is comfortable and snug enough without making you feel as if the headphones will slip off.
Features of the Sony MDR-10RNC headphones:
- Tenfold Noise Reduction
- Improved Sound Quality for Music
- Airline Adapter
- Carrying Case
- Cable length: 4.6 ft. (1.4 m)
- 20-hour music playback from one AAA battery
As it stands, the industry leader in noise cancelling headphones is Bose, particularly its QuietComfort 25. Sony has been trying very hard to compete with Bose in noise cancelling but unfortunately, the MDR-10RNC is still not quite as good. However they are about a $120 cheaper.
There are three modes available when using noise cancelling and the MDR-10RNC automatically chooses the best mode for your environment using the built in microphone that listens to outside ambient noise.
The three modes are Bus, Airplane and Office. Unfortunately there is no button that would allow you to choose which mode you prefer nor is there an indicator which mode you’re in.
The noise cancelling itself is good as it significantly reduces low frequency noises such as traffic and air conditioners and of course airplane engine noise.
The different modes are supposed to improve the noise cancelling but since it’s impossible to know which mode you’re in, it’s hard to know the differences of each in terms of performance.
No Sony MDR 10RNC Review would be complete without covering its audio quality and in this respect the audio quality does not disappoint. Easily on par with the more expensive Bose headphones. The bass is not overpowering though it doesn’t always sound natural either.
When in Passive Mode, the bass can sound a bit flat. The best audio quality that you can expect comes when the MDR-10RNC is in active mode so it’s better to keep it on when you’re listening to music.
One advantage that the MDR-10RNC has over its competition is that you can still listen to music even if the AAA battery runs out though audio quality might suffer a bit.
Are They Worth It?
The MDR-10RNC was initially released with a price tag of $270 which was only $30 less than the widely revered QuietComfort 25.
Nowadays, you can get the MDR-10RNC for almost half that which is a much better price for what it offers.
The MDR-10RNC’s noise cancelling is very good but not as good as Bose’s. It does a decent job of reducing ambient noise of low frequencies but it doesn’t completely eliminate it.
Higher frequency sounds such as human chatter is still audible but comfortably muffled.
Audio quality is where Sony could have excelled with the MDR-10RNC, while its very good, it’s about the same as the Bose’s QuietComfort 25.
The Bottom Line
Comparing the MDR-10RNC with the more expensive MDR1-RNC, they are closely equal in terms of noise cancelling and audio quality.
Still undecided? Here is a handy comparison chart showing features of our top rated noise cancelling headphones.
Please see my Reviews of Top Rated Noise Cancelling Headphones
Over Ear Headphones:
In Ear Headphones: