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Noise Canceling Headphones: What Are Sony’s New Best Selling Competitors Worth? – 20 minutes


Stop the noise! With sales up 14% in France between December 2020 and November 2021, headphones and earphones noise reduction systems are popular with the public. To isolate themselves from the surrounding tumult, 11.2 million products were purchased by the French in one year. In the helmet market, it is
Sony which leads the dance with 30% of claimed market share. The Japanese are ahead of JBL and Bose. He owes this success to the helmet
WH-1000XM3 launched in 2018. “It was the game changer », Welcomes Jean-Denis Favier, audio and video group leader at Sony France.

Sony WH-1000XM4 – DR

A success confirmed by the WH-1000XM4, launched in mid-2020 (and now sold around 300 euros). These noise reduction headphones are recognized as the best on the market. It also arouses the envy of competitors who oppose their new models. 20 minutes tested four, sold from 199 euros to 499 euros.

Most accessible: Philips, Fidelio L3

The new top-of-the-range Philips Fidelio L3 headset is likely to occupy the field for a long time: its predecessor, the Fidelio L2, was launched in 2013! The design of the youngest has nothing to do with that, neovintage, of its elder. Now with rounded curves, this headset bears a strange resemblance to its rival, the Bose QC 45.

Corded headband helmets remain the preference of purists.
Corded headband helmets remain the preference of purists. – PHILIPS

But it is on the ground of the sales champion, the Sony WH-1000XM4, that he ventures with his very complete application (Philips Headphones). In addition to an equalizer with pre-settings (+ bass, classical, jazz, hip-hop, etc.), the management of noise reduction can be personalized according to your needs. Multipoint, the Fidelio L3 can be paired with two sources: a smartphone and a computer. Practice in these times of teleworking where you need to isolate yourself and follow video meetings. 199 euros.

Our opinion : The good autonomy (up to 32 hours with noise reduction, approximately 40 without) of this headset has a counterpart: it is very heavy (360 g). Without doubt a handicap for long trips. There remains a quality of listening with a very warm sound, powerful bass but also precision in the treble. Its noise reduction is effective but does not equal that of the Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones, which is still 100 euros more expensive anyway.

The simplest: Bose, Quietcomfort 45

Long alone in the field of headphones with active noise reduction, Bose is back with this QC45, which succeeds the QC35. The American manufacturer delivers a model that favors compactness and lightness (238 grams), an asset for travel. Playing the card of minimalism, the manufacturer offers a simple experience, with a headset equipped with physical buttons.

The Bose QC45 insulates perfectly and remains light.
The Bose QC45 insulates perfectly and remains light. – BOSE

Here it is possible to activate / deactivate noise reduction with one press, increase / decrease the volume, answer / hang up and go to the next song. For its part, the Bose Music application is practically figurative: impossible to personalize listening, it is just proposed to switch from active noise reduction to “Attentive” mode, which allows you to remain aware of surrounding noise during listening. 349 euros.

Our opinion : If the quality of noise reduction remains a real trademark, the lack of settings for customize listening to it is frustrating. Compared to its predecessor, the autonomy of the QC45 has increased slightly: 24 hours with noise reduction, compared to 20 hours previously. Its comfort remains a real asset, but its price hardly distinguishes it from the brand’s high-end headphones, the Headphones 700, officially sold at 399 euros.

The best price / performance ratio: Shure Aonic 40

Bulky with its large atria, this Aonic 40 puts all the assets on its side to seduce at the right price. Good manufacturing with its very finely adjustable headband, this headset with physical controls can be used or not with its ShurePlusPlay application.

The Aonic 40 headphones from Shure are clearly the favorite of our selection.
The Aonic 40 headphones from Shure are clearly the favorite of our selection. – SHURE

Among the most complete, this allows first of all to control noise reduction on three levels, as well as the so-called “Environment” mode (to remain aware of outside noise) on ten levels. It also allows personalized settings, either by manually acting on the frequency curves, or using seven presets such as “Attenuate the bass”, “Cut the treble” … 249 euros.

Our opinion : A little heavy (313 grams), the Aonic 40 is nonetheless a helmet with a very good performance / price ratio. Admittedly, its noise reduction does not equal that of the tenors that are Sony and Bose, but its musical performances are major. Premium to the quality of the voice capture for which Shure demonstrates his mastery. Unveiled at CES 2022, this headset stands out as one of the new benchmarks of the year … even if others greatly exceed its autonomy (here of 25 hours with noise reduction activated).

The most enduring: Yamaha, YH-L700A

Original by its design with its rectangular shells covered with fabric and imitation leather, heavy (330 grams), this helmet is first of all a beautiful object. Controlled using various buttons (including one specifically dedicated to activating noise reduction), the YH-L700A offers good ergonomics. To go (a little) further, the Headphones Controler application focuses on a few settings, but without offering an equalizer, which is a shame for such an expensive headset. 499 euros.

With its YH-L700A, Yamaha impresses with its bass and autonomy.
With its YH-L700A, Yamaha impresses with its bass and autonomy. – YAMAHA

Our opinion : Impressive by the bass it diffuses and by its autonomy (up to 34 hours with noise reduction activated), this headset remains an expensive product, even if the quality of its noise reduction allows it to (almost) familiarize with the taller. Distinctive sign, however: its 3D mode to virtualize a surround universe from a stereo source. Even more, the YH-L700A can take into account the movements of the head (as with the principle of Space Audio on the new
AirPods) in order to keep the soundstage still in the same place. This is particularly relevant when watching a movie on a screen: even if you move your head, the sound always comes from the same point.



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