JVC's HA-NC100 Noise Canceling Headphones have the substantial look and feel of pricier models, with large, thickly padded ear cups and a heavy-duty plastic frame. A single AAA battery--good for 50 hours, according to JVC--installs in one of the ear cups; the other houses a retractable 5-foot cord, which rewinds automatically with the push of a switch. How cool is that?
Equally impressive, the JVC HA-NC100 folds up to become a far more compact travel accessory than you'd expect from full-size headphones. JVC also supplies a drawstring leather carrying case and a two-prong airplane adapter.
The JVC HA-NC100 combines passive noise reduction--the padded cups that cover your ears--with active circuitry designed to block low-frequency noise, such as the hum of a train or the deep roar of a jet engine. It's an effective one-two punch, though the result is definitely noise reduction, not complete cancellation. If you're sitting in a crowded airport lounge, don't expect much dampening; the noise there is largely mid- to high range. But the active circuit does a commendable job with the low-end stuff, making public-transportation environments seem considerably quieter.
As for the headphones themselves, we found sound quality to be decent overall. Bass response seemed a little weak, and during quiet music passages, we could occasionally detect a bit of the hiss produced by the active circuit, though only in the right ear. In passive mode, this hiss was eliminated, improving the overall listening experience a bit. Audiophiles may find the JVC HA-NC100 Noise Canceling Headphones wanting, but for everyone else, it's an almost unbeatable deal.