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Customer Review

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Solid Little Product With A Few Niggles, 10 May 2012
This review is from: Digital Silence DS-321D Stereo Digital Ambient Noise Cancelling Headphones with Microphone - Black (discontinued by manufacturer) (Electronics)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The DS321D Headphones are the third set of noise cancelling headphones I have owned, after a set of Sennheiser over-the-ear cans (no longer in production) and a set of Pioneer SE-NC31C Fully Enclosed Dynamic Inner-Ear Noise-Cancelling Headphones - Black.

The Sennheisers were probably my favourite on the basis that they were the first set of noise cancelling HPs I owned and being over-the-ear were the most comfortable. However, they were bulky and as I mostly use headphones when travelling by plane, used up quite a lot of space in my hand-luggage. When they reached the end of their natural life due to a loose connection that resulted in interference on the audio feed, I decided to go for the Pioneers because they were so much smaller and more versatile. The performance wasn't as good as the Sennheisers and they weren't as comfortable to wear but they did the job, cutting out a reasonably amount of ambient background noise, and I would have happily continued using them.

When I was offered the opportunity to try out the DS-321D headphones via the Amazon Vine Programme however, I decided to ditch the Pioneers and give them a whirl. One immediate advantage that the DS-321D have over the Pioneers is that they're Smart Phone compatible, with none of the interference from your phone that you get when using the Pioneers. Plus with the DS-321D you get a built in microphone with an (admittedly basic) track and call control button.

These features would be worthless however, if the DS-321D didn't provide decent noise cancelling and audio quality. Fortunately on both counts they perform well. Some other reviews have said that the effectiveness of the cancellation is limited. I would argue with this. Having tried them out in various environments, including whilst cycling, working, driving and on a plane, I say that the ambient noise reduction they offer is pretty good. Certainly on a recent transatlantic flight they eliminated pretty much all the background noise on-board the aircraft and I found that I had to make use of the 'monitor' button to mute the volume and suspend the noise cancellation if I wanted to hear any PA announcements or speak to the cabin crew.

The audio quality provided, both with and without noise cancellation being engaged, is also pretty good. Bass and Treble levels are pretty good and clarity is maintained across the range. They're never going to compete with truly high-end units in terms of quality but you wouldn't expect that for this type of product.

The rechargeable battery pack is a great touch. Battery life on a full charge seems to be pretty good (8 hours+ so far with no drop off in performance) and its nice not to have to carry spare AAA's around with me. The battery pack is also smaller and lighter than the the equivalent unit on the Pioneer and feels more solid.

The call/track control button on the microphone works well enough and is useful to have when you're using the headphones in conjunction with a smart-phone or don't want to have to dig out your MP3 player from a pocket to skip forward a track or answer a call (particularly helpful when cycling).

The whole package is also nicely presented, with a faux-leather case of decent quality that is large enough to safely store the headphones, charger cable, ear buds (the latter in a nifty internal pocket) and, in my case, an iPod Shuffle, but isn't too big. Again this is a step up on the flimsy draw-string cloth bags that often accompany in ear headphones (and was provided with my Pioneer SE-NC31C's).

Of course there are some niggles with the DS-321D's. Other reviewers have pointed out the lack of a volume control on the battery pack or elsewhere. The 'Monitor' button does mute sound entirely when needed, but I will agree that a fader of some sort would have been better.

I'm also not entirely sold on the comfort of the earbuds themselves. This is a very personal thing, since its likely to depend on the shape and size of the user's ears, but I found that the DS-321D's became a little uncomfortable after a few hours of continuous use, which isn't great on long flights. Whilst the rubberised 'in-ear' part of the buds were comfortable enough, the problem was with the outer units that sit just outside the ear canal. These are made of hard plastic, with no cushioning, and were the parts that began to cause slight discomfort. The addition of some form of rubberised cover or bumped around the edge would probably have helped.

However, these are minor complaints and overall Digital Silence have produced a solid little product that I intend to continue using as my main set of Noise Cancelling headphones. In terms of performance they do everything I need them to and in terms of size and build quality they're definitely a step ahead of the other units I've used.
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