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REVIEW: Polaroid’s Active Noise Cancelling Headphones Don’t Cancel Out Noise

Polaroid, better known for their film cameras and accessories, have released a budget set of Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) headphones as part of their developing range of Audio solutions. Sold at supermarkets and major retailers such as Woolworths and Big W, Polaroid have entered the market as a budget brand, with availabilities best suited to people who may have forgotten their headphones and are in need of an inexpensive pair at short notice.

Priced at $49, their Active Noise Cancelling headphones promise quite a lot of value for your dollar, with Dynamic Audio, comfortable padded earcups, a 14hr battery life and of course Active Noise Cancelling. But do they deliver?

Out of the Box

While not exactly lined with gold, Polaroid’s ANC headphones come outfitted with a few necessities, including an AUX cable, a Micro-USB cable for charging, a 1-year warranty slip and a user guide booklet. Pretty standard but to be expected with a product in this price range.

Initial Feel

In the hands, Polaroid’s ANC headphones feel light and cheap, which is to be somewhat expected. However, their claim of “soft-padded earcups” seems to be more opinion than fact. The round shape doesn’t fit on the ear neatly, meaning those with bigger ears might find them to be a tad cramped, and the stiff shape and lack of padding mean wearing them for long periods of time may be quite uncomfortable.

Setup

Polaroid got Bluetooth setup correct, which is something you would hope for, regardless of the price. A simple hold of the power button puts the device into pairing mode, making it instantly discoverable and easy to connect to.

Sound Quality

While we weren’t expecting crystal clear audio, despite what their blurb on ‘Dynamic Audio’ may suggest, the audio playback was still quite disappointing. Lows and mids dominate the mix, making everything sound muddy and without any sense of clarity. The worst part of the sound however is that it frequently clips and distorts, even at the volume the headset was on out of the box, which wasn’t particularly loud.

Active Noise Cancelling

ANC was obviously the key feature of these headphones and is an impressive offering at the price point. However, buying these for noise cancelling purposes is rather pointless as the feature doesn’t seem to do anything. At the flick of the ANC switch, the playback has a silent blink and then comes back sounding even worse. However, background noise such as talking and a tapping pen were no less audible. As expected, enabling this feature also drains the battery life faster, meaning you won’t get 14hr out of the battery.

Surprisingly however, the passive noise cancelling is rather good. Being closed back headphones, most background noise was blocked out at all times, irrespective of whether ANC was on or off. However, many headphones without ANC offer the same.

The ANC switch on the right earcup, alongside the AUX input and media controls.

Final Verdict

At $49 from Woolies, it was unlikely that Polaroid’s ANC headphones were going to be the best thing’s we had ever heard. However, the inability to deliver on the product’s main selling feature does lose it some points. If you’re after a cheap pair of headphones to get you through the day, save yourself some money and invest in a cheaper pair without ANC.



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