The Linner NC50 is a set of Bluetooth in-ear headphones, with the rather rare feature of active noise cancellation. They go for just £52 online, so can they deliver what they promise without cutting too many corners? Let’s find out!
- Advanced noise cancelling technology free yourself from external noise, airplane cabin noise, city traffic or busy office by flipping the switch when you needed.
- Connect easily to your device via Bluetooth, provide mega bass and clear mid tones, enjoy hands-free calling thanks to the integrated microphone and wireless design.
- 3x pairs of ear tips hooks (S/M/L) block out further noise while providing a comfortable fit.
- 200mAh rechargeable battery provides up to 13 hours of continuous wireless music playback.
- Talk time: Up to 13 hours
- Charging port: Micro USB
- Charging time: 2 Hr
- Voice Prompt
- Standby time: 400 Hr
- Sweat proof
- Bluetooth version: V4.1
- Bluetooth profiles: HFP v1.6, HSP v1.2, A2DP v1.2, AVRCP v1.4
- Operating distance: 33ft
- 1 x NC50 Neckband Active Noise Cancelling Bluetooth Headphone
- 3 x Ear tips (L, M, S)
- 3 x Ear Hooks
- 1 x Hop-Pocket
- 1 x User Guide
- 1 x USB Charging Cable
The NC50 operates in the ‘neckbuds’ space, with lightweight in-ear headphones joined together by a thicker cord that’s meant to sit around the back of your neck. Each earbud can be used with one of three different ear tips and one of three different ear hooks, making it more likely you’ll get a good fit even if your ears are slightly different sizes.
A few centimetres down from the right earbud, there’s a three button remote control: volume up at the top, play/pause in the centre and volume down at the bottom. If you hold down any button, you get additional functions: skip forward, activate voice assistant and skip back.
Further down, you’ve got one of two thicker, weightier sections of the cable. This one has a button which turns on and off the active noise cancellation; it’s easy to find because the button is quite recessed. You’ll also find the on/off button and a covered Micro USB charging port here.
To balance the headset, you get a similar section on the opposite side of the cable. Presumably, this includes a battery, but there are no controls or other features here, just a Linner wordmark.
The earbuds themselves are quite slim and lightweight, with a metal core and easily removable rubber ear tips and hooks. There’s a large L or R on each earbud, making it easy to understand which side is which. (After your first use or so, you’ll realise that all the controls are on the right, which means you can put it on correctly without looking in future.)
You can see the metal part of the earbud here, again with a small Linner wordmark and what is probably a small microphone to aid in noise cancellation.
We used these headphones for a week with Galaxy Note 8 and Galaxy S7 Edge smartphones, in order to give them a good shake. We went running, worked out in the gym, listened to them at work and fell asleep with them on a train. Here’s what we thought.
First of all: the Active Noise Cancellation works pretty well. It’s not the best implementation I’ve ever tried, but it does seem to noticeably reduce the amount of sound that you’re hearing. With it engaged, you can listen to music quite comfortably at very low volume levels, which is nice. However, once it’s turned off, I was routinely maxing out the ‘safe’ level on the Note 8 in order to hear music or podcasts clearly, so figure on using ANC almost always unless you’re in a very quiet area. I did notice that some sounds, including on a train, weren’t perfectly cancelled out and I was left with a weird humming. However, once music playback began, these noises disappeared into the soundscape.
The sound quality on these was decent — not quite as nice as the cheap Philips in-ears that I use day-to-day, but not obviously lacking either. Bass was relatively timid, but mids and highs were represented quite faithfully and I was able to pick out individual instruments even in complex arrangements. These aren’t audiophile headphones by any stretch of the imagination, but for use commuting or exercising they will certainly do the job.
The remaining controls are easy to find and use. I much prefer the triple button in-line remote to single button jobbies, as you get the ability to play/pause, adjust the volume up and down, and skip backwards and forwards without getting into triple or quadruple taps of the same button.
In terms of battery life, I was impressed. I used the headphones on the way to work and at work for two days in a row before needing to recharge, probably about 11 or 12 hours of usage in total. I would have preferred to have USB-C charging to cut down on the number of chargers I needed to bring, but Micro USB is fine.
Finally, let’s discuss comfort. These headphones were initially quite uncomfortable in my ears, with the fit a little too tight. However, thanks to the other ear tips included, I was able to find a more comfortable alternative that left me able to listen to music for hours on end without worry. The provided default ear hook worked well for gym work and running too, staying in my ears easily without discomfort.
The NC50s surpassed my (admittedly low) expectations, more than justifying their £50 price point through reasonable sound quality and noise cancellation, a smart and stylish design and good battery life. I’m impressed!