Product Review: Pioneer SE-NC21M Noise-Canceling Headphones

What Is It: Pioneer Electronics' Noise Cancelling On-Ear Headphones, model number SE-NC21M.

Price and Where to Buy: $79 to $238.00 from Amazon, Pioneer Electronics, and a number of other sites.


Pros: These headphones are very comfortable. They're light (1.32 lbs without the battery), and the on-ear design feels a lot better than ear-buds. The headphones fold down for traveling, come in an easy to pack case, and also thoughtfully come with an adapter to use with many airplane televisions. Also, once the headphones run out of battery (after approximately 120 hours of listening), they can still function (just without the noise-cancelling feature). The sound quality is fantastic.

Cons: The headphones promise to remove up to 90 percent of ambient noise. When switched on, but not listening to anything, we could still hear conversations around us in the office—they were muted, but still audible. The noise cancelling is much better when actually listening to music, but be aware you'll probably still be able to hear a crying baby in the row next to you (although at a reduced level) if you use these while flying. We were surprised, though, that these on-ear headphones were about as effective as an over-ear model.

How it Rates:

  • Usefulness: 8/10. Use these on a plane, train, or in your hotel room, and don't leave them in the suitcase—they're great for the office too.
  • Portability: 9/10. These fold down flat and tuck neatly into the included case. You could easily toss these in a carry-on.
  • Value: 7/10. Depends on where you buy them, as prices for the same model vary by $200 on the Internet. If you get these for the $79 they're currently on sale at Amazon, they're a great bargain
  • Durability: 10/10. Every part of these headphones, from the ear-pads to the headband to the cord, are well made and durable..
  • Cool Factor: 7/10. They're basic black headphones—you won't stand out, but you won't look uncool either.

Final Verdict: If you're in the market for on-ear headphones, the Pioneers are a good fit.

Editor's Note: Reviews are based on usefulness, portability, durability, value, and "cool factor." Some review products are sent to us free of charge and with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions, positive and negative, and will never accept compensation to review a product. If you have any questions or comments concerning our reviews, or would like to suggest a product for review, please email us at

(Photo: Pioneer Electronics)

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