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Linner NC50 Active Noise Cancelling Wireless Earphones

The NC50 combines wireless Bluetooth 4.1, high quality audio and active noise cancellation in an IPX4 sweatproof design under $90.

The AudionistThe Audionist

Probably the Best Budget Noise Cancelling Earbud

If you work out or travel and commute frequently, you’d appreciate good earphones that fit properly in your ears. Noise cancellation also helps when you want to switch off the world around you and tune in to your music.

Enter the Linner NC50. At just under $90 the NC50 is a great bargain and a budget noise cancelling earbud. By contrast, the PowerBeats3 Wireless is almost $200 and doesn’t come with noise cancellation. The Audio-Technica ATH-ANC40BT features active noise cancellation but costs almost $130. Both feature wireless neckband designs similar to the Linner NC50. So how does the NC50 stack up compared to the big brands?

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Battery Life

For a start, the Linner has an impressive battery life of up to 13 hours of music and talk time. To get to a full charge takes 2 hours, and I’ve never run out of battery life despite listening to the NC50 for hours. The 400-hour standby time is also a welcome feature. You could store an extra set in your carry-on luggage so you’ll always have a pair of budget noise cancelling earbuds with you.

Charging is done through the Micro USB port, and the NC50 pairs up to 2 Bluetooth profiles that can be used simultaneously. Bluetooth connectivity is also stable up to 33ft/10m.

Active Noise Cancellation

The Linner NC50’s active noise cancelling feature works as it should. A simple press of the button cancels out airplane cabin noise, office chatter, city traffic, etc. One cool feature I really like is the Monitor Mode. Pressing the same button mutes the audio to near zero levels and deactivates noise cancellation – perfect for when you need to hear what’s happening around you without removing your earphones.

I found myself using the NC50 on occasions without actually listening to music. What I’ll do is activate noise cancellation and go about my activity. Sometimes I just don’t want to be disturbed at work or in the gym, and this is a great way to look busy.

Note on ANC

The noise cancellation on the NC50 works best on low frequency ambient noise, for example noise under 1000Hz. So while it will block annoying hums like cabin noise, it will not block all sounds (especially higher frequencies) for safety considerations.

Working Out

Speaking of the gym, the NC50 comes with earhooks that secure the earbuds in your ears when working out. The fit is good and you can swap around different eartip and earhook sizes to get the perfect seal. The neckband design also eliminates cable entanglement, especially useful when jogging or at the gym.

The NC50 is sweatproof and the silicone eartips and earhooks can be removed for easy washing. The back of the earbuds are also magnetic; you can clip them around your neck (when you’re not listening to them) so they don’t swing around needlessly when you’re moving about.

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Sound Quality

Last but never least, tone. I’m quite impressed by the NC50’s tone, to be honest. I wasn’t expecting much from a budget noise cancelling earbud with these features. Bass is strong without excessive woollyness and the high-end is clear and transparent. Midrange is tuned with a little dip in the middle for definition. Soundstage is realistic and open. The overall tone is not aggressive or harsh which makes it easy to listen to during long commutes.

The NC50 is not the kind of earbud that you’d sit down with a glass of red wine in your lounge by the fireplace with an audiophile LP. Then again it doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not. The NC50 gets the job done for those who need ANC and wireless connectivity. At the same time, it doesn’t leave me wishing the tone was better. It simply works and that’s a long shot considering its price tag.

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Final Thoughts

The Linner NC50 may be a budget noise cancelling earbud, but it’s without a doubt the best ANC earbuds I’ve demoed in a long time and certainly doesn’t compromise on quality, features and tone. Wireless neckband design? Check. Active noise cancellation? Check. Easy on the wallet? Check. What more could one ask for?

I write about tech, high fidelity audio and minimalism. I’m also a musician and a guitarist.