Is good sound and effective noise reduction possible?

This summer we forgot a little about the noise of the city, buses, metro trains. The solution to staying zen and isolating yourself from ambient noise while enjoying its best sounds: active noise-cancelling headphones. And among the new items for the start of the school year, “20 Minutes” found and tested three pairs of these “100% wireless” headphones from Sony, Jabra and Huawei, which combine excellent sound reproduction and effective noise reduction.

Lightest: LinkBuds S from Sony

After the funny LinkBuds in a hollow circular format (a priori, the manufacturer abandons the concept), Sony returns with the more classic, but noise-reducing LinkBuds S. With fairly reasonable prices, they are well below the level of the WF-1000XM4 (229 euros), which remains a headphone. award from a Japanese manufacturer.

Sony LinkBuds S headphones – SONY

Made partly from recycled plastic (which is why they have a slightly grainy feel) and delivered in compostable packaging, the LinkBuds S have the privilege of discretion and lightness. Weighing just 4.8 grams, these are, according to Sony, the lightest noise-canceling headphones on the market.

In-ear (sinks into the ear canal), they have touch controls that can be configured from the Headphone app, with four functions per earbud (Play/Pause; Next track/Previous track; Noise reduction, etc.). It is in this program that we find a five-band equalizer with eleven parameters (Vibrant, Enthusiastic, Quiet …), two of which can be customized. Water and sweat resistant LinkBuds S (IPX4 standard) offer up to 21 hours of autonomy without noise reduction.

Noise reduction and Transparency mode (to be aware of surrounding noise) are arranged according to different levels. A little extra, the Speak to Chat function cuts the music instantly as soon as you speak. 149 euros.

Our opinion: In testing, the LinkBuds S emit a soft, rounded sound with comfortable bass. drunk By Gecko Turner. But a sound that lacks a bit of brilliance. The ability to listen to surround sound songs (with a subscription to Deezer or Amazon Music) is a plus. For its part, the noise reduction is effective, even if the LinkBuds S still let some frequencies pass through, especially for loud sounds. Annoying bass sounds perfectly. However, the downside: these headphones aren’t very spot on.

Most complete: Jabra, Elite 5

More discreetly than some competitors, Dane Jabra applies its know-how to nomadic audio. Proved with the new Elite 5.

Jabra Elite 5 headset.
Jabra Elite 5 headphones – JABRA

bass of comfortable by Beyoncé; dynamics Stupid Love by Lady Gaga, from the remix Hot Stuff by Kygo and Donna Summer; Voice of Tom Wlaker Leave high… convinced us of the very good performance of the Elite 5 aimed at a younger audience with its signature sound. But not only. Reproducing the intricacies of Lou Reed’s guitar Take a walk on the wild sideor even Stevie Nick’s clipped voice sleep Information from Fleetwood Mac attests to the Elite 5’s ability to expand its audience with clear, detailed sound.

With this model, Jabra also unveils a new noise reduction system. Based on the external microphones, but also the internals of the headphones (six in total), it uses a new Qualcomm chip to optimize phone conversations in particular, by reducing wind noise to virtually zero. Which is very convenient during the conversation.

IP55 (they are dust and water resistant), multi-point (they can be connected to a smartphone and a computer without having to repair them), the Elite 5 also claims up to 36 hours of autonomy without noise reduction. Finally, they can be recharged by induction. Arguments that distinguish them. 169 euros.

Our opinion: The Elite 5 (in black or beige) not only confirms the manufacturer’s ability to offer excellent quality audio products, but also very suitable noise reduction at this price level. Customizable with the Sound+ app and controlled using physical buttons, these headphones should find a wide audience.

The most powerful: FreeBuds Pro 2 from Huawei

Developed in collaboration with hi-fi brand Devialet, the FreeBuds Pro 2 are semi-in-ear headphones (they only partially sink into the ear canal). Controls are located on small pinch handles, and customization of settings is done through the Huawei AI Life software.

Huawei's FreeBuds Pro 2 earphones.
Huawei’s FreeBuds Pro 2 earphones. – HUAWEI

In the absence of lightness (5.9 grams per earbud, for example, against 5 grams for the Galaxy Buds 2 from Samsung), each earbud has two speakers. This allows the FreeBuds Pro 2 to cover a wide frequency range (14Hz to 48kHz). Like a piece Even so after all by Finley Quaye (on old album drunk To rediscover jazz since 1997!) FreeBuds 2 benefits from Pro’s real assets: muscular bass, precise treble and sound with incredible presence. Especially immersive… The ten-band equalizer available in the application (iOS and Android) allows you to fine-tune its parameters (Default, Bass, Loudness, Volume) in addition to the ones offered.

In turn, noise reduction works at four levels, including one called “Dynamic”, which automatically adjusts it according to the environment. The FreeBuds Pro 2 claim up to 30 hours of battery life without noise reduction (in their case, up to 4 charges are possible). 199 euros.

Our opinion: Chrome coating (blue, gray or white), small open bar: Huawei’s new FreeBuds Pro 2 is not arbitrarily embodied. Although the Chinese manufacturer has made some great headphones here, it’s nothing short of amazing bling bling, of course, but with undeniable ease of use and canon sound. Tested during phone conversations in the middle of the street, they stand out for their crystal-clear conversations, without worrying (much) about the surrounding noise and especially the sound of engines.

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