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Sony, $549.95 ★★★★ These ear­buds are far from or­di­nary. Most noise-can­celling head­phones are bat­tery pow­ered, cre­at­ing an awk­ward sit­u­a­tion where a me­tal tube hangs from your ear. Sony has cre­ated a so­lu­tion in the XBA-NC85D ear­buds by packing small recharge­able bat­ter­ies into the ear­pieces to can­cel out ex­ter­nal noise for up to 20 hours on a sin­gle charge. Sim­ply plug the ear­buds into a USB adapter and com­puter when­ever a boost is needed (they don’t work with­out bat­ter­ies). The $500-plus price tag of these ear­buds also buys you crisp mu­sic de­liv­ery with min­i­mal dis­tor­tion, a fre­quency re­sponse from five to 20,000Hz, and three types of noise can­cel­la­tion, aimed at si­lenc­ing air­craft, bus and gen­eral of­fice noise.

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