Sometime around September 2008 I had the opportunity to visit the Phitek offices in Auckland to find out more about a range of new noise cancellation products the company was preparing to launch, and in late December I was sent a Blackbox M10 Noise Cancellation Headphone for review.
This is a more affordable model in their line of noise cancelling headphones, which is lead by the Blackbox M14 we reviewed here before.
In term of size the Blackbox M10 and Blackbox M14 models are very similar. At 180g, and with some good soft padding the Blackbox M10 is very comfortable. I've spent hours watching old The X Files episodes in the home office just to test this.
The main difference between the M10 and the M14 is the superior noise cancellation in the top of range M14 (22dB against 18dB for the M10). The idea here is to make a more affordable product that offers an alternative for an audience looking for noise cancelling headphones but can't afford the more expensive model.
One of my comments with the previous model was about interference in an ambient with lots of electronic noise such as the office, but the Blackbox M10 performed really well and did not show any signs of interference.
Like its predecessor, the Blackbox M10 comes with a standard 3.5mm stereo connector, plus a 6.5 plug adapter plus a dual pin aircraft adaptor, makingit a very versatile option suitable to use at home, office or during travel. It lacks the rigid carry case as well, replaced with a carry pouch.
Phitek also changed the battery compartment, making it much easier to replace the single AAA needed for the device to work. Not that you'd be replacing it much: in my experience I spent almost a month before having to replace the battery, after quite some use.
Two 40mm neodymium drivers provide responses between 20Hz - 22KHz (+/- 3dB), and the noise cancellation software, when activated, can reduce up to 18dB of external noise. Like many other noise cancellation devices, the Blackbox M10 will perform better with "white noises", such as computer fans, airplane cabin noise, and so on.
And it does perform beautifully. The standard sound output with no noise reduction is good, but flick the power switch and you will be in for some really awesome sound when the noise cancelling circuits kick in...
This update model also seems to be tougher than the old model. One of the main complaints from some Blackbox M14 users was about the plastic arm breaking too easily - something I don't think will happen with the Blackbox M10.
It was just by coincidence that Air New Zealand seleted the Blackbox M10 Noise Cancellation Headphone as one of the gift options to Gold Elite members of their frequent flyers program. Because I liked the review unit so much I actually chose to receive one of those when given the opportunity to select a reward from the airline.
If you are planning on getting a new pair of headphones, or upgrading an exiting one, the Blackbox M10 is highly recommended. I enjoy the performance and sound quality everytime I use it.
As I write this review the Blackbox M10 is yet to be available in the Blackbox on-line store itself, but you can however find it through many technology stores already, including Ascent, Cowon, Eastern Hifi, Harvey Norman, Soundline Expression and others.