Reviewed on Feb 26, 2016


Usage Ratings - Version 0.9
Mixed Usage
Critical Listening
Home Theater
Type : On-ear
Enclosure : Closed-Back
Wireless : No
Noise-Cancelling : Yes
Mic : No
Transducer : Dynamic

The Sony MDR-NC8 deliver surprisingly decent sound reproduction. However, they are flimsy, below-average headphones with terrible noise isolation and subpar build quality. They feel cheap and are hard to recommend.

Test Results
Design 5.6
Sound 6.7
Isolation 5.2
Active Features 5.7
  • Decent audio reproduction.
  • Earcups don't leak much sound.
  • Very poor noise cancelling.
  • Flimsy, weak build.
  • Lack in bass is noticeable.

Check Price



The MDR-NC8 feel and look cheap. They are extremely flimsy, lack severely in build quality and do not offer any in-line controls. They also feel uncomfortable because of the lack of padding and tension on the weak headband which is very disappointing.


There's nothing that really stands out with the design of the MDR-NC8. They look bland and utilitarian but also but also a little cheap because of the low-grade thin plastic used. They come in a matt black color accentuated by a glossy finish at the hinges and a subtle SONY branding on the back of oval ear cups. The headband is thin and not padded which does not help with the already bland esthetic.

6.5 Comfort
Weight : 0.40 lbs
Clamping Force
0.76 lbs

The padding on the ear cups is soft and the MDR-NC8 are lightweight. These are the only benefits to an otherwise uncomfortable set of headphones. The lack of padding on the headband and the overall flimsiness of the headphones do not feel good on the head. The stereo audio cable is not detachable and can get in the way, as they link both ear cups which can be frustrating.

3.4 Controls
Ease of use : Above-average
Feedback : Mediocre
Call/Music Control : No
Volume Control : No
Noise Canceling Control : No
Talk-Through : No
Additional Buttons : No

Button layout is non-existent. There is only one button and its to switch on/off the noise cancelling. The MDR-NC8 offer no in-line controls so you will have to pull out your device every time you want to turn up the volume or skip and stop a tracks which is very disappointing.

5.5 Stability

The Sony MDR-NC8 are not stable headphones. The headband is not tight enough to keep the headphones in place during physical activity. They sway a lot while running and are not ideal for the gym. They also have a non-detachable cable that will pull the headphones off your head if it gets hooked on something.

6.4 Portability
L : 4.33 "
W : 5.51 "
H : 2.76 "
Volume : 65.72 Cu. Inches
Stand required : N/A

These headphones are fairly portable. They fold up into a compact design that will easily fit into larger bags and purses. However, they're not portable enough to comfortably carry around on your person. They also do not come with case or pouch, which is a little disappointing

0 Case
Type : No case

4.5 Build Quality

The build quality for the MDR-NC8 is abysmal. They feel cheap, weak and look extremely susceptible to breaking. The hinges are loose and the headband is super thin and not padded. The ear cups flimsily move about without much force and would not withstand more than a few drops.

8.5 Breathability
Avg.Temp.Difference : 1.6 C

Detachable : No
Length : 3.97 ft
Connection : 1/8" TRS



6.1 Bass
Std. Err.
5.36 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
45.55 Hz
-7.33 dB
2.19 dB
3.05 dB

8.0 Mid
Std. Err.
2.61 dB
0.88 dB
3.19 dB
1.17 dB

5.2 Treble
Std. Err.
5.77 dB
-1.31 dB
0.51 dB
0.8 dB

8.5 Total Harmonic Distortion
Weighted THD @ 90
Weighted THD @ 100



The MDR-NC8 have very poor performance when it comes to cancelling ambient noise. The active noise cancellation changes nothing in the amount of ambient noise that get into the earcups and their padding does not add much passive isolation either. The MDR-NC8s won't leak much sound but are definitely not recommended for use in noisy environments or for travelling.

3.9 Noise Isolation
Overall Attenuation
-6.71 dB
0.16 dB
-5.67 dB
-16.16 dB
16.33 dB

Amazingly, the active noise cancelling on these headphones doesn't seem to be doing anything. The passive isolation is also sub-par, only starting to isolate at around 400Hz. It does best at 5 KHz, where it provides -20dB of isolation.

7.8 Leakage
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
35.12 dB

Good leakage performance, which is expected of on-ear headphones. Listening to music at average volumes should not be an issue, but the profile is relatively broadband. It ranges from 500Hz and up to 4Khz.


Active Features

The MDR- NC8 only have noise canceling as an active feature. This makes them less versatile for other use cases except as noise canceling headphones, as they lack both wireless features or an app, to enhance and customize their sound. On the upside, they have an incredibly long battery life at 88.5 hours with a single fully charged AAA cell. 

0 Wireless
Obstructed Range
Line of Sight Range

10 Latency
Base Latency
0 ms
aptX Latency
aptX(LL) Latency

8.6 Battery
Battery Type
Battery Life
88.5 hrs
Charge Time
Audio while charging
Passive Playback

The MDR-ZX110NC have great battery life that will easily deliver above 80 hours of continuous playback. They use a AAA battery but thanks to the long battery life you won't have to swap out the battery as often. Unfortunately, like the MDR-ZX110NC they have no power saving features, but can be used passively when the battery runs out.

0 App Support

No compatible app.

In the box

  • Sony MDR-NC8
  • Airline adapter
  • AAA Battery
  • Manual

6.0 Mixed Usage

The Sony MDR-NC8 mediocre and cheap everyday headphones that do not excel in a particular use case. Their isolation is not efficient enough for traveling or the office and their sound is an average at best.

6.7 Critical Listening

Not intended for pure critical listening. The closed back design and small earcups limit the soundstage these headphones can create. Their audio reproduction is decent with instruments and vocals but lacks bass and detail.

5.4 Commute/Travel

Poor for commuting. They don't block or cancel enough noise for loud environments.

5.8 Sports/Fitness

Mediocre for sports. These headphones are lightweight and not too bulky. However, their not tight enough to stay put during physical activity and the non-detachable audio cable gets tangled a lot.

6.1 Office

Mediocre for office use. They have low leakage and won't distract your colleagues. But they also won't block the office chatter because of the weak noise isolation.

6.6 Home Theater

Mediocre for home theater use. They're lightweight and decently comfortable. They're also wired, so they have negligible latency when watching movies. However, their relatively short audio cable may be an issue depending on your home theater set up.

Recommended Articles



Be part of the most informed community and take advantage of our advanced tools to find the best product for your needs.
Join our mailing list:
Become an insider

Unlimited access to full product reviews, test measurements and scores

test table UI

Product prices across the site on reviews, tables and tools

product prices UI

Additional votes for our
next reviews

Additional votes UI

Early Access
to our reviews and test measurements

Early Access UI

Create Discussion