Wireless earphones are all the rage right now and we’re seeing more of them all the time. Not only that, there are also more that are offering Active Noise Cancelling (ANC). In the past, these features together were reserved for higher-end models with prices to match. But what if you want wireless and ANC but you’re on a budget? The Linner NC50 wireless earphones with Bluetooth 4.1 and ANC could be exactly what you need.
Coming in at $69 these earbuds have 13 hours of music or talk time, an IPX4 sweat-proof rating and they actually sound pretty great. That’s your TLDR right there, but if you want the details then let’s get into it.
This product was provided for the purpose of an honest review. I’m not affiliated with the company and all observations and opinions here are my own.
Has good battery life
Good design and comfort
Decent noise cancelling
Oval-shaped nozzles make tip rolling choices limited
Noise Reduction: Up to 28dB
Monitor Mode: Ambient Sound
Frequency Range: 20Hz~20KHz
Charging Port: Micro USB
Charging Time: 2 Hours
Standby Time: 400 Hours
Sweat Proof: IPX4
Bluetooth Version: V4.1
Bluetooth Profiles: HFP V1.6, HSP V1.2, A2DP V1.2, AVRCP V1.4
Operating Distance: approx. 33ft/10m
Package and accessories
The NC50 comes in a simple white box with a diagram of the earbuds on the front. Over on the back of the box, there is a list of features and specifications.
Once the box is open, you’ll see the NC50 earphones presented in a moulded plastic tray. Under the tray are all the accessories. Let’s see what you get:
Linner NC50 Wireless Bluetooth ANC earphone
Soft fabric carry pouch
User manual & warranty card
USB cable for charging
3x ear hooks (S, M, L)
3x silicone eartips (S, M, L)
There’s a separate box inside with a foam cutout that holds the ear hooks and eartips. The fabric carrying pouch is simple but effective enough and provides some additional protection for the earphones when storing them or carrying them in a bag.
So there’s everything you need to get started right away. Out of the box the earphones I received already had fully charged batteries so I was able to start listening right away.
Build & design
Starting with the neckband, it’s very soft and supple so it sits well around your neck. Not only that, but it’s very comfortable and in most cases, you’ll forget it’s even there. On each end of the neckband, there’s a solid plastic piece. The outer side of the left piece has the Linner branding on it but is otherwise bare.
The plastic section on the right side has the Micro USB charging port, On/Off button, LED power indicator and the ANC monitor button.
Pressing the monitor button activates the monitoring mode, which does two things: It lowers the music playback volume and amplifies ambient noise. This is really handy when someone is talking to you, or for whatever reason, you need to be able to hear what’s going on around you, for example, if you need to hear an announcement when you’re riding on a train or plane.
The NC50’s monitor button also serves another function, which is switching between ‘normal’ and active noise cancelling modes. It’s a clever system and the button is located in a position that is easy to find and use.
The earphone cables are attached to each end of the neckband. On the right side cable is a three-button inline control and microphone. This performs standard Bluetooth earbud functions, such as play/pause, volume adjustment, skipping and rewinding tracks and answering or ending phone calls. The buttons feel good to use. They’re not mushy and have a satisfying tactile click.
The earphones also have a magnet on each side, so you can join them together behind your neck to keep them secure when you’re not listening to them. What I like even more about this though, is that it prevents the cable from getting tangled when it’s in a pocket or bag.
Lastly, we come to the earbud shells, which have the common shape and style that is currently very popular with Bluetooth earphones. Starting with a cylindrical housing with a flat back, where you can see the Linner branding and logo. The shells taper outwards to a conical-shaped front end with an angled nozzle.
The nozzle shape is my only real gripe with the NC50; the nozzles are sort of flattened, as in not circular. This is fine if you’re using the default eartips but if you want to use anything else you’ll be a little restricted somewhat due to the shape and narrow width of the nozzles.
Comfort & isolation
I found the Linner NC50 to be very comfortable. The soft and flexible neckband wraps around your neck naturally and after a short time, you’ll forget it’s even there.
As for the actual earphones, their tried and tested form factor were bound to be comfortable, and that’s exactly how they are. There are no sharp edges or awkward ridges and coupled with the light weight of the shells, I can easily wear these for hours on end.
Passive noise isolation isn’t great but that’s kind of a moot point, considering that the earphones have ANC. Once the noise cancelling is activated, the external noise drops to a minimum and you can get on with enjoying your music, movies or podcasts. More on the ANC in the next section.
ANC is a big selling point of the Linner NC50 so it needs to be pretty decent. And it is. Here’s my experience with it thus far.
The recent CanJam event in Singapore was a perfect chance for me to test the NC50’s ANC during my flight over and it did not disappoint. Once we were soaring above the clouds I connected via the Bluetooth 4.1 (super easy by the way), pressed the ANC button and Boom! Right away the roar of the jet engines all but disappeared.
When there were any announcements during the flight, I could simply press the Monitor button. In monitor mode, the music level would drop right down and the ambient noise was slightly amplified. This is such a great feature and one that I will expect on any ANC earphones I test in the future
For a less than $100 earphone the noise cancelling works really well. Obviously, it’s not quite up to the standard of some of the more expensive options out there (Sony & Bose for example) but for the asking price, it’s really effective.
Linner claims a 13-hour battery life for talking or music playback and I found that to be accurate. However, with ANC turned on it is a little less, at around 10-11 hours. That’s still a very solid performance and should be enough to satisfy most people.
The standby time for the battery is also excellent. If you’re only using the earphones a couple hours a day you can get around a weeks use of the NC50 before needing a recharge. Even so, the charge time is only 1.5-2 hours which is great.
The NC50 has Bluetooth 4.1 and is extremely easy to pair with other devices. I found the signal strength to be excellent and did not experience any dropouts or disconnects. The range is also very good. I was able to walk all around inside my house and maintain a solid connection. Call quality is really good too and according to people on the other end of the line, my voice was coming through very clearly.
For testing, I paired the NC50 with my Android smartphone, the Acoustic Research AR-M200 and Windows laptop.
Normally when testing an ANC earphone in this price range I would be pretty sceptical about the sound quality. That’s simply because it’s not easy to provide good build quality, effective ANC AND good sound at such a low price.
However, recently I reviewed the DECOKA DK100 which is actually a subsidiary of Linner. Because I had such a positive experience with that earphone (apart from the large ANC/battery unit), I was quietly confident that the Linner NC50 would be solid. In a nutshell; I was right.
The NC50 and DK100 share a lot in common when it comes to their sound presentation. The overall signature is quite balanced with no emphasis on any particular area in the frequency range.
It’s so refreshing when a budget earphone doesn’t try to wow you with its massive, powerful bass. When reviewing cheaper IEMs, one of the first things I expect to hear is a bloated, booming mid-bass. The NC50 doesn’t do that.
It’s boosted enough to give the sound body without being dominant or intrusive. There’s a nice amount of punch and impact that fills out the low end without bleeding into the midrange, although it does carry a little extra weight over to give fullness to the sound.
The midrange is quite forward for a consumer based earphone and has a good balance between richness and clarity. Albums such as Anathema’s Weather Systems sound great with the NC50. Its smooth presentation offers a fatigue-free listening experience that is also quite forgiving when listening to poorly mastered tracks.
I found the NC50 was also great for watching videos on a smartphone or laptop; the Bluetooth 4.1 worked really well and the sound remained perfectly in sync with what was happening on the screen.
The NC50’s treble is fairly relaxed and sits behind the bass and midrange but at the same time is light and clear. There was no stridency or harshness present which adds to its non-fatiguing presentation. The treble and overall sound quality are really quite surprising for an ANC earphone at this price. I have found that some cheaper ANC earphones have an artificial or metallic treble but that’s not the case here.
Linner NC50 Conclusion
So there you have it. The Linner NC50 is another surprisingly good ANC earphone. The build quality is excellent and the earphones feel very durable. They’re comfortable in your ears and suitable for long listening sessions.
As a bonus, the IPX4 rating means they are sweatproof so you can take these to the gym or go running and they’re even fine in light rain. The battery life is good too, giving you up to 13 hours of talk time or music and the ANC also works well.
When it comes to sound the NC50 holds its own really well against even non-ANC earphones in the same price range and that is quite an achievement. For around $69 you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better deal than this.