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Microsoft Just Beat Apple to the Noise-Canceling Punch

They’re built with 40mm drivers and have a 15-hour battery life.

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We’ve been waiting (and hoping) for Apple to announce to its first over-ear noise-canceling headphones for a while now. After all, with the recent release of its first speaker (HomePod) and its first true wireless earbuds (AirPods), Apple is now a bonafide audio company. Throw in the facts that the iPhone-maker has owned Beats for four-and-a-half years now and Apple’s noise-canceling headphones would sell like crazy – it seems inevitable, right?

Well, Apple’s noise-canceling headphones aren’t here yet and we have really have no idea when they will be – but Microsoft’s are. That’s right. At the company’s launch event yesterday, where it announced its new Surface lineup (including the Surface Pro 2, the Surface Laptop 2 and Surface Studio 2), it also tacked on its first wireless noise-canceling headphones, simply called the Surface Headphones.

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The new headphones will be available later this year and cost $349, which right falls in line with Sony’s and Bose’s latest flagships. Like those from Sony WH-1000M3, the Surface Headphones have swipe gestures on the earcup to play/pause, skip tracks and access the built-in virtual assistant, Cortana. As far as other specs, the Surface Headphones have 40mm drivers and 15 hours of battery life. They have built-in optical sensors that will automatically pause or play your music when you take them off or place them back on your head (similar to AirPods). And they charge via USB-C.

Maybe the most aesthetically-pleasing aspect is the rotating dials around either earcup. The dial on the right earcup adjusts the volume, while the dial on the left earcup can be used to strengthen or attenuate the noise-canceling – the Surface Headphones have 13 different levels of noise-canceling that you can choose from.

From my brief time with the Surface Headphones at yesterday’s event, I can say that they felt comfortable and the sound quality good, although I only had them on for a few minutes. The noise-canceling worked well, too, which actually wasn’t all too surprising as most new noise-canceling headphones are pretty decent these days. The real test will be how the headphones (and their integration of Cortana) actually work with Microsoft’s other Surface devices as well as non-Surface devices.

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