Sound-isolation headphones, the Cygnett Sonic headset retails for £39.95, putting it squarely in the bracket of not cheap but affordable. And that's probably just as well, because while the sound-isolating part of the Sonic's job spec is handled with aplomb, the audio fidelity is straight from the bargain bucket.

Let's start with the good stuff: the Cygnett Sonics have a certain style. Part young-person's-music-DJ, part Del-Boy-listening-to-The-Who waving a conductor's baton, the black faux leather and plastic finish is nicely complemented by a discreet orange trim. At 165g it is light enough for weight to be a non-issue, but the Cygnett Sonic headset feels well constructed. The over ear pads are comfy and there's enough give in the adjustable head strap to make the cans sit snugly on even this massive-noggined reviewer's luggs - albeit our ears only just fitted into the leather ring, so any big-eared BFGs may wish to look elsewhere. See also: Headphones: Xmas gift guide.

The cable is - at almost 1.3m - plenty long enough (not always a given at this price point). It's also covered in synthetic material, making it feel more like a shoelace than the usual rubber cord. This feels infinitely more robust, and gives us hope that the Cygnett Sonic headphones should last longer than many comparable headsets: it's almost always the cord that goes first, after all.

Sold on the basis of its sound-isolating qualities, we're happy to report that in this at least the Cygnett Sonic is successful. Even with music booming out none of my near neighbours could hear anything, and none of the daily hubbub of the PC Advisor office seeped in. Blissful relief.

Which brings us to the audio quality... hmm. Not so good. Frankly, and regardless of the quality of recording or music playing device, the sound produced by the Cygnett Sonic headphones is, well, cheap. It's all mid-tones with very little depth of bass, and no accurate high end. And over everything lies a faintly discernible hiss, mildly irritating when The Black Keys are pumping out Detroit blues rock, it's excrutiating during Fleetwood Mac's more contemplative moments. Male vocals sound nasal, what bass there is sounds muddy and ill-defined.

It all combines to give an audio experience that is something akin to a single speaker on an old, and cheap, single speaker analogue TV. When asked to price the Cygnett Sonic on performance alone, our resident audiophile guessed at £25, which seems about right. This is a shame, because everything else about this headset is bang on. If audio quality is less important than build, style, comfort and noise-isolation, these cans are perfect for you. See all: Audio/music hardware reviews.

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Cygnett Sonic: Specs

  • 165g
  • 1.3m lead
  • 3.5mm jack
  • pouch included
  • Dynamic sound quality
  • Sound-isolation technology
  • Compatible with iPod, iPhone, iPad, MP3 players & smartphones
  • 165g
  • 1.3m lead
  • 3.5mm jack
  • pouch included
  • Dynamic sound quality
  • Sound-isolation technology
  • Compatible with iPod, iPhone, iPad, MP3 players & smartphones

OUR VERDICT

Something of a curate's egg, we like the build, style and comfort of the Cygnett Sonic headset. But at this price, the audio performance is just not good enough.

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