Harman JBL Reflect Aware left, Philips Fidelio NC1L right

Noise-cancelling headphones are great, but they do have one big drawback: noise-cancellation requires power, giving you yet another device to charge. Harman and Philips have each removed that pain-point, announcing noise-cancelling devices with a Lightning connector instead of a 3.5mm headphone jack, drawing their power from the iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.

The Harman JBL Reflect Aware are earphones aimed at sports use, allowing you to choose the level of noise-cancellation – handy for times when you are on the street and want to retain some awareness of things like traffic noise. They come in at a reasonably wallet-friendly $149. Harman has them at CES, but no word yet on availability … 

Philips, in the meantime, has announced the Fidelio NC1L headphones, with the same ability to mix in your desired degree of ambient sound, as well as a specific mode for phone calls, reports The Verge. Thanks to the Lightning connection, the headphones use an on-board 24-bit digital-to-analogue converter to process the sound rather than relying on the one built into the iPhone, and Philips says all the components are geared to delivering high-quality sound.

A full chain of audiophile-grade components – coupled with perfectly tuned high-bandwidth and high-precision neodymium drivers – ensures a truly exceptional sound experience on the go.

The Philips offering is twice the price at $299, with US availability “soon.”

Of course, there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch: while you don’t have to charge your headphones, the power draw from the Lightning socket will reduce the battery-life of the iPhone, so we’ll need to wait and see how much impact that has.

Incidentally, what’s with the trend for referring to earphones as headphones? Harman isn’t the only company to do this. Very odd.

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Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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