What Hi Fi Sound and Vision Tue, 16 Aug 2011, 12:48pm

Blackbox M16

Tested at £165

Well-made and good at killing outside noise, but they could do with a little more excitement in their sound

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  • Good noise cancelling
  • Apple remote and mic
  • smooth, tonally balanced audio
  • useful accessories


  • Sound weak in passive mode
  • rather cluttered delivery

Blackbox, created by Phitek Systems, a company that came out of nowhere with the impressive noise-cancelling i10 in-ears, is back with the M16 on-ears.

Oddly, they sound different depending on whether you have noise-cancelling on or off.

With it off, they sound distant and a bit cluttered, with treble sticking out a little more than it should. Vocals, meanwhile, are a little recessed.

Odd bassy wobble
There’s an odd bassy wobble when you activate the noise cancelling, but the balance is better this way. There’s still a lack of separation in the soundstage, though, with vocals and midrange parts arriving as a lump when tracks get busy.

But they are smooth, and stripped-down music shows a nice overall balance.

It’s nice to see a mic and three-button control unit attached, and the bundled adaptor lets you use the headphones as a computer headset for Skype calls.

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