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Blackbox M16 review

The Blackbox M16s are good at killing outside noise Tested at £165

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

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


  • +

    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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What Hi-Fi?
What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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