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Sennheiser PXC 450 VS Sennheiser PXC 350 VS Bose QC 2 VS Bose QC3

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 
Hi everyone,

I've just joined Head Fi not long ago and have been trying to search for reviews and opinions on the differences between the PXC 450, PXC 350, and QC2. I've found some lose threads and posts here and there, but nothing of great detail. I guess when it comes down to noise-canceling cans, it automatically becomes a "non-audiophile" can and thus not worth reviewing in detail here. I've got no offense to that. I guess I'm writing this post for those who, like me, travel a hell of a lot and need to have a bit of compromise to kill aircraft noise. I'm also writing this post as I've personally done a lot of research around the three pairs of cans and personally own them. But as an amateur, I'd like valuable further input from those who may be more experienced.

Bose QC2

Pros = Cheapest of the lot; Bass is good for those who like to listen to music with a beat; Second Smallest pair of cans (bigger than QC3, but smaller than Sennheisers); Very comfortable to wear on long flights

Cons = Cheap build quality compared to Sennheisers; No passive mode (so when battery dies, so does the sound); crap cable quality as compared to Sennheisers

Bose QC3 (I don't own this pair, so I can't really comment greatly on it; Someone else who owns them can probably add to this greatly)

Pros = Smallest pair of cans in the group; Comfortable to wear; Noise-Canceling algorithm improved over QC2 (although I personally can't hear a difference); cable quality slightly better than QC2, but not as good as Sennheisers

Cons = Again, cheap build quality (not as solid as Sennheisers); No passive mode (I think); Lithium Ion battery is great idea but needs to be charged by special charger (unless you travel first class, it would be hard to charge the battery if it dies. I'm also not a fan of having another gadget of mine that requires charging).

Sennheiser PXC 350

Pros = Nice build quality; Black colour aesthetically pleasing; Bass & Treble more exaggerated Noise Canceling mode more so than PXC 450 (pro for some, maybe con for others, depending on your personal taste); Cable quality is a lot better than Bose; Passive mode is possible (i.e. listening to music without batteries or without turning on noise-canceling is possible); Volume button easily controlled (controlled via analogue control in middle of cable)

Cons = Not as comfortable as either the QC series or PXC 450; Runs on two AAA batteries (All the other models either run of Li-Ion or single AAA); Passive mode sound quality is a bit flat as compared to its active mode; No Talkthrough mode when compared to PXC 450 (believe me, this can be useful when a hot air hostess is trying to talking to you:-)

Sennheiser PXC 450

Pros = Nice build quality; Comfortable (may not be as comfortable as QC series); Bass and Treble not overtly exaggerated in noise-canceling mode; Talkthrough is possible; Passive sound quality is the best here (as long as the batteries are either fully drained or are removed); Turns heads (like wearing an Omega/Tag/or Rolex watch OR driving a 911 GT2 Porsche); Cable quality is very good in comparison to the others

Cons = Annoying BUZZ in bypass/passive mode with batteries in (this occurs only in the Right channel and can occur even when the cans are not connected at all!); the most expensive noise canceling headphones that money can buy (I guess it is targeted for high end business class travelers); Buttons on the side of the headphone may be troublesome for some to access i.e. volume +/- buttons.

Conclusion

So I guess there are pros and cons to all the noise-canceling headphones. I guess it is down to personally weighing the pros/cons of each one to find the perfect balance for each individual user.

Hope this post helps.
post #2 of 31
Thanks for the post. I, like you, have found it difficult finding information on the noise cancelling headphones.

I understand that I may not be in the correct forum, but I'm not sure where else to look.

I am having real problems deciding what to go for. I started off thinking about the Bose QC2, but I have since discovered that Bose doesn't seem to be well regarded in a lot of places. I then thought about Plane Quiet's Solitude Linx, but now I have drifted towards the Sennheiser PXC450 or the Creative Aurvana X-fi.

At the moment if I needed to make a decision in the next half hour, it would probably be the PXC450 (concerns about battery life and noise leakage on the Aurvana), but that might change after dinner.

I will probably be happy with whatever I buy - it's just making the final decision.

I want them to use on long haul flights and while using my petrol lawn mower.

Once again, thanks for your post.
post #3 of 31
Just a thought, but you might want to look into IEMs. I understand if you have a preference for over/on the ear headphones, but IEMs with a good seal can offer better noise attenuation through passive means than active noise cancelling headphones. Since the IEMs seal your ear, little sound of any kind can get through (I've heard -60dB attenuation), which makes sense since they're basically earplugs with speakers in them. Active headsets can only cancel steady noises and can't react quickly enough to cancel out transients very well.
post #4 of 31
Interesting that you should suggest IEMs.

While I've been researching the noise cancelling headphones, I stumbled on the Audio Technica ATH-ANC3 and I was beginning to think about this style.

In the past, I have not found any in-ear equipment to be comfortable enough to wear for extended periods - even before you consider quality of sound or silence. Maybe I haven't been spending enough, but I think I have quite a shallow ear canal, so they keep coming dislodged or falling out altogether. Also, I have been reading about passengers getting their ears blasted by the air cabin crew when they make announcements.

For the same price as the noise cancellers I've been considering, there's probably a large selection of IEMs I could look at.

I haven't been able to find any supplier that will allow me to sample a pair, though. (understandable, I suppose).

So, maybe I am in the correct forum after all, but looking for the wrong advice !

I think I might have just opened up a much larger box.
post #5 of 31
Haha uh-oh, are you starting to see $$$ piling up yet?
If you've had problems in the past with fitting IEMs, this might be an option:Custom Fit Earbuds - The FreQ- SuperFreQ
They send you a mold so you can take an impression of your ear. Then you send it back to them and they'll build the phones with the option of a long or short canal. I've heard great things about them, and at $190 for their top-of-the-line they're way cheaper than most custom designs.

Disclaimer: I'm personally very biased towards IEMs over noise-cancelling headphones because of my background in human factors engineering. When you need to attenuate noise (i.e. for factory workers), ear-plugs are generally considered the most effective means of doing so, much more so than earmuffs. So when people look for noise reducing headphones, IEMs are my natural choice.
post #6 of 31
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jm5 View Post
Thanks for the post. I, like you, have found it difficult finding information on the noise cancelling headphones.

I understand that I may not be in the correct forum, but I'm not sure where else to look.

I am having real problems deciding what to go for. I started off thinking about the Bose QC2, but I have since discovered that Bose doesn't seem to be well regarded in a lot of places. I then thought about Plane Quiet's Solitude Linx, but now I have drifted towards the Sennheiser PXC450 or the Creative Aurvana X-fi.

At the moment if I needed to make a decision in the next half hour, it would probably be the PXC450 (concerns about battery life and noise leakage on the Aurvana), but that might change after dinner.

I will probably be happy with whatever I buy - it's just making the final decision.

I want them to use on long haul flights and while using my petrol lawn mower.

Once again, thanks for your post.
Hi jm5 & others,

I'm glad I can be of some help. I hope what I wrote has given you better insight of what you will be or have invested your money in. When I was first looking into the noise-canceling headphones, I had some idea, but obviously not the best idea. That's why I ended up with so many pairs. The money I must of blown could probably go towards a serious audiophile pair of headphones like the Grado GS-1000 or something. But given my nature of travel, the Grado's just simply did not offer enough passive noise reduction. Yes, I've had a brief look at IEMs. They are great, but then again, I travel for extended periods i.e. LA to KUL. I just can't handle something like those in my ears for anything greater than a couple hours, let alone the cabin air pressure changes. However, that is just my personal preference. In theory, I agree that they can potentially offer a better noise reduction than noise-canceling headphones.

The PXC 450 are currently the best pair (and yes the most expensive) of headphones that I currently own. The sound is a lot better in comparison to the other noise-canceling headphones, but will obviously be a grade below the Grado GS-1000s. When I first got them, sound was good, but not great until after I ran pink noise on them for 15 or so hours (in stages, of course). I will not double post any further as you will this info on another thread.

I currently have no experience with the Creative Aurvana. Maybe if one you guys have acquired a pair, you can make some sort of comparison here.

Again, I understand that this entire forum is dedicated to audiophiles for headphones for audiophiles - not the "non-audiophilic" noise-canceling cans. But we can't seem to find a place to share valuable info elsewhere.

Thanks and Take Care.
post #7 of 31
If you wish to seek out a good pair of Noise Cancellation headphones, might I suggest the Audio technica ATH-ANC7.

The time I spent with them was brief, but I was very impressed with the sound that they can provide, and the pricing doesn't really break the bank I think.
post #8 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by dgbiker1 View Post
Haha uh-oh, are you starting to see $$$ piling up yet?
If you've had problems in the past with fitting IEMs, this might be an option:Custom Fit Earbuds - The FreQ- SuperFreQ
They send you a mold so you can take an impression of your ear. Then you send it back to them and they'll build the phones with the option of a long or short canal. I've heard great things about them, and at $190 for their top-of-the-line they're way cheaper than most custom designs.

Disclaimer: I'm personally very biased towards IEMs over noise-cancelling headphones because of my background in human factors engineering. When you need to attenuate noise (i.e. for factory workers), ear-plugs are generally considered the most effective means of doing so, much more so than earmuffs. So when people look for noise reducing headphones, IEMs are my natural choice.

Thanks for the link. Not sure how they will handle a UK transaction, but it certainly is something else for me to investigate - maybe a UK supplier or similar. If I could find a set if IEMs that were comfortable, they would certainly be in the running - mainly for their portability.

One question - how will an IEM handle the Air Stewardess problem ? Is there something you can do to stop getting blasted with their announcements ? Is there some sort of filter you can go through specifically for aeroplane usage ?
post #9 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zephyron View Post
If you wish to seek out a good pair of Noise Cancellation headphones, might I suggest the Audio technica ATH-ANC7.
Yes, I looked into those and at one time they were very high on my list and price-wise, I can get them from Amazon UK for £110, which seems a good price.

However I have read that they have small ear pads and while my ears aren't enormous, they aren't tiny either. The other downside to them was the reported sound leakage, but I have since discovered that most other NC headphones leak a fair bit as well, so maybe that isn't such an issue.

My local "big" town doesn't have any specialist type shops where I could go and sample a few of these, but I will be going up to London soon, so I will seek out some and see how the ear-fit is. I suppose that means my wife will want to go and look at shoes (again).
post #10 of 31
Were people getting blasted by announcements listening to IEMs or over the ear headphones? Were they listening to a personal device or on the plane "radio"?
If you listen to the plane radio, then there probably isn't any way to attenuate the announcements.
If you're listening to your own device, I think the IEMs should attenuate announcements better than active phones. Since it's a passive plug it should attenuate transients (voices) as well as the steady-state background noise of the engines. Active phones have a bit of delay, so I could see those not being able to cut out voices on announcements as a voice is basically entirely transient.
post #11 of 31
My understanding was that if you are watching the on-board film (using IEMs for the soundtrack) for example, and the cabin crew make an announcement using the on-board system, you get a painfully loud blast through your ears.

I personally have not experienced this, but I have heard of it.

So, my question was - is there something that can be put in place to "soften the blow" ?
post #12 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by jm5 View Post
My understanding was that if you are watching the on-board film (using IEMs for the soundtrack) for example, and the cabin crew make an announcement using the on-board system, you get a painfully loud blast through your ears.

I personally have not experienced this, but I have heard of it.

So, my question was - is there something that can be put in place to "soften the blow" ?
Ahh gotcha. I've had that happen a few times where the announcement volume seems to be 10 times louder than the movie soundtrack. I don't know of a way to alleviate that (other than bringing your own entertainment), and I can see how IEMs could be worse since the sound is right up to your eardrums.
post #13 of 31
Shure's E500PHT had talk-through, but I guess nobody cared, as they're discontinued.
post #14 of 31
you mean to say QC2 is more bassy in comparision to PXC350 ?
post #15 of 31
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by stuge(original) View Post
you mean to say QC2 is more bassy in comparision to PXC350 ?
Well, it's sound characteristics are a little more offset to provide slightly more bass to the listener. Don't get me wrong though, the PXC 450 is still capable of producing the same if not better bass than the QC2. However, the PXC 450 sound characteristics are naturally towards a more balanced sound for the listener. Vocals are clearer, pianos sound a lot crisper. However, if you are just into RnB, hip hop genre of music, the QC2 may be better suited. However, if you listen to all sorts of music from vocals, classical, jazz, to rap, the PXC 450 may be better. I guess it all depends on your personal preference and your music genre preference. I guess you can also work around with the PXC 450 to really provide the bass you want by playing around with the equalizer settings i.e. if you play around with some settings on Winamp or something, the bass is actually better than the QC2. Hope this helps.
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