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Bose QuietComfort 20’s vs. Sennheiser Momentums?! Noise-Canceling vs. Noise-Isolating: FINAL WARS.

post #1 of 57
Thread Starter 

So I got the much hyped, brand new Bose QuietComfort 20i’s.  Does a fair job cutting out external noises, but comes at the cost of sound quality.  Basically – doesn’t sound as good as even my $30 SoundMagic e10’s.

 

(BTW, it sounds even worse when not using the noise-cancelling feature) 

 

For $300 I was expecting a little more in terms of SQ. frown.gif Not to mention they give me a weird feeling in my ears.  Pressure from the noise-canceling device???

 

So for the money I was thinking about returning these and getting a nice, noise-isolating pair instead.

 

Sennheiser Momentums looks mighty appealing.

 

Klipsch Image x7i’s also look pretty groovy.  (Ceramic too!)

 

Of course, one has to face the fact of external noises coming in.

 

So my question is for the Momentum and Klipsch owners: Are these phones pretty decent at keeping outside noises at bay???

 

Thanks!

post #2 of 57

Another disappointment from Bose?  Too bad.  I listened to a trial pair of these in the Bose store about 3 weeks ago and I thought they sounded fairly decent.  But I only had about 30 seconds with them so, not really enough time to make a good assessment.  I do remember though, the noise cancelling seemed to be really good.  As soon as that lady turned on the noise cancelling, the world went silent.  I was actually quite shocked.  But if Bose can't always get their audio right, they do always seem to master the noise cancellation. 

post #3 of 57

Thanks for the post on this in-ear model.   

 

I have had a couple of Sony in-ear noise cancelling (NC) headphones, mainly to see how well they work in terms of NC.  A noise-cancelling in-ear headphone has to do "less work" than a regular over-the-ear NC headphone because the passive isolation of the in-ear tips does a lot to block out treble and midrange sounds.  Since the bass is the easiest to cancel due to physics (long wavelengths -- good for active NC), it is actually a good match.

 

The problem with the Sonys I've owned is that they tend to add high frequency hiss due to the active electronics in the signal path.  This kind of defeats the whole purpose of the NC.  For overall isolation, I find that any good set of in-ear headphones with well-fitting tips (Complys for example) does better in terms of isolation in most cases.  The only place where the Sony's in-ear NC beats a regular IEM is on a plane or train where there is persistent bass/lower mid "rumble".  

 

Now, Bose knows active NC, so the QC20's could beat the Sony's.  The problem is that a normal in-store listen won't show this.  I'm curious though, so I may have to figure out some sort of setup that allows me to test it in my nearby Bose store.  Maybe a pair of over-the-ear headphones worn over the QC20s and playing some low-frequency noise from a separate DAP.  I wonder what the Bose folks would think of me if I came in with such a setup!

 

EDIT:  The reviews on Amazon say the QC20 also has the high-frequency hiss when NC is on.  I think I will pass. 


Edited by jazzman7 - 8/3/13 at 11:46am
post #4 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by jazzman7 View Post

 

EDIT:  The reviews on Amazon say the QC20 also has the high-frequency hiss when NC is on.  I think I will pass. 

Interesting.  The brief listen I had revealed no high-frequency hiss whatsoever.  But I've seen people over the years complain of the same thing on headphones that I own and I have no such experience.  My guess is one of two things.  Either my hearing is going bad and I just can't hear it or the device I listen to is at a far lower volume than those of the people that hear the hiss.  Or it could be hypersensitivity.  My guess is that the volume is cranked too much on the device. 

Take for instance my Walkman.  typical volume for me is between 8 and 10 out of a max 30.  I listened to the Bose QC20 with the same Walkman at the Bose store and also heard no such hiss.  I'm sure it's there though.  If there are several people reporting it, then there's something there for sure. 

post #5 of 57
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jazzman7 View Post

Thanks for the post on this in-ear model.   

 

I have had a couple of Sony in-ear noise cancelling (NC) headphones, mainly to see how well they work in terms of NC.  A noise-cancelling in-ear headphone has to do "less work" than a regular over-the-ear NC headphone because the passive isolation of the in-ear tips does a lot to block out treble and midrange sounds.  Since the bass is the easiest to cancel due to physics (long wavelengths -- good for active NC), it is actually a good match.

 

The problem with the Sonys I've owned is that they tend to add high frequency hiss due to the active electronics in the signal path.  This kind of defeats the whole purpose of the NC.  For overall isolation, I find that any good set of in-ear headphones with well-fitting tips (Complys for example) does better in terms of isolation in most cases.  The only place where the Sony's in-ear NC beats a regular IEM is on a plane or train where there is persistent bass/lower mid "rumble".  

 

Now, Bose knows active NC, so the QC20's could beat the Sony's.  The problem is that a normal in-store listen won't show this.  I'm curious though, so I may have to figure out some sort of setup that allows me to test it in my nearby Bose store.  Maybe a pair of over-the-ear headphones worn over the QC20s and playing some low-frequency noise from a separate DAP.  I wonder what the Bose folks would think of me if I came in with such a setup!

 

EDIT:  The reviews on Amazon say the QC20 also has the high-frequency hiss when NC is on.  I think I will pass. 

There is a hiss, a sort of white noise hiss.  You can't really hear it out in a busy street.  But in quieter settings, especially at home, it is there.  If a Bose showroom is in a crowded, echo-y mall with lots of foot traffic than that's why you didn't hear it.

 

What I notice much more is how the SQ is affected.  I wouldn't care much about the hiss, so long as the music itself sounded great.  It doesn't really.  Not $300 worth anyway. :(

 

These are not totally "in-ear" as they sort of rest outside of the canal.  So not much passive isolation to begin with.

 

What's strange is how outside noise seems to be hyped up just after you turn off the noise-canceling feature. Perhaps this is due to the ear-drums "popping" back to normal?  Anyway, it gives an artificial sense of how much noise is being eliminated.  Hey, I know the world is loud, but it ain't THAT loud.

 

In the end, I think it's a case of exchanging one set of irritating noises for another irritating noise/sensation.   

 

Bottom line: Do you want bad quality music you can hear clearly or good quality music you can barely hear?

 

PS -- Do the Klipsch's isolate pretty well? Anyone?

post #6 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by CanCrazed View Post

What's strange is how outside noise seems to be hyped up just after you turn off the noise-canceling feature. Perhaps this is due to the ear-drums "popping" back to normal?  Anyway, it gives an artificial sense of how much noise is being eliminated.  Hey, I know the world is loud, but it ain't THAT loud.

There are a lot of over-the-ear headphones that actually amplify outside sounds from acoustics alone.  Tyli's isolation data at innerfidelity.com show a bump of 3 to 5dB in the midrange of a lot of headphone designs.  The in-ear models shouldn't have this, but it all depends on how it sits relative to your ear canal.  If the QC20 doesn't make a seal on your ear canal, it is very different from the Sony's I have which are more like earplug-type IEMs with NC built in.  

 

Also, a lot of the marketing associated with NC headphones is the difference in noise level you hear when you go from "off" to "on" and back again, all the time wearing the headphones.  A lot of times, people focus on that rather than the "real" test:  the noise level with the headphones and NC "on" versus not wearing the headphones at all.  It was only when I started to compare my Sonys to other IEMs that I own that I realized the isolation of the Sonys were not that good relative to standard IEMS in most situations (of course, in airplane in flight, the Sonys win hands down).

post #7 of 57
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jazzman7 View Post

 

Also, a lot of the marketing associated with NC headphones is the difference in noise level you hear when you go from "off" to "on" and back again, all the time wearing the headphones.  A lot of times, people focus on that rather than the "real" test:  the noise level with the headphones and NC "on" versus not wearing the headphones at all.  It was only when I started to compare my Sonys to other IEMs that I own that I realized the isolation of the Sonys were not that good relative to standard IEMS in most situations (of course, in airplane in flight, the Sonys win hands down).

Great point!  

 

Bose certainly knows how to market the hell outa' of their headphones.  tongue.gif

 

I noticed a fair amount of isolation just from my vmoda m-80's when comparing to the QC20's.  The QC20's *appear* to reduce more of the ambient distractions: car traffic, sirens, etc.  On the other hand they're also letting in a lot more noise to begin with.  

 

In the end, I think Noise-Canceling is over-rated.  Now I understand why not everyone's wearing 'em.  

 

PS -- If anyone should invent a way to remove the cacophony of yelling, sirens, motorcycles, rumbling traffic, etc. without affecting the SQ than that person will be a BILLIONAIRE for sure.  But I suppose the possibility of that is in the same league as curing cancer?  frown.gif

post #8 of 57

I will forever be a bose customer. I in fact love the bose 20i. Yes, there is a hiss when there is wind blowing but that is my only issue. I love the sound quality and noise cancelling. Expensive but worth every penny imo.

post #9 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by CanCrazed View Post

Great point!  

 

Bose certainly knows how to market the hell outa' of their headphones.  tongue.gif

 

I noticed a fair amount of isolation just from my vmoda m-80's when comparing to the QC20's.  The QC20's *appear* to reduce more of the ambient distractions: car traffic, sirens, etc.  On the other hand they're also letting in a lot more noise to begin with.  

 

In the end, I think Noise-Canceling is over-rated.  Now I understand why not everyone's wearing 'em.  

 

PS -- If anyone should invent a way to remove the cacophony of yelling, sirens, motorcycles, rumbling traffic, etc. without affecting the SQ than that person will be a BILLIONAIRE for sure.  But I suppose the possibility of that is in the same league as curing cancer?  frown.gif

Actually the noise cancelling on the QC15s is damn impressive and for flying, there are no better. They sound pretty good too.

post #10 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by nonsupremous View Post

  If there are several people reporting it, then there's something there for sure. 

 

Millions of people report having saw God, but that doesn't prove Its existence wink.gif

 

Sometime, people really want to believe what they pretend to see... or hear!

post #11 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pass View Post

 

Millions of people report having saw God, but that doesn't prove Its existence wink.gif

 

Fine point right there.  But if we read it on the internet...it's definitely true!  =)

post #12 of 57

I retired my QC15 after purchasing those.  The noising canceling is about the same to my ears, but QC20 is just so much more comfortable.  I bough the Sony NC85D by mistake in Narita airport, and I can report that both sound quality and NC are inferior.

 

I had Momentum for a little while.  While the sound quality is amazing (much better than any bose), Momentum has really small ear cups, both uncomfortable and hot.  My amperior does a better job than Momentum in isolation, and more comfortable as well.  For comfort/noise canceling, QC20 is the best.

 

Custom IEMs actually block about the same amount of noise as QC20, but they get really uncomfortable after a few hours.

 

Another factor to consider is the Bose customer service.  I had my QC15 replaced twice at the store for free, and they offer $89 replacement policy if you break them.  I am much more willing to plug those into airplane jacks, as I had a shure535 blown out by airplane jacks (does anyone know the output power of those jacks?)

post #13 of 57
I never noticed any hiss when I demoed a pair the other day. I have a pair on order from a store with a 30 return policy in case I have serious buyers remorse. But I did do some A/B testing in store against my M200 and what I noticed was the outside noise when using the M200 was enough I had a hard time hearing the higher quality sound and that the QC20 was actually pretty enjoyable sound wise (like some of the better 99 to $150 IEM's I have owned) but with far superior comfort and isolation.
post #14 of 57

Guess who will be the successor of the QC15?

post #15 of 57

I was given a pair of QC13 some years ago and thought they did okay for international flights.  Namely, the told the passenger next to you that you were not interested in idle conversation.  Now for sound quality, no thanks.  However, the quiet neighbor on a LOOOOOOOOOOONG flight is an excellent thing.  I am not sure the in-ear models are large enough to accomplish this :)

 

All jokes aside, the noise-cancelling is Bose's strong suit.  Good luck.


Edited by M Coupe - 8/24/13 at 5:41pm
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