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Headphones item created by , May 5, 2010
Pros - Good Sound, Comfortable, Great Battery Life, Talk-Through Button, Passive Listening Mode
Cons - Odd Button Placement, Not Real Portable
My experience with noise-canceling headphones include the Bose QC-15 and the Parrot Ziks.
In comparison, the Sennheiser PXC 450s sound really nice. The sound is clear and revealing. Good bass, but not muddy. They will expose poor quality MP3s. They are very comfortable and can be worn for long periods of time without any discomfort. I think the Bose are slightly more comfortable, but not by much. They are a large headphone set, but they fold up for travel, and they come in a zipper case with a couple of adapters. They seem to be well built. The noise-canceling is not quite as good as the QC-15s, but the sound is much better. A fair trade. They are not noise elimination headphones. You will still hear (faintly) the sound of crying children on the plane. The battery (AAA) life is very good and they can be used once the battery is dead. A great feature. There is a slight loss of bass when using the headphones sans noise-canceling. Also, there is a talk-through button that mutes the music and uses the microphones to here the outside world. This is handy at counters and when someone is asking questions, but be ready for odd looks.
Some negatives: The talk-through button does not pause the music when used. Also, the volume controls on the headphones change the volume on the headphones, not the iPod. The cord is does not have iPhone controls.
Since buying them, I think they will replace my Bose as my choice for travel. I use the Ziks mostly for walks around the neighborhood because of the wireless function. Good combination of noise reduction and quality sound. Recommended.
Pros - Good sound, bests Bose at active cancellation and sound.
Cons - Pricey. Better sound quality available for the price
Having spent time with a lot of Bose QuietComfort (X) headphones on my ears, they all left me wanting better sound. I work in a noisy newsroom. The need for cutting back some of the chatter is always a premium here. Active cancellation was the first stop on the path that led me to in-ear customs.
Style File: The Sennies are pretty attractive, as far as headphones go. Nice mesh case, and the cups are rather large (appreciated all the more after spending time with Bose). Sennheiser did a great job on comfort. You can wear these a long time without fatigue. If the thinking is-- gotta be comfy through an 8-hour flight, then mission accomplished.
Cancellation: Well this is the big headline, and the reason most will be buying them. If you're all about cancellation, spend the extra cash for good customs. They do a better job at passive cancellations than the actives ever will. I can still hear a lot of the world around me in active monitors, though it is muted. Simple on-off comparisons confirm the headphones do their job, and to my ear, produce an overall quieter effect than the Bose.
Sorry to report, the sound quality out of the 450s is only average. Decent but not extended bass, stronger through the mids and a precipitous falloff on the high end. There's very little soundstage to be impressed by. I own little to compare them with, and will amend once my 650's arrive. I'm expecting this pair to pretty much take it on the chin. They don't sound 'bad' per se, but they don't 'wow' in any area, either. I get more of a lift out of my Bowers & Wilkins P5's, which at least show some character and can provide entertainment much as a comfy old pair of slippers will on a cold night.
My use for this pair are as a relief pitcher at work, if I need a break from my in-ears. They serve that need, but they are definitely not the first pair of cans I reach for.
Final Thoughts: If you're a slave to active technology, these are as good as it gets. The only other pair that did cancellation this well were my old Sony in-ear buds, but the Sennies blow the Sonys away in sound quality. If I were looking for the best active canceling cans, I'd say look no further. But you can find better sound for the money.
Pros - Comfort, audio clarity
Cons - Price, size
I bought this because it had better reviews than the-then top-of-the-range Bose Quietcomfort 3's. This was because the QC3 were 'on ear' design which I did not like, and the PXC450 had the much desirable 'around ear'.
The PXC450 is large, and a little heavy (with battery inserted), However, it is much better than the PXC350 or PXC250 in terms of function - and so it should be as its more expensive than those two.
Out of the box, you get a carry case with an airline plug adapter and one for headphone socket on hi-fi systems. There are also places to keep a pair of batteries in case the ones in the headphones run empty. I did not care too much about the QC3's rechargeable battery system - buying Duracell Procell is a small cost to pay for headphones such as the PXC450.
The noise cancellation is pretty good - in the office you cant hear the airconditioners or the computers around you. On aircraft, it cancels out the majority of the noise, except for a low frequency whirring heard from the engines - but this can be 'cancelled out' by increasing the volume. The battery life is pretty good on them anyway (10-12hrs).
The buttons on the headphone are more useful than they appear. The volume control (although badly positioned) and the power button are nice to have. In flight, the 'talk through' function is handy when the cabin crew is talking to you - although it might look weird.
However, for long haul / overnight flights I have found difficulty sleeping with the PXC450 on my head. I cannot tilt my head much without hitting anything. This is true for other headphones, such as the QC2, 3 and QC15 and other 'over ear' designs. So it comes down to whether you want to sleep or have a quiet background - unless you are one of those people that can sleep though anything.