Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
- Great clarity, crisp sound, nice mid and treble ranges, great noise cancelling
- Bass is a little weak, expensive
Offering the best noise cancelling out of any pair of headphones we've heard, Sennheiser's PXC450 offer a great choice for frequent travellers; just make sure you can charge the hefty cost back to your company.
Price$ 799.00 (AUD)
With $799 you can buy a lot of things. It can get you 2663 soft serve MacDonald's ice cream cones for example, or 53 movie tickets. It also happens to be the price tag for Sennheiser's latest and greatest pair of noise-cancelling headphones, the PXC450. While the cost is exorbitant to say the least and may be out of reach for many people, users who travel frequently will appreciate the powerful noise-cancelling technology and impressive sound quality, which make these headphones an attractive purchase.
So what does the cost of several return domestic airfares get you exactly? To put it simply, the PXC450 offers the best noise cancelling we've heard. While we weren't given an opportunity to test them on a plane, they did a magnificent job of eliminating the ever-present hum of our office air conditioner and made us completely oblivious to the niggling sounds of office life. On public transport they admirably managed to block out both bus and train noise, which is a difficult ask.
The noise cancelling can be switched on and off, which is a nice alternative to save battery life, and one that some competitors have yet to adopt. Doing this does flatten out the audio a little, which users will not like but it is nice to have the option. Another nifty feature of these headphones is their TalkThrough function, which activates a microphone and dims your music, allowing you to have a conversation instantly, without taking them on and off; very cool. The unit takes two AAA batteries and is quoted at lasting up to 16 hours, although we experienced around 10 hours.
As you'd expect being a Sennheiser product, the sound quality is impressive. While not up to the audiophile standard of the company's reference headphones like the HD650, the PXC450 provides a clear, well balanced sound that will please all but the most discerning of listeners.
The separation of the different musical elements is excellent, with a wide soundstage and great presentation. At times we found some of the drum beats and particularly cymbals were a little too disconnected from the rest of our tunes, but this wasn't particularly troublesome.
We found the mid-range to be energetic and fun with nice detail and an extremely crisp sound. This was particularly evident in some of our soft rock tunes, where the twang of steel guitar strings rang out very sharply. Meanwhile the treble range was sweet and rich although it could have been a little tighter.
Bass was the one area the PXC450 could perhaps use some improvement. It was a little weak for our tastes and this is noticeable in a lot of styles of music like dance, which benefit from a little more punch. That said, the bass is very tight and well controlled and is of good quality.
As a full circumaural pair of headphones the PXC450 is quite comfortable. They sit nicely over your ears and provide reasonable isolation even with the noise cancelling turned off. Our ears didn't get sore at all even after long listening sessions, although we must admit they are pretty chunky and as such if you're the Prada bag carrying sort they may not exactly set off your outfit.
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