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4,236 of 4,367 people found the following review helpful
on August 23, 2011
Bose QC25 vs. Bose QC15 vs. Beats Studio (by Dre.) vs. Sennheiser PXC 450 vs. Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7b

Disclosure: I have tried all these on an airplane. I am not an audiophile. Noise Cancelation is the most important attribute to me.

The Carrying Case: All four are quite durable and stiff.
1.) Bose QC25- Very small, compact, and just big enough. Does not really have room for anything else. Could fit in a briefcase.
2.) Bose- QC15- This case is bigger than the QC25 (Which could be a good thing. Doesn't feel much bigger, and still has room for ipod, Gameboy, batteries, whatever).
3.) Sennheiser- Square shape, low profile, however not a lot of room for anything else in case.
4.) Audio Technica- Nice big case if you want to carry extra stuff (Nintendo DS, ipod, etc).
5.) Beat case is very elegant and hip, but very wide and skinny. Maybe room for an ipod and that's about it. Caribbeaner Clasp.

Build Quality:
1.) Sennheiser- you can tell this is built VERY well. Strong plastics, good components, thick cord. Top notch. You feel like you are getting something really high quality.
2.) Beats appears to be extremely well made. Heavy duty industrial plastics, metal fasteners. High end box, thick cord, great packaging, solid construction. Only concern of mine is that the battery compartment seems a little fragile.
3.) Bose25 is a step up here from the 15. Detachable cord. A little more substantial feeling. Touches of aluminum on the headphones, and some nicer quality padding. While not as substantial at the Sennheiser, they do feel more luxurious and a little more solidly built than the QC15.
4.) Audio Technica- Nice solid construction, appears durable. Mostly heavy duty plastic.
5.) Bose15- If this had a Sanyo logo on the side, I would not have flinched. How can something $300 be so incredibly cheaply made.

1.) Bose25- A step up from the Bose15. A little more sleek. Not as dorky looking. Fold flat.
2.) Beats- These are a little bigger than the others, but that are also meant to stand out and be seen. Probably the hippest looking, but a little bold for business users.
3.) Bose15- as far as over the ears go, these are pretty small.
4.) Audio-Technica- mid-sized.
5.) Sennheiser- These are big. No question, but they store flat.

1.) Sennheiser- Very comfortable, will fit almost any size ears. Keep on for hours.
2.) Bose25- A stepup here. More comfortable than QC15, more flex, better padding. Less hot. Could be tight around some larger ears. Can press a little tight after some time, so test them. After a few hours, my ears hurt from the pressing, but some adjustments can be made.
3.) Beats seemed to be a little tight on my head and I didn't see a way to make them less "compressy." I don't think I (personally) would like to wear these all day. Too pinchy for my head. The earphone part is also a little small for me. These became hot and uncomfortable after time for me.
4.) Bose15- Also comfortable. I did not experience "highs" discomfort.
5.) Audio-Technica- Perfectly satisfactory. Larger opening than previous AT model. Gets warm and tight on head on long flights.

Disclaimer. This is a tough category, as they all had very different sounds and need to be used personally. The Sennheisers helped me hear parts of songs I had never heard before, but so did the Beats (baselines were much stronger).

1.) Sennheiser- I actually wore these at home too, simply to hear parts of songs I had never heard before. Astounding. My 10yr old music collection sounded totally NEW.
2.) Bose25- A step up from the QC15. Music more evenly balanced. Bass is hard hitting, but not as annoying as in the QC15. Some break-in is required. A more 3D sound than QC15. The QC25 closes the Sennheiser gap much more than the QC15. Be aware, some mp3s might feel a little flat.
2.) I put the Bose25 and Beats in the same category. The Bose seemed more evenly balanced. The Beats sounded great, but were EXTREMELY bass heavy. You will hear complexity of base lines that you never noticed. Drums tracks will sound like drums, bass guitar will be noticed for the first time on songs, but the highs are VERY weak. Pop music will sound very muted, rap and hip hop will pop and you'll feel like you have a Kicker Bass speaker in your car. I can't compare Beats to the others. It's a totally different sound which you will either love or hate.
3.) Audio-Technica- Well balanced, good sound.
4.) Bose15- Great clear sound, but very heavy on the bass. I listen to a lot of rap and pop, so it was mildly annoying. I ultimately had to turn my treble settings up on my ipod to balance the sound.

1.) Beats- Great packaging. Two cords with different connectors. Nice Case. Cloth. They do a good job of making you think you bought a nice product (and it is). Only concern is the headphones don't work without batteries. The headphone creates a pseudo noise cancellation.
2.) Bose25- Nice new case. Removeable cord (so it won't rip out if you jerk it accidently). Passive headphone (if battery dies, headphone still works - albeit without noise cancelation). Choice of white color.
3.) Sennheiser- nice cord, push to talk button (temporarily mutes NC and sound which is great for interruptions on airplanes).
4.) Bose/Audio Technica- just the basics. Bose simply an on/off switch.

1.) Audio Technica- $125 depending on how you shop.
2.) Beats Studio- $175-$200
3.) Bose QC15- $200-$250
4.) Bose QC25- $300 (hard to find discounted)
5.) Sennheiser- $200 to $400 (how are these going up in price- 5 yrs later)

Noise Cancelation:
1.) Bose- No question here, far surpassed the other two. Best Noise Cancelation. I did not notice a significant change in QC15- to QC25 on planes, however did notice a little difference in office.
2.) Audio-Technica- Good Noise Cancelation.
3.) Sennheiser- Not sure what happened here. Incredible sound, less than satisfactory noise cancelation.
4.) I don't think the Beats are official noise cancellation, but the headphone part is great at isolating outdoor noise, and they are very tight on the head. When you put them on without music, they offer decent noise cancellation.


Please understand, noise cancellation will not drown out a crying baby, slamming doors, or people talking. They will help out with repetitive noises like airplanes, air-conditioners or soft noises. If you don't listen to music, these might isolate sounds even more and be counter-productive.

The QC25 are a nice step up from the QC15. I do not feel they are overwhelmingly better or worth an upgrade if you were happy with QC15 (but some people like the latest and greatest). If I were buying new and the price difference was only $50, go for the QC25, if you have QC15 and you like them, it's not a huge jump (or buy them and return if you don't like). The QC25 sound a little better, are better built, and a little more convenient. But not sure they are 5 years of R&D better. If the difference in price is >$100, QC15 looks more attractive.

Audio Technica and Sennheiser don't seem to have any new offerings either, so this segment has been kind of stagnant. I will say that Bose seems to have listened and addressed most of the complaints of the QC15. They've improved the size, sound, build quality, and maintained their quality Noise Cancelation.

The Sennheiser Noise Cancellation is a real disappointment. Great headphone, horrible noise cancelation headphone. The Audio Technica is a great entry price point-value item.

The Beats are kind of their own product with their own demographic. Like the Sennheisers, they made me hear parts of songs I had never heard before, but on the bass side. If you like heavy, heavy bass, go for the beats.

Final assessment:

Audio-Technica- best balance of value for money
Sennheiser- Best sound and comfort
Bose- By far Best Noise Cancelation.
Beats- Best for bass. More of a hip hop bass then the Bose though.

I use these for airplane travel only, so I ended up keeping the Bose.
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493 of 536 people found the following review helpful
I'm a typical potential user for a noise-canceling pair of headphones. I'm a frequent flyer (36 flights in 7 months from this year's start) and when in office I work in a busy environment with people constantly talking on the phone.

Since I'm a tech and music geek, I was longly agonizing about the type of headphones to buy, and the process included extensively researching (including reading Amazon reviews) and making live in-store confrontations when possibilities of choice started to narrow down. With respect of my decision, budget was not a limiting factor, since I was determinated to treat myself with a top-quality product.

Final choice narrowed down to Bose Quiet Comfort 15 and Monster Beats by Dr. Dre. I eventually decided for the first ones, and I bought them while in New York for a business trip about one month ago. Since then, I tested them in different noise conditions, so I feel I can give quite a rounded review. Impressions are written on the basis of their use in combination with a Sony Walkman NWZ-E465 digital player; or airplane internal movie system on a transcontinental flight.

House: When I first experimented them, alone at home, noise reduction was stunning. Turning the noise-canceling switch on, cut away any external noise (air-conditioning humming, fingers snapping in front of my face), music was clear and well rounded.

Traffic: I wore them while walking from home to work in NYC (Fifth Avenue to Madison Avenue) in the morning and afternoon, therefore with significant car-related humming noise. Performance was great, music clear and vibrant, overall a very exciting experience.

Flight: On my way back from NYC to Italy, I wore them and could have a very quiet vision of a movie. Engines' droning was reduced to silence, thus showing this to be the best occasion of use for these headphones. After the movies, I fell asleep over Canada and woke up over Pisa (Italy) with headphones nicely protecting me. Further use in other flights confirmed the very same experience.

In-office use: this is where these headphones tear off a good deal. If your scope is protecting yourself from the voices of your colleagues, forget it. There is a noise reduction, but "noise cancelling" simply will not happen. You can write on the computer's keyboard and not hear any clicking noise (when you have music on); but you will clearly hear conversations if you have no music. Performance against conversations with music on is very ok, but claiming noise canceling without music on is IMHO a marketing myth.

Music: Noise reduction is particularly good in combination with bass-rich music like blues, R&B etc (say Amy Winehouse, Joss Stone and the like). It is perhaps not a case that in-store Bose's simulations are based on this type of music assets (Jason Mraz etc.). Orchestral music is an occasion for quality to get down a bit.

Ear temperature: A big counterindication about these headphones is ears heating. The nature of passive insulation systems is such that headphones are (obviously) banning fresh air together with sound. If you are planning to use them in hot weather (which is my experience of use up to this moment) you will experience discomfort and even, in extreme cases, find hair around your ears wet when taking headphones off. If you are normally in such climatic conditions, it is IMHO better to use a pair of in-ear headphones, which nicely compromise between music quality and comfort.

In summary: a good product, with some notable limitations of use. At 299 USD it is not cheap, and buying should have to be attentively considered in relationship with the personal expected profile of use.


I will write some additional notes after one year and half of use. In my personal experience with this pair of headphones, some limitations in the building materials showed.

First, the metal segment by mean of which headphones are adjusted on the head, loses elasticity with time. This means that after some use, headphones are not anymore strictly placed on the ears, thus resulting in a loss of insulation from external noise.

Second, and more important, the "skin" covering the ear pads, the one which is in direct contact with ears, started to crack first, and then to tear off like it could happen with a pair of cheap headphones whatsoever. I found this particularly annoying, since I was not expecting that from a pair of Bose headphones, whose product communications and brand messaging (not to mention the cost) all speak about a product of excellence.

These considerations somewhat lower my overall assessment of this product, to which I would now give two stars only.
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889 of 974 people found the following review helpful
TOP 100 REVIEWERon September 27, 2011
I decided to cheap out earlier and bought a pair of Sony NR headsets for $30 and change. They seemed pretty good but on flights, the NR wasn't good enough - way too much background noise. Finally I decided to man up and get the real deal. And boy, what a change (for the better)!

With the Bose headsets, NR means NR, they ain't kidding about when they say NR, absolutely no background noise on the flight. My quick thoughts on this so far:

- You haven't heard true HD sound if you haven't heard it on this headset. And the sound is not like bass or treble heavy, it's just crisp and you can hear every water drop and every single instrument being played. And NR works great both ways on this headset - the surrounding noise is almost cancelled out completely for you when you're using the headsets, and the sound of the sound from the headset doesn't carry out of the headsets either. I can listen to music or movies at a fairly high volume and the person sitting next to me won't hear a thing.

- The leather trim around the headsets makes them extremely comfortable to wear. I wear them on 15-hour flights and don't feel any strain by the end of the flight. My ears or head don't hurt because of the headsets and the plastic strap. They truly are made for comfort.

- It comes with airplane adapter so you can turn it from a single 3.5mm audio cable into one that fits in the airplane sockets. The cable is also detachable completely from the headset, which I actually find very useful when I want to doze off and not be bothered by surrounding noise. You don't realize how effective the headsets are till you take them off and realize how much of background noise they were eliminating!

- The only one downside of this headset is that it runs on a AAA battery. So I always need to make sure I have fully charged batteries with me at all times. I carry rechargeable batteries (Sanyo Eneloop are the BEST) with a charger. So if I do run out of battery, I can always charge it on the flight itself. ON a full charge of the Eneloop AAA, I am yet to run out of battery on a 15-hour flight.

Yes, these headsets aren't cheap but they are worth every penny. Bose puts so much research and effort into developing their products, I have absolutely no reason to complain!
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630 of 716 people found the following review helpful
on June 24, 2011
I bought the Bose QuietComfort 15 Noise Cancelling Headphones about a month ago and am thoroughly impressed thus far.

Sound Quality: As odd as this may sound, I feel like I haven't ever listened to any of my songs! This headset completely revamps every song. You will hear things in some of your favorite songs you haven't heard before. As it says in the title, this is an acoustic headset so don't expect loud and powerful base. If you like a lot of base then this isn't the headset for you.

Noise Cancelling: I find that I can still hear people talking while I am on a plane but most of the background noise goes away. I would describe the sound as if you are underwater or plugging your ears, to give you an idea of the sound. When you play some light music in the background, all the people talking tend to dissappear. I take up anywhere from 50 to 100 flights in a year and now that I own a Bose headset, I couldn't imagine not having it with me.

Comfort: The headset is extremely comfortable with leather around the ear and the leather on the top of the headset. This makes it very comfortable for long periods of time. I used to use ear buds and found that my ears started to hurt after 30 minutes. The only thing I will mention is that your ears do get a bit hot a sweaty after a while so it is good to give them a breath of fresh air every hour or so.

Carrying Case: In this box comes with a carrying case to help protect your Bose headset. This was a huge selling feature for me because with all the travelling I do, I was worried about ruining my headset. This allows me to put the case in my bag and not have to worry that I am crushing it. Great addition Bose!

Cord: Although this headset isn't wireless, it has a detachable cord which I find very useful. If you don't want to listen to anything, don't attach the cord and you can relax with noise cancelling feature. If you do want to listen to music or watch a movie, attach the cord. Easy.

Batteries: The headset runs on (1) AAA battery which fits right into a nice location on the headset. I keep an extra AAA battery in my carrying case just in case it dies while I am travelling. I haven't had to replace the battery yet and I have used it for quite a few flights. I am very impressed with how long it lasts!

Airplane connector: Bose also included an airplane connector which some airlines still use. I haven't come across a time I have had to use this but it certainly is nice to have if I need it.

Downfalls: There isn't much I would change about the Bose QC 15 but the most important one would be that I can't listen to music if my battery is dead. Again this hasn't happened to me but if my battery were to die, I can't listen to music. You have to have the noise cancelling feature on to listen to anything. Other than that, there is nothing I would change.

Price: This headset is quite pricey so it isn't meant for the average person. There are other headsets that I would recommend. But if you are the type of person who travels a lot of find yourself in locations where the noise bothers you (ie train, bus, etc), this is the headset for you.

Well done Bose, you have turned my into a believer and I couldn't imagine travelling without my Quiet Comfort 15!
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185 of 213 people found the following review helpful
on July 11, 2011
A few years ago flying on a cross country trip I was fortunate enough to be bumped to first class. I sat next to a rich dude who subtly bragged about his material possessions and owned property during take off and landing. One of the items he bragged about was his new Bose headphones, and he insisted I listen to them. Sure enough, they were outstanding, but I didn't travel often enough to justify the price tag.

Well fast forward a few years and I now have a job that requires me to fly a few times a month. So I took the plunge and used my hotel loyalty points to get me a free set of these Bose headphones.

They impressed me out of the box as much as the very first time I listened to them (or the equivalent I had tried a few years back). The noise just melts away into the background so that it is hardly noticeable at all. I took my first flight with them today and tried them in a very busy crowded airport terminal. My music sounded wonderful, and the cacophony of random people and machine noise all but vanished. And that was quite a challenging test, the noise levels were pretty high in a fairly confined round terminal hub. The music source was simply my phone, a Samsung Infuse, not a dedicated music player.

Next I wore them on a plane for a short 80 minute jet flight. It's like being in a different world. The music from my android phone sounded awesome, the noise practically vanished. Somehow without the constant racket of the plane the time seemed to just go by quicker too.

The headphones were extremely comfortable, and the excessively hot day didn't add any problems either.

To me Bose are a company I have a lot of respect for. They always seem to innovate and amaze. As an audiologist I am well versed in acoustics and the physics of sound, and to create this level of noise reduction so seamlessly is very impressive, especially if their claims of battery life are close to accurate.

The headphones fit in a very attractive slim case. There is even a little space in there for a couple of spare batteries if you wanted. This model ships with a standard headphone cord and also an iPod/iPad/iPhone version which has a microphone on the wire. I question how useful that would be simply because when you wear these headphones it is hard to tell how loud your own voice is to some extent, so I'd be worried about shouting to the person on the other end of the phone, and also if it is noisy enough to wear them, I wonder how well the person being called would hear anyway. In any case, I replaced my iPhone with an Android based phone recently so I've not tested that feature.

The bottom line is these are expensive headphones. Truth be told if you go to Best Buy and listen to some other headphones at half the price, you'd probably get better or similar sound quality. What you won't get though is the incredible noise reduction system that Bose has been working on for many years. That combination of a great sound AND the noise reduction is what makes this product work. If your life involves plenty of air travel, or other similar travel that includes background noise, then these will really improve that journey for you. Music sounds great, audio books are far easier to hear, even Angry Birds is more enjoyable without all that background noise. In fact when you put these on in almost any environment, it makes you realize how much ambient noise there is in so many places.

I think the only real issue is if your budget and lifestyle justifies the price tag.


Update: Since writing this I have also tried watching a DVD on my laptop in my hotel room. Again these headphones eat through noise like the air conditioning, ventilation in the bathroom, noises from other guests, the whir of the DVD drive, the refrigerator etc. The sound quality off my laptop was just exceptional too, rich bass, clear treble, good mid tones. I can already see myself using these for more than just plane rides.
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221 of 257 people found the following review helpful
on January 26, 2012
The detachable audio device cracked after just one month of use. I can see the wires inside right where I plug the cable into the laptop. I have been using the headphones every day for a month, but I expected Bose to hold up to heavy use, given their reputation and steep price. I also expected Bose to replace the wire, since the headphone are still covered by the limited warranty. To my surprise, the person I spoke on the phone with seemed to suggest I was to blame for the crack without even asking what had happened and stated quite strongly that the wire is not covered by the limited warranty. I was really surprised by the arrogant attitude I received from Bose. Yes, they make good headphones, but we pay lots of money for them and would appreciate full warranty and reassurance should something happen. The guy was though quick to offer to sell me another cable! This is not my first set of Bose headphones, but will certainly be my last. I am quite disappointed by their attitude towards their customers who are the ones giving them the money.
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89 of 102 people found the following review helpful
on December 25, 2011
Don't get me wrong, I think these headphones sound great. My criticism is that they don't stand up to even modest usage without catastrophic failure. I have had 2 pairs of the the QC headphones, both of which have died shortly after the 1 year warranty period expired.

On the first pair, the armature that holds the ear cup cracked and eventually broke, leaving the headphones unwearable. I thought, Okay - maybe they got broke in my bag (despite seeing other people with this issue on line). Contacted Bose, they advised it was out of warranty, too bad, so sad. It <could> have been something I did, so I (foolishly) thought I will try again.

This last pair made it 13 months and something in the electronics failed. They will no longer turn on, which means you can not use them at all - no sound. Contacted Bose Support - where they asked if I knew how to put a battery in something, and then advised me that I should buy a new pair. No Thanks.

If you are going to pay 3 times what you need to pay to get noise canceling headphones, I think you deserve better quality and support. Bose has 600 dollars of my cash, and I have two pairs of headphones in the trash bin.

Caveat emptor!
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97 of 112 people found the following review helpful
on October 4, 2012
I bought the QC15 headphones because of CR's ratings and because of Bose's reputation for producing premium audio products. I used these headphones mostly on my frequent long haul airline flights to listen to in-flight audio and videos. I used them some with my home computer also. The QC15s are extremely comfortable and offer pretty good audio quality and very good noise reduction. If fact, I would sometimes wear them on flights with the noise reduction on and the audio unplugged just to eliminate ambient noise while sleeping on airplanes (the Owner's Manual suggests this as a valid application). I took meticulous care of my QC15 headphones; however, about two weeks after the 12 month warranty expired, my QC15s also expired. They went completely dead for no apparent reason and are now worthless. Considering the premium price that Bose charges for these headphones, I certainly expected better longevity.
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85 of 98 people found the following review helpful
on November 12, 2011
The last time I tried Noise Reduction headphones, it was over a decade ago. They were pointless then and I never gave it a second thought. But that was then. Things have changed.

These headphones are amazing, but these aren't for everyone. Who should buy these? People that are easily irritated by random noises, ambient noise, that kind of thing. What's that? On my list, I'd put in dog barks, refrigerator hums, bathroom pipes, passing cars, wind and rain, etc. I'm very sensitive to noise. I bought a wall clock specifically without a ticking noise because it drives me insane.

A couple months ago, some dude moved into a nearby apartment unit. He's got some kind of affliction that is a cross between emphysema and tourette's syndrome. He'll make some sort of "Hnnghh!" sound every minute or so right out his window. This goes on all day and all night and for someone like me who is easily annoyed, it can make a muhfuh go postal.

Now, I'm a headphone nerd. I've got a Sennheiser HD-650, a Denon AH-D2000, tried all the upper-middle class Beyerdynamics, Audio Technicas and what have you. How's this sound in relation to the grade A audiophile headphones? The sound signature on these is a bit less bassy than your average Bose product. If I use bass boost on my iPod Touch, it sounds about right. It doesn't compete with my HD-650 or D2000 and you should not buy these if all you want is great music.

You should buy this if you can't stand stupid little distracting noises that drive you up the wall. Have ADHD? This is the headphone for you. You can turn it on (one AAA non-rechargeable battery) and let noise cancelling work. You can detach the wire so that nothing is in your way if you just really want to get work done. I'm studying for the BAR Exam and little noises can derail an entire day.

You might be saying to yourself that you can just use earplugs instead of spending $300. And you can. I've used earplugs for the last few years. These headphones are so much more comfortable, they block more noise, and you can actually put on music if you want. It's one of those things that you didn't know you needed until you have it. You'll also notice how you can leave the volume very low on your music player because there's no need to drown out extraneous ambient noise. The perfect headphone for people with tinnitus.

Now, the aesthetics. Let's face it, these look like garbage. Who's the kind of person that thinks these look good? Look at the stock photo. Those are the people. No style, no taste. People who collect glass figurines. Those people. So this purchase is going to strictly be a utilitarian one. Yes, it looks like crap. But more importantly, it neutralizes noise. My God, it's about as close as you can get to enjoying the silence of the night desert while living in the heart of a downtown metropolis.

If you're OCD about noise, if you're the kind of person who stays up all night on the internet and can't get to sleep for stupid reasons, if refrigerator buzzing, laundry and dishwasher cycles, passing cars bug you more than it does other people, then look no further. Sell your kidney on the black market and get these ugly headphones.

EDIT: December 12, 2011

One thing that bummed me out about these was the lack of bluetooth. I turned these into a bluetooth model by ordering a Jabra Clipper. I've use the excess wire to wrap the Clipper against the headband and now I'm completely wireless. It pairs perfectly with my MacBook Air 2011 model. No issues whatsoever. I also have a Lenovo x120e, but it cuts out intermittently on that notebook. Don't know if it's a Windows 7 issue or a Lenovo issue. IPod Touch works without issue as well.

Just a little FYI if you want to go bluetooth wireless. I imagine you're not limited to the Jabra Clipper. It should work with other devices like the Sony Ericsson MW600, but I can't vouch for solid pairing.
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248 of 294 people found the following review helpful
on July 29, 2011
First of all the pros:
1. Noise Cancellation very effective.
2. Sound quality is good, but I think it could have more deep bass and a better treble.
3. Very comfortable

Now the cons:
1. The design is ok. But when I use it, if I change my position of head or move my mouth (eating) at high volume, the phone distorts. I need to find the best fit for the ears and don't move. I feel that I need more pressure against head to avoid this.
2. The material looks cheap (like U$100 headphones)
3. It could have a volume control in body.
4. The headphone works only with batteries and the Noise Cancellation on. You could have the option to turn on/off the NC.
5. Very expensive.
6. The cables are very thin. I don't know if they are going to survive more than a year
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