60 of 67 people found the following review helpful
Since I travel a lot, I was excited to learn about Sennheiser's new noise-canceling earbuds; I have a Sennheiser over-the-ear set of headphones that has good sound but which drives me nuts after a few hours of wearing them. I find ear-canal headphones more comfortable for longer usage, plus they have the advantage of taking up less space in my bag.
These are not standard earbuds. Sennheiser has attached a battery-operated (one AAA battery, included) noise-cancelation control box a little more than halfway down the cord. Even though the control box contains the battery, it is lightweight and positioned low enough so that it doesn't tug on the earbuds. You control all of the features from it: noise-cancelation on/off, volume, mode, and mute. The noise-cancelation is "active" -- that is, you have to power it on or else the set operates like regular in-ear headphones. The Talk-Through button is especially welcome since you can instantly stop the sound, even though it may still be running on your device, and talk to people, albeit with the equivalent of earplugs still in your ears. I like that I no longer will have to rip my earbuds out to talk to a flight attendant and then fumble to reinsert them. Each of the three modes, selected by multiple pressing of the mode button and confirmed by one to three beeps, blocks out different frequencies of sounds. The sliding volume control can be used in conjunction with the volume control on your device; its range of volume is fairly small.
I tested these earbuds in a variety of settings at home to mimic certain situations. With the earbuds inserted, I selected a relatively quiet vocal track. I turned on a talk show on TV. I discovered that the third mode (for crowds) blocked out the TV sound best, and then I kept jacking up the volume on the TV until I felt it interfered with the music. When I took the earbuds out, I was blown away by how loud the TV had become. I also tested them in a laundry room with both the dryer and the washing machine running. Again, I found a mode that blocked out the sound almost completely. The last test was running an extremely loud vacuum cleaner in a tiled bathroom where the sound would reverberate. This was the only situation where I was still aware of the noise in the background, although it was greatly minimized. Again, I was surprised by how loud the room was when I removed the earbuds. This set gets exceptionally high marks for its ability to block out different kinds of noise.
But what about the sound? That's where this set gets mixed reviews from me. Although the sound was high-quality, without distortion, it seemed that I had to increase the volume on my iPod much higher than usual AND had to increase the volume on the control box. I decided to compare this set to my favorite passive noise-isolating earbuds, the Ultimate Ears SuperFi 5vi Noise Isolating Earphones. I listened to both classical music and rock through the Sennheiser set at a comfortable listening volume. The sound was clear and didn't have any hiss. Whether the noise-cancellation was on or off, the music sounded exactly the same; the noise-cancellation only affects the perception of outside noise. I then plugged my Ultimate Ears into my iPod -- and almost blew out my eardrums. The difference in volume, with the same iPod settings, was shocking. I had my husband, who hears less well than I do and likes his music louder than I do, listen through the Sennheisers to see what he thought, and he said the music sounded good but "distant." I wouldn't go that far because I was able to get the volume I wanted, but anyone who is hard of hearing or who likes to blast music in their ears will not be happy with these. However, the sound quality of the Sennheisers was slightly better than that of the Ultimate Ears. The sound quality is excellent, but the volume range is limited.
These come with a zippered case, three sizes of silicone inserts (medium is factory-installed), extra diaphragm guards (be careful you don't toss these little pieces out!), a cleaning tool, an audio adapter, an in-flight adapter (two-pronged), and a manual. The cord is coated with a flexible black silicone-like material. The only thing I wish the manufacturer had included was a way of keeping the cords neat so that I don't have to fiddle with them each time to extricate the buds from the cord.'
Pros: comfort, sound quality, noise-cancelation, Talk-Through control, storage case, ease-of-use, ear buds continue to work even when the noise-canceling battery dies.
Cons: sound volume
Frequent fliers and people who listen to music in loud, busy settings will appreciate the noise cancelation features. People who like to listen to loud music, however, are likely to be disappointed. If you would rather have portable noise-canceling headphones outside the ear, try Sennheiser PXC 250 II Collapsible Noise-Canceling Headphones.
-- Debbie Lee Wesselmann
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
I use noise canceling headphones every day in a very crowded computer lab where there are well over 1000 running servers. I bought Sennheiser's PXC-450 set last year when I finally grew very weary of the Bose QC-15 headphones which cancel noise and give me splitting headaches with equal ease. I was unaware that Sennheiser made noise canceling earbuds and was very interested in trying them out and comparing them to the PXC-450's..
The CXC-700 earbuds are very lightweight and they are very comfortable. It is rare for me to find a set of earbuds that are comfortable and these earbuds are among the most comfortable I have ever used. There are two types of earbuds, those that fit into the ear canal and those that place a speaker at the entrance of the ear canal (much like Apple's buds). The CXC-700's are of the former type and usually I struggle to get comfortable with this type. However, they fit into my ear canal with little effort and actually seal in better than most. This is a big plus right out of the box.
When inserted properly, earbuds that fit in the ear canal should block a lot of noise and these do that as expected. When I got them in and turned them on, I was plunged into near-silence. Sennheiser claims that these block 90% of low frequency noise and that seems to be about right - with a fan turned on in the room and the buds turned on, the fan simply vanished. The active noise canceling comes at a small price that some may find annoying, though - there is a white-noise hiss when these are engaged and though it is faint it is unmistakable. Personally, it does not bother me at all.
These buds come with three cancelation modes for blocking different sets of frequencies. Mode 1 blocks very low frequences, mode 2 blocks a higher set of frequencies (still low) and mode 3 combines the other two modes into one. I have found no good reason why I would want to use these with any setting other than mode 3, though others may differ in opinion.
I took them to work and used them in one of the noisiest areas of the lab - sitting directly behind a rack of computers and at a table with several more computers all around me. When I turned the buds on, the server noise all but disappeared and was replaced with the soft hiss of the white noise produced by the buds.
I did a side-by-side comparison with the CXC-700 earbuds, the Sennheiser PXC-450's and the Bose QC 15's. For knocking out the low frequencies I was stunned - the earbuds actually performed on par with Bose and definitely outclassed the PXC-450's. The passive canceling combined with the ANC capabilities of these earbuds make them equals with the Bose top offering and a clear winner over their over-the-ear sibling PXC-450.
ANC is only half of the equation, though. Earphones of any type are not very useful if they cannot deliver great sound, so I loaded up some music and ran the earbuds through some tests. I found that these buds have excellent treble (like most earbuds) and they have good bass. Where I have troubles with most headphones in the midrange, and these buds did astoundingly well. In fact, the sound reproduction is very warm, crisp and lively. I was able to get what I wanted from them without resorting to an equalizer. On the downside, I find myself a lot more disappointed with the PXC-450 headset...
The ANC function seems to have no impact at all on how well these buds sound and there's no impact at all on volume either.
These are far and away the very best earbuds I have ever used. They are better than other noise canceling phones I have used and they are surprisingly comfortable. If you want noise canceling, and you prefer earbuds to regular cans, these deserve a look. Yes, they are very expensive but they are absolutely worth every penny. I may have to buy another pair just so I don't have to share.
30 of 35 people found the following review helpful
As someone who travels a fair bit, I am a big fan of noise canceling headphones. I own both the Bose and Sennheiser over the ear units so was eager to give these a try as an option to lighten the load in my carry on bags.
I have tried in-ear NC units in the past, such as the offering from Sony. I usually gave them away or tossed them in a drawer. My experience with most in-ear NC units is that the active noise canceling does almost nothing. You simply wind up cranking the volume to a point that you block ambient sound. Thus, expectations were not great, fortunately I was in for a pleasant surprise.
Lets start with the noise canceling. After all, if that is not important to you then just buy a standard set of head phones. This is where I was also most impressed. On a recent Airbus flight I turned them on with nothing playing. I wanted to see if the active noise canceling made a difference. Indeed, it did. Sennheiser has taken a unique approach in offering three settings. With the jet engines roaring there was a discernible difference in each mode. I found that mode 1 and mode 3 were the most effective.
Comfort wise they are not bad, although I will admit to preferring the over the ear Bose or Sennheisers. However, this is more a personal preference than anything else as some people just do not like having something in their ear while others find the headphones to be cumbersome. The medium ear buds worked well for me, I did not try the others.
Next step was to plug them into the iPod. In terms of Audio quality I thought these were excellent. Very much on par with the Sennheiser over the ears units, a bit better than the Bose. Some owners have noted that you can not crank up the volume as much as some other units. This is true but I do not see it as a bad thing. In my opinion, if you blocking noise requires pushing the volume to ear damaging levels, then they are not doing what they are designed to. Again, note that it is the combination of audio quality AND noise canceling which makes these a winner.
So, in terms of in-the-ear noise canceling units I do believe these are by far the best on the market. But how would I compare the three (Bose QC5, Sennheiser over-the-ear, and these).
- I still believe the Bose sets the gold standard for noise cancelation and they would remain my first choice on a long plane trip.
- In terms of audio quality, both Sennheisers beat the Bose QC5.
- For non-airplane noise, these provide the best balance.
- In terms of portability, these are the champ.
The bottom line is that these will remain in my travel bag at all times. That is a huge compliment considering that until now, I have never kept a pair of in-the-air noise canceling headphones. While the retail price on these seems a bit high, the actual selling price from Amazon and others provides a very fair value for the price. Again, for in-ear noise canceling, do not throw your money away on anything else.
Update: December 2013. Technology is indeed a race and there is now a new champion. Just picked up a pair of Bose QC-20i. The noise cancellation on the QC 20 is amazing. It was like rediscovering noise cancellation all over again. Sennheiser now needs to raise their own game.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on July 27, 2013
Based on some reviews I had my concerns that the fit in ear would be bad. As I am Germany I might just have German Ears, but this set fits me perfect. I had many of the noise canceling headsets and always was a huge fan of Sennheiser. This proofed to me again if you want the best by Sennheiser, don't even waste your time with anything and I mean ANYTHING else.
I had AudioTech both the US and JP editions, tried the Sony's, Bose, Shure and Panasonic. At the end I broke down and bought this, worth EVERY PENNY! Fantastic fit, Superb sound. They are pricy, but so are Shure and Bose and these sound better, take up way less space and are just quality wise the leader of the pack.
I travel a lot to Asia and spend often 9 - 14 hours on long-haul flights, these are the only ones that do not make you ears hurt, feel funky or make you ears sweat (why I gave up on my Bose's). Next time I will try Sennheiser first, like I have always done in the past instead of experimenting at the end that is cheaper.
I LOVE THESE, the best in-ear headphones in all categories.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 17, 2012
I am a frequent airline traveller and found the Sennheiser CXC 700 Active Noise-Canceling Ear-Canal Headphones to be a superior product for a noise canceling earbud. I have tried the BOSE NC Headphones (best noise canceling but bulky and difficult to use when sleeping), Sony NC earbuds (fair noise reduction but poor construction that died shortly after the warranty expired), and the Phillips NC Earbuds (excellent value for moderate noise reduction; still working but I needed better NC range). The CXC 700 are very comfortable with surprising NC capability with three decibel muting ranges. The "talk through" button is fantastic when you need to listen to flight attendants, garbled airport announcements, or when you actually want to talk to the person next to you. The battery life is good for about 15 hours of near continuous use (long flights). These are so comfortable that I have started to use them to reduce distractions when I need to work in public wifi areas. Bottom line: Price is high but the comfort and superior NC function in an earbud made them a good value for me.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 30, 2014
i purchased these at the same time as purchasing Audio-Technica - QuietPoint Earbud Headphones ATH-ANC33iS. I used each for about 3 - 4 minutes and immediately noticed these were much more effective at blocking the diesel engine noise of our boat. I haven't checked other models but at least between these and the Audio-Technica's, these were clearly better IMHO.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 29, 2011
I've been looking for inear noise cancellation phones for over a year. I've tried different Active and Passive ones types. I started cheap but ending up spending more money than the price of the CXC-700, i should have bought the CXC-700's right from the start but i was kept back by the price. Although the price is a bit frightening but you will enjoy these inear phones for a long time. For example I tried the the Panasonic RP-HC31E-K Active Noise Cancellating phones but compared to the CXC-700 they are not doing much. 4 times cheaper but 10 times less noise cancellation.
I've tried the in-ear headphones in a noisy environment with a lot of mechanical ventilation noise, in a train and airplane. With the Panasonics you would hear a small decrease in noise, they indeed cancel out noise but by far not as much as the CXC-700. My feeling says that the panasonics cancel out around 10% of the noise while the CXC-700 eliminate 95% of the noise.
Also the personalization setting where you separately configure the noise cancellation for your left and right ear makes even a bigger noisecancellation experience.
Remember it cancel out noise but the higher frequencies are not actively cancelled out, so you still hear people talking,typing but the passive noise cancellation of 25dB does it's job magnificently. So if you listen to music a couple of days a week in a noisy environment and are fed up with cranking up the sound or you just want to enjoy silence the CXC-700 is definitely worth it. 4 out of 5 stars because i give 5 stars for the still to be build in-ear headphone that cancels out all frequencies :-).
18 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on May 25, 2012
The Noise-Canceling feature of these ear buds do a great job and I especially like the mode button that allows me pick the level of noise-canceling I want. Now, if you don't know this noise-canceling does not cancel out people conversations or a crying baby sitting next to you on a plane.
I believe the engineers really dropped the bucket on the design of the earbuds themselves as they do not fit in my ears anywhere near as comfortable as the Bose ear buds. The Bose Ear Buds fit firmly in my ear and I never have to fiddle with them to keep them in place like I do with the Sennheisers. I did contact the company and the rep was kind enough to send me some of their moldable ear bud hooks to help hold the ear buds in place but this is still a pain as well. By rating these a two I hope the company considers redesigning them.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 30, 2011
I have previously owned sennheiser 202, pcx 150, free talk phones, apple phones, panasonic noise canceling, and this one is far the best one I`ve tried.
I use it to work out and also for jogging on the beach, as well as at work. It is great, but if you are going to jogg, there is only one way you can use it without the hassle, you need to clip the base to your shorts and have the wire going inside your tshirt, thats the only problem I faced it.
When trying it jogging on the beach, it was crowded, people walking with their pets, the sounds of waves, cars etc.. you can't really hear anything, specially if you are trying mode 3.
I love the fact when someone initiates a conversation with me, I don't have to take the phone off to talk, I just press the talk through button and I am good to go, it`s amazing.
- Very expensive but worth the investment, I don't see myself getting another headset in the next 10 years.
- People at work usually mad at me , no matter how loud they shout, I can't hear them AT all. Seriously.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
I have gone through a lot of noise-cancelling headphones over the past few years, including both over-ear (Bose QC) and in-ear. None of them had good sound, some were distinctly uncomfortable and the noise reduction was often not good. For a long time I settled on a set of Ultimate Ears headphones with Comply ear tips that provided great sound and isolation, but I often found myself having to pull them out many times during a flight.
The Sennheiser CXC 700 headphones were recently put to a test during a cross-country flight. I experimented with the three "modes" of noise cancellation - each targets a different set of frequencies, and ended up using Mode 3, with the broadest range of cancellation. This was good, but then I used the feature to adjust the level of cancellation on a per-ear basis, and got even better results. (My right ear's frequency response is uneven since recovering from an illness several years ago.)
The noise cancellation itself worked well - it did not completely eliminate noise from the engine, etc., but the noise was reduced enough that I no longer noticed it and it was not wearing, the way loud engine noise can be.
I especially liked the "talk through" feature, missing on many products of this nature. When activated, you hear your surroundings quite clear and with still some noise reduction. Another plus is that when the electronics are switched off, the headphones still work (without the noise cancellation.) The control box has a volume control, but I found that the volume from the Sennheisers was lower than what I'd get from some other models I have used.
The headphones themselves were comfortable and are asymmetrical so it is easy to distinguish left from right, though there is no marking that I could see. They fit comfortably and reasonably securely in my ear. The CXC 700 comes with three sizes of silicone ear tips, and for best sound you'll want to choose the tips that fit most snugly, otherwise you will find the sound weak and shrill. I've never had good luck with silicone tips - these worked reasonably well for me but I am going to see if I can get some Comply foam tips that fit. (Sadly, the ones for my UE headphones don't fit the Sennheisers.)
The sound quality, with properly-fitting tips, was excellent. I had decent (but not overblown) bass and undistorted treble.
The cord is usefully long, both between the headphones and the small control box and between the box and the nicely-shaped right-angle plug, and I did not find the cord to be "microphonic", in that rubbing the cord did not induce a loud noise in the headphones. The control box has a metal clip to attach it to your shirt, etc. A nice zippered case is included, with an interior elastic mesh pocket that can hold the 1/4" adapter and the dual-prong "airline adapter", though I have not seen a plane that uses such a socket in many years. The case is somewhat odd in that there is no obvious pocket for the headphones themselves - I guess you're supposed to just coil them up and stuff them in. It works, but some sort of cord organizer would have been nice.
I recently read a comparison of ten noise-cancelling headphones and the Sennheiser CXC 700 was the "Editors' Choice". True, they are more expensive than many, but both the sound quality and the noise reduction is first-rate. I like them.