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1,040 of 1,053 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best NC headphones on the market
Update 12-3-2014: If you're reading this review now, be advised that it is 6 years old. You should check out this review of the PSB M4U 2 NC headphones: http://www.amazon.com/review/RNFCGA4RI70O3/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm

Original Review:

I compared these headphones side-by-side with five other noise cancelling headphones: Bose QC2 & 3, JVC NC250, Audio...
Published on April 6, 2008 by J. Martin

versus
169 of 187 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Noise Canceling Function has Limited Application
In a low ambient noise environment the NC function is superb delivering a most pleasing quality. It is at a cost of slight pressure on the ear drum. At times the pressure is not equal causing an imbalance perception. The major drawback of the 450 is that it has limited application. It cannot be used on small aircraft or loud environments. This includes jet engine...
Published on February 4, 2009 by Ferdinand Lasinski


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1,040 of 1,053 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best NC headphones on the market, April 6, 2008
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Sennheiser PXC 450 Active Noise-Canceling Headphones (Electronics)
Update 12-3-2014: If you're reading this review now, be advised that it is 6 years old. You should check out this review of the PSB M4U 2 NC headphones: http://www.amazon.com/review/RNFCGA4RI70O3/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm

Original Review:

I compared these headphones side-by-side with five other noise cancelling headphones: Bose QC2 & 3, JVC NC250, Audio Technica ANC7, and Sennheiser PXC-250. I was in the market for a noise cancelling headphone because I travel a lot and I wanted to be able to watch movies or listen to music in relative isolation. With the ipod earbuds, you have to blast your ears in order to compete with the airplane's engines and I want to preserve my hearing. My main criteria were sound qualifty, noise cancelling, and comfort. All three were very important and I didn't really want to compromise on any of those categories. The only headphone that excelled at all three was the PXC-450. I disqualified all but the PXC-450 on the basis of out of the box testing.

The JVC was disqualified right away on the basis of its cheap build quality. It does not fit snugly on your head, it is very loose. The slightest movement of my head and the earphones would slide around on my ears. Because of that these headphones offered zero passive noise cancelling. Sound quality was okay but nothing special. These headphones never really merited serious consideration.

The Audio Techicas are one of the most popular headphones on Amazon. I read the reviews of this headphone extensively, and most people rave about these headphones. The only criticism of them I saw was sound leakage. People complained that when you listen to these headphones, people around you can hear what you're listening to. They were right. It really is a shame because other than that flaw, these are very good headphones. The sound and noise cancelling is amazing considering the price. However, as I was buying this for use in very close quarters (airplane travel), I didn't want to have to worry about bothering people around me.

The PXC-250 sounded amazing. I couldn't believe such small headphones could sound so good. However, the battery wand I felt got in the way a bit and I just didn't think the noise cancelling on these on ear headphones was as good as the other more expensive headphones. The 250s had another odd problem in that very slight movements would cause the earpads to rub slightly on your ear. This rubbing created a noise that would reverberate inside your ear that was very noticable if you were watching a movie or listening to softer music.

When I was testing the Bose and the PXC-450, comparing them to the other headphones I tested, it made me realize that noise cancelling technology must just be expensive which is why if you want a quality noise cancelling headphone, you have to be willing to shell out some cash. The Audio Technicas are by far the best of the cheaper NC headphones, but the Bose (particularly the QC3) and the 450 really stand out from the pack.

The Bose are very good headphones, but they have some issues that I just couldn't get over. First, I don't like the way Bose headphones sound. They push the bass into your face and the mids and highs sound muddy. Most of the reviews of these headphones mention these issues. The QC2 got very warm and I could feel the heat radiating inside on my ears and it was not comfortable.

The QC3s are really amazing. They are on ear headphones, yet they had the best noise cancelling of any of the other headphones I tried. The earpads are made of a material that just kill sound. Without even turning the earphones on, you are immediately immersed in silence. However, in addition to the sound quality issue, there is something about their noise cancelling function that creates a pressure on your eardrum. This pressure bothered me enough that it was hard to ignore. If the PXC-450 did not exist, I would have gone with the QC3 and just sucked it up, but I was glad that I didn't have to.

Finally, the PXC-450. For me, these were the perfect headphone and I just fell in love with them and didn't have to think very hard about which ones to keep.

Bass. I read a lot of reviews and a lot of people complained about a lack of bass on these headphones. When I first put these headphones on, I admit that I was a little let down because it seemed to me like they were very weak. Then I realized that I needed to adjust the volume control on the headphones. I basically turned the volume on the headphones all the way up and just adjust the volume on my ipod. With the volume issue fixed, my concerns about the bass went away. These headphones do not have as much bass as Bose. However, that's because Bose changes the sound from the way it was intended to push the bass forward. If you like a lot of bass, these headphones might not be for you. However, the bass is definitely there. Just listen to Pon de Replay (Rihanna) or Pass that Dutch (Missy Elliot) for a demonstration of how good the bass is on these headphones.

Sound Quality. Moving past the bass to sound quality as a whole, these headphones are in a different league. I mean, I am hearing details in songs I have heard dozens or even hundreds of times and never noticed. Background singers that before were lost with all of the other sounds can be heard clearly on these headphones.

Noise Cancelling. These headphones have a tight fit, which gives them a lot of passive noise cancelling. They are not so tight, however, to become uncomfortable. Combined with the active noise cancelling, and these headphones are *almost* as good as the QC3s. I feel like the QC3s were a little better at cancelling the higher frequencies, but I think that is why they have the pressure on the eardrum problem. I didn't feel any pressure with the 450. The slight advantage the QC3s have on noice cancelling is more than outweighed by the 450s superiority in sound quality and comfort.

Comfort. Despite being snug, the 450s are very comfortable. The material that the earpads are made of is very soft and I quickly forgot I was wearing them on my flight. The headphones are very big--much larger than the on ear QC3s. However, because they are snug they don't slide around and they really do melt into your head after a while. Also, they don't get hot like the QC2s did.

Portability. Because they are bigger, they are slightly more difficult to manage than the Bose. However, they fold up quite nicely and their case, though larger than both of the Bose cases, is still rather small (and light!).

In the end, once I tried the 450s, there was really no way I could settle for any of the other headphones I tried. All of the other headphones had too many flaws and the 450s were near perfect. Oh, I should mention that I listened for the "ticking sound" that other reviewers complained about in the right earpiece and there was absolutely nothing. Either those reviewers had defective units or Sennheiser has fixed the problem.

Update 3/31/11:

I can't believe it's been three years since I bought these headphones. They still work great and I have no plans to replace them. I only use them when I travel, so they're not getting wear and tear every day, but I was travelling A LOT when I first got these. I have not tried the Bose QC15s, so I can't compare the 450 to those.

Someone in the comments suggested that I work for Sennheiser -- I do not.

I didn't mention the Talkthrough feature in my review. After a lot of use, I have found this feature to be very handy. It's nice when the flight attendant comes by to be able to just press the button and talk to them without having to take the headphones off.
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579 of 590 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Side by Side Comparison with Bose QC15's, November 12, 2009
By 
G. WOOD (Orange County, CA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Sennheiser PXC 450 Active Noise-Canceling Headphones (Electronics)
I bought both the Bose QC-15's QuietComfort® 15 Acoustic Noise Cancelling® headphones and Sennheiser PXC-450's Sennheiser PXC 450 NoiseGard Active Noise-Canceling Headphones to compare them side by side before plunking down ~$300 for headsets.

The Sennheiser PXC-450 headset is built much better than the QC15's for durability AND comfort. The quality difference can be seen in the wire gauage, battery compartment hardware, adaptor finish quality, and ear cup cushion. Sound quality was also richer and seemed more encompassing/fuller. I'm no audiophile by any means, but that is my best subjective judgement.

The QC15's however had far superior noise cancellation. This my main determining factor between choosing which headset to keep. The noise cancellation isn't nearly as good as the demonstration unit found at retailers would lead you to believe. (those are likely configured to generate test noise at the precise frequencies of the noise cancellation circuitry of the headphones). My test was simple, I used a couple of air purifiers (not fans) running on high that reasonably simulate the white-noise like droning sound of being on airplane. Again the QC15's were much better than the Sennheiser PXC450's with respect to this non scientific test.

Bottom line, if noise cancellation is your top priority and your willing to sacrifice a little on build and sound quality, then buy the QC15's. Otherwise, if you can live a little bit more ambient noise intrusion and want greater sound and build quality, buy the Sennheiser PXC-450.

Hope I can help anyone out there.
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507 of 519 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bose QC15 vs. Sennheiser PXC 450 vs. Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7b, December 11, 2009
This review is from: Sennheiser PXC 450 Active Noise-Canceling Headphones (Electronics)
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 three are quite durable and stiff.
1.) Bose- the smallest, a low profile, room for an Ipod, accessories too.
2.) Sennheiser- Square shape, low profile, however not a lot of room for anything else in case.
3.) Audio Technica- Nice big case if you want to carry extra stuff (Nintendo DS, ipod, etc).

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.) Audio Technica- Nice solid construction, appears durable.
3.) Bose- If this had a Sanyo logo on the side, I would not have flinched. How can something $300 be so incredibly cheaply made.

Size:
1.) Bose- as far as over the ears go, these are pretty small.
2.) Audio-Technica- mid-sized.
3.) Sennheiser- These are big. No question, but they store flat.

Comfort:
1.) Sennheiser- Very comfortable, will fit almost any size ears. Keep on for hours.
2.) Bose- Also comfortable. I did not experience "highs" discomfort.
3.) Audio-Technica- Perfectly satisfactory. Larger opening than previous AT model.

Sound:
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.) Audio-Technica- Well balanced, good sound.
3.) Bose- Great 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.

Features:
1.) Sennheiser- nice cord, push to talk button (temporarily mutes NC and sound which is great for interruptions on airplanes).
2.) Bose/Audio Technica- just the basics. Bose simply an on/off switch.

Price:
1.) Audio Technica- $150 to $225 depending on how you shop.
2.) Sennheiser- $200 to $275
3.) Bose- Hard to find below $300+.

Noise Cancelation:
1.) Bose- No question here, far surpassed the other two. Best Noise Cancelation.
2.) Audio-Technica- Good Noise Cancelation.
3.) Sennheiser- Not sure what happened here. Incredible sound, satisfactory noise cancelation.
Summary:

I ultimately kept the Bose because I was only using these for flying and the Sennheiser's (as much as I loved them) let me down in the Noise Cancelation department. The Sennheiser's had by far the most superior sound, but the Bose Noise Cancelation was night and day. The Bose are made very poorly for a $300+ product, it was disappointing.

Final assessment:

Audio-Technica- best balance of value for money
Sennheiser- Best sound and comfort
Bose- Best Noise Cancelation
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100 of 105 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sennheiser PXC-450 vs. Bose QC-15 : A comparative review, May 8, 2011
This review is from: Sennheiser PXC 450 Active Noise-Canceling Headphones (Electronics)
I spend a great deal of time in a computer lab where there is literally over 1,000 running systems. In this environment, ear protection isn't absolutely necessary but without it there's some discomfort with which to deal because of all the fans in these systems and the requisite air handling units. I already have a pair of Bose QC-15 headphones but I am not a huge fan, so I recently purchased a pair of Sennheiser PXC-450 headphones for use in this environment. After an initial break-in period, I have come to really appreciate them.

This is going to be a comparative review, though primarily about the Sennheiser phones. Bose is generally regarded as the gold standard when it comes to ANC headphones, so matching the Sennheisers to the Bose is a good match-up. I'll break it all down into categories: Noise Canceling, Comfort, Sound Quality and Build Quality.

Noise Canceling:
Active noise canceling is THE primary feature of these phones and each has its strengths. Bose is, without question, the more capable ANC set when it comes to removing noise. This supremacy comes at a price though - because of the aggressiveness of their ANC, the wearer often feels a "pressure" on the ears when using the phones, something not present with the Sennheiser set which is close to Bose's level of canceling. Where Bose went to extremes to eliminate noise, Sennheiser went with the thought of "good enough for most". To be sure, both sets do a nice job of eliminating low frequency noise, enough to make air travel more pleasant if you dislike the rumble of plane engines.

They work in the car too (if you're not driving). I tried both sets in a moving vehicle and all do a fine job of eliminating road and engine noise. In fact, it was quiet to the point of eerie in the car. So, if you're a passenger on a long trip, either of these will work to suit your needs.

For the Sennheisers, you don't have to use ANC to listen to music as they provide the ability to override ANC and work like normal headphones. Bose, on the other hand, is an all-or-nothing deal and requires ANC to be on when listening to anything at all.

And that brings up a nice little feature on the Sennheisers - the "talk-thru" function, which allows a listener to cut off all sound and turn on a small microphone so that one can carry on a conversation without having to remove the headphones. No other headset I have ever used has this feature and it has already proven to be a handy tool.

Both sets require a single AAA battery to provide ANC. The battery life is definitely better with the Bose - mine last about a week between needing new batteries, whereas the Sennheiser set needs a new battery every other day.

Comfort:
The Sennheisers are the most comfortable headphones I have ever worn - period. The padding is buttery soft and they fit over my ears with no issue. Other reviewers have said that it seems like they just melt into your head, and that's a very accurate way to describe them. The Bose are nearly as comfortable, though they are slightly smaller.

Where the Sennheisers have a slight comfort disadvantage is actually in their size. These are big headphones and when they are worn around the neck instead of on the ears, they tend to rub on the neck and sometimes (depending on what you're doing) they can get in the way. If you take them off, or don't wear them around your neck, there's nothing about which to complain.

Sound Quality:
Sennheiser has always had premium sound, and the PXC-450 headphones demonstrate why they are the champs when it comes to quality sound. Though not audiophile phones, the PXC-450 brings awesome sound quality even at low volumes, with very full midrange and decent bass. The Bose sound great, except that the bass is too rich and without an equalizer in the mix the bass is enough to give me a headache over extended periods.

Build Quality:
I have not had the Sennheiser set very long but so far I have had no trouble with them. They feel rugged and sturdy, though they are mostly plastic so they do scratch and twist easily. The cord is heavy gauge wire, a welcome improvement over the cabling on Sennheiser sets I have worn in the past. The Bose set is a little more flimsy, with lesser gauge wire.

In summary, I find that the Sennheiser PXC-450 headphones are a better product than the Bose QC-15 headphones. They sound great, feel comfortable and they do a fine job of canceling noise. Bose does have better ANC and if that is the main thing you need and you don't mind the sensation of pressure they put on the ears then Bose is a better choice, but in almost every other aspect the Sennheisers bring more to the table.
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169 of 187 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Noise Canceling Function has Limited Application, February 4, 2009
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Sennheiser PXC 450 Active Noise-Canceling Headphones (Electronics)
In a low ambient noise environment the NC function is superb delivering a most pleasing quality. It is at a cost of slight pressure on the ear drum. At times the pressure is not equal causing an imbalance perception. The major drawback of the 450 is that it has limited application. It cannot be used on small aircraft or loud environments. This includes jet engine reversal when landing. The headset rumbles equally loud to the ambient noise. I am forced to use my older generation Bose NC headphones when travelling on smaller aircraft. The Sennheiser engineer I spoke with states that the 450 cannot be used in an environment with heavy vibration. While accoutically and structurally superior to the older generation Bose, the 450 is less functional.
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115 of 126 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highest Quality Sound, August 11, 2007
By 
R. Green (Fishers, IN United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Sennheiser PXC 450 Active Noise-Canceling Headphones (Electronics)
The Sennheiser PXC 450 NoiceGard Active Noise Cancelling Headphones are a significant investment, but I believe you get what you pay for. I purchased them in order to listen to my 80GB iPOD. I do not like the ear buds that came with the iPOD. On a scale of 1 - 5 (5 highest), my ratings for these headphones are:

Sound quality: 5
Noise cancellation: 5
Comfort: 5
Ease of use: 5
Carrying case: 3
Construction: 4
Looks: 5

Explanation of lower ratings:
Carrying Case (3): For the amount of money, I would have preferred a leather carrying case rather than the balistic materials used.

Construction received a 4 out of 5 simply because with the folding required to put the speakers in the case, I am very concerned something plastic will snap. I feel that rather that a tougher material could have been used in the construction of these headphones.

I compared the sound to Bose and my ears liked the Sennheiser headphones much better.

Amount paid: $449.95

Would I purchase them again? Absolutely!

Any regrets? Not even one.
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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sennheiser PXC 450...listen to the best !!, August 30, 2008
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Sennheiser PXC 450 Active Noise-Canceling Headphones (Electronics)
These are absolutely the most comfortable, best made, best sounding noise-cancelling headphones on the planet. I listen to my iPods a lot, and take a few long airline flights a year...but the stock iPod earbuds are terrible in terms of sound. So, I bought Shure and M-Audio earbuds, which are fantastic in terms of sound and isolation from external sound(i.e. airplane engines)...but, they hurt my ear canals after 30 minutes or so. So, I bought a pair of Sony noise-reduction headphones...they worked pretty well, but they are flimsy, and they sit on the ear, not around it. Next, a trip to the Apple store to try out the BOSE units (QC2 and QC3)...I actually preferred the QC2 sound and comfort to the QC3, although I felt that it was more flimsy...this was due to the fact that the QC2 goes around the whole ear, wheras the more expensive QC3 sits on the ear itself.
Which brought me to the Sennheiser PXC 450...I usually don't buy stuff untried, but a LOT of internet searching led me to believe that this is the best pair of NR earphones on the planet. Well, I was definitely NOT dissappointed...in a nutshell, WOW. Pricey, but definitely worth every penny, especially with the low price that I got on Amazon.com. The bass response is really excellant, but not boomy...the high end is smooth and strong without being shrill...and the response seems to be pretty flat to my ears (meaning that you can EQ to your hearts content...the iPods are really good about that). And they are comfortable for HOURS on end (I just wore them for 3 hours straight with no discomfort whatsoever). They will also work when the battery goes dead sans the N.R. (something the QC3 will not do), and they have a button on the end which allows you to hear outside conversation from your wife, the flight attendant, etc...very cool. And finally, they are made like a expensive headphone...a thick cord, not the flimsy thin cord of the Sonys/Boses. TRES COOL !!
Finally, I decided to go back to the Apple store, and A/B my new Sennheiser with the Bose QC2 and QC3. Overall, I thought that the QC2 came close soundwise, but was lacking in the midrange slightly compared to the Sennheiser. Perhaps due to the fit on the ear, I felt that the QC3 didn't come close...the noise reduction didn't work nearly as well in that noisy store. I came away from the store convinced absolutely that I made the right choice.
So, in conclusion, if you don't mind spending a little more, go with the Sennheiser PXC 450...you sure won't regret it, especially if you are a audiophile like me (actually, a musician). If money is a deciding factor, check out the Bose QC2...it also gives excellant sound, albeit being more inexpensively made as well. ONE THING TO KEEP IN MIND, THOUGH...for some odd reason, I found that the Sennheiser could be purchased on Amazon.com or eBay with a better discount than the Bose...so I didn't pay that much more for the Sennheiser...very strange.
Sennheiser PXC 450...listen to the best !!
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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth the wait, February 29, 2008
By 
PickyGuy (Prague, Czech Republic) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Sennheiser PXC 450 Active Noise-Canceling Headphones (Electronics)
For the past year or so, I've tried to get by with much less expensive noise reduction units-one was the small Sony earbud unit, the other was a small Phillips around the ear for about 80 Euros. Both extremely disappointing, the Phillips was absolutely useless and didn't do a thing for noise reduction.

I narrowed down the choice to the Sennheiser PCX 350 or 450 and sprung for the 450 because of the 90 percent noise reduction claim. I am going on a few very long business trips from Europe to Asia and need to arrive fresh for meetings.

I finally got the 450, and it is wonderful. Good sound, excellent noise reduction, very glad I got these. Build quality much better IMHO than Bose but I have another Bose non canceling set and cannot knock them, they make good products.

I got very scared after using it for an hour or so-the pass through stopped working. Nothing I did would help. Finally called customer service in the US and a fellow Eric solved it. Apparently, if you have pass through on and you raise or lower the volume, whatever you set it to becomes the default 'pass through' volume from now on. It is in the manual but you really have to read it closely. So, be careful.

Also, one disappointment but it's not the headset. There is only so much amplification you can get out of an iPod without a headphone amp. So, don't expect these to shake you with deep decent sound if your inputs are weak in the power department. This is NOT the fault of the headset but the inevitable limitation of power in a small package.

Update---after business trip---real life experiences

I did get myself a headphone amp for the ipod and it makes a world of difference, day and night, just about a 'must' if you really want to enjoy your music on the go, well worth it. [...]

Worked flawlessly on the plane however be very careful when getting out of your seat I lost the two pronged airline connector that way. It reduces the low rumble to a higher pitched and quite manageable high humming sound. On a 14 hour flight from Australia to Los Angeles, it paid for itself.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great set of noise cancelling cans, April 22, 2008
This review is from: Sennheiser PXC 450 Active Noise-Canceling Headphones (Electronics)
I bought these at London Heathrow just before embarking on an 11hr direct flight back to LA. Despite the hefty price - these were the perfect companion for a long haul flight with Virgin Atlantic's awesome in-flight entertainment system.

Really comfortable - I had these on almost the entire time and they were snug, cosy fit. None of the "ear-hotness" that other 'phones have given me. Build quality is superb - really top notch materials and construction. Noise cancellation and sound performance were above expectations. Usually I have to blast the volume up to compete with the engines - but with these puppies on I was able to have them on *much* lower levels and get treated to crystal clear sound and subtle noises that would just have been lost with ordinary 'phones.

The "talk through" button is a great feature and means you can clearly hear cabin crew talking to you without having to either turn them off (or remove them completly).
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43 of 48 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars great sounds, November 1, 2007
By 
Snoop (San francisco,cs) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Sennheiser PXC 450 Active Noise-Canceling Headphones (Electronics)
++++Excellent fidelity, great noise cancelling. Unlike a previous reviewer who wrote that you cannot operate them while wearing them must be challenged with dexterity. I use mine at pro football games to listen to play by play on AM radio. The scratchy AM signal never sounded better. I love the button which operates a mic throughput so I can talk to the person next to me. I can actually hear them better through the headphones than without them. It simply takes a press of the large button right in the middle of the right earpiece, works great. The volume controls on either side which are much smaller are also easy to operate while listening. I come out of the game without my ears ringing because I can listen at much lower levels than with other headphones....goes a long way towards savings one hearing. I love to listen to high fidelity music and my ears are important to me. These phones pass the test. Also use them with an iPod and makes the crappy compressed music sound as good as it can be. The downsides are high cost ( although much better value than the Bose quiet comfort phones that are just expensive and really don't compare in sound quality) and portability. They are truly huge and the carrying case is gigantic. I just end up wearing them around my neck as the case takes up a huge amount of carry on space. Overall, the quality of the sound makes them worthwhile, though I'm sure they could be redesigned to be smaller. Excellent performer and if they were smaller and less expensive, they'd rate a 5.
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