Top positive review
612 people found this helpful
Solid NC Headphones, probably the best choice under $300
on July 1, 2007
First a few words about a noise canceling headphones in general. I'm a frequent traveler, flying about 50% of time internationally. I'm not a musician by any means, but I understand that having a pair of good "cans" sometimes is the difference between arriving to your destination wasted or completely relaxed. You owe it to yourself to have a pair of good quality noise cancellers if you travel internationally or coast-to-coast at least 3 times a year. I've owned my share of noise canceling headphones, starting from Sony "in-the-ear" MDR-NC11A, then graduating to Sennheiser "on-the-ear" RPXC 250. Finally, I borrowed Bose "over-the-ear" QuietComfort 3 to my conference flight to California and back to Ohio. If you are deciding which general design of headphones to choose - let me tell you up-front that "over-the-ear" design gives you the best comfort you can have on the long flight - hands down.
Now in the detail about this particular set. After experiencing the "over-the-ear" design of Bose, I decided to get a pair. But being burned by my previous experiences, I decided to do some careful comparison shopping. After a few weeks of research, I went to the actual store to compare 3 models that I've selected: Bose QuietComfort 3 ($299), Sennheiser PXC 350 and ($359) and Sony MDR NC50 ($199). The MDR NC60 Model was not even on my list then, and Sennheiser PXC 450 ($449) being as good as they are (canceling 90% of the noise) was simply too pricy for me.
I've tested Bose QuietComfort 3 first. Being so highly advertised, I was expecting it to be the top performer, but was extremely underwhelmed. It performed much better then any of my previous headphones, but it was no match for Sennheiser and it was even worse then Sony, that, may I remind you comes up to be $100 cheaper. On the top of it, I could not find the actual acoustic characteristics for the Bose pair anywhere in the manual. (Since then, I've done search on the WEB and I still cannot find them... amazing!). Then I moved on to the Sennheiser PXC 350, and was not disappointed. I almost left the store with that pair in the shopping bag. Cancelling up to 85% of noise, it was an excellent pair. When you turn the NC on - it fills like you suddenly went deaf. The BASS is very punchy and powerful even when the noise cancellation is off. Third on my list were Sony MDR NC50 and they were surprisingly good as well. Not so good with the BASS when NC is off as Sennheiser, and they felt a bit awkward on my head, but the sound quality was better then those of Bose. I was almost ready to leave, when a store clerk showed me a pair of NC60's and that's when I was sold - right then and there.
They are as good as they come, canceling up to 85% of noise, with excellent sound quality, and with a good BASS output when NC is off. I'd say that if Sennheiser PXC 350 is better - I could not determine it. After researching this model on the WEB for another week, I've purchased it from Amazon for $149.00. I've already had my first flight experience with it and let me tell you - I'm not disappointed. Here is the list of Pros and Cons from where I'm sitting...
- This is the most comfortable pair of cans I've ever tried. The overall fit is very comfortable - I was able to fall asleep on a 3 hour flight. There is absolutely no "suction" effect as I've experienced with another phones I've tried.
- Both, the cups and the bridge are wrapped up in very fine leather. I read some reviews that some people do not like leather on the headphones as it may cause sweating - I personally never experience that, not with this pair nor with any other headphones I've owned. So, even though I cannot say anything negative about that aspect, I might not be the best judge in this case - some people can be more sensitive then others. As far as leather quality and feel - they are as good as they come.
- The unique feature of this model is a "monitor" button that allows you to hear surrounding sounds without turning off the NC or taking the cans off. The only comfort comment I have about this model is that this button is hard to find for someone who's just beginning to adjust to this set. As I'm getting used to this pair, though, I'm getting much better at it - minor problem with a design in my mind.
- This pair runs on a regular AAA battery, illuminating the need to carry a battery charger and having to worry about how to charge it in Europe. This is a big plus in my books. 1 AAA battery gives you 30 continuous hours of NC; if you think that it is not enough - just take a couple of spare AAAs with you - it is still better then a charger, and sure will be enough for a trip to any destination.
- Overall build is very sturdy, yet easy to adjust to whatever position is desirable. Folds neatly into a carrying case, and as far as "over-the-ear" designed go - do not take much space when folded. Again, if the portability is your main concern - you might want to check out "on-the-ear" designs.
- Sound quality (again) is one of the best ones I've tried when it comes to NC headphones for travelers. BASS output is very good with NC on and just slightly worse with it being off (expect it on all NC headphones). I'm listening to all kinds of music and these NC's perform very good for everything from Cleveland Orchestra to Jimi Hendrix. That being said, if you do not plan to use the NC feature of the headphones and just need something to listen to your stereo at home - you'll definitely be able to find a better set for less money. Better yet - take this simple test: if speakers for your home theatre system are made by Boss, Sony, or Panasonic - this pair is going to be good for use at home, at work, or on the plane. If, on the other hand, you have Boston Acoustics hooked up to your stereo - you might want to keep MDRNC60 for travel purpose, and for home use pick up a higher end model without NC feature.
- Noise Cancellation feature works great - definitely better then on Bose QC3 (and I'm not kidding). In my opinion it is the best NC you can get for under $300 - as simple as that.
- There is only one negative comment that I have about this product. Carrying case that this model comes with is a softer kind which is a big minus in my mind. I like the hard case that comes with Bose QC3: having a harder case allows you to clip it to your laptop bag, for instance, and not to worry about smashing your headphones to pieces as you walk down the isle on the plane. This case I would not recommend to keep clipped to the outside of your luggage, as you can end up damaging your headphones. Also, as a future suggestion to a lonely Sony engineer who might read this review in his spare time - it would be nice if the inside compartment in the carrying case had enough room to accommodate iPod Video (just a suggestion)
- The airplane adapter is "foldable" - that is when you can fold one of two mini jacks "in". Is it really necessary to preserve 2 millimeters of space when you already have a carrying case? Fixed one would be just fine; instead another possible breakage point is being introduced. I'm not sure how this adopter will be functioning in 3 years if it is constantly "folded - unfolded", and I'm not going to test it, though, I'll just keep it "unfolded" all of the time.
- The cable that comes with these headphones connects the actual cup with the stereo mini jack. There is a plus and a minus in this feature for me. I understand the desire to make a cord interchangeable, and I guess some people might want to disconnect the cable so that they can sleep on the plane, but it might backfire if the connection becomes loose over a period of time. I read a lot of reviews and did not see people complain about it, but who knows if this becomes a weak point for me - will I write a review after 3 years of use, or just go and buy another pair?