Most helpful critical review
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on August 16, 2005
I have been on a bit of a quest for decent and user-friendly noise cancelling cans for a few months. I use trains and subways to commute, and I think I did damage to my hearing years ago when I would drown out the subway noise with my headphones. I figure noise cancellation (or reduction) technology would help prevent further damage. I had the Sennheisser PCX-250 (list $150), which sounded reasonably good and had fairly effective noise cancellation, but was very cumbersome to use, with a lot of cords to get tangled with the remote cords on my CD player (iRiver SlimX 450). They were fairly comfortable. I then moved to the Aiwa branded Sony noise cancellation phones (list ~$60). These do not have a separate battery/circuitry compartment like the Sennheissers, but instead, like the Koss QZ-50, have these built into the headset. They are moderately comfortable but bulky. The noise cancellation is pretty effective, although it adds a significant amount of hiss (more than the Sennheissers). The sound overall is balanced, a little bass-heavy and ragged in the treble range, but overall quite listenable. Best of all, the Aiwa is very sensitive, so it is easy to drive, and saves CD player batteries (since you run the player at lower volume levels to achieve the same loudness). I tried the Koss QZ-50 because I hoped the behind-the-neck design would be more comfortable and less geeky looking. Also, I love the Porta-Pros, and was hoping the QZ-50 would sound like them. The QZ-50s sound just OK. Not very extended in the bass, no better than the Aiwas up top. They are fairly comfortable, although the earcups tended to slip down off my ears when I walked. Unfortunately, while the noise cancellation processing does not add any significant hiss, it also doesn't seem to reduce noise at all. Add to that the QZ-50s high impedance (which requires higher volume settings on the player), and the QZ-50 is not worth keeping. I'd try the more expensive Koss QZ based on the Porta-Pro, but it, too, uses a separate, wired compartment for batteries and circuitry. I do not recommend the QZ-50 as a solution for listening in noisy environments.