Noise-cancelling headphones head-to-head test
Sennheiser's established PXC-350 vs Denon's brand-new AH-NC732
Review Now we're in the season of the long winter break, with its long train, car and plane journeys, we thought a comparison of some noise-cancelling headphones from Denon and Sennheiser would be timely.
Sennheiser's PXC-350: NoiseGuard technology well established
Noise-cancelling technology has come a long way and despite a still considerable price premium, both these products deliver some real benefits to the regular traveler. Denon's new to the market, launching its AH-NC732 set just recently. Sennheiser's an old hand, so we put the new guy up against the well established PXC-350 set.
Accessory-wise both units are on a largely level playing field. Sennheiser's PXC-350 pair has a standard 3.5mm stereo jack and comes with adaptors for 6.3mm stereo and double-mono aircraft sockets. It also has an independent volume control.
The Denon AHNC732 pair also comes with said adaptors but has no independent volume control. However, it does have a choice of long or short cable connections - 0.7m and 1.5m.
Denon's AH-NC732: new kid on the noise-cancellation block
Which one of these equipment sets suits the most is going to come down to your personal needs and priorities. An extra bit of oomph in the volume stakes from Sennheiser, or more flexibility in cable choice from Denon? We give the Denon set the slight edge here as, if we're talking about true travel cans, the option not to have loads of spaghetti stuffed into you pocket, particular when the conditions are warm and cavernous jacket pockets are perhaps not handy, was a genuinely useful one.
I bought a pair for my fiance for Christmas last year to make the trip to visit my family in the US a bit more pleasant. We agreed that they are excellent and were worth every penny. They can currently be gotten quite cheaply (about $65). I'm about to go buy a second pair so we can each have one for the annual "big hop" from Germany.
meh - i tried out the QC3s at a Bose shop a few months ago, but was very unimpressed
you'd expect in the retailers shop they would have things set up to show the product to it's best, but while i could clearly hear the reduction in the outside noise when it was acivated, i was still able to hear the salesguy talking on the phone 5 feet away. for the price and the hassle of wearing big bulky headphones, i was not impressed, i've stuck with my in-earphones from Sony that block out far more external noise for 1/3 the cost.
still, would have been nice to see the QC3's in this review so I could use them as a benchmark to see if these two are any better
Come on folks, you can do better. This is a tech site, after all. "An over-ear set" translates to circumaural = enclosing the ears, vs. supra-aural = sitting on the ear. Also, I would like to read whether these sets produce any audible hiss, the bane of active headphones. Next up is speed — just how fast is the cancellation circuit and how well does it respond to sudden peaks? Such peaks rarely occur in the comfort of an airliner, when these kinds of phones are happy to reduce the drone of turbines, but more often on trains. As trains pass each other at high speed, things go bang, a most unpleasant experience with active cancellation phones which are not up to speed.
In most cases, you are much better off with IEM-style passive isolators. Not only are they smaller and have no peak-problems, you will also get much better phones for the same money minus the worry about yet another set of batteries. Circumaural phones with active cancellation are only a good choice if you have IEM-related comfort issues or have to take off your phones every five minutes for some reason.
Why do you want noise cancelling? most of the time on a plane, in which case you want small, the 250's are fantastic (4 years old now), the limited test is a bit rubbish apart from only selecting two, they are both more bulky that you want to cart around, maybe in the ear would be better (who knows).
I am missing BOSE QC3
Granted, you compared only those two, but I would have hope, in something like this, that there would be a bit more competition.
I have tried a number of different ones and I got stuck with the QC3.
Since I am on a plane on average twice a week, it was a good investment for me.
It is amazing what the noise cancellation does.