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Sennheiser PXC 450 NoiseGard 2.0
Sennheiser as a company, has been around for years, and is definitely not a novice in making high-end headphones. If there are a pair of headphones you can compare the PXC-450 with then it would be Bose's QuietComfort 3. However, the PXC-450 outruns the QC3 with its features. If you guys are seriously looking for a good pair of high-end headphones, and somehow get smitten by the product on the basis of its features and performance, do make it a point to go through my conclusion and especially the price of the product. All the best!
Coming from a company like Sennheiser, you really don't want to question the build quality of its products. You can be certain that the PXC-450 not only looks sturdy but also makes for a comfortable pair of headphones.
The circumaural earcups have a roomy ear space, yet I can't emphasize more that with products like these it's always advisable to make a suggestive calculation of your ear size and dimension. Although, I faced no problems what-so-ever in the many hours I used it, many of the big-to-slightly-bigger ear sized bumchums of mine did find it a tad uncomfortable after a bit of use. This, I observed, was mainly due to the protruding driver inside the earcup.
Now there is no denying that the PXC-450 is quite bulky, but the weight is evenly spread. In fact the weight is shared equally by the headband, so your ears are saved from the pressure and squeeze of the entire bulk. Also, one of the best things about the headphones is that they can be folded and stowed away. To aid carrying around the PXC-450 comes along with a black carry case. There are separate slots to fit batteries (I'll come to that in sometime) and also one that fastens the double mono airplane adapter in place. Since this product is marketed as a travel companion more than a sound enthusiasts' play tool to use in places like studios (I have my own reservations about that!!), the casing makes it easy to carry. Also, the cable is replaceable/removable.
If you push the left earcup inwards you will notice a button that activates the Noise cancellation feature. The Function buttons are all on the right, including the battery compartment.
The noise cancellation system used by the PXC-450 works on their proprietary technology NoiseGard 2.0, which is an active noise compensation system based on the principle of canceling out sound using "anti-sound" aka phase-inverted sound. The headphones collect all the low frequency sounds making use of tiny microphones and creates an out-of-phase signal that cancels all the outside ambient noise. It works pretty well even in noisy environments like the local trains in Mumbai. If you are wondering if it actually cancels all the sound from the outside world, making you sit quietly with the PXC-450 on, well you are guessing wrong!! What it does is cancels most of the annoying humming noise around your ear. You can still hear people talk, but it's a lot less irritating.
One of the most useful feature is the talkthrough mode. This is aided by a button on the right earcup that simply mutes the headphones so that you can talk through. It's something you will be thanking Sennheiser for putting it there when you realize you don't have to remove the bulky headphones off your ears every time you need to talk to someone. Of course, all this can be used only with the help of one AAA size battery. However, Sennheiser has been thoughtful enough to ensure that if ever you run out of power, you can still use the PXC-450 as a normal pair of headphones. You just need to switch the headphones to bypass mode.
Talking about performance of the headphones itself, I have to say it didn't live up to the price (I have a fair bit to share on this). To begin with, the headphones sounded pretty flat and lacked dynamics when used with my iPod or Creative Zen. You will need a headphones amplifier to drive this baby. So we tested the PXC450 with the Yamaha stereo AX-397 amplifier with some of our own ripped FLAC files. The bass was as effective as I thought it would be, but the clarity of sound was good. I liked the way it dished out the mid-level frequencies, something which your usual budget headphones usually manage to muddle up. On loud volumes, the headphones didn't jar at all, something that I respect it for.
I have had a lot of people come to me relating after sales service stories of products like these, and I can only sympathize since it's a lot of money you will be shelling out for this. So I got a company spokesperson to say this, "The original Sennheiser product is covered by a warranty of 24 months. The warranty period begins on the date of purchase of brand new, unused products by the first end user. Please retain your sales receipt (or your warranty certificate) as proof of purchase. Unless you submit proof of purchase, which will be verified by your local Sennheiser service partner, you will be obliged to pay for any repairs that are carried out. Proof of purchase must state the date of purchase and name of the product."
The PXC-450 is exorbitantly priced at Rs. 29,900. Personally, I think it's way overpriced. Although the product is good, and does what it does brilliantly, I don't see why I should I literally drill a hole through my pocket for it. It's feature rich, that's for sure. But if you compare the price with performance, no sir! It's just not worth it. However, if are rich and don't mind shelling out so much 30K for it, I would say why not?