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The Sennheiser PXC150 are closed back supra-aural street style headphones with a Noiseguard noise cancelling module.
Supra aural cans sit on the cartilage of your ears rather than on the sides of your head. The cushions are therefore smaller than full sized cans. The PXC have a sprung metal headband which does not place too much pressure on the ears and they are comfortable over long periods of time and the leatherette pads do not cause discomfort.
They are small and lightweight, , much lighter than other noise cancelling designs as the noiseguard module is not built in the headphones but is positioned half way down the lead.
The module is fitted with a clip and an on/off switch and is designed to be clipped to your shirt or pocket.
The biggest advantage they have over the very expensive Bose units is that they will still give you sound even when the battery dies, you just lose the Noiseguard function.
They are supplied with a soft travel bag, a full sized 6mm adapter and a two pin aircraft adapter.
Sadly unlike there more expensive sisters, the PXC250 and PXC300 they do not fold up, nor do they have the extra head band pads, which means that if you are thin on top you can feel the cold steel headband!
Attenuation of outside noise.
They are closed back and this keeps some of the noise out. Secondly the Noisguard module listens to the background noise, particularly the low frequency hum that you get on aircraft and trains. It then re creates this hum but out of phase. This out of phase hum is feed to your ears along with the music. Imagine sending a wave peak to meet a wave trough at the same time, the result would be a flat ocean as they would cancel each other out, this is how the noiseguard unit works.
They are very good at taking hum and rumble out of your environment.
They are not as good as blocking random noises like spoken voice as full sized monitors.
All Noise cancelling headphones employ a similar principle.
The unit runs on 2 AA cells and these should power it for 30 hours, but I know people who get a lot more.
Quality of Sound
In addition to our reference HD280pro closed back monitor headphones I have compared these to the more expensive PXC250 , the cheaper Altec Lansing units and the very expensive Bose Quietcomfort 2 full sized and Quietcomfort 3 supra-aural units.
Switching on the noiseguard module also amplifies the music and both widens the soundstage and deepens the bass extension. With the unit switched off you feel the need to both up the volume a few notches and change the bass equalisation settings on your player.
As you would expect from Sennheiser they do have the same family sound, a warm presentation with clear highs and no sibilance. Even when driven to high enough volumes to make your head vibrate they stay smooth and focussed.
Both my lads prefer to use the PXC150s for travel use above their HD280pro
Shop around for a good price, I paid around £35 in the USA last year
Sennheiser offer these with a two year warranty
If you really want noise cancelling headphones, these should be the entry point , do not go for lesser models or makes than these, but my money would go on the next up the range, PXC250 which in addition to having an extra 2 pads on the headband and the ability to fold up, they have a bigger driver and deliver a deeper bass and slightly wider soundstage than the PXC150.
Alternatively consider either the HD280 pro which can be had for £70 online, the superb HD25 reference pro monitor which cost around £130 or some CX300 IEMs which can be had for as little as £18 online.