Sennheiser PXC 250 Headphones

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Sennheiser PXC250 Sound Quality review.

Feb 19, 2006 (Updated Feb 24, 2006)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:CRYSTAL CLEAR, Small, Sexy, Good Value for the Money

Cons:Cumbersome battery pack and wires. Less bass kick.

The Bottom Line: If sound quality rules over bass punch, buy these headphones. The quality is a good value for the $100 to $150 range.


I am a student working with Sound Engineering, music mixing, and the like. I am in the process of searching out a good pair of headphones for around $120 to $150.

I bought a pair of Sennheiser PXC250 headphones from Circuit City. The first pair I bought had a loose wire connection in the right phone cord, so occasionally it cut in and out. Not a good first impression, but Circuit City has a return policy, and on top of that Sennheiser has a 2 year warranty, so I will be returning these once I have listened to them some more.

This reviews the Sennheiser PXC250 *SOUND QUALITY*. If you want to know what all you get and how it works as you use it, check out one of the many other reviews to find out.


=== NOISE CANCELING
The noise canceling does reduce low frequency noises well, such as refridgerater hum or computer fans and engine rumble. Higher frequency sounds such as voice, televisions, external conversation, etc are not masked by this feature. Nonetheless, it does give you a nice bubble for your music to exist in and I find it appealing.

The headphones themselves sound more "transparant" than other headphones which mask noise by surrounding the ear and blocking off outside noise completely. You still get a bit of outside sound, but it isn't the sound that your music has to fight with to be heard over.

Another note is that the headphone does work with the noise cancelling turned off. However, the sound quality suffers with cancelling turned off. The cancelling also powers the drivers partially from the batteries, so turning the cancelling on gives a boost in volume as well. When you are paying this amount for a pair of phones, get some long-lasting AAAs and keep an extra set in the carry case. The pair I put in a week ago are still good after heavy listening (about 14 hours).


=== HOW NOISE CANCELLING WORKS
Here is a description of why noise cancelling works even by just cancelling low frequencies:

With sounds, lower frequencies have longer waves. Your ears "localize" sound (find the sound's location) by the difference in energy hitting the two ears. There is little difference in the energy of a long, low frequency wave between the short space of your two ears, while high frequencies such as a voice are quite easy to pinpoint.

A brain process called "streaming" allows you to focus on a particular sound based on localization. For instance if there are two trumpets playing in a room, your brain can focus on the sound of each of them and tune the other one out more or less. Since higher frequencies are more easily localized, the brain's streaming acts as a noise cancellation.

Low frequencies cannot be localized and get lumped together. The plane engine rumble and fridge hum are heard together with your music, while the background conversations can be tuned out by your brain.

You will not hear dead silence with the cancellation turned on by itself (it can be turned on with no sound source). Once you play your music, your brain will do the rest.


=== BOTTOM LINE ON NOISE CANCELLING (Update)
While I found the cancelling feature to be fully functional, after listening to the headphones for some time, I decided that I would trade the money from noise cancelling for a around-the-ear phone instead. You may like Sennheiser's phones due to the smaller cup design or the portability for travel. Both of these reasons would make buying this pair an excellent choice. I am not in the situations which require the noise cancelling as frequently, so I will look for another headphone.


=== COMFORT & FIT
The feel of the sound is nice because of the semi-transparent quality of the headphones. The actual phone is small, and fits on the inside of your ear (but not in the canal), rather than surrounding it or resting the pads on the "dish" of your ear. I have a pair of Sony MDR V150 phones which rest on the outer part of the ear and after a few hours, it is quite painful, from the fit, rather than actually from listening to the phones. These are a step more comfortable, but not as comfy as phones which cover the ear completely.


=== BASS ISSUES
The sound suffers a lack of envelopment which occurs from having a tactile thump to the bass. Large phones which cover the entire ear make a nice chamber that can pump your head with the driver, not just deliver the sound, and that tactile feeling gives a sense of physicality to the sound as a subwoofer will. THE BASS IS THERE, but it is not boosted or emphasised as much as some other headphones. It will create all of the bass sounds, but will not kick you when it does. It sounds natural, and will lend value to classical music styles which do not ride the low end as much as pop, rock, or hiphop.


=== SOUND CLARITY
The one thing that will sell me on this headphone over others in its price range is the clarity. I cannot say enough how crystal clear the sound is. Because the phone uses a smaller driver than others, the response to many different sounds is very sharp, and you will be able to hear new details in music that you have listened to for years.

The sound clarity is so good that I could discern the effect that encoding had on my MP3s (Most of mine are 192 or 256kbps and clearly showed the MP3 effect), and franticly searched for very high quality MP3 encodings and uncompressed CD audio to test these things out on. There are other drawbacks, but as far as sound clarity is concerned, these phones deliver hands down. One downside, you may end up hating music you previously loved due to being able to hear quality differences so well. If all you have is 128kbps MP3s on your IPOD, perhaps a different headphone is for you. Test drive on a professionally mastered CD or phonograph and enjoy!

You will notice easily the crap sound quality on your cheap portable CD player amplifier at the top volume settings and that bass boost switch will never be touched again.


=== SOUND VOLUME
While the small driver helps out the clairity by miles, it is not BEST on volume. Please note that if you are using a headphone in the $20 to $40 range, these will go louder EASILY. In fact, plugged into most portable devices, these will not distort at the top volume setting.

With a good amplifier, such as a computer sound card or hi-fi amp, the peak level is lower than other headphones in the $150 price range. I compared a Sony MDR V700 headphone which cranked WAYYYYYY up without distortion. These distort about at the area that the loudness becomes uncomfortable, and beyond the level at which ear damage occurs, so despite not going as loud as other headphones, you are doing yourself damage to be listening to these louder than the level they begin to distort at.

These headphones are rated at 106 dB, and the Sonys at 106 dB. There a different sounds of "Loud" though, and due resting against the ear rather than surrounding it as well as the driver size, the Senheisser "Loud" feels smaller than the Sony.

These will go well loud enough to overpower any plane trip or typical "noisy space".

In terms of resistance, these "Sound" about as loud as your average consumer headphones off of the same amount of power. By this I mean that on a cheap CD player with a weak amplifier, these will still sound loud enough. Some higher end headphones require more power to drive them, so on less powerful electronics you would have to supply a headphone amplifier in order to get the volume you need.


=== FINAL RECOMENDATIONS
These really depend on the way you plan on using them.

If you DJ or need a ton of sheer volume, these will not give it to you. If you are wanting headphones to sound great on Techno or Hip-Hop style, bass, try the Sony MDRV700DJ headphones.

If you are all about sound quality, these are the best thing I can recommend for the $100 - $150 price range. Music styles which have complex instrumentation, many sounds mixed together, and professional mixing and mastering will sound beautiful on these phones.

The battery pack is troublesome and the cord is shorter than most phones at this price range.

The design seems light but solid, so these are good only if you plan on taking care of your headphones and making sure they do not get stepped on, sat on etc. If you take care of these, they should last many years. Senheisser offers a 2 year warrenty as well.


Recommend this product? Yes

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