Headphones aren’t something I’m really interested in. I’ve got some Sennheiser HD600 for the studio, but that’s really just as a sanity check for certain recordings. They’re really good, detailed and natural but with headphones you’re always missing something. Depth and space mainly. Having speakers glued to your ears at 90 degrees isn’t the best way to listen to music. Or, not the music I chose to listen too.
I’ve been travelling longhall quite frequently in the last year or so, usually about twice per month so I needed a reasonable set of cans to use on the flight. The HD600s, as good as they are, do not suit travel. They are backless, so spill sound everywhere and offer no sound isolation at all. Plus they were expensive, so they stay at home. I had a cheap pair of HiFi Man RE-0 in ear things, but they died about a week ago after many years of abuse. They sounded peculiar anyway. Small tight bass, but a high end that stretched to the moon and back. Super detailed, but too fatiguing to use on 14 hour flights.
I’ve decided I need something small, over the ear, and with as much isolation as is feasible.
Previously I owned a set of Sennheiser HD25, which for that description quite well, however they were rather uncomfortable for me, and a bit bass heavy.
Currently my friend has given me a loan if his Bose QuietComfort 25. I’ve never used noise cancelling headphones before because I was under the impression they were more of a gimmick than anything else. I studied DSP quite extensively in university, and find it difficult to see how noise cancellation can be achieved without artifacts creeping in. Boy was I wrong!
The Bose sound good in a neutral, and unhyped type of way. However there is a magical switch on the side that when activated totally, and perfectly kills all ambient noise under ~800hz. For a plane, train or automobile, this is bliss.
I didn’t expect much to be honest, but after lisyening to how effective the noise cancellation is, I would find it difficult to go back to anything else. With the flick of a switch my noisy, rumbling flight has become serene. Music no longer fights against four Rolls Royce engines, or 100 mile per hour winds. Just click, pop, silence.
Yes, there’s still high frequency noise, and voice is still discernible but it is a profound improvement.
The Bose QuietComfort 25 are also extremely comfortable, lovely soft leather ear pads and easily adjustable headband.
Really, the only downside is the price, £270. You can buy better sounding phones for the price, but nothing has impressed me more than the silent switch. Shame I need to give them back really.