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Looking for quality wireless noise cancellation headphones? Sennheiser PXC 550 is your answer

The bonus: You can even adjust the level of active noise cancelling.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Aug 18, 2016, 04.05 PM IST
The big bonus in the PXC 550 compared to others is that you can adjust the level of active noise cancelling.
The big bonus in the PXC 550 compared to others is that you can adjust the level of active noise cancelling.
When you think of active noise cancelling headphones, the first name that comes to mind is Bose -their recent QuietComfort 35 (`29,363) is the current flagship and the first wireless one with active noise cancelling. In a recent review, we praised the battery life (15 hours +), superior noise cancelling and comfort over 6 hours of continuous use. Sennheiser is now keen to beat Bose at this game and their product is the PXC 550.

Headphones with active noise cancelling (we'll refer to this as ANC for the purpose of brevity) are popular with frequent fliers and anyone who needs a bit of peace and quiet in a noisy environment. The technology is fascinating too -multiple microphones on the outside of the headphones constantly monitor the direction, volume and frequency of ambient sound -the speakers themselves produce a sound that is directly opposite in phase, hence `cancelling out' or at least greatly reducing the intensity of the sound. The added bonus of ANC is that you can hear your music a lot clearer too, minus the disturbances. Sennheiser calls their ANC technology NoiseGard.

Early ANC designs produced a significant vacuum or pressurised feeling (and sometimes, a mild electronic humming) in the ears when the ANC was switched on. Some users (including this reviewer) found the feeling a bit unsettling and not at all comfortable for long durations. The technology has improved a great deal and this pressurised feeling has reduced. It's a feeling of wonder -to put on the headphones and suddenly feel as if you're in a soundproof room! We found the PXC 550 to be very effective with traffic noise, machinery noises and the constant hum of airplane engines. The big bonus in the PXC 550 compared to others is that you can adjust the level of ANC -through a hardware slider on the side (off, 50% and 100%) and via the app (more on this later).

The sound quality is stellar -the clear, distinct lows and highs will delight you. (Image:

They have an around-the-ear design with soft, padded earcups for comfort. The headband is also nicely padded. Splashes of brushed metal reassure you about the durability. The folding design fits neatly into the travel case. Included in the box is a micro USB cable (charging), 3.5 to 6.5mm adapter (for some home audio equipment), dual pin airplane adapter and a cable with standard 3.5mm jack when you want a wired connection. They have NFC for quick pairing too but the highlight is the touch-enabled controls: swipe up or down on the right earcup to adjust volume, backwards and forwards for previous or next track and tap to playpause. A cool feature is the pass-through: double tap the tou ch sensitive are a on the earcup and it switches o f f NoiseGard so that you can hear everything clearly -like when an announcement is being made.

Download the CapTune app on your device and you'll be able to play songs from your music library through it, fine tune the sound to your liking, switch on-off audio prompts, finely tune the level of tune the level of ANC, adjust various other settings and see remain ing battery life.

The sound quality is stellar -the clear, distinct lows and highs will delight you.

It's a little bass heavy at times (which some may like). Bluetooth range is fantastic and they connect very quickly to a paired device. Battery life is a solid 25 hours, even with NoiseGard on.This easily trumps the 15+ hours on the QC35. The only thing we didn't like much was the onoff switch -it is built into the twist mechanism of the earcup. When twisted and placed flat for storage, they switch off but switch on when you straighten them. This means they can also get left on (and connect to the phone when you don't want them to).

Since this will obviously go head-to-head with the Bose, we can't help but feel that it should have been priced a tad lower. The brand recall for Bose in ANC headphones is high and a lower price would help offset some of that recall. Having said that, you can't argue with the feature set on offer. The PXC 550 should definitely be at the top of your list if you're looking for quality wireless ANC headphones.
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