Sennheiser's PXC 300 noise-cancelling headphones boast the latest refinement of the brand's NoiseGard Advance hushing technology. The travel-friendly headphones also offer featherweight comfort, fold flat for easy storage in the supplied soft travel case and come with batteries and airline audio adaptors. The PXC 300s retail for £130, though online pricing hovers at less than £110.
At first glance, the Sennheiser PXC 300s look like upscale Walkman-style headphones, but closer examination reveals them to have an impressively durable design. The earpieces are 44mm in diameter, so they can't completely cover your ears, but the PXC 300s' extraplush leatherette ear cushions blocked out a significant level of noise on their own. They exerted a fair amount of pressure on our ears, but we found them extremely comfortable, even in hot weather. The headphones employ Sennheiser's proprietary, spiral-embossed Duofol diaphragms and bass-tube technology for improved sound quality.
Sennheiser claims its latest NoiseGard Advance system eliminates the electronics' inherent background noise -- we heard a very low-level hiss in quiet locations, but in the noisy world this hiss was inaudible. Sennheiser also claims the PXC 300s reduce susceptibility to interference from mobile phones and other radio-frequency sources, and we experienced no disturbances. The PXC 300s' noise-cancelling circuitry and two AAA batteries are housed in a separate 133mm-long, black plastic tube, fitted with a metal belt clip. Sennheiser states the batteries should provide up to 80 hours of service, though you can still enjoy music over the PXC 300s even if you don't have a spare set of AAAs to hand -- you just won't get the noise-cancelling capability if you have no batteries. The cable running from the headphone and the battery case is 1.4m long -- it's fitted with a 3.5mm stereo plug compatible with virtually all portables, and you get a 6.3mm adapter for home use.
Sennheiser also offers a less expensive alternative, the PXC 150s (£70), which forgo some of the PXC 300s' design features. They won't play as loud and produce more limited bass response, but the noise-cancelling abilities are identical.
We evaluated the Sennheiser PXC 300s' noise-cancelling (NC) performance on public transport. The din reduction wasn't up to the standards set by full-size headphones that completely enclose the ears, but it definitely isn't far off. Engaging the NC circuitry significantly boosted the PXC 300s' volume level and accentuated the mid-range frequencies, which heightened the apparent NC effect. That volume gain was also appreciated because the PXC 300 wouldn't play particularly loud with our iPod. Sound quality was above average, with good bass power and definition. The PXC 300s, like many other noise-cancelling headphones, produce acoustic pressure on the eardrums. Listeners sensitive to this effect may find it mildly uncomfortable.
We compared the Sennheiser PXC 300s with one of our favourite NC models, AKG's K28 NCs (£91). The Sennheiser's sound was clearly more detailed with superior bass definition, but the AKG produced more bass and could play a lot louder than the PXC 300s. Noise-cancelling abilities on both headphones were excellent.
Edited by Jasmine France
Additional editing by Kate Macefield