I fly a fair bit these days, so I’ve become pretty adept at having a particular kit. One of the most vital parts of my ensemble includes a pair of decent noise cancelling headphones. If you get the chance take a look around on your next domestic or international flight, there’s one brand that dominates the heads of seasoned travellers, that being Bose.
I purchased a set of Bose QuiteComfort 25’s a while back, a significant investment that I paid close to $500 for. But the trade-off is incredible, vacuum like noise cancelling, the best I’ve experienced. Although our editor Trevor Long says the Sony MDRX 1000 sit at the pinnacle these days. But mine blocks out cabin noise eerily well and places me in a comfortable, disruption free cocoon.
But given my 25’s is a couple of years old now they lack wireless connectivity, which was starting to give me the irrits. The problem was amplified when I switched to an iPhone X and the lack of 3.5mm jack. So, on the way to IFA 2018 and the 30 odd hours of flying I thought I’d go out on a limb and jump ship to Sennheiser and its HD 4.50BTNC headphones that we saw back at CES 2017.
These are substantially cheaper at around $280. The first noticeable difference between the two is simply their construction. The Bose feel more substantial with a robust construction and higher quality ear pads. On the other hand, the Sennheiser is lighter, more plasticky and generally flimsier.
But at this price point do they deliver acceptable performance? Well the answer is simply yes. Using NoiseGard technology they eliminate a reasonable amount of ambient noise. Keep in mind no noise cancelling headphones can silence a screaming baby or even human speech. But the HD 4.50BTNC’s soften other background interference pretty effectively.
With a playlist pumping I was pretty happy with my new head friend, especially when it came to the quality of the sound itself. Sennheiser use 32mm drivers that deliver clear and detailed sound alongside convincing base that simply doesn’t distort.
Pairing is simple enough, even more so if you have an NFC enabled device that isn’t locked to just Apple products. I will say though that the actual buttons are a little hard to find via touch and feel. The track back and forward button is too small while the volume button is also a tad elusive. Annoying when you’re in the midst of a very long country hoping flight haze.
Battery life is excellent at around 19 hours with noise cancelling on or 25 hours when off, which you’d never do. You can go battery-free via a supplied detachable cable, but that kind of defeats the whole wireless thing.
Basically, I was pretty impressed with the HD 4.50BTNC’s but they did prove the saying ‘’you get what you pay for.” Eventually I ditched them and went back to my faithful Bose QuiteComfort 25’s. The reasoning being simple, they offer superior noise cancelling and are significantly more comfortable to wear.
But for those on a budget I think the Sennheiser’s sit perfectly in this particular space of the wireless headphone market.