Sennheiser PXC 250 Active Noise Canceling Headphones

by Scott on September 3, 2010

Sennheiser PXC 250 Active Noise Canceling Headphones

  • Active noise canceling for cutting out up to 25 dB of ambient noise
  • Fold-and-flip design allows for compact storage
  • Padded, closed earcups and adjustable headband
  • 6-foot, Kevlar-reinforced cord
  • Frequency response of 10 Hz – 21 kHz

With all the latest advances in digital music and sound fidelity, should you be using those headphones that came with your portable MP3 or CD player? Here’s a way to get the best possible sound – The Sennheiser Way. The Sennheiser PXC 250 is a closed, dynamic, supra-aural mini stereo headphone with NoiseGard active noise compensation (requires 2 AAA batteries). Due to their active and passive attenuation of ambient noise, they let you enjoy music even in noisy environments. The headphones are foldable and come with a convenient belt pouch, making them an ideal travel companion.

Rating: (out of 566 reviews)

List Price: $ 139.95

Price: $ 159.98

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Christopher Forbes August 29, 2010 at 6:00 am

Review by Christopher Forbes for Sennheiser PXC 250 Active Noise Canceling Headphones
I am looking forward with dread to four months of apartment renovations starting soon and I was looking for ways to keep my sanity during all the racket and mayhem. The idea of Noise Canceling headphones seemed just the ticket to help me keep from losing my mind. I tried the Bose, the Sony, and the Sennheiser in a comparative listening bout. Overall, I liked the Bose a little better than the Sennheiser, but not enough to justify the increased price. Both blew away the Sony, which just doesn’t sound that good and conducts too much movement noise up into the headphones. The Sennheiser are closed ear headphones, very lightweight and comfortable to wear unless you are exercising, where they tend to get a bit too hot. The snug fit of the earphones helps block out sound, even without the noise-canceling feature. But with the feature the amount of noise that is reduced or effectively canceled is remarkable. Most of the daily rumble of Manhattan is removed from your listening experience, though louder and sharper sounds still can be heard. The actual sound in the headphones is excellent, very clear, with a focused treble and a distortion free bass response. I tested the phones using a variety of music, orchestral, jazz, rock, and organ music. For my money, organ is the most difficult of instruments for headphones, as the rich bass frequencies almost always lead to distortion. Happily, the Sennsheimer phones were able to reproduce the massive sounds of Messiaen without mishap!As a final test I took my headphones on a street run last night. I picked out the quietest CD that I have, Morton Feldman’s Rothko Chapel, which never really gets above a whisper. Walking through Lincoln Center, which was crowded with concertgoers, I barely heard a thing. Walking down the street, there was an eerie sense of calm. I could hear car horns, and some other ambient noise, which I was glad of, since it could be dangerous otherwise, but the quiet and clarity of the Feldman was remarkable. The final test was a Subway ride. While I can’t say that the Subway ride was noise free, the headphones did a wonderful job of blocking all but the loudest noises. I didn’t even miss notes when the express train rumbled through my station.The design is a bit of a negative. As has been said, the battery pack is a bit bulky, though not so much as to really bother me. And the headphones do fold up nicely, making them a good compact option for travel. But the wires tangle easily, unlike the Bose. Hopefully, in future models, Sennheiser will find a way to improve this feature. Overall, I am extremely pleased with the performance of this product, and at the price point, it can’t be beat.

Jason Sekula August 29, 2010 at 6:06 am

Review by Jason Sekula for Sennheiser PXC 250 Active Noise Canceling Headphones
After many hours of online researching and trips to Ultimate Electronics, Circuit City, and a few other electronic stores I decided on this pair. Online customer reviews aside, I highly recommend a visit to the music store, electronics store, wherever. If you are going to spend a hundred dollars on anything try it out first. There is a huge diversity out there in ear cup size, sound, and build quality. I personally was looking for a good set of headphones that I could use on a plane. These more than exceeded my expectations for that purpose. If you are looking for a set to use in the office at your desk, these are not for you. You can get a better set at half the price. I’d recommend something with closed cups and passive noise reduction if your office is noisy. Most active cancellers don’t help with this problem. The same holds true for most other noisy environments. These actually work best with low frequency noise, i.e. the plane. I also tried them in our computer room which has blowers and stacks of servers humming along. They actually seem to reduce the noise there by approx 50-65%. I had a few coworkers try them out here to see what they felt and they agreed that they were excellent noise reducers. On the plane and with my personal dvd player I normally played the volume between 5 and 6. I watched several movies and the sound effects and speech were heard easily and clear. Before I had a 10$ set that you inserted into your ear. I had to play the same player at 10 and had a difficult time hearing some parts of the dialogue. With the Sennheisers I am able to comfortably wear them for hours at a time on the plane. The noise attenuation works so well you grow accustomed to it. After wearing these a few hours I took them off and couldn’t believe the difference.
Great low frequency noise reduction
Very comfortable, light on the ears and top of the head. They don’t pinch like a lot of others, or get hot
Sound quality above average
Cool carrying caseCons
Noise circuit wand can be an irritant, depends what you are doing. On the plane I didn’t have any issues.
100$ or more, they are kind of expensive and lack hard bass. For a hundred bucks I’d like it to do everything, which I guess is unrealistic.5 Stars, buy if you intend to use for travel

T. Bradley August 29, 2010 at 6:38 am

Review by T. Bradley for Sennheiser PXC 250 Active Noise Canceling Headphones
I bought these Sennheiser’s after reading a recent CNET review that rated them “best” in this price range at both noise cancelation and overall sound quality. I have now tried them both in my office area and also on a very long flight to Europe. Overall, I have been pleased with the sound quality – but only when the “noise cancel” mode is ON. If it is not ON then the bass is very much lacking. I also had a chance to do a direct compare of these Sennheisers to the original Bose version while on my flight. The Bose win hands down. No contest. Even with the Bose’s noise cancel feature OFF the Bose cut out more noise than the Sennheiser’s do while ON. I also compared them to a friend’s set of Aiwa noise cancel headphones – the Awia’s were also better at noise canceling than these Sennheisers but not as comfortable to wear on my head.
On a positive note, I will say that I could sleep with the Sennheiser’s on my head where it was a bit difficult to do this the Bose version on my head due to the bulky nature of the Bose. The Sennheiser’s also fold up nicely and fit into the carrying bag quite easily with minimal over all space in my carry on bag.
To summarize: If you want the best of breed noise canceling headphones keep looking and comparing with the Bose. If you want some decent headphones that cut maybe 1/4 – 1/3 noise, take up little space in your bag, and are reasonable comfortable then these Sennheiser’s will do.

Torrey Pines August 29, 2010 at 6:58 am

Review by Torrey Pines for Sennheiser PXC 250 Active Noise Canceling Headphones
I bought these headphones for a flight from Washington, D.C. nonstop to Tokyo. That’s 13.5 hours. I wore them almost the entire way and felt no discomfort from having worn them for hours on end. I even wore them when I didn’t have them attached to anything, just to reduce the noise from the sound of the engines. Sound is very good, especially with the noise reduction on. You never heard movies or music sound so good on a plane. I assume this would be true for trains and buses, as well. No, they don’t sound as good as my high-end Sennheiser headphones since a) the PXC250 is not closed, and b) they are smaller than the higher end headphones so that they travel well. I bought these for a purpose other than listening to music in my home (although I do occasionally since they are so convenient to use and the sound is very decent).I tried the Bose and they were not for me. Twice the price, larger, and less comfortable.At this price, especially, I’m very satisfied. They work well at both reducing ambient noise, are very comfortable, and produce an enjoyable sound. Highly recommended.

Peter Matthews August 29, 2010 at 7:35 am

Review by Peter Matthews for Sennheiser PXC 250 Active Noise Canceling Headphones
Went to Tweeter, looking for the Bose QC2. Turns out, Bose only sells their premium items directly – QC2, Wave, etc. Tweeter had the PXC250. The sales guy did not want to open them for me to try, so I bought with 30-day return. Not content with them, I went to a Bose Kiosk in a mall and bought the QC2’s, also on a 30-day return. The Kiosk was under an escalator, and the mall was busy – the headphones cut down that background substantially – a test similar to an airplane, I believe.

Over the next week, I did a few tests, mostly with a TV at moderate volume in the next room (my major interest other than travel). Both the Sennheiser and the Bose have their advantages, but both the sound quality and noise dampening are clearly better with the Bose. I took the Sennheiser back, and am keeping the Bose.

A year ago or so, I tried a $50 Aiwa pair – hiss and not much cancellation – took them back also. I suspect that anything less than the Sennheiser PXC250 is not worth considering. If small size and price are important, and TV noise is not, the Sennheiser may be a better value than the Bose. For me, the Bose is one star better than the Sennheiser, but not perfect.

Because you won’t find the Bose QC2 on Amazon, I give a point-by-point comparison:

Bose QC2: $300

folds flat into semi-hard case about twice the size

around the ear – better sound, but can get warm

no external wand, wire detaches

1 AAA in headphone, claimed 35-hr

excellent sound

no sound (music) when switched off

TV reduced without music, hardly heard with music

Sennheiser PXC250: $150 (less at Amazon)

folds flat into soft case about half the size

on the ear – inferior sound, but cooler

2 AAA in external wand (wire is captive?)

sound OK, but weak/no bass

diminished sound (music) when switched off

TV not reduced much without music, still intruded a little over music

UPDATE 7-12-2009:

Some time ago, I got two sets of Etymotic Research ER6i Isolator In-Ear Earphones (Black) with Shure PA910M Replacement Black Foam Sleeves (Medium) for Shure SE210, SE310, SE420, SE530 and SE530PTH Earphones, for when my wife and I need to travel light. They are acceptable, but I still prefer the Bose when I have room to carry them.

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