NOISE CANCELING WIRELESS HEADPHONES FOR TRAVELERS

Both Sennheiser and AKG launched a brand spanking new headphone this summer inspired by people who love to travel. During a regular week, I’ll be listening for about six hours of music per day via my regular in-ear headphones. Being a bit of a music freak I was really curious to find out what both brands would bring to the table, and more importantly how and if it would improve my travel experience.  So in this head-to-head review, I’ll be comparing the Noise Cancelling Wireless Headphones from Sennheiser, codename: PXC 550 and AKG’s N60 NC. Expect comparison on packaging, design, sound, intuitivism, features and overall bang for your buck.

SENNHEISER PXC 550 – SPECIFICATIONS

AKG N60 NC – SPECIFICATIONS

Impedance: 46 ohms

Frequency Response: 17 Hz – 23,000 Hz

Sound Pressure Level (SPL):  110 dB

Operating Time: 30 Hours without ANC / 15 hours with ANC.

Battery Charging Time: 3 Hours

Weight: 227 g

Bluetooth: 4.2

*- ANC = Active Noise Cancelling

Impedance: 32 ohms

Frequency Response: 10 Hz – 22,000 Hz

Sound Pressure Level (SPL):  123 dB

Operating Time: 30 Hours without ANC / 15 hours with ANC

Battery Charging Time: 2 Hours

Weight: 150 g

Bluetooth: 4.0

*- ANC = Active Noise Cancelling

 

SENNHEISER PXC 550 – PACKAGING

AKG N60 NC – PACKAGING

The headphones come in a stylish black and blue colored box. Within the box, you’ll find a semi circular travel wallet in which you can transport the PXC 550.

Together with a micro USB charging cord, a detachable cable with a single button to answer and end calls or to pause and play music and of course a travel adapter.

AKG’s headphones arrive in a white, gray and blue colored box. In it, you’ll find a ‘travel pouch’ for when you need to stow away your N60 NC in your bag or suitcase.

Furthermore, you’ll find a micro USB charging cord, a travel adapter and a detachable cable for wired listening. The detachable cable does not have any buttons for volume control.

 

SENNHEISER PXC 550 – DESIGN

AKG N60 NC – DESIGN

The PXC 550 is constructed with premium leather on both the ear cups and headband.

The ear cups are ergonomically shaped as an oval and will fall over your ears, while simultaneously sealing of external sounds. Even without the noise canceling feature turned on, you immediately notice how well the cups block sounds.

The cushioning of the ear cups is very comfortable, as they are made of soft memory foam. The ear cups rotate both up-and-down, as left-to-right.

AKG N60 NC is an on-ear headphone, which means that the ear cups are slightly smaller than your own ears and fall on top of your ears instead of over them, as you’ll have with Sennheiser’s PXC 550.

The N60 NC is circular shaped, with stylish black and silver details. In the middle, AKG’s logo is featured in silver.

The headband is made out of faux leather, the fairly thick cushions rest comfortably on your ears. Although they look a bit fatty/poofy on your head at first.

SENNHEISER PXC 550 – SOUND

AKG N60 NC – SOUND

As these headphones are made for travelers, I’ve tested the quality of the noise canceling by booking a seat in the loudest part of the plane, during my 3 hours flight to Sicily. While continuously listening to music

To be honest I’m quite impressed. The sound of the plane engines was greatly diminished, so I didn’t have to adjust the volume to the maximum to drain out the noise.

Sound quality wise, the PXC 550’s provided me with an amazing amount of vocal and instrumental realism and details.

Even though the ear cups are very comfortable to wear, at the end of my flight they weren’t that comfortable as they were at the beginning of my flight.

The headphones maintained a great connection over Bluetooth even when I moved away from my paired device.  With no hearable quality loss or loss of the connection.

Overall the PXC is a great combination of comfortable ergonomics, intuitivism, performance, and sound.

The AKG N60 NC is a ‘Wireless First Class Noise Canceling Headphone – Tuned For Traveling’ so I put it to the test on my 20-hour flight to Tulum, Mexico and back.

What I really like about the N60 NC’s is that the sound is really vibrant, warm and clear. The built-in equalizer was actually to my satisfaction with every tune that I listened to.

The Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) works very well with the music on low volume in non-airplane locations. In the airplane, the headphones did need both Noise Cancelling and higher volume levels to drown out the roaring engines of the plane. This is for the most part due to the fact that the earpieces are ‘on-ears’ instead of over-ears.  But still, I walked out of my flight way more rested than I normally do, which had to do with less amount of noise my mind had to process I think.

Although the ear cups are made out of memory foam, a 20-hours flight is too long to continuously wear these without your ears getting sore and I even started to get a bit of a headache. Because of the constant pressure of the headphones on your ears and head. But I can imagine that for shorter flights this baby won’t cause you any of the above.

Furthermore, the headphones do from time to time lose quality of sound or even lose connection when walking away from the audio source.

In the end, I feel the N60 NC’s produce a good sound and warm sound and are especially well equipped for shorter flights.

SENNHEISER PXC 550 – FEATURES

AKG N60 NC – FEATURES

Turn on PXC 550 by unfolding the headphones in the normal ‘listening’ position. Other than that there is no power button.

One of the really cool features of the PXC 550 is that the right ear cup functions as a touch control surface, in which you can: skip songs by swiping left or right, control volume swiping up and down, take and decline calls, temporarily switch to ‘Talk through mode by tapping twice. This feature disables the noise cancellation, pauses the sound, and activates an external mic so you can listen to what is being said without the need of removing the headphones from your head.

Tapping on the touch surface does give an annoying ‘doenk’ sound and odds are you might accidentally brush the touch surface stopping, skipping or selecting another feature by accident.

There are a couple of buttons on the ear cups as well to control Noise Guard (Off, On, Adaptive) and Bluetooth (On/Off).

You can adjust your sound experience by downloading the Sennheiser ‘Captune’ app, in order to adjust the equalizer settings, sound guard intensity and control your music. Up to personalizing your sound experience by adjusting the equalizer to your preferred settings of bass, treble and midrange tones.

Listening to your PXC 550’s is possible when your battery is dead, with the provided cable.

Unfold the N60 NC’s and power on by manually switching the Bluetooth ‘rocker’ button to ‘on’.

If you want to adjust volume you can press the small ‘push’ buttons on the right earpiece. And if you want to hit the fast/forward button you’ll need to switch the buttons located at the bottom of the right earpiece. You need to memorize the location of the buttons, as you can’t see them.

They say a donkey never hits the same stone twice. Except for me then… So, what happened multiple times, is that I switched the phones off when I really wanted to skip to the next track. (The same type of button is used for the on/off switch and the forward / back button, and they’re located next to each other.) Which was pretty annoying and not could be more intuitively build.

So enough about the right earpiece, the left earpiece has a mini-USB port for charging and updating the firmware of your headphones. Plus a mini-jack port for wired listening, which is provided.

All and all the real advantage of this headphone is its size when folded to save precious space in your luggage or carry-on. Big like.

SENNHEISER PXC 550 – PROS & CONS

AKG N60 NC – PROS & CONS

Pros

  • Comfortable Over-Ear Cups for longer flights;
  • Intuitive Design & Touch Controls;
  • Great control over equalizers;
  • 15 Hours Battery Life with ANC on
  • Epic Active Noise Cancelling

Cons

  • Travel wallet is fairly large, not handy if you want to save space in your luggage;
  • Stylish, but a bit plain looking;
  • €100 more expensive than AKG N60 NC
Pros

  • Comfortable ear cups for shorter flights;
  • Compact and Fashionable Design;
  • 15 Hours Battery Life with ANC on;
  • Great Active Noise Cancelling;
  • Great Standard Equalizer;
  • €100 cheaper than Sennheiser’s PXC 550;

Cons

  • Initially confusion controls;
  • On-Ear ear cups get uncomfortable after 2+ hours.

SENNHEISER PXC 550 – PRICE

AKG N60 NC – PRICE

€399 at Coolblue€299 at Coolblue

THE VERDICT

Depending on your needs either of these two headphones will fit you better than the other. If you’re looking for a headphone that can safe space in your luggage, while it brings you peace and quiet. The AKG N60 NC wins it over the Sennheiser PXC 550’s. The travel wallet of the N60 is considerably smaller than the 550.

Because the Sennheiser ear cups fall over your ears, they’re a bit more comfortable to wear for continuous use and longer flights. Also they’re a bit better at excluding background noise when noise cancelling is off, for the same reason. But both headphones will improve your travel experience a lot, by blocking most of the  continuous environment noise, the noise of the engines and babies crying, will leave you better rested than usual.

Soundwise the Sennheiser is an audiophiles dream, because of the amount of control you get over the equalizers and the way your headphone sounds. On the other hand, the AKG N60 NC’s give a warm and vibrant sound from the start. Sennheiser  just gives you that little bit extra control over the sound.

The touch control surface of the PXC 550 are very intuitive, which fits wireless headphones best I believe. Since you can’t see which button you are pushing. I can imagine if you have fairly large hands the control surface improves your user experience a lot!

Design wise I personally like AKG’s N60 NC much better, than the Sennheiser PXC 550’s. The PXC silver and black design look neat and classy, but simple. The AKG N60 NC look like they’re more fashionable and premium. That would be the ones to grab if they have to complete my outfit.

 

Note: Sennheiser loaned the PXC 550’s to NotGoingHome for the purposes of this review. No other compensation was received. AKG provided the N60 NC as a part of this review, no other compensation was received.

There are some products that I like, and others I don’t like so much. It’s for you to decide which fits you personally. But for the sake of transparency: if you buy something through the links in this blog post, I do get a cut of the revenue. J