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Latest Sennheiser noise cancelling cans a worthy rival for Sony, Bose

These headphones are remarkably light, which makes travelling with them and wearing them for long periods much easier than with Sennheiser’s Momentum 3. I’m often struck with ear fatigue with some over-ear headphones, feeling both the weight of the headphones and a kind of claustrophobia from the noise cancellation, but the light, breathable design of the PXC 500ii allowed me to wear them all day.

Controls are built into the right cup, which acts as a touch sensitive trackpad. Swiping up or down adjusts the volume, forward and back to skip tracks. The controls are convenient and intuitive, and now industry standard, but I encountered more accidental swipes with these headphones than I did with the competition. Simply pulling the headphones down to rest around my neck would often skip forward or crank up the volume.


Still, I was impressed with the clever auto-off feature. To switch the headphones off, you can simply swivel the headphones as you would when wearing around your neck or stuffing them in a bag. The battery should last 30 hours on a single charge, even with noise cancelling active, and I was able to confirm that on a recent long haul flight.

Frustratingly Sennheiser is still using microUSB to charge, while the rest of the market has moved on to USB-C. You either don’t care about this, or it will be a deal breaker.

Overall, as much as I like the design, I’m still drawn back to recommending Sony’s WH-1000XM3. Bose and Sennheiser both make exceptional noise cancelling travel headphones, and you’ll be happy with either, but Sony continues to have the best balance of sound, weight, design and noise cancelling, and can often be found on sale for much less than the competition.

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