mmm well not often I get to play with a set of headphones that cost £275 (RRP), but Jamie very kindly loaned me a set of BOSE®: QuietComfort® 2 Acoustic Noise Cancelling® headphones for the day.
I’ve never had the chance to use noise cancelling ‘phones before, I have a set of closed cup Sennheiser HD 212 Pros, which are quite frankly a bargain for £30. The advantages of the closed cup design is that it does cut down on extraneous noise, and the HD212 is bassy, punchy and LOUD, they’re really studio/DJ phones, and I know friends of mine use them for that purpose. They also garner great reviews – just look around.
Putting on the Bose QC-2’s though was a bit of a revalation. Firstly they’re much prettier than my Sennheiser, and although I doubt they are any lighter are amazingly comfortable to wear (one of the great things about the HD212’s is I can wear them for 4 hours before I start to get uncomfortable). There’s no pass-through, so you can’t have them on with the noise-cancelling off, but when you put them on, the noise cancelling is obvious even in quiet environments. They don’t drive as hard as my HD212’s but they just don’t need to. Coming in this morning I noticed a few things, and once you get used to the slight disorientation of having part of your sensory spectrum removed you can really marvel at them.
What really gets cancelled out? Traffic noise was markedly reduced, to the point where I didn’t hear car engines, but heard the tyres on the wet road instead. Larger vehicle engine noises (much lower) were not damped as efficiently, but once on the bus I felt the bus, rather than heard it. They’re not as effective as cutting out the strong Geordie accents though as the HD212’s and my iPod on full! The metro journey was great though, I’ve never travelled to work in such quiet comfort, and once off the metro – I could hardly hear a single footstep as I walked to work. You do have to be careful crossing roads though – the normal hints about traffic do not apply when you just can’t hear it!
The sound reproduction is amazing, I went through some Ellen Allien, Akufen, K-Os and The Shins on the way to work – Akufen sounded like I’d never heard them before, and it makes me realise a) how bass heavy my HD212’s are and b) how muddy they actually sound when placed against something nearly 10x their price. I guess you pays your money etc.. The QC-2’s have amazing defintion across the range, although I do miss the volume and bass of the HD212’s, I guess that after a year of listening to them I’m rather fond of them.
What surprised me is how much difference they make in a quiet environment where you wouldn’t have thought there was much to damp out, but sitting here in my ‘quiet’ office, as soon as I put them on the voices outside the door disappear, the fan hum from the 2 PC’s is gone and the vacuum cleaner next door is silenced – this is true even at very low volumes. Even the clack of my fingers as I type this is significantly deadened – only the higher end frequencies leeching through.
Now if only I could afford a pair for myself!