Sennheiser PXC 450 noise cancelling headphones review

Sennheiser PXC 450 noise cancelling headphones review

Frequent travellers spend a considerable amount of their time in planes, and if you are one of them, you will appreciate piece and quiet, which can be hard to achieve with the noise coming from a variety of sources.

Sitting mere metres from a bunch of jet engines is hardly quiet and if you have a particularly chatty neighbor on the plane, that doesn't help too. If he or she happens to  snore like a rhino in deep heat, well that is going to make your flight just perfect…

So what are your choices? Well you could use ear plugs, which are pretty effective but not everyone likes putting something synthetic inside their ears, and it certainly can get very uncomfortable if you are doing this for many hours.

You may also wish to enjoy a movie or two whilst in the skies and the usual headphones that are issued are leaky, letting in lots of noise and don't sound good either. You end up turning up the volume and still get way too much noise. All these add up to a tiring plane ride and if you need to conclude a business deal or attend a conference immediately after landing, you aren't in the best shape.

I have tried previous noise cancelling headphones, and Sennheiser has other offerings, such as the PXC 250, which was pretty good at lowering the noise floor, but they were open types and let in a lot of noise and the sound was serviceable at best.

I then moved onto isolation earpieces, and these did the job well, using tight fit as their main way of isolating you from the noise literally. They were lightweight, easy to carry and had very decent sound. However they become really noisy when the announcement came up, and after a long flight, your ears will feel sore with the earbuds inside.

I had been spying this PXC 450 for a while as a possible upgrade. They are closed, and have been reviewed to have good sound, effective noise cancelling and most importantly, a large comfy fit, which is important for someone with a big noggin like me.

So at my last landstop, I chanced upon a shop called KT Radio in Denmark of all places, and they offered a pair for 2399. After doing a little bargaining, the price fell to about 2100 Kronors. Minus 15% tax, the final price came down to about 300 USD$. Considering that the selling price on Amazon was about 399 USD$, that's not too shabby. BTW their SRP is around 5-600 US$.

Taking them through the paces on my long flight home, the first thing you realize, is how effective their noise cancellation is. The whole environment was much quieter, and if you were trying to catch a movie, the whole experience was really much better than the standard cans. If you wanted a nap, they were also very effective in getting rid of the engine noise.

However they won't drown out everything, and kiddie screams have a particularly eerie and annoying way of penetrating your cans.

Other than that, it was all good, and the sound quality was superb. It has already been mentioned that the bass is better without the NoiseGuard II on, but the bass was sufficient. I found that you should increase the volume of the cans to the maximum, then use the airplane source volume to control the volume for bass.

Voicing is good and unless you are an all out basshead, they will satisfy your audiophile demands.

When used as listening cans without the NoiseGuard, the sound quality was indeed very good. They go down to an amazing 8hz rating, and although you don't feel it like a subwoofer, they do a very credible job and can match cans around 2/3 their asking price.

Otherwise goodies are a Talk button, which allow you to hear the stewardess without removing the cans.

A single AAA battery is located in the can inside, unlike the cumbersome system used in the cheaper Senns. You can also use them without the battery or if they run out, by using the bypass mode.

The cable is removable and you can use them without the cables for noise cancellation.

How does it compare to the other  units? Well the ear buds are truly effective, but not everyone will like sticking things into their ears.

The PXC 450 sound good, are comfortable and if you can get them for a good price, they will be a boon for those long distance flights.

An important thing is fit. So try before you buy, as this will get you the best fit and comfort. Each one of us has a different noggin, and fit is very different from person to person.


Well they are expensive, and the cans, plus the carrying case take up a significant amount of space.  But if you can afford the space, and cost, they won't disappoint you.

The cable isn't too long, so if you plan on using it for hi fi.

Now to try them on a naggy woman ….

  • Adaptive baffle damping and patented Duofol™ diaphragm technology for pristine audio production.
  • Switchable NoiseGard™ 2.0 reduces ambient noise up to 90%.
  • Active/bypass mode for use as a noise cancelling or closed-back audiophile headphone.
  • Luxurious materials for long-lasting comfort and exceptional durability.
  • TalkThrough function for easy communication with the people around you while wearing the headphones.
  • Simple-to-use volume control integrated into the headphone.
  • Ideal for people on the move: comfortable, sturdy and foldable headphone design
  • Audio transmission always works – even in passive mode and without the batteries
  • Ideal for use with in-flight entertainment systems, MP3 players as well as home entertainment systems.
  • Single-sided, detachable cable and replaceable ear pads for extended operating life.
  • Comes with accessories: transport case, audio adapters (in-flight entertainment and ¼”), two AAA batteries
  • Built-tough with a 2 YEAR warranty!
  • Compatible (listen only) with latest generation of tablets
Delivery Includes
  • Transport Case
  • 2 Audio Adapter (In-flight-Entertainment and 6.3 mm)
  • PXC 450 high-end travel headphone
  • 2 AAA batteries


  1. I travel very extensively and actually found in-ears the best possible comprise. They are lightweight and take up almost no space. I think the type of insert makes a huge difference in comfort. If you use the sponge type rather than the rubber type it would make the "soreness" much less. As for the loudness during announcements, it can be simply solved with a $15 attenuator off ebay.

    For reference, I use a Westone UM2


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