I picked up a set of Sennheiser PXC 450 NoiseGard headphones a few months ago in East Midlands airport. I’d been looking for a set of comfortable external headphones that I could use on longer flights. I finally got to try them out in anger on a flight to San Francisco on Friday.
They are very good. When you turn them on (they are powered by a small battery) the ambient noise in your surroundings just disappears. There is a very noticeable difference. The audio quality when using them is superb. I was able to hear very subtle background effects and vocals in the music I was listening to on the flight. The noise of the engines and wind were almost completely cancelled when using the headphones. When someone comes to talk to you, cabin staff for example, you just push a button on the right headphone and the music is cut and passthrough microphones allow you to have a normal conversation without taking the headphones off. I still have to get used to this and was constantly taking them off to talk to people.
They fold up flat and reasonably small and come in a nice carry case. This can be attached to a laptop bag handle and carried onto the flight as part of your hand baggage. Highly recommended. One note. If you adjust the volume when in voice passthrough mode it sets the music volume and ambient sound cancelling settings. If you do this you might think that these headphones are crap and don’t cancel external sound at all. I did this a while back by accident. If you have a set and you think they don’t work then this might be the reason. Get the manual out and reset them following the instructions. Then you’ll see they do work and are wonderful.