A $300 set of headphones may be pricey but it could be the best purchase ever if it feels very comfortable, highly durable and meets your audio quality expectations. Even if newer products come out, you should have little to no reason to make another pricey investment. This means that good headphones age well and end up being better deals several years later as they come out cheaper. The Sennheiser CXC 700 headphones are a good example of this. They were announced way back in 2011 commanding a $320 price tag but received mixed reviews from critics. After several price drops throughout the years, the Sennheiser CXC 700 deserve a revisit.
Design and Comfort
Sennheiser isn’t a particularly flashy brand and often sticks to simple and safe designs. The Sennheiser CXC 700 headphones are no exception here with their all black design and subtle metallic accents on the earpieces. They don’t particularly look like a $300 set of headphones and that’s understandable since the extra premium goes to the underlying technologies. The packaging is quite inviting as it includes a carrying case with an instruction manual and quick start guide inside. Also in this case is a pair of small ear tips as well as a large pair in addition to the medium ear tips already installed in the earphones. If these ear tips get dirty, you can use the included cleaning tool to dislodge any ear wax or debris. Finally, you will find a quarter-inch adapter which is great for home stereos and an AAA battery to activate the noise cancellation feature. Outside of the carrying case is an airline adapter. You can put all of these components and the Sennheiser CXC 700 in the case and still have room for a compact media player such as an iPod Nano.
The Sennheiser CXC 700 headphones are specifically designed for noise isolation. The proper way to use them is to place them right on your ear canal, effectively blocking out the ambient noise. If you cannot achieve this, you may have to swap the ear tips with another size. Trying a different sized ear tip for one ear might help, too.
While the engineering of the earbuds is impressive, the main quality of the Sennheiser CXC 700 lies in the control unit. It is the bulkiest part of the earphones as it is the spot where you place the AAA battery. There is a clip so you can attach this to your shirt but the weight of this module makes the CXC 700 slightly less comfortable to use. On the upside, there is a volume control on the control unit that acts as a real slider so you don’t have to repeatedly press the buttons to raise or lower the volume. The total length of the cable is about 5 feet and it has a right angle 3.5mm plug at the end.
Even though ear-canal headphones do a great job in blocking out ambient noise, they may not seal the ear completely even if you tried all the 3 ear adapters. Sennheiser’s solution to this comes in the form of a feature called NoiseGard. It works by utilizing the microphones hidden in the ear modules of the Sennheiser CXC 700 headphones to detect ambient noise. The module inside the control panel then digitally removes that noise, explaining the need for a battery. NoiseGard comes with 3 different modes with 2 of them ideal for flights. It is best to just try each mode and stick to the one you are most comfortable with. This feature is entirely optional so even if you run out of battery or decide not to put one in, you can still enjoy your audio listening with the passive noise cancellation benefits. NoiseGard doesn’t do much to improve the audio quality, so turning it off doesn’t degrade the listening experience.
The same microphones are also used for the optional TalkThrough feature which you can enable to only cancel out the low frequency noises to make higher frequencies more prominent. It is best to enable this feature if you want to engage in a conversation with someone without removing the earphones.
The Sennheiser CXC 700 headphones score high marks in the audio quality department. The maximum volume level isn’t excessively loud but it should be enough to enjoy upbeat music without potentially damaging your hearing. Bass response is very good and clear although fans of overblown bass may have to look for a different brand. It is close to audiophile grade as with most Sennheiser products which means that other genres of music from country to classical sound very true to life.
The Sennheiser CXC 700 headphones are basically for the audiophile who wants to enjoy natural musical timbres without the ambient noise. Frequent travelers will like the Sennheiser CXC 700 headphones too since there are dedicated NoiseGard modes for flyers. Plus, you can buy them for under $200 these days, making them a killer deal. Just try them out first with the AAA battery installed to see if the bulkiness affects the overall experience.