There are things that you don't really need, but they make everyday life much more comfortable: For our focus "It sparked" we try out the best gadgets for a more relaxed life - from nerds to normal people. To begin with, our author has six noise-canceling headphones competing against loud Berlin.
There are two phases in the life of music listeners: the time before noise canceling and the time after noise canceling. I was in the first phase so far. Although noise canceling headphones have been around for a long time, I have always ignored the technology. Just like the arguments of friends who raved about their new headphones that hide the outside world. Do I need that? No, I thought. Until now.
Since the neighboring apartment has been rented out via Airbnb and since I am no longer alone in my home office, but share a living room and study with my partner, I have decided to finally give noise-canceling headphones a chance. This text describes my search for the perfect model for me: it should be cordless, suppress outside noise as well as possible, still be comfortable after several hours of wear and of course sound good.
The author enjoys the calm in the city. © ZEIT ONLINE
I chose six models for this test. Dreidavon, the Bose Noise CancelingHeadphones 700 , the Sony WH-1000XM3 (so much too handy model names) and the SennheiserPXC 550-II are the current top models from the manufacturers. They currently cost around 270 euros in retail. Three other models, the Teufel Real Blue NC , the JBL Club 950NC and the Sennheiser 450BT , are available between 150 and 200 euros and are therefore among the upper middle class. I deliberately chose classic headphones for the test, and not in-ear headphones like the AppleAirPods Pro, which are now also available with noise canceling and are dealt with in another text.
Ergonomics and equipment
First of all, on the outside. What do the headphones look like and, more importantly, how do they sit on your head? The fact that I have been wearing mainly in-ear headphones for years is also due to the fact that, as spectacle wearers, classic temple headphones quickly press on my ear. The good news: because noise-canceling headphones are also designed for longer flights (all models have between 20 and 30 hours of battery life in Bluetooth mode, according to the manufacturer), they are amazingly convenient. At least compared to my previous headphones. All models weigh between 230 and 260 grams. Only the JBL 950NC weighs 370 grams and they are actually a bit too heavy for me in the long run and a little too tight.
Bose 700 © ZEIT ONLINE
The Bose 700 is completely different; They are not only light, but their look is particularly elegant and modern with their curved metal temples and barely recognizable control buttons. The Sennheiser PXC 550-II and the Sony WH-1000XM3 also feel good in the hand and on the head. In the cheaper Sennheiser 450BT and Teufel Real Blue NC, on the other hand, the plastic is more noticeable, but they also look robust and fit well, if not quite as perfectly as the more expensive versions.
However, the good fit of the PXC 550-II is clouded. Unlike the others, you don't turn it on or off with a button, but by turning the right ear cup on its hinge at a 90-degree angle. I found this cumbersome even after several days in the test because I accidentally issued it several times when I lost weight. There is also a deduction for charging them, like the Teufel Real Blue NC, with a micro USB cable, while all other models use the newer USB-C standard. I can easily charge them with my cell phone cable.
The PXC 550-II, however, makes up for this in that it is the only handset in the test that I could connect to my desktop PC via USB. For all other models, the USB connection is only for charging. To connect it to the PC, I first have to crawl under the table and plug the supplied (and in all cases very short) audio cable into the headphone jack. Laptops, on the other hand, of course, like smartphones, can be easily connected via Bluetooth.