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I currently have an old pair of Bose noise canceling headphones, and I am in the market for a new set. I found out online that there are bluetooth noise canceling headphones, and Sennheiser is supposed to make a few excellent sets.


I am currently debating two of the sets. The two sets I am that I like are the PXC 360 BT and the MM 550.


I have been unable to find these two headphones in any local stores, so I am trying to make a decision based on Sennheiser's reputation and word of mouth I have found online.


Do any of you have experience with these sets?


Do they live up to their hype?


What is the difference in quality of the two sets?


Thanks in advance for any help I receive.
 

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I purchased both the PXC 450 and the MM 550 sets to see which I liked best and was planning to return one of them. My decision is still TBD but here are my observations so far:


Both sets -

* Highs get a little washed out when you turn on noise cancelation. Yes I have high standards but no I don't work at a mastering house. I think any astute amateur listener can hear the difference on cymbals and snare drums. Whether it will bother you or not is a different story. I have heard Bose and Audio Technica NC headphones and they have the same problem.


PCX 450 -

* Much larger. This makes them a little more comfortable but also more bulky. They do fold flat in the case, so still very travel-able.

* Solidly built all around - hard plastic, thick cable, well-designed connections to hold up to wear.

* Great sound for NCs, slightly washed out mids would be my main gripe.


MM 550 -

* Smaller footprint makes them a little tighter around the ears. Doesn't bother me but it might if you have big ears or are sensitive to pressure.

* Adequately built. They are lightyears ahead of the Bose Quietcomforts which feel like toys, but they definitely sacrifice a durability for compactness compared to the PXC 450. The cord is about 4x thinner as well - n/a for bluetooth use, but if you use it corded often I'm not sure how well it will hold up. Even the case is of lesser quality; it is a completely soft case as opposed to the 450 which holds its form, providing additional protection.

* Good sound over corded connection, but not as good as the PXC 450. Bass begins to fade around 45 Hz, whereas I could hear it all the way down to 20 Hz on the PXC 450. The mids and highs are also more washed out on the 550.

* Adequate sound over bluetooth. I don't use "adequate" in a disparaging way here. They are "good enough." Quality will vary depending on your source. I notice with my Macbook Pro that when I first turn them on the mids/highs are pretty crappy, and then within 10 seconds or so the quality improves. Bluetooth compression is audible on the high end.



To your question: MM 550 vs PXC 360 BT


The tradeoff here is as follows:


The PXC 360 BT has apt-x support for Bluetooth. You can Google for details, but the gist of it is that apt-x is a higher quality audio codec. If you have a high quality transmitter device that supports apt-x (a big if), then bluetooth on the PXC 360 should be much closer to a wired connection. Actually judging by the apt-x spec I would say it should be indistinguishable to most people, but I'm hesitant to go that far without doing real world tests.


The MM 550 does not have apt-x support, but has a built-in microphone that you can use for calls and Skype chats.


Personally I went with the MM 550 for three reasons:

1) Not all of my bluetooth devices support apt-x.

2) It's unclear whether apt-x will become a standard. Apple seems to be supporting it, so if you're an iDevice kind of guy it seems like a safe bet, but if you use Android devices and Thinkpad laptops, there are no guarantees unless you are willing to purchase separate bluetooth dongles from Sennheiser.

3) I skype very often, so having a built-in mic is useful.


That said, I am an Apple guy, and given the bluetooth quality issues, I may send these back for the PXC 360 BT.


Hope this is somewhat helpful if not too late; I'll try to remember to come back and post my final decision/findings.
 

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Question - I understand Apt-x is a codec that that compresses audio to so small that it can be easily transfered over bluetooth's limited bandwidth. There are both lossless and loss-ful version of Apt-x. But even the loss-ful is able to send 256kbps audio over bluetooth which is far more than mp3 is capable of.


So, question, how do I convert music collection to apt-x? And also, if music is already in mp3 then I am not really benefitting form converting into apt-x, right? Because mp3 music has already suffered loss. It'd be better to transcode non-compressed/non-mp3 music directly into apt-x. I am guessing the music extension would be something like filename.aptx
 
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