REVIEWED: Sennheiser CXC 700 noise cancelling earphones

A powerful sense of silence at 40,000ft makes these almost travel nirvana, but where’s the in-line iOS/Android controls?

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For TravGear’s money, there is only one pair of noise-cancelling earphones worth paying for – the Bose QuietComfort QC20 & QC20i acoustic noise cancelling earphones, which are now so well travelled they should have their own passport. Can the Sennheiser CXC 700 packs as much in the noise cancelling department?

Travel essential

If we had to go to a desert island with only one travel gadget, it would – if we had to flu there – be a pair of noise-cancelling headphones. We’ve reviewed many of the noise-cancelling headphones, from the zany Parrot Zik 2.0 and Philips Fidelio NC1 to the Plantronics BackBeat PRO and the B&O H8, but time has marched on; now we want tiny portable earphones that keep things quiet at 35,000ft..

14 hour battery

Powered by a single AAA battery in an in-line compartment, the CXC 700’s keep the NoiseGuard noise cancellation feature going for about 14 hours, which is a tad longer than most. While you’re swimming in silence, a talk-through option lets you quickly talk to the flight attendant, but there’s more here than a quick pause. Three kinds of noise cancellation are at play for different scenarios, though in our review only the XXX mode was any use in-flight. However, knowing which mode is live is slightly confusing and, worse, there are no controls for iOS or Android devices. When you’re snoozing or working on a plane, that’s annoying.

Hiss is a miss

If NoiseGuard is more or less effective when airborne (though still not as good as the Bose QuietComfort QC20 & QC20i acoustic noise cancelling earphones), music is not particularly impressive. It’s the hiss we blame; most NC earphones have some kind of hiss reminiscent of tinnitus, but on the CXC 700’s it does get in the way of music.

Over-engineered

However, for silence up in the air and as a nice alternative to a USB-charged pair (like the Bose), the CXC 700’s are a great, if needlessly complicated, option for the air. However, we’ll leave the leather zip-up case full of tips and adaptors at home; who needs all that stuff when travelling?

Price as reviewed: £199.99

Buy the Sennheiser CXC 700 noise cancelling earphones