CES 2011 CoverageBosco - January 7, 2011
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This year at CES 2011, Sennheiser impressed us with a lot of new product lines for us audiophiles. These lineups include gaming headsets, lifestyle headphones and a group of highly comfortable, noise-canceling units. Each lineup offers the exceptional sound and build quality inherent in Sennheiser's name, though each are geared toward different markets. Gaming headsets, obviously, are geared for portability, optional surround sound, and built-in microphones for in-game communication. The lifestyle headphones offer the best sound quality out of all the other units, ideal for audiophiles. Lastly, the travel headphones utilize an over-the-ear, noise-canceling design that are lightweight and extremely comfortable.
The gaming headsets, also known as Sennheiser's "PC" series, include the PC360, PC333D, and the PC163D. The D in the last two model names indicate that they are equipped with Dolby Digital 7.1 surround sound virtualization. The PC360 is the top of the line model in this line, and features a noise-canceling microphone that is auto-muting when the boom is flipped back upwards. The open air design is very comfortable for long gaming sessions and offers loads of airflow to keep the user cool.
The next model down, the PC333D, is a great choice for FPS enthusiasts. The Dolby Digital 7.1 surround sound virtualization offers a huge advantage to the experienced gamer as the ears can register crucial sounds such as footsteps and the direction that they are moving. The PC333D also offers a hinge on each earcup that allows one side to swivel upwards so that the user can talk to people around them. These headphones also have the microphone muting feature when the boom is raised. The final displayed model in the "PC" series is the PC163D, which offers the same features as the PC333D, with the exception of the swiveling earcups and the auto-muting microphone. Each model has an MSRP of $299, $239 and $209 respectively.
The next line of headphones we explored were Sennheiser's ultra high-end audiophile headphones. These units are for the user who places an extreme importance on sound quality for music and theater experiences. Two models we checked out today were the HD650 and HD598, which both use an over-the-ear, circumaural design. The HD650s offer sound pressure levels (SPL) of up to 115dB with a total harmonic distortion (THD) of less than 0.05% and an impedance of 300 ohms. The HD598 offers similar performance, with SPL of up to 112dB, a THD of less than 0.1%, and an impedance of only 50 ohms. These models retail for $649 and $329, respectively.
A short step down from the previous two models are the HD558 and HD518. These units are available at a much lower cost and offer similar, stunning performance. The frequency response of these lower end units are comparable to the higher end HD650 and HD598, but have an increased THD at less than 0.2%, an SPL of 112dB for the HD558 and only 108dB for the HD518. These units retail at $249 and $179 for the HD558 and HD518, respectively.
The last group of headphones we checked out were Sennheiser's travel line, which are the MM550 and the PXC360BT. These headphones offer extreme comfortability for long flights and other extended periods of usage, complete with a high end, active noise-canceling system. They can either be used wirelessly or wired to any device with a standard audio port or through Bluetooth. The noise-canceling system is able to reduce ambient noise by up to 23dB and can be switched off on the fly. The MM550 headphones feature a set of external microphones that can be switched on, known as the TalkThrough system, which allows the user to clearly hear a neighbor or cabin crew without having to remove the headphones. The MM550 retails for $649 and the PXC360BT for $589.