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Here Are Some Other Headphones
There are plenty of great headphones that are $350 and below. The Sony 1000XM2, Bose QC35 Series 2 and the beats studio 3.... That last one was a joke. But sometimes you just want something nice. You might just want better materials or you just might want better sound. And if you go up market a little bit then the Sennheiser HD1, Bowers And Wilkins PX and the recently released Bang and Oulfsen H9i are some popular options. This is the premium headphone show down.
Just so we're clear, this isn't a full review on either of these headphones... I'm just pointing out the most important differences between them so I can help you with your purchase decision. If you want to learn more about either of these headphones then watch their full reviews. The Bowers and Wilkins PX currently retails for $399.99 and they were released in the fall of 2017. They are also the most affordable headphones in this line up. The Sennheiser HD1 retails for $499.99 and they are the oldest headphones here. Now I decided to go with the HD1's over the Sennheiser PXC 550 cause I feel those should be compare to the Sony 1000XM2 and Bose QC35. And then there's the Bang And Olufsen H9i which also retails for $499.99 and were released in January 2018. If you want to pick either of these headphones up I'll have links in the description below and if you use the links it really helps out the channel.
Ok, let's get some simple but important stuff out of the way first. Both the PX and H9i have a USB c port for charging while the HD1 has a micro USB port cause remember, they are the oldest headphones here. And All three of these headphones can be connected to two devices at the same time. So life is a little easier if you constantly switch from your phone to your computer on a regular basis like I do. All of these headphones have a wireless range of about 30 feet, but I noticed the wireless connection on the HD1 was the least stable. It would stutter from time to time and the connection would be even less stable with a single wall between the headphones and my phone. Where as the PX and H9i didn't suffer from these problems. But if you wanted to use these headphones with a wired connection both the H9i and Px have easily accessible 3.5 millimeter audio jacks. While the HD1 has a not so easy to reach 2.5 millimeter audio jack. So finding a replacement or better quality audio cable for the HD1 will be a little harder for the audiophiles out there that still prefer to use a wired connection.
OK lets talk about these headphones materials and design. Lets start with my least favorite, the Sennheiser HD1. With the HD1’s you get a leather headband with very little padding, a stainless steel frame, plastic ear cup covers, and leather ear pads. I know design is subjective, but I just don’t like how the HD1’s look. Gordon Ramsey might say they look rustic, but to me they look like prototypes. The Bowers and Wilkins PX also have a stainless steel frame, a tight fabric weave covering the ear cups and head band, and leather on its ear pads and underneath the headband. And if you do decide to pick up the PX keep in mind the leather does need a bit of a break in period. And the H9i’s have cow hide leather on their headband, a brushed aluminum frame, fabric underneath their headband and lamb skin leather on their ear pads. I think the H9i’s are the most premium feeling headphones here, but I think the PX are the best looking headphones here. The only thing I don’t like are those random cylinders on the frame.
Comfort is very important to take into consideration when choosing headphones and plainly said the PX are the least comfortable headphones here. I have to give myself a pep talk every time I put the PX on. They have a lot of clapping force so they are not big head friendly. They also weigh the most here coming in at 335 grams. The HD1’s are the lightest headphones here weighing in at 260 grams. They fit just fine, but I always feel like they are going to fall off for some reason. The ear cups on the HD1’s also apply some pressure on the top portion of your ear which is something I’ve never felt before with other headphones I’ve tested. I also notice that every few minutes I have to go and readjust the ear cups on the HD1. And the ear pads on the HD1’s heat up the fastest here. The H9i’s weigh in at 290 grams and I feel they are the most comfortable headphones here. The ear cups apply even pressure and I genuinely forget they are there some times.
The only draw back on the H9i are the low profile circular ear cups. If you have bigger ears then your ears might feel a little cramped or the bottom portion of the padding might rest on your ear lobes. The padding does rest on my ear lobes, but I don’t notice it after a few minutes. The PX and HD1’s have oval ear cups so they do a better job of encasing your ears and they give your ears a lot of room. But the ear cups on the PX are much more spacious. But remember, the PX will only fit people with smaller heads.
Although the H9i are very comfortable they also have the worst battery life here. With ANC and bluetooth turned on they average 20 hours of playback time with the volume set at 50%. Under the same conditions the HD1’s average 23 hours of playback time. And the PX manages to squeeze out 24 hours of playback time. But with ANC turned off the H9i get about 24 hours of playback time and the PX get about 30 hours. And with the HD1’s you cant turn ANC off.
When it comes to noise cancelation on these headphones, they all perform differently. But none of them perform as well as the Sony 1000XM2, seriously if ANC is your top priority get the Sonys. The Sennheiser HD1 has the least amount of cabin pressure here… but it also has the worst performing ANC here. The ANC on the PX has a little more cabin pressure but it does manage to perform a little better as well. The ANC on the H9i has less cabin pressure than the PX but they also perform the best here. The ANC on all three of these headphones do a better job at blocking out constant sounds like road noise but they all struggle a bit when blocking out more random high pitched sounds like people talking.
But with the Bowers And Wilkins PX you can control how much noise cancelation you want. If you wanted to you can make them pump in all of the surrounding sounds while you’re playing music so if you’re walking around in a city you can still be aware of your surroundings. Its kind of like having open back headphones in the sense that you can hear both your music and the ambient sound.
Regarding sound quality, all three of these headphones sound really good, as they should. But they do have their minor differences. The Sennheiser HD1’s have more kick behind their bass and they have a little more emphasis on the treble. Vocalists are front and center with these headphones. The bowers and Wilkins PX are all about sound stage and they manage to have a very wide sound stage without sounding like you have your head in bucket. The lows resonate a lot and they will make your ears twitch but the PX do have a flat sound signature. So they don’t have a lot of kick in their bass. And then there are the Bang And Olufsen H9i, and I feel they are a bit on the warmer side. No matter how much I play around with their App I can never manage to bring the vocalists out as much as the HD1’s. You can also adjust their sound stage through their app but if you widen it too much then everything starts to sound muddled. They have more kick in their bass then the PX and the lows resonate as much as the PX, but you don’t get the same ear twitching effect like on the PX cause of the H9i’s cramped ear cups. The H9i’s are headphones I tend to listen at lower volumes when I’m getting work done. I think the PX has the best sound here but I still like to listen to the HD1’s when I just want to jam out.
But now lets talk about these headphones apps cause they are very different. Lets start with the HD1’s cause they don’t really have an app. Sennheiser recommends you use their Captune app but in 2018 its mostly useless. It doesn’t let you adjust any settings directly on the HD1’s like their ANC or EQ settings. If you play music through the Captune app you can adjust the EQ and that EQ setting will affect what ever device your phone is connected to. If I wanted to I could use Captune with the H9i’s. But Captune doesn’t work with any streaming services aside Tidal and what ever songs you have stored locally on your device. The PX’s app allows you to toggle noise cancelation on or off and you can adjust how much noise cancelation you want as well. And through the app you can also turn the built in proximity sensors on or off. But you cant adjust the EQ settings of the PX from here. And for the most part B&W’s app has remained unchanged since the PX launched. And then theres B&O’s app which allows you to control your EQ settings And thats pretty much it. But I just feel both of these apps should give you more control over your headphones like Sony’s app. You should be able to control your headphone’s EQ, ANC settings, and proximity sensors settings straight from their app.
Both the Bowers and Wilkins PX and Bang and Olufsen H9i have proximity sensors built in, so when you take your headphones off they’ll automatically pause your music. And then when you put them back they’ll start playing your music again. Now on the PX I keep this feature off because they will randomly start playing and putting your music sometimes. And its really annoying when you’re really into a song and then the music just stops. I have played around with the sensitivity and it still happens. But I also keep the Proximity sensors off on the H9i because I don’t want my headphones to start blaring music at max volume every time I put them on.
Both the H9i and PX also have features that allow you to talk to people without having to fully take your headphones off. On the H9i when you swipe up on the touchpad the headphones will pause your music and pump in all of the ambient sound. B&O calls this transparency mode… And this method is pretty sleek because both of your heads are free. And when you swipe up on the touch pad again the headphones will start playing music again. On the PX when you lift either of the ear cups they’ll pause your music, and when you put them back down they’ll start playing again. But B&W’s method isn’t as sleek cause one of your hands is full and in order for this feature to work you have to keep the proximity sensors turned on.
Next up are these headphone’s controls cause they are very different as well. All of these headphones let you control you music and adjust the volume. The H9i’s have a touch pad so you can also toggle your noise cancelation and transparency mode on and off. The touch pad works well but there are failed attempts here and there. The HD1’s have a toggle on its right ear cup and its very easy to find and very easy to control. No problems there. The PX has dedicated buttons and I love the way they feel. They look great, they’re easy to tell apart, and they have great tactile feed back. I just wish the center button had a little gnarling on them.
And finally here are some small but important features to take into consideration. If you haven’t noticed by now, the Sennheiser HD1 comes included with at I think is the best carrying case here. The PX and H9i just come with pouches. And the battery on the H9i is removable, so if you ever get to a point where the battery on the H9i cant hold a charge anymore you can simply replace the battery instead of just throwing out your $500 headphones.
Lets wrap this video up, even though I really do like how the Sennheiser HD1’s sound and how light weight they are… I don’t think they would be the investment right now in most cases. Im just not a fan of their design, and their ANC isn’t the best. I think the Bang And Olufsen H9i is the safest option here for most people. They sound great, they are extremely comfortable, their ANC is pretty good, and they have the most features here. But I think the Bowers and Wilkins PX are the best sounding headphones here. Their soundstage and sound quality is amazing. But their ANC isn’t that good, their proximity sensors are very finkiy, and again they aren’t the comfortable to wear. Thats why again, I feel the Bang and Olufsen H9i are the safest option here.