Editor's note: the PXC 310s come in two flavours: one with Bluetooth connectivity and one without. Our review unit was the basic model with wired connectivity only.
Come with me, come fly, let's fly away! Persistent passengers of aircraft know that a good set of noise-cancelling headphones aren't just a traveller's luxury, they are an absolute necessity. The drone of aircraft noise is maddening after several hours, and worse still, will likely drown out the laugh track of those old re-runs you're trying to watch on the in-flight entertainment system.
The PXC 310 is what Sennhesier describes as mini-headphones. It is an over-the-ear design and while the cups will likely cover your ears, they wont envelope them the way larger cans do — like the HD 800s. The inner lining of the PXC 310 has a comfortable pleather covering, so we found these headphones didn't heat up our ears too much even after several hours of wearing them.
All of the headphone controls are on the outer face of the right-hand ear cup — the one that looks like a cross-hair inside a sniper rifle's scope. The centre button powers the 'phones on and off and the surrounding buttons control audio: up and down for volume, left and right for track selection. The left-hand ear cup is home to a small, removable Lithium-polymer battery pack, with a micro-USB slot for charging.
The PXC 310 is collapsible too, meaning you can fold it into quite a small package and carry it about with the supplied travel baggie. The cable length is 1.4 metres and the headphones come with a 6.35mm stereo and a double 3.5mm adapter for use with in-flight entertainment systems.
As with most other personal audio products, the feature's list for the PXC 310 reads like a Gen-X marketer's fever dream, full of catchy buzz words and made-up jargon, so we'll do our best to interpret. For starters, the PXC 310 features Sennheiser NoiseGard 2.0 (you put the "u" in NoiseGard) which is the company's take on noise-cancellation technology that it believes cancels up to 90 per cent of environmental noise. This is great on planes and trains, but it's also fantastic in a busy office environment if you find you struggle to concentrate when surrounded by your colleagues.
Another handy feature is called TalkThrough, which allows a specific environmental sound to come through the noise cancellation; a person speaking directly to you, for example. This is another handy in-flight feature for when those lovely attendants offer you more sweet nectar of the vines. People who choose the Bluetooth version of the PXC 310s can expect Bluetooth 2.1 compatibility with A2DP stereo Bluetooth recognition for streaming music wirelessly from your phone or MP3 player.
Often our testing of headphones is limited to music and videos within the confines of our peaceful testing labs, but with the PXC 310 we actually had the opportunity to really put it through its paces on a long-haul flight. The first thing we can attest to with gusto is that the noise cancellation was exactly what we needed it to be. It's hard to judge silence in percentage gradients, but we'd say the 90 per cent estimate is probably about right.
This meant that during the flight the movies we watched were not only audible, but the soundtracks were positively booming at the highest volumes. Transformers 2: the Revenge of the Fallen roared to life through the PXC 310's; the explosions were pounding, the metal whizzing and the controversial, racially-stereotypical transformer voice-acting all too clear.
Music also sounds great through these cans, with what we found to be an even mixture across the bass, mids and high frequencies. The sound is rich and not remotely tinny, and seems to perform well regardless of the style of music we listened to.