Wednesday, October 23, 2013

PSB M4U2: Almost Perfect Noise Canceling Headphones

I use to travel with the Seinheisser PXC 450, which was an excellent travel headset.  They were big, comfortable, and felt like you were wearing nothing at all.  The noise cancelling system worked great, and it had a talk-through button you could press so you could hear that outside world without taking the headset off at all (great for ordering food).  The plug could convert to a 8mm from a 3.5 to fit a stereo, and the case had room for 2 batteries, each lasting 12 hours.  If both batteries died you could still listen to music passively (unlike Bose).  In short, they were quite amazing.

Imagine my annoyance when they went missing.  I probably left it somewhere or it was taken, though I’d like to believe that my sibling took it back home to another country.  They were very nice, and I thought about getting the same one- afterall, it was still for sale.   Seinheisser has released “improved versions”, but the MX new ones with the talk through function are great, but they look like a space age headset.  It’s not really something I’d want to be seen in, as it didn’t look professional enough.  The PXC450 was perfect in this regard.

However, the price of those had not gone down.  What to do?  They are just as expensive.  Searching the internet, I found that one of the best noise cancelling headphones were from PSB, a Canadian company I had never heard of.  Hmmm.. how good could they be?  The reviews were stellar, and the sound was suppose to be amazing. 

Given that I needed  a new headset, I figured I might as well try a new one.  The talk -through function was there, and the best part was the microphone as well, so I could plug it in my computer on go on conference calls if I needed (the PXC does not have this).  Thought that was an added bonus that put me over the edge.

Finding this headphone at a good price was tough.  Couldn’t find London for a decent price, but was travelling in the USA, and found it in the music store in San Francisco. 

The sound of the PSB M2U is amazing.  My old MP3s sound richer, more amazing than every before.  Parts I didn’t know existed were now easily heard.  It really was sound paradise.  The speaker system (talk through) worked fine (though a bit confusing to use at first), and the speaker worked great for conference calls.  I didn’t like how it folded- the case was a bit too spherical for my liking (harder to put in a bag or suitcase- I liked the Seinheisser case because it was flat), but it came with extra ear muffs so I couldn’t complain (more value!).  Also the plug goes in both sides of the headset, so you can choose which side is more comfortable.  Design wise they really did give this device much thought. 

The only thing that annoys me to no end is there is no volume control.  Yes the Seinheisser had this, so I could control it no problem.  “Who cares?” you might ask.  Well I do- see the problem was that while normally I can control the volume on the device, on my British Airways flight back I wanted to watch a movie.  I plugged it in, but realized that the volume was too loud.  I then tried to lower the volume on the BA TV screen, and it went lower…. to the last bar.  Anything lower than that would render it mute, and I couldn’t hear a thing.  So I had the choice of hurting my ears to no end, or not hearing anything at all.  In the end I gave up and used the BA headset that allowed me to adjust the volume so I could watch the movie without killing my eardrums. 

In the end I have been quite happy with it, and would probably get it again given there are no good competitors at this price range.  I have searched high and low for a remote control that plugs in to adjust the volume (I’ve tried a belkin, some others, to no avail), and I wish PSB would release one.  For some reason its special and only certain plugs let the sound through, otherwise its just mute, I don’t know why.  But other than that, it is an excellent travel companion, and great for blocking out noise with or without music.  They are comfortable, and you don’t really want to take them off.  Did I mention the bag has a caribiner on it?  You can hang the headset up (not sure where, but hey maybe to your bag!)  So all that’s missing is the volume control, and then this device would be perfect. 

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