"excellent headphones and well worth the $300."4.5 starson by fcic
Pros: Extended highs and natural bass extension. Excellent resolution and soundstage presentation
Cons: midrange transparency can be improved
Summary: The noise-reduction benefits aside, these are overall excellent headphones any which way you cut it. From an audio perspective, (which by the way, I once wrote reviews for an high-end audio equipment journal), they rank among the top headphones on the market today. Trust me, I have bought and tested countless number of headphones. For comparison here, I will use my Shure E5c inner-ear headphones (costs $500), my Audio-Technica CM-7Ti ear-bud headphones (costs $300), and my $120K reference high-end stereo system with both Wilson Watt/Puppy VI and Martin-Logan loudspeakers. So how good are the Bose? Both the top-end and the low frequencies are very extended with excellent resolution, even when you compare it to my 120K reference system. In particular, the mid and lower bass (the area where the Shure E5c also does a god job but the Audio-Techica CM-7Ti is extremely lacking in)is very natural although it's a little too exagerated and could be tauter. Soundstage presentation is excellent and you could hear the placement of musicians clearly in good recordings. Where the Shure E5c presents a more intimate soundstage, the Bose are big sounding, and you could even hear the width and depth of the musical venues in good live recordings. But most importantly, the mid-range, where most of the life and energy of music is contained, is also natural but a touch laid-back and could be fuller. Comparatively, the Audio-Techica is forward sounding while the Shure E5c is the most natural and correct sonically. The Bose is also slightly lacking but not very noticeably when it comes to overall transparency, especially in vocal projection. Voices are natural but just slightly veiled when compared to the other three but still far, far superior to many other very good headphones you can buy out there. The tonal balance is a touch towards the dark side of neutral. Relatively speaking, the Shure E5c is the most neutral while the Audio-Techica CM-7Ti is on the bright side compared to my reference system. In the areas of rhythm and control, the other two headphones have better pace than the Bose, and this I suspect is caused by the fact that the active equalization in the Bose headphones does something to the timing of the music. Overall, Bose made an excellent headphone. No, the Shure E5c is still my overall reference as far as headphones is concerened, but they are more expensive then the Bose. The Bose does most things right and some things amazingly well, and with noise cancelling an added benefit, they are a steal at $300. Highly recommended.