On the product page of the XCS2 Active Noise Cancelling and Amplifier headphones on Solitude’s website, they claim that this model is “hands-down the best noise-canceling headphone on the market”.
Can this claim prove true compared to Bose’s industry leading QuietComfort series?
Solitude XCS Review
Design and Features
Solitude is manufactured by Solitude Design (formerly known as Outside the Box), a brand that specializes in noise blocking/cancelling headphones.
Design-wise, one thing that the Solitude XCS excels in is comfort. The padded cups and headband makes for a comfortable listening experience.
The look itself is a bit bulky, even when you take away the padding from the cups.
The left ear cup contains the on/off switch for noise cancellation, volume control, a light indicator and the jack for the detachable cable. Noise cancellation runs on AAA batteries, similar to other headphones like Bose’s QuietComfort 15 and Sony’s MDR-10RNC.
Features of the headphones include the following:
- Studio quality sound
- 40-hour battery life with two AAA batteries
- Airline Adapter Included
- Carrying Case
- Cable length: 4.6 ft. (1.4 m)
According to Solitude Design, the Solitude XCS is capable of muffling and hushing up to 18 decibels of outside ambient noise. This is enough for the hums of air conditioning units, the noise of traffic and of course the engine noise while flying.
In reality, the Solitude does an admirable job in reducing noise even in a busy train station, and even with noise cancelling turned on, you can still hear the PA announcements. Playing some music can help drown out any excess noise that the XCS is not able to filter out.
Is the Solitude XCS’s noise cancelling the best, as it claims to be on its product page? Unfortunately, it still falls short of the Bose Quietcomfort series and other leading headphones such as Sennheiser’s PXC 450.However it must be kept in mind the Solitude XCS headphones are about one-fourth the price of the Bose headphones.
No Solitude XCS2 Review would be complete without covering its drawbacks. A common problem among noise cancelling headphones is the presence of a hissing sound when noise cancelling is being used. Usually though, the hiss is so faint (but still noticeable) that it’s easy to get used to it.
The Solitude XCS’s hiss is noticeable when in a quiet environment but not so much when there’s ample ambient noise. Since there’s really no need to use noise cancelling in a relatively quiet room, the hiss can be forgiven.
In terms of audio quality, music played on a Solitude XCS sounds a bit flat. The bass doesn’t seem to go deep enough and the treble is not as crisp as the Bose or Sennhieser’s. When used for movie soundtracks however, the quality improves.
Are They Worth It?
When the Solitude XCS first came out, it retailed for $180 which made it one of the cheaper noise cancelling headphones that were looking to compete with Bose’s QuietComfort 25 and Sennheiser’s PXC 450.
At that price, the XCS was not a good substitute for Bose’s more expensive but superior QuietComfort series headphones.
The Bottom Line
Nowadays, you can purchase a Solitude XCS2 for less than $100 from Amazon. At this price, you’re getting a noise cancelling headphone that is significantly cheaper than the higher end models while maintaining decent noise cancelling quality.
If you’re an audiophile however, the audio quality may be too flat for your liking. Bottom line, you can’t beat the price for it’s good combination of noise cancellation and audio quality.
If you are looking for superior noise cancellation AND great audio quality, then you really should consider the Bose Quietcomfort 25’s.
Still undecided? Here is a handy comparison chart showing features of our top rated noise cancelling headphones.
Please see my Reviews of Top Rated Noise Cancelling Headphones
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