A Closer Look
As mentioned earlier, the ASUS Xonar Xense features an EMI shield to keep your audio as clean as possible. You’ll also notice that all connectors, even the plugs on the PC350 headphones, are gold plated. ASUS has really put a lot of time into this card and hasn’t taken any shortcuts whatsoever. The card does require additional power, so you will need to have an available 4-pin molex plug. Some people might concerned by the lack of ‘traditional’ soundcard 3.5mm (1/8″) jacks, although ASUS has cleverly fit all 4 jacks into a DVI-esque plug. The card comes with the appropriate adapter to make this possible, and it works seamlessly. Also, the TOSLINK and coax digital out have been merged into one jack. The center of the coax digital jack glows red, and you can insert the bundled TOSLINK adapter into the hole, then put your TOSLINK cable into the adapter, and voila, you have a multi-functioning port. These things might seem trivial, but it really respectable that ASUS was able to include 1/4″ jacks for headphones, mic and line-in, 7.1 channel analog out, and two types of digital output all in one confined space. No additional “front panel” or slots are needed.
The PC350 Xense edition headphones are super comfortable, I felt no discomfort whatsoever, even after wearing them for 4 or more hours. Also, the included mic has incredible clarity. It easily rivals $20 – $30 mics, if not slightly more expensive ones. There is a volume control and a mic on/off switch on the cord. These work as expected, however, the volume control doesn’t go all the way down to mute, it stops at about 10%. I found this kind of annoying since I’d have to mute or stop the audio on the computer, instead of being able to completely control it from the headphones. Also, the PC350 Xense edition will block out a lot, and I mean a lot of background noise. I was really surprised about how well they suppressed environmental sounds. I could barely hear my typing, mouse clicks, or people yelling in the background. Especially if you have the volume up a bit, you’re going to be locked in on the sound and nothing else around you.
I’ve been through some serious ups and downs with the Sennheiser PC350 Xense edition bundled headphones. There were days that I couldn’t stand them, and others when they were quite good. My final opinion of them is they are a true upper midrange set. In other words, not bad enough to be midrange, but not great enough to be a high end set. After my two week long experience, I’ve concluded that the Sennheiser PC350 Xense edition headphones have great mids, decent bass, but lack a lot of highs. These definitely aren’t the best headphones to listen to music (which I do a lot of), although they are great for games and movies. Both games and movies rely a lot on midrange sounds. You won’t always feel the “thump” of explosions because of the decent bass, but the bright mids will definitely make sure you know the size of the explosion. Also dialog in movies and games are really mid-based, so the PC350 Xense edition shine with dialog.