Brenthaven Pro 17 & Bose Quite Comfort 2 Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Submitted by Scott:

The holiday season is over, and I have now had enough time to evaluate my new Powerbook-related toys, given to me as gifts. Here are my reviews….

Brenthaven Pro 17 case for 17″ Powerbook- This one was a gift from my wife. I have been using a slim-fit case for the PB. This case provided very good day-to-day protection for the PB. It is a very minimalist case, with decent padding for normal usage, but I wouldn’t want to consider what would happen if I accidentally dropped it while carrying the PB. Generally, I am already toting an attache-like satchel (what my wife calls my “man purse”) for my tools, music, papers, electronics, etc., my bassoon case, and usually some type of duffel for overnight stays. The philosophy behind the slim-fit is that it allows me to carry the PB, in addition to this other stuff, without getting in the way too much. The downside to this is that it is just one more thing for me to carry; I was beginning to feel like a pack animal.

Enter the Brenthaven case…. This case, at $179.00 US, is very pricey. I don’t think I would purchase it for myself, but it was perfect for a Christmas gift. The advantage to this case is that it provides consideration for everything that my older satchel handles (and then some), while at the same time giving the very best protection for the Powerbook. Let’s take a look:

Overview- The case is divided into roughly 3 sections; the front pocket, the PB case, and a rear attache (or “briefcase”), all of which have some type of padding. In addition to these “main” areas, there are 3 other pockets that can be used to store items. The material used for the case is top-quality nylon duck that should last for centuries. There are solid-core handles that I really like, and an adjustable shoulder strap. The strap has lots of extra length for adjustment, but I found the built-in padding to be very rough and stiff. It is slightly curved, though, so it fits over the shoulder very well.

Protection- Without resorting to a metal case, this is as good as it will get. The compartment for the PB contains a special “core.” This core is made of corrugated plastic panels lined with thick padding. Once inserted into this core, the PB is surrounded on all sides (and its perimeter) by this padding. There are even “flaps” of padding that cover the open end where the PB was inserted. This entire core fits into its own zippered compartment in the bag and is kept in place by 4 snaps on the front and back. As demonstrated in the video on the Brenthaven site, the bag is designed to protect the PB when dropped to the floor from chest height.

Storage- I’ll start at the front of the case and work my way back. Each compartment seems to be designed with a particular type of item in mind, and I have tried to work with that logic.

Bottom Front… This is a long, narrow pocket that is ideal for storing cables. I am using it for AC adapter cables (two of them).

Main Front… This one is somewhat smaller than the case, itself. It is configured as a “flap” that opens completely at the top, and partially at the sides, with extra material that allows the flap to “balloon out” when open. It has two zipper pulls. This is an “organizer” compartment, with interior pockets of varying shapes and sizes to accomodate just about any type of small electronics. My various bus cables (Firewire, USB, video, etc.) go to the bottom of this pocket, while the pockets hold: Airport Express Base Station, power adapter, mouse, blank CDs/DVDs, battery charger for digital camera, etc. Finally, my PDA and cell phone drop into this compartment.

Upper Front… Behind the main front pocket, with an opening above, is a smaller compartment that is perfect for storing CDs and DVDs. Its is just deep enough to accomodate these, with or without jewel cases, and it is wide enough to store two “rows.”

Powerbook… Behind the three front compartments is the opening for the Powerbook, itself. This one only opens at the top. When opened, the PB slides into the compartment, with the top “flaps” of cushioning slipping apart and out of the way. When it is then zippered closed, the top flaps are held in position over the PB, keeping it completely protected.

Rear “briefcase”… More organizer pockets here. This top-opening area is designed in the classic “attache” style with pockets, expansion panels, and dividers. It is more than adequate for storing all of my music, even over-sized parts and scores (always a concern for musicians). In addition to my music, this section contains and organizes my: Pens and pencils, schedules, reed-making tools, reed cases and accessories, etc. In short, everything I need for my “work.” There are two internal dividers, making it possible to segregate items into three distinct sections. This would be a perfect place for magazines, etc.

Back Pocket… Finally, there is a top-opening pocket at the back of the case for anything that doesn’t fit in any of the other areas. Since this pocket is not padded in any way, one must be careful in storing things here; anything that is not flat will affect the ergonomics of the case. While this area, too, would be a great place for printed material (magazines, etc.), I am using it to store the other item I will be reviewing, my new headphones. Since these come in their own padded case, I have found that storing them here presents no problems.

Bose Quite Comfort 2 Noise-Cancelling Headphones-

“WOW!” is what comes to mind. These were a gift from my parents. Again, I don’t think I would spend the $299.00 US on myself, but evidently my parents felt like splurging. These headphones come in their own padded, semi-rigid and zippered case, with an extra storage pocket inside for various adapters and cables. The headphone “cups” rotate flat for storage in this relatively flat case, and the inside of the case is molded to hold the headphones in place. Supplied accesories include adapters for various connections (airplane audio, for example), and an extension cable.

The headphone cable is removable, and the end that inserts into the headphones has a hi/lo attenuator switch to adjust the headphones for connection to various sources. I find this to be very useful. These headphones are designed to be used for noise reduction with or without an audio source. Having the ability to use them for noise reduction without bothering with the cable is very nice.

The noise reduction, itself, is quite good. Placing them on my head and turning them on, I get the impression that I have just “turned off the world.” If you have ever been in a recording studio and have experienced the muffling effect that the sound-deadening panels on the walls create, you have a good idea how these headphones sound when turned on. The noise-cancelling seems to be weighted toward the bottom end of the sound spectrum – perfect for busses or planes – but it leaves the mids alone and only slightly reduces the highs. The result of this is that speach still remains clear. Also, they are designed to reduce ambient noise only; transients still come through pretty well.

The quality of sound reproduction is second to none. I have a pair of AKG studio headphones that are quite old now, but they are still very, very fine headphones. If you go into a recording studio, these are the headphones that you will most likely find on the recording engineer’s head. The Bose QC 2s seem to me to be just as good as my old AKGs, in a package that is much more compact. In fact, they may even be slightly better (I’ll have to make a direct comparison at some point).

If you like your music, and especially if you travel a lot, I would highly recommend these headphones.

This review was first published on the old site in January 2006

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