Sennheiser PXC 550 Head­phones

Ex­pen­sive audio equip­ment, but does sound as ex­pen­sive as it should?

Micro Mart - - Con­tet­nts - David Hayward

Audio ex­perts Sennheiser’s new wire­less range of head­phones are de­signed with the se­ri­ous au­dio­phile in mind. These are ex­pen­sive, high-qual­ity head­phones with am­ple tech­nol­ogy used to en­sure the best in both com­fort and sound. But are they worth the cost?

The PXC 550 are the mid-range model out of the Sennheiser wire­less se­ries, with the Mo­men­tum and Ur­ban­ite se­ries fill­ing in the rest of the range. These over-ear head­phones are im­pres­sively de­signed, with am­ple cush­ion­ing on the head­band and the ear cups.

They’re quite sturdy too. With a com­bi­na­tion of high-qual­ity plas­tic and alu­minium used through­out, along with syn­thetic leather and a tough head­band ad­just­ment sec­tion, they’re sure to en­dure reg­u­lar use, as well as be­ing chucked in a bag when needed. A hard, cloth-cov­ered case is in­cluded too.

The de­sign is very min­i­mal­ist, with the ear cups sit­ting snug against the side of the head and of­fer­ing small, un­ob­tru­sive but­tons on the un­der­side of one of the cups. The de­sign of cups is a point of in­ter­est here, as they’re ovoid and fit around the shape of the ear more pre­cisely than con­ven­tional cir­cu­lar ear cups.

This fit­ted feel does won­ders for noise can­cel­la­tion, but Sennheiser has also in­cluded its own unique noise can­cel­la­tion tech­nol­ogy called NoiseGard Hy­brid, which ac­tively mea­sures the ex­ter­nal am­bi­ent en­vi­ron­ment noise lev­els and in­creases power to the anti­noise func­tion – which, ac­cord­ing to the blurb, will cre­ate a pha­sein­verted sound field to can­cel out any un­wanted noise. We’ll leave you to look up the de­tails re­gard­ing that.

As such, the PXC 550 does a won­der­ful job of im­mers­ing you in what­ever it is you’re lis­ten­ing to, be that games, movies or music. Hav­ing Blue­tooth 4.2 con­nec­tiv­ity means it’ll hap­pily talk to any of the de­vices cur­rently avail­able, and the built-in, in-line mi­cro­phone will al­low you interrupt the music to take any calls from the de­vice.

The right ear cup acts as a touch-sen­si­tive con­trol for the me­dia on the de­vice you’re con­nected to. So a ver­ti­cal swipe on the ear cup’s sur­face will al­ter the vol­ume lev­els, hor­i­zon­tal swipes move for­ward or back through tracks, and taps act as play and pause. You can even dou­ble-tap the rear of the ear cup to push ex­ter­nal/out­side noise through the head­phones, via the mi­cro­phone. That way you’re not likely to miss an an­nounce­ment on a train, for ex­am­ple.

There are plenty of other fea­tures that the PXC 550 boasts, such as pow­er­ing off sim­ply by fold­ing the ear cups flat, con­fig­ur­ing them to au­to­mat­i­cally pause when you take them off, and re­sume play­ing when they’re re­placed back over your ears. And the bat­tery is rated to last up to 30 hours off a sin­gle charge.

De­spite the im­pres­sive use of tech­nol­ogy, we weren’t all that moved by the sound qual­ity. While still ex­tremely good, we must ad­mit to hav­ing heard bet­ter sound re­pro­duc­tion from a gam­ing head­set that costs a frac­tion of the price the PXC 550 is sell­ing for. Don’t get us wrong – the sound qual­ity is cer­tainly very good, but it could be bet­ter.

Con­sid­er­ing this is a head­phone set that costs £329.99, we were ex­pect­ing some­thing quite re­mark­able. The noise can­cel­la­tion, and con­nec­tive tech­nol­ogy is great, but the re­sult is a slightly less than won­der­ful audio ex­pe­ri­ence for such ex­pen­sive head­phones. In short, if pos­si­ble, it’s best to test the Sennheiser PXC 550 be­fore com­mit­ting to a pur­chase.

Great use of tech­nol­ogy, but not so great sound qual­ity

There are tons of fea­tures, but the audio qual­ity isn’t as great as you’d ex­pect

The de­sign and qual­ity of the PXC 550 is as good as you can get

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