Sennheiser hit a home run with their Momentum Series headphones and followed up their success by taking aim at the executive traveler market with the PXC 500. This sleek, wireless, noise-cancelling headphone seems fierce just looking at it but is it all looks and no substance?
Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless Headphone Review
Fresh out of the box, the Sennheiser PXC 550 over-ear headphone feels well built with comfort and quality being the overall focus. With noise-cancelling and wireless functions in a headphone, you’ll get the best results with a full charge first before use. Once the PXC 550 is charged, turning it on is as simple as unfolding the headphone into listening position. Sennheiser did away with the power button. Instead you’ll find that simply unfolding and putting on the headphone will turn the power on. Once power is engaged, the 550 begins pairing mode for Bluetooth 4.2 devices. It’s a very different yet simple design that will likely be the trend with more wireless headphones in the near future. The 550 also offers NFC (Near Field Communication) wireless pairing making it even more desirable for individuals with the latest NFC capable devices.
Once paired the Sennheiser PXC 550 wireless headphone has several listening modes and noise-cancelling options. The Effect Mode control button allows you to toggle between Club, Movie and Speech listening modes which enhance the sound depending on what kind of programming or music you’re listening to. The Noise Guard (aka noise-cancelling) switch has 3 positions. Off, Full Ambient Attenuation and Adaptive Ambient Attenuation. As with most noise-cancelling headphones, you can use the Noise Guard on the Sennheiser PXC 550 with or without music. Great for traveling on a noisy plane or train when you just want some peace and quiet. You probably won’t even hear the flight attendant ask if you want a refill of your drink. It’s that quiet.
Smartphone controls including volume, track advance, play/stop and making calls are all included within the headset via gestures. You may be familiar with gestures on newer laptops like Apple’s MacBook Air. Gestures are simply finger motions that allow you to access these controls without additional buttons, switches or remotes. Simply swiping up on the right earpiece will turn the volume up. Or tap and swipe forward to advance tracks. You’ll find all the gesture controls in the manual and they’re fairly sensible.
The comfort of the PXC 550 wireless headphone is quite nice. Lush black padding for the ears and headband make this headphone feel almost like a natural appendage. Definitely an intended effect for this headphone designed for the frequent flyer and world traveler.
Sennheiser has a great reputation for high-fidelity headphones and the PXC 550 don’t disappoint. The overall sound is smooth and crisp without pushing any of the crucial bandwidth too hard. The low frequencies are full and punchy making music robust and lively. The mids and highs are pristine and clear, just the way I like them.
Another great feature of the PXC 550 wireless headphone is Sennhiser’s new CapTune app for mobile devices. CapTune is for use with other Sennheiser headphones but seems best suited for the PXC 550 as you can create different listening profiles for any situation and can directly access your music library and even works well with the TIDAL music service. Although you don’t need CapTune to actually get full function from the PXC 550 you’d be crazy not to use it as it is very convenient simply for listening profiles alone. It’s available for both iPhone and Android phones.
The Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless Noise-Cancelling headphone is a powerhouse designed for premium Hi-Fi sound and comfort. A straight competitor to the Bose QuietComfort 35, the PXC 550 will definitely have the attention executive travelers looking to compare for themselves in the search for the best headphone. My only issue with this headphone is the gestures can be a bit tough to master at first and the interface is quite sensitive. In my opinion however, the 550 is a home run in terms of quality, features, comfort and premium sound. Definitely one of the best wireless over-ear noise-cancelling headphones I’ve tried.
SENNHEISER PXC 550 SPECIFICATIONS
Impedance: Active 490 Ohms / Passive 46 Ohms
Transducer principle: (Microphone) Dynamic Closed
Frequency response: (headphones) 17 – 23,000 Hz
Bluetooth Version: Bluetooth 4.2
Supported Profiles: Headset Profile (HSP) v.1.2 / Handsfree Profile (HFP) v.1.6 / Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP) v.1.3 / Device ID Profile (DIP) v.1.3
Sound pressure level: (SPL) 110 dB
THD, total harmonic distortion: <0.5% (1kH, 100dB)
Contact pressure: 3 N
Ear coupling: Circumaural
Charging time: 3 hours (full charge)
Pick-up pattern: 3-Mic Beamforming Array
Operating time: Up to 30 hours
Weight w/o cable: 227g