Are Sennheiser PXC 550 Worth Buying?
Sennheiser is one of the most respected names in the headphones market. Audiophiles love Sennheiser and recommend them without a doubt. With PXC 550, Sennheiser is competing against the best of the best bluetooth, noise cancelling headphones.
Let’s see if they are worth it!
Often times, Sennheiser PXC 550 are compared to Bose QC35, a market-leader in noise cancelling bluetooth headphones. It would be a good idea to talk about Sennheiser PXC 550 relative to Bose QC35, if you are doubtful which ones to buy.
Design & Features
Sennheiser PXC 550 look rather simple with their egg-shaped black earcups and headband. However, the simpler looks must not be mistaken for poor design.
The use of black matte plastic on the earcups, bordered with metal band gives them a vintage yet very stylish look. They feel very durable and solid.
The design of earcups imitates human ears due to the oval but narrow-bottom shape. This makes them unique from the other headphones which are either round or oval.
All the controls are on the right earcup. Left earcup doesn’t have any controls. This obviously makes them easy to use, once you understand their position.
At the bottom part of the right earcup, you can find a 2.5 mm jack for wired music and a micro-USB charging port to charge the internal battery.
There is a button to switch between four equalizer options – Off, Movie, Club or Speech. Next to that, there is a three-position slider for controlling Noise cancellation (NC) labelled as NoiseGard, for three modes – On, Off or adaptive NC.
The surface of the right ear cup is a giant capacitive touch sensitive pad which allows you to control the music in a more intuitive way. I can easily see other manufacturers bringing this functionality into their headphones.
A feature-rich companion for silent travels in long flights or short metro ride to work!
How does the touchpad on the right earcup function?
- Tap to play or pause the music, or to answer or hang up a call
- Swipe right or left to skip forwards or backwards
- To increase or decrease the volume, swipe up or down
- Rotate the earcups by 90 degrees or keep them in a rested position around the neck, and it automatically turns off the headphones.
- To listen to background while the music is on, pull one earcup away from your ears and it will pause the music (will start again when you place it back on your ear)
- To actively listen to background sound like airport announcement, double tap on the surface to amplify the background sound
For a full list of touchpad functionality, check out PXC 550 Instruction Manual, page 32 onwards.
These headphones certainly require some change in habit. If you forget to rotate the earcups when not in use, you will drain out the battery without knowing. I have done that a few times but have gotten used to it after a week or so.
The music experience will completely change due to easy controls. The physical buttons are quite ‘hidden’ and at times, hard to spot while wearing the headphones.
PXC 550 is shipped with a charging cable, an airplane adapter, a quarter-inch headphone jack, and a zip-up case to protect the headphones and accessories during travel.
Are they comfortable to wear?
PXC 550 is slightly lighter (227 grams) than Bose QC35 (236 grams). Due to large headband and great freedom of movement of earcups in all directions, they will fit your head perfectly. They fit tight enough to avoid any sound leakage.
They are good for longer sessions of listening due to soft cushions on the earcup and lighter clamping force around the temple. Although if you have large ears, they might not feel very comfortable. Due to the narrow-bottom shape, the inside of the cushion almost touches the ears.
Overall, I would rate them less in terms of comfort as compared to the Bose QC35.
PXC 550 has a very rich and balanced bass, and excellent sound clarity even at high volumes. This is very impressive given the amount of controls they provide to the users.
With NC switched On, you are pretty sure to enjoy the immersive sound between your ears. Use the different sound modes (i.e. Club, Movie, and Speech) according to their intended purpose and you will get the best experience out of these headphones.
At first, the bass is leaner than Momentum 2.0 Wireless but when the ‘Club’ mode is on, the bass really kicks in. ‘Movie’ mode really accentuates the voices and make them sound sharper.
I personally prefer the sound and bass of Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 Wireless over PXC 550 but that’s a subjective matter. I found the treble to be ‘brighter’ than the Momentum 2.0 Wireless but the mid ranges felt a little hard on PXC 550.
Most of us don’t fully understand how difficult it is to transit sound over Bluetooth while sounding good. Add to that, the noise cancelling features and background amplification, which enhances the complexity of the technology required.
At this level, you are really doing some serious altercations with the headphone technology and Sennheiser PXC 550 perform just wonderfully great, taking all these things to consideration.
Does Sennheiser PXC 550 support Qualcomm aptX?
Yes! They support aptX. So if you have a device that also support Qualcomm aptX codec, you will experience a richer sound on these headphones.
aptX is an audio codec that improves the quality of audio sent over Bluetooth. But if your smartphone doesn’t support aptX, an aptX supported headphone won’t make much difference.
Noise cancellation on PXC 550 is quite good at -22dB but lower than Bose QC35 which measured -28 dB in a test conducted by InnerFidelity. For practical purposes though, they both are equally good and you will enjoy the experience.
If you haven’t tried noise cancelling headphones before, you will really enjoy these headphones. There are two microphones in each earcup for noise cancelling, one inside and one outside to ensure the accuracy of the noise cancellation.
With the three-position NoiseGard, PXC 550 really wants to give you more control over the background noise in every environment. You can turn off NC completely, turn on adaptive NC, or amplify background sounds to listen carefully – all from the headphone settings. In adaptive NC mode, the amount of noise cancellation is adjusted automatically according to the background.
PXC 550 complies with the Bluetooth 4.2 standard and supports NFC. You can connect either with Bluetooth or directly use NFC by tapping the device to the left earcup.
The connection is quite fast and there has been no connecting errors or delays. There were no hiccups in connectivity or music leaks over Bluetooth. The wireless range is quite good and you’d not have problems even at 10 meters distance.
With an impressive battery life claim of 30 hours by Sennheiser, this is probably the best you can get in terms of battery. It takes around 3 hours to charge, but with such a long battery life, you will never have any problems with the battery.
If you are a regular user who listens to 2 hours of music a day, the battery can easily last for 2 -3 weeks on a single charge. Although you might complain about the lack of a proper battery level notification.
There are four high quality effects “fx” settings. They are controlled directly at the headphone level so no matter what music player you use, you will hear the difference.
CapTune has lots of features and is definitely better than Bose’s Connect at managing their respective headphones.
Where to Buy?
UK – Amazon
India – Amazon
Who should buy this?
Frequent flyers and daily subway commuters who want to have a richer sound quality than Bose QC35, but don’t mind sacrifying a little bit of noise cancellation quality.
Sennheiser PXC 550 is a feature-rich headphone that will allow you to be always in control of your music. You can quickly switch between immersive music experience and ambient sound for not missing out any information.
What Others Think
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