I retired my no longer trusty Sennheiser RS140 RF after seven or eight years of excellent service. It’s fair to say, the headphones served me well up until the end. Coincidentally, the bass gave in, just as I was setting my mind at Sennheiser PXC550 Bluetooth headphones. If you interested in my first impressions, I have an unboxing and impressions video here. It has been few weeks since, and I’m finally ready to pass my judgement.
Sennheiser PXC550 Bluetooth headphones
Priced at £325 in the UK, it’s not the cheapest purchase of my life. In fact, I will be paying for these for quite some time, thanks to “buy now, pay later” scheme offered in the store. You can tell I’m not ‘milking it’ from the ads on my website! Banter aside, I was very excited, as up until now, the sound was provided by cheap and cheerful Bluetooth LG-730 Tone ($49.99).
Advertised as traveller’s companion, Sennheiser PXC550 Bluetooth headphones can’t go through the usual run/cycle/general routine. I came up with some unusual scenarios instead, so I could share my thoughts with you.
there is plenty to love and something to hate about Sennheiser PXC550
Here comes the biggest disappointment, these are not your usual ‘Bluetooth’ headphones. I suspect that a lot of work was put into the Bluetooth protocol on Sennheiser PXC550 to achieve a great sound quality and multiple device compatibilities at the cost of some standard Bluetooth functionality. It’s impossible to activate the Google Assistant using Sennheiser PXC550, I emailed the support about it to which I go the answer:
I have used my colleague's phone with the PXC 550 and unfortunately this feature does not work as there is no pairing or call button as such, I also got my colleague to check this as well. .... I will forward this onto our Head Office to see if they have come across this before and if so how to accomplish.
I’m amazed by lack of this as there is unmapped long-press action on the headset itself. Adding more insult to the injury, a $15 cheap sports Bluetooth pair I got the other day for a review, works with Google Assistant flawlessly.
To make things more confusing, the usual audio/volume/phone control functions work great. I’m not sure what the deal is, but Sennheiser forgot that 2016 was the craze about the personal assistant.
Other things I didn’t like
While I’m ranting about the Sennheiser PXC550, I will add few more things that could be improved. It’s awesome that I can play games on my PC using Bluetooth, USB or 3.5mm jack (cables included) while staying connected to my phone. Each time I get a notification (read: often) the headset cuts off the sound from the PC, plays a notification sound from a phone, then connects the sound from the PC again. The gap where you don’t get to hear anything streamed from the PC lasts about 5-8 seconds.
Sennheiser PXC550 can be folded into a pretty tight package, except that automatic ON/OFF built into the hinge would leave the headset powered on in such position. The headset has to be folded into an awkward angle instead to prevent it from being switched on.
However, I’m keeping it…
Despite the issues above, I decided to keep the headset. There are things I love about the Sennheiser PXC550, and since the gadget is still with me, it beats all the issues above.
I guess you get what you pay for. The headset hugs the ears and wraps softly around my head. There is no fatigue from long listening sessions, although it can make your ears feel warm due to a nice seal around the earlobe.
I’m a fan of tactile control, I want to be able to press correct buttons without looking. The transition to a touch control on Sennheiser PXC550 couldn’t be simpler. It’s intuitive, responsive and just works.
The 30h of playback is great, but having the ability to switch to 3.5 mm jack, or USB to continue my YouTube binge session while charging is excellent!
Mic pass through
Tap twice to go to the superhero mode. Use the noise cancellation microphones to enhance your sense of hearing. OK, it won’t make you hear things better than without headsets, but with a simple action, you can toggle between music playback and a conversation.
One of the reasons I decided to go for Sennheiser PXC550 was the active noise cancellation. It supposes to be good. It is! I work with very loud and annoying co-worker and the headset does a great job in providing me with a peace and quiet at work. I can’t stress enough how impressed I am with the noise cancellation on this headset. In addition to that, you can choose two levels of noise cancellation or turn it off completely.
I can say that this is the best sounding headset I had to date, it’s also the most expensive one I owned. I’m impressed with the sound, how rich it gets even over Bluetooth. It’s a combination of the perfect seal around your ear, noise cancellation and great speakers. The sound can be defined by four different EQ presets backed into the headset to enhance your experience. I have actually blown away how much more details I was able to capture while playing Battlefield1.
The sound profiles are well designed, and you can instantly tell if a preset has been adjusted even just a little bit. While speaking about the presets, there is an app – CapTune, which allows you to display current headset settings, and modify the presets to your liking, but I have no use for it as I’m using Google Play Music app and sound options available through that app.
Calls are clear, the microphone works very well. I trusted the Sennheiser PXC550 with a phone interview. During 30 min call, not even once I had any shadow of a doubt to what has been said.
Now that I can call up Google Assistant on my phone Sennheiser PXC550 is my ‘take it with me’ choice to work, Premiere Pro CC editing, and PlayStation gaming. I guess you get what you pay for, and I’m going to get the best use for my money out of it.