Affordable High-quality Wireless Listening
Sennheiser introduced another strong contender for shoppers seeking high quality wireless noise-canceling headphones for a good price. The new Sennheiser HD 450BT over-the-ear bluetooth headphones replace the previous generation model, closely named as the HD 4.50BTNC. Even though they look about the same, the new HD 450BT usher in improved battery life, a dedicated voice assistant button, and USB-C charging. A few more differences are highlighted in the chart below.
Previous Model Comparison
With a street price of $149.95, the HD 450BT headphones are less than half the price of top competitors such as the Beats Studio3 or Bose 700. So what’s the catch? Feature wise they are for the most part very similar. Beats and Bose have a few more tweaks for adjusting noise-cancellation. Otherwise, the sound signature is the key differentiator and the Sennheiser HD 450BT certainly holds up quite well. They have a neutral balanced sound without an overwhelming booming bass that some Beats owners either crave or find bothersome. Of the three models, Bose will sound a little better, but I can assure you they don’t sound twice as good given their price point. Plus, the HD 450BT do work with Sennheiser’s Smart Control mobile app for iOS and Android for fine tuning equalization adjustments.
Long Battery Life
With 30 hours of battery life, you won’t need to charge the HD 450BT very frequently. They have a smart shut-off feature so they won’t waste battery life when you’re not using them. However, they don’t turn back on automatically. You’ll need to power-toggle them to get reconnected via Bluetooth, if they been unused for more than a hour. They also don’t auto-pause when you take them off, which is a handy feature. Although, the previously mentioned Beats and Bose headphones don’t have auto-pause either.
All of the controls are under the right ear cup. There are 3 buttons and a slider that each take some practice locating. The slider works as track controls, and the volume up/down button is right next to it. The active noise-cancellation toggle button is farthest to the front and also functions as a power toggle when you hold it down for 4 seconds. An audible voice prompt says “Power on”, “Power off”, “Pairing” or “Connected”.
Noise-cancellation is always-on by default, so you don’t have to fiddle with it. The Sennheiser HD 450BT do an amazing job of blocking external noises, while having an almost imperceptible impact on sound quality. Their noise-canceling definitely deserves high praise. They do such a good, in fact, they could potentially block sounds from your surroundings vital to your safety. Because of that, the HD 450BT’s automatically turn-off ANC when a call is received or voice-commands are activated. However, what is supposed to be a feature, actually turns out to be a bug.
Upon correspondence with a Sennheiser representative, I learned there’s an undocumented feature that is not found on the website or in-package instructions. They called it sidetone, and it’s only enabled during voice operations. Sidetone is somewhat like a transparent mode, but not quite. Oddly distant sounds from my surroundings were amplified during phone calls or when speaking voice-commands to Siri. As a safety measure it probably works as expected. For calling, the HD 450BT’s are practically unusable as a wireless headset. Not only could I not hear the other end of the call well, but the recipient on a land line said my voice sounded like it was coming from a police radio — static and all.
There’s a silver lining to the headset calling problem that could save you some cash too. Sennheiser makes the exact model without noise-cancellation called the HD 350BT. They are just $99.95, and shouldn’t have the calling issues mentioned above, because there’s no ANC or sidetone to worry about. It really comes down to whether noise-canceling or calling is a more important use case.
HD 450BT Product Video
The Sennheiser HD 450BT ($149.95 at Amazon) are solidly built wireless over-ear headphones that sound great for the price and include top-notch noise-cancellation for music listening. But if you don’t need noise-canceling then the HD 350BT ($99.95 at Amazon) wireless headphones are an even better bargain. Both are now available in black or white.