Review by Sunetra Chakravati,8/23/2016 10:24:03 AM
Look and feel
Ease of use
Very comfortable | great noise cancellation | interactive app
-By Zak Garner-Purkis
Cliché’s about German engineering are so common they are used in connection to almost everything from shampoo to sports cars. And the same is true in the world of headphones, where the name Sennheiser can be used in connected to any number of well-worn lines about precision, efficiency, value and class.
There is good reason for this reputation too. The German brand has been producing a high quality range of audio devices for more than 50 years. You’d be hard pushed to find a music studio worth its salt that didn’t have a pair of Sennheiser headphones somewhere.
So my expectations were understandably high when I picked up the Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless headphones. These high hopes were increased further still when I saw the price tag (£329.99). For a brand renowned with creating products that are value for money, their high end product should be nothing less than exceptional.
…And they didn’t disappoint. Unlike other high end headphones where there is an unnecessary emphasis on demonstrating the price physically-using heavy bits of metal and patterned leather (Parrot Zik 3.0 take a bow). All the investment in these headphones has gone into sound quality and experience.
Not that they look ugly, they do exactly what any high end headphone should do, act as a subtle addition to any outfit, rather than being the dominating feature. And most importantly prioritise comfort above all else.
Manufacturers of high end products are often caught up with the dilemma regarding weight. Tech that feels too light can seem cheaper than what it is. But overly heavy products, particularly in the headphone domain, result in sore neck muscles and sweaty ears.
Sennheiser has got it just right, the PXC 500’s are lightweight and comfortable. But remain sturdy enough to feel as if they will last.
Then you get to the sound quality which is just exceptional, not only because of the sound you get from the speaker within the headphone itself, but supported by its excellent noise cancellation feature. The clarity and range of sound is phenomenal , and incredibly well balanced.
But it’s not enough for a high end headphone to perform well in isolation these days. There has to be a layer of interactivity that puts control of the frequencies in the hands of the listener.
For this task Sennheiser’s CapTune app is undoubtedly one of the best, it has a very easy interface for customising the sounds as well as a good range of different environmental and genre specific settings. But what makes it stand out is the integration of music player within the app makes it far easier to use than competitor’s apps.
It’s important to bear in mind that this technology is still in its infancy. The changes that you make are often quite crude. There’s also the drawback that the dynamic range of even the high resolution streamed songs lags behind recordings of more traditional technologies. But surely with the passage of time that will improve.
The only reservation with these headphones is whether they truly justify the price point. It is a lot of money to pay and Sennheiser do make some great quality products further down the price range. It comes down to whether you value your personal music experience highly enough to invest the cash. For a real headphone geek, you can’t go far wrong with the PXC 550’s.