Sennheiser surprised us last year with the release of their first soundbar (the superb Ambeo) but that doesn’t mean that they’ve lifted their foot off of the gas when it comes to their main staple of products – headphones.
Fresh from releasing new versions of their Momentum and PXC550 models, the company’s entry level wireless range has also received a facelift too with the new HD350BT and HD450BT. Not only do both feature Bluetooth v5.0, which means support for high quality codecs like AAC and AptX, they’re also equipped to deal with the audio from video content via AptX Low Latency preventing annoying lip synching issues. Battery life over the previous models has also been improved (from 19 hours on the previous HD4.50BT model to 30 hours on the HD450BT), plus with the inclusion of a USB-C connection for fast charging, you can have a full battery in around 2 hours. Both pairs have the same frequency response and design but the HD450BT come with the addition of noise-cancelling and the option of a cable for wired connection to your source.
The same foldable design greets us as we open up the box of our HD450BT test pair as well as the usual cloth pouch, 3.5mm jack cable and the USB-C charging cable. Once unfolded, the button layout on the right earpiece is not dissimilar to the HD4.50BT, the same rocker switch for skipping and pausing tracks, the same volume button and noise cancelling toggle but the addition of another button that triggers Google Assistant or Siri for you to make voice commands. Comfort is ample with good cushioning on both the headband and the earpieces, though they may feel a touch snug at first this is easily rectified by placing them width ways over the box for a few hours to stretch the headband a little.
As these are aimed at the wireless consumer we decided to hook up to a Tidal stream on a phone and test out the Sennheisers on New Zealand band Leisure and their 2019 album Twister. Holding down the power button for a few seconds puts them into pairing mode and we’re soon up and running. “Too Much Of A Good Thing” is our track of choice and the HD450BT get our feet tapping with the funky rhythm section. Bass is controlled well and the guitar smoothly sits behind the vocal line, though there is a nagging sense of not getting quite as much fullness from the former. Thankfully, Sennheiser’s Smart Control app is on hand to tweak things with a handy equalizer and after scooping out a little midrange with a boost to the bass and treble we end up with a rich, weighty sound with a bit of bite added to the top end to make things a little more exciting and less flat. The quirky little effects such as handclaps and synths in the background feel spritelier and more attacking now but without causing things to become brash or harsh.
In order to test out the noise-cancelling, we switch things over to Sarah Blasko and step outside to see how much of the hustle and bustle of Bristol’s Whiteladies Road can be blocked out. The results were impressive for a budget pair of cans (though Sennheiser have a pedigree for good noise-cancelling) as they managed to block out much of the traffic noise whilst the tender piano-led intro of her song “Illusory Light” tiptoed across our ears. As the track builds the HD450BT also show off a very acceptable capability for dishing out scale as the string arrangement sweeps in and raises the dynamic range considerably. Little suitable things such as a soft clash of cymbals and plucking from a harp aren’t lost either despite the textures of the song becoming more and more layered.
Not everyone wants to splash out on headphones, especially if they’re on their commute and are worrying about damaging them which is why there’s a good market for entry-level products such as these. Whether you walk along a busy road and want to block things out with the noise-cancelling or whether you want a good pair of wireless headphones so you can walk around the house, Sennheiser have got you covered with the HD350BT & HD450BT. Why not try them out for yourself at your local Richer Sounds?
Author: Steve, Bristol store