I am in no way an audio engineer or even one of those self-proclaimed audiophile guys. All I know is that I love music and I know what sounds good, to me. This was my first time with a Sennheiser product. The set of cans I’ll be reviewing by Sennheiser are the beautiful over-ears, the PXC 550 Wireless, that were released earlier this year. Sennheiser usually has a stigma of having pricey, yet high-quality audio devices. I’m here to see if the PXC 550 Wireless live up to those claims.
I was actually excited to receive Sennheiser products, due to them being a staple name in the high-end audio game. So for all my tests that I’ll comment on in the review, I used Tidal as the music source, since it’s supposed to feature HiFi quality music. Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.
One of the first things you’ll notice when getting the PXC 550s is the packaging. Inside the box, you’ll find the headphones in the semi-soft case, along with all the safety booklets, and all the adapters and cables neatly tucked in the inside spine of said case. On one of the inner sides of the case, there is stitching that allows you to properly store your headphones in a way that keeps everything neat and safe.
When picking up the headphones, you’ll notice that they are lightweight, but not made of air; there was some heft, which I appreciate. The whole design is very subtle and classy, with oval earcups, leather fabric, and silver trim everywhere. The earcups have enough siding to keep you comfortable during long listening sessions, but the top headband somewhat lacks in the cushion department. All the physical buttons, ports, and switches are on the crease/side of the right earcups and are almost unnoticeable. Overall, I love the design of these headphones, they blend in well with any look and are comfortable on long trips. They might not be the flashiest, but they do have that look of quality.
As for specs, you know what it is. Most of the big companies don’t like to divulge in what they have inside the earcups. Sennheiser offers a lot more than what you’d get from Bose, but still have a lot missing, such as the size of the speaker drivers inside. Here’s the official rundown of what Sennheiser has included.
One thing to note is the impedance level of the headphones. Impedance shows how much power it requires to drive the headphones at maximum level. Lower impedance headphones (~<25 Ohms) don’t require much to drive them to reach their max, while medium (~25-100 Ohms) and high (~>100 Ohms) will require more power to reach their top quality. For the PXC 550, that means to reach the top quality of music they can produce, you are going to need a DAC/Amp as an everyday phone won’t cut it. Read: if you think these headphones sound good on your LG V20, try them with a powered amp and then come back to me.
Speaking of which, let’s talk about the most important part of any headphone — the sound. Boy, do the PXC 550s sound great. They have a great soundstage (which I explained here), and seriously have you saying, “Wow, I’ve never heard these instruments in this song before!” The sound quality is unlike any I’ve heard before, with the clearest highs, mids, and lows that you’ll find in a sub-$500 pair of cans. Now, quality is one thing; volume is another. I felt like the PXC 500s didn’t give me those loud, ear-bleeding sound levels that I’ve heard with other headphones, along with a rather lacking bass when compared to other similarly priced headphones.
These headphones are for those that want to hear everything in the tracks that they are listening too, and have it all balanced, as well. There’s nothing too overbearing and nothing that will blow your ears off, and, honestly, I’d rather something like this than something from Sony or Beats with the low-end blown out.
The PXC 550 Wireless also offer active noise-cancelling. This allows you to not only block out the world around you when you are jamming out to Ariana Grande or whathaveyou, but also get more immersed into the song that’s playing. The ANC is pretty good, as well. Unfortunately, the ANC is not at the levels of the QC35s from Bose, but pretty darn close. I had no complaints when listening to these during my 5-hour plane trip across the country, and barely heard anything seep in. Sometimes, due to some of the NC mics being on top of the earcup, some wind may come through, but nothing too distracting.
There are several other great features to note on the PXC 550s, such as the ability to pair the headphones through NFC and the touch-enabled right earcup to control playback. You can tap to play or pause, swipe up and down to control volume, and swipe left or right to skip or rewind. You can also double tap to active the ANC mics to let in outside noise so that you don’t have to remove the headset to have a conversation with that person who rudely started speaking to you knowing good and well you were listening to music.
There are several equalizer modes built into the headphones, ranging from normal, club, speech, and movie, allowing you to cycle through to gain an enlightened track (i.e. Vocals, bass, treble, etc.). I kept bass most of the time to offset the weaker low end. There’s also a feature in beta that automatically pauses the music when you remove the headphones. Unfortunately, that feature was buggy and happened to turn off my music at times when I hadn’t removed my headphones yet.
All of the features and equalizers are controllable through the Sennheiser app called “Captune”. In the app, you can create a custom equalizer if you need to hear more or less of some things. There’s also a free 90-day trial of Tidal in the app, as well, that you can access after pairing your headphones to your device. The app itself doesn’t have the most up to date UI, but it simply gets the job done.
With all of that in mind, the last thing to think about before going to grab a pair of these is the price. Normally on Sennheiser’s website, these cans cost around $400, but I often see them lower around the net (especially Amazon). I don’t consider these as an overpriced product considering the other players in the space; all the features, ANC, and quality sound you get is definitely worth the money. Most of you probably won’t even buy another pair of headphones after these — audiophiles are another story.
The PXC 550 Wireless were my first taste of Sennheiser and I definitely enjoyed what they offer. I’ll be keeping these around while I try out more headphones for you guys to check out.Buy on Sennheiser Buy on Amazon