The Overhead headphone is a market with some many companies that have their headphones out to market is a battle for any company when bringing out a new product. Sennheiser is a brand that sits in the high-end part of the market and has to compete against the likes of Sony, Bose, & Bang and Olufsen to name a few.
The latest in the Sennheiser family we had the chance to review is the PXC 550-II which is the upgrade from the 2016 version and costs £299 via Amazon. These headphones have been designed for the regular traveller and have the following features:
- Voice assistant
- Touch controls
- Built-in Alexa
- 30-hour battery
- Smart Pause function
- Auto Power switch
We recently reviewed the Sennheiser Momentum wireless (£349) so it only seemed fair to compare the two as they are a similar price range. Design-wise the first noticeable difference is the size of these headphone cups the momentum wireless look bigger and they are.
The headphones overall look is a matt black finish with a soft leather finish on the headband which adds to the comfort. The earcups use a soft synthetic leather covering on the earcups which looks nice but I did find them to get sweaty after about an hour of use. Inside the cups house 32mm full-range drivers. The headphones also have plenty of adjustment on the band to suit most people’s needs. All adding for an overall quality build, These headphones are wireless via aptX Bluetooth 5.0 with AAC support. You also get apt low-latency for superior audio synchronisation.
What I really like about these headphones is not only do you have a good quality carry case which is a big tick for me but you also get the following accessories: micro USB cable, 3.5mm jack and that flight adapter that I have to say I have never had a chance to use.
I also like the fact these headphones not only have rotating earcups that are done when you want to use the auto on/off feature but the fact the ergonomic design allows you to fold these headphones and place in that case when not in use.
These headphones are also nice and light making them perfect for travel which is what I have been using them regularly for.
Moving onto the features the main thing you will notice is that Sennheiser has not added the tile technology that the momentum wireless has but you have to question why it’s only a small price difference surely you as a user would want to keep either pair as safe as you can?
Another key difference is in the controls the 550-II use more touch controls with the right cup being the control centre. You do have a few buttons as well such as the pairing which also doubles up as the Alexa call up. In addition to that, you also have your ANC switch also on the right cup. In fact, everything is on the right cup with nothing on the left which I must say seems a little off?
Moving back to the right cup you have the following touch controls:
- Play/Pause – One tap
- Volume control- swipe up or down
- Track control- Swipe right or left
- Call answer/reject- tap to answer or hold 1sec to reject
- Mic mute/unmute
All available via a tap or a swipe of the right earcup. They are very responsive so be careful as it does take a little bit to get used to. Now, these headphones also use the smart control app which I have mixed feelings about. That aside it allows a number of EQ presets as:
- Club- for more room impression
- Movie- For more exciting entertainment
- Speech-For Higher Intelligbillity
- Director – Custom settings
You also adjust the ANC in the app and also set the anti-wind feature. Sliding into the performance of these headphones. They are on a slightly lower level of sound quality compared to the momentum wireless but still very good. The PXC 550-II provide a very enjoyable and balanced sound that is composed that also has a sufficient low- level dynamic when listening to certain tracks to makes it more involved.
When listening to something like Alice Merton – No Roots these headphones give the vocals character but also gives the bass frequencies right to the forefront of your listening experience. It’s a very good earthy bass which I love.
These headphones also have ANC and this is an area that is not perfect it’s very good but not perfect. I have been testing this on the tube on the way to work and even when on its fullest it does cut about 85% of the outside noise but it’s not fully cancelled out. If you can handle that then these are a very good pair of headphones.
Last but not least is the battery life gives you 30 hours of battery life without ANC or 20 hours of battery life with ANC on and takes 3 hours to fully charge these headphones.
Would you buy them?
Overall, the PXC-550-II are a very good pair of headphones but the momentum wireless just tip it for me in terms of comfort and I like the old school look of these headphones.
If you want a pair of Sennheiser’s that have understated and sophisticated style then these are for you. What I love about these headphones is the fact most controls are just a tap or a swap meaning that phone of yours stays firmly in your pocket.
The other features I like is the balanced sound profile that you get with these headphones also making calls on these headphones is very good with the use of the triple microphone. They have also done very well linking up your smart assistant. The ANC is a lot better than some of their rivals but it’s not perfect.
With 30 hours of battery life and the auto on/off feature by twisting the cups means you will never leave these headphones on my mistake. My only negative is these are not waterproof which might put a few off.
These headphones are a very good option for your day to day travel and the smart pause meaning your headphones know when you have taken them off it will pause the music even turning the headphones off meaning your battery will last longer