My Experience with Sennheiser PXC550 Bluetooth ANC Headset

This is my experience with Sennheiser PXC550 headset. I bought this headset primarily as a wireless Bluetooth headset, secondarily as a noise canceling headset. My main concerns were audio quality and comfort.

I previously used a Bose QC35 for a day. That headphone has phenomenal noise cancellation. It could suppress almost every noise in our very noisy office. To be fair most of the noise came from shitty air conditioning. Which should be easier to cancel out compared to a complex – like a street – noise. Although it couldn’t suppress the noise generated by a fan right behind me (2-3m away), it did a very good job in general. So much so I could see myself wearing Bose QC35s just for noise cancellation – not listening to any music at all. They are that good. They are also very comfortable. I have a wide shaped head. I cannot wear most small and portable headsets. But I found QC35 very comfortable.

But QC35’s sound -as reviews put it- is rather bland. For a headset of that price I call it what it is: shitty! They couldn’t even match my cheap(est probably) Sony ear buds. I just couldn’t stand to listen music on them for a prolonged time. I decided to look into alternatives.

Sennheiser PXC550 and Sony WH1000XM2. They were both described as having very good sound quality and noise cancellation. Since I read about some cracking issues of Sony’s and bad microphone I decided to go with Sennheiser’s.

Audio quality confused me a bit. It is objectively very good. Everything feels balanced and natural. But somehow I didn’t like it. Especially higher frequencies feels like they have artifacts. I could never be sure. Vocals are a little underwhelming. Maximum volume isn’t high. If you enjoy listening to music at high volume you may not like this headphone. I personally don’t listen to the music at high volume, I never get close to the maximum of the whatever device I’m listening with. But with these I occasionally find myself at maximum volume. Interestingly base is strong. I definitely cannot stand bass sounds at high volume.

But my main problem with PXC550 is comfort. Two things caused problem. First thing I noticed when I wore them is the top head band. It’s not padded enough. It pushes against my head. Extending the arms and thus widening the headset helps a bit. But when I do that headset goes too low and earcups touches my neck just slightly. This wouldn’t be a huge problem if headset didn’t have a very strong compression force on my head. Update after more than a month: I don’t find them that bad now. Either I wore them in, or I got used to them. I can wear them for hours now. I still feel the need to move them around time to time and they still cause sweating.

PXC550 has smart pause feature that I really like. When you remove headset it automatically pauses the playback. But this feature isn’t enabled by default. You have to use Android app to enable it. I believe the reason is that, smart pause feature doesn’t exactly perform perfectly. In fact when you want to enable it the first time you get a warning about calibration, saying that when you power on the headset wait for 2 seconds for it to calibrate. That’s not a big deal. Only minor problem is sometimes when I make small head movements that move the headset – especially when I yawn – it pauses. I don’t find it very annoying though because it just continues the playback in a second. Update after a month: I decided to disable it. Unless you are sitting still it becomes very annoying with constant pauses. Useless.

A similar problem happens with the sensitivity of the touch area. When I simply move my arm up to stretch or touch my hair, if my arm comes close to the touch area it pauses. It doesn’t have to touch. But it doesn’t happen always. Just sometimes. When I expect it the least! This especially becomes a problem during a call. A slight touch ends the call. Which is obviously very annoying.

Still I like my Sennheiser’s. They look sleek. They sound good. Good reception, good charge. Fine noise cancellation. That’s all for now.

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