Expert review of the Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC
- The sound is balanced.
- You adjust the sound to your liking with the CapTune smartphone app.
- The ear cushions are soft and comfortable.
- The battery lasts 19 hours when the noise canceling is on.
- The active noise canceling muffles ambient noise reasonably well, but not as good as the noise canceling of the Sennheiser PXC 550.
- The controls require some practice.
The Sennheiser headphones include a micro USB charging cable, an audio cable, a storage pouch, and a manual. The audio cable is included so you can listen to music with a cable when the battery is empty, useful. I am less excited about the pouch. It's not very sturdy and it offers little protection. Fortunately, the headphones look reliable. The design is sleek and simple, something I value. It's an over-ear model, but I doubt my ears fit in the oval-shaped cushions. I also notice that the headband doesn't have a soft cushion on the inside. It's time to find out what the sound of the headphones are like, and how comfortable they are to wear.
Specifications highlighted: noise canceling
The HD 4.50 has NoiseGard, which is Sennheiser's active noise suppression. This is the same as regular active noise canceling. It works pretty well. It does muffle ambient noise, but it's not as strong as the Sennheiser PXC 550. With the 550, you're completely shut off from the outside world. I could no longer hear passing buses and talking colleagues. With the 4.50, everything remains audible, only it's a lot softer. The battery lasts 19 hours when the noise canceling is on, and 25 hours when it's off.
Specifications highlighted: sound
Thanks to the Bluetooth profile aptX, you can stream high quality audio. The sound of the headphones is balanced. High and low tones do not necessarily stand out. This ensures a quiet listening experience. If you want your music to reach the next level, you can download the free CapTune smartphone app from Sennheiser. Use this to personalize your music by playing with the sound check charts, effect modes, and equalizers. I think the app really adds value to the headphones. Unfortunately, the options in the app only work with music that's stored on your phone, and not with music from for example Spotify.
Specifications highlighted: carrying comfort
The headphones are more comfortable than expected. I was worried that my ears wouldn't fit in the oval-shaped cushions, but they fit perfectly and I don't experience a feeling of pressure. I do miss the pillow in the headband. Because your music streams via Bluetooth, there is no cable in the way. I still find this really useful. If you have a smartphone that supports NFC, you only need to touch the headphones with your phone and the Bluetooth connection is made immediately. When you're done listening, fold the headphones until it's a compact package.
Highlighted specifications: controls
The right ear cup contains 3 buttons that change the volume, switches songs, pauses the music, and accepts incoming phone calls. Sennheiser calls these buttons intuitive; you use them intuitively, without thinking about it. I don't agree with this, the controls require some practice. I really had to get the manual to see how it works. I also regularly pressed the wrong button, because of the buttons that are placed on the ear cup. This takes some getting used to, I think.
I like the Sennheiser HD 4.50 as much as I like the Sennheiser PXC 550. The sound is balanced and the CapTune smartphone app is a nice addition that you can use to personalize the sound. Thanks to the soft, over-ear ear cushions, the headphones are comfortable. The controls require some practice and the protective cover could have been firmer, but these are not big cons. I do find the noise canceling of the HD 4.50 less good than that of the PXC 550, but the PXC 550 is also twice as expensive. It just depends on your budget and how much noise reduction you want.