Written by Lisette

Expert review of the Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless

When Bose launched the QuietComfort 35 Wireless, it set a new test for noise canceling headphones. The answer from Sennheiser is the PXC 550 Wireless. As far as I'm concerned, it's a good answer. The noise canceling muffles ambient noise very well. In the adaptive noise canceling mode, the noise canceling is also adjusted to the amount of ambient noise. With the effect modes and the CapTune smartphone app, you give color to the music, and with the touch face controls, you can swipe through your entire playlist. While the ear cushions are super soft, the headband is very hard. Too bad that the equalizers and effect modes in the CapTune app don't work with Spotify songs. Ah, no one is perfect.

In short

  • Over ear
  • 30-hour battery life
  • Noise canceling
temporarily sold out
  • The active noise canceling is strong.
  • In the adaptive noise canceling mode, the noise canceling is adjusted to the amount of ambient noise.
  • Color your music with the CapTune app and effect modes on the headphones.
  • The touch interface controls are user-friendly.
  • The ear cushions are soft and comfortable.
  • The headband hurts quickly.
  • The equalizers and effect modes in the CapTune app don't work with music from Spotify.

Out of the box

Judging from the packaging and the accessories, Sennheiser really intends the PXC 550 Wireless to be headphones for people who travel a lot. The packaging says "Travel with superior sound and comfort" and the box contains an airplane adapter and a hard case. Or is it a storage case? The case is certainly not very hard, which disappoints me with such pricey headphones. In contrast, the headphones look very nice. The ear cups have an oval shape instead of a round shape. This gives the headphones a feminine appearance. Yet, I can picture many a businessman sitting on the plane with these headphones. With those soft ear cushions, you can easily listen to music for a few hours, I think.

Specifications highlighted: active and adaptive noise canceling

Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless

Bose is seen as the standard in the field of noise canceling, but this Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless comes close to the Bose QuietComfort 35 Wireless in terms of noise canceling. Once you have the Sennheiser headphones on your head, you are completely disconnected from the outside world. I even read a book at home without having my music on, simply with noise canceling. I no longer heard passing buses. The headphones have a button for 3 different noise canceling modes. In mode 0, the noise canceling is off. Mode 1 is the adaptive mode in which the noise canceling is adapted to the amount of ambient noise. In mode 2, the noise canceling is maximal. Good to know, since this isn't mentioned in the manual.

Specifications highlighted: the sound

Control buttons

The first thing I thought when I turned on the music was: wow, what a bass. I found out that the bass was exaggerated, because the mode "club" was on. With a button on the right ear cup, you can choose from the effect modes "movie", "speech", "club", or no effect. With the CapTune smartphone app from Sennheiser, you can personalize the music even further by playing with the soundcheck charts, effect modes, and equalizers. What I don't like as much is that the options in the app only work with music stored on your phone and not with music from, for example, Spotify. The effect modes of the headphones themselves luckily do work with Spotify songs.

Highlighted specifications: controls

Touch operation

With the Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless, you control the music by swiping your finger on the ear cup. For example, if you swipe up or down, you change the volume. If you tap the ear cup twice with your finger, you turn off the music, and you can hear voices from your surroundings extra loudly. This way, you can have a conversation without taking off your headphones. Usually, I'm not so keen on touch interface controls, because you often accidentally touch something and something happens that you don't want. The interface of the PXC 550 is fortunately not very sensitive, so this isn't the case with these headphones.

Specifications highlighted: carrying comfort

Ear cups

The ear cushions are made of leather and feel very soft. I can keep the headphones on for a few hours without hurting my ears. The headband feels soft in your hands, but does hurt your head faster. With a weight of 227 grams, the headphones don't feel heavy on your head. You do get warm ears quickly. When you take off the headphones and fold them together, the music turns off automatically. On the one hand, I think this is a cool feature that I haven't seen yet in other headphones. On the other hand, sometimes it's inconvenient. For example, if you turn off the headphones too quickly or want to put them on your head differently, they sometimes turn off accidentally.

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