The Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless are a superbly well-designed set of headphones. They have great active features, a customizable sound, and decent isolation performance. They're lightweight comfortable and stable enough to jog with. However, they don't have the most immersive sound quality, and their isolation is not as good as the QuietComfort 35 in louder environments.
- Highly customizable sound.
- Lightweight and sturdy build quality.
- Comfortable and stable fit.
- Mediocre noise cancelation.
- Leaky at higher volumes.
The PXC 550 are sleek-looking wireless headphones with a premium appeal and a comfy fit. The ear cups and headband are both very well-padded, which make these headphones comfortable to wear for hours. They're lightweight yet the build quality feels durable enough to withstand a couple of drops without damage. Their design is also sufficiently stable to jog with, although they won't be the best for intense sports. They're not the most portable headphones, which can be a bit of a hassle to carry on your person but they fold up and come with a decent case.
The PXC 550 have modern and sleek design that not too flashy but will still stand out in a crowd. The slightly oval ear cups and wide headband are well padded with premium materials giving these headphones a high-end appeal. They're mid-sized over-ear headphones, but the headband has a relatively low-profile fit, so it won't stick out too much when you have them on your head. They have a very understated color scheme which might not be for everyone but will definitely work for some.
The PXC 550 are one the most comfortable closed back headphones we've tested. They're incredibly well padded and the earcups are large enough to fit comfortably around most ears. The headband is also heavily cushioned and they're relatively lightweight. They're a bit tighter on the head than the QC 35 but they won't cause any fatigue or soreness even during long listening sessions.
The PXC 550's button layout provides a surprising amount of control over your audio but it's not always efficient or intuitive. Like the Zik 3.0, these headphones have a touch sensitive control scheme that provides track skipping, call/music, and volume controls. There's a multi-purpose button that doubles as a Bluetooth sync and audio preset toggle. They also have a noise canceling switch that can place the headphones in "Aware" mode to be able to monitor your environment. This all feels a little confusing at times.
These headphones have a stable wireless design that won't easily fall off your head. The firm swivel hinges, combined with the wide headband, and broad ear cups prevent the headphones from swaying too much even during physical activity. They won't be the best choice for exercising or intense sports but the stability they provide is decent enough to jog with. The wireless design also removes the chances that the headphones will be yanked off your head because the audio cable got hooked on something.
The PXC 550 are moderately portable headphones. They're a mid-sized over-ear model with relatively large ear cups that fold but do not tuck-in neatly into the frame. This makes them decently portable but not the easiest to carry around on your person without a bag. The ear cups also lay flat, but that doesn't save much space so they're best transported in their carrying case to avoid damage.
Although the PXC 550 are lightweight they feel solid. They have a good build quality that makes us of premium materials in its design. The headband is reinforced by a thin but wide metal frame and the earcups are made out of a dense plastic that's durable enough to withsand a few drops and tumbles without damage. The swiveling mechanism is firm but has a snap to turn on feature which may potentially fail after prolonged use. However we've had no issues with our unit so far.
The PXC 550 have a versatile sound profile that can be customized, in-app, with a fully parametric equalizer or with the limited, built-in presets, available via the multi-function Bluetooth sync button. The default profile, however, does a sufficiently good job delivering a powerful bass that doesn't overshadow the instruments and vocals in the mid-range. The higher tones are a little inconsistent and a bit sharp. Unfortunately, the poor sound Soundstage, by design, makes these headphones less ideal for critical listeners.
Very good Bass Range performance. There is a bit of inconsistency in low-bass, but won't be audible to most people. Bass and high-bass and are virtually flat and unremarkable.
Excellent Mid Range performance. The entire Mid Range response is very consistent and flat, and the small deviations from the target response are negligible.
Average Treble Range performance. Low-treble shows a 10dB dip at 4.5KHz, but because of the relatively narrow width its negative effects on detail and presence will be small. The bump in treble between 7KHz and 10KHz shows these headphones could sound a bit sibilant to those with sensitive ears.
Poor Soundstage. Because of the close-back and noise-cancelling design, the Openness score is quite low, as these headphones sound closed and don't interact with their environment acoustically. Additionally, the PRTF error is rather high for an over-ear design, showing these headphones don't activate the resonance of the pinna the way a loudspeaker does.
Average Imaging. The amount of phase error is one of the highest we have measured, which is most likely due to the Bluetooth design. However, phase shift only becomes easily noticeable at higher frequencies and is negligible at other times.
Good distortion restuls. At 90dB SPL these headphones perform well throughout the spectrum, although the amount of harmonic distortion in the Treble Range approaches 1% of the input. At 100dB SPL, there is rise in the amount of distortion of Bass and Mid Ranges, but little change in the Treble Range.
The PXC 550 have a decent isolation but are they're not as good as the similarly designed QuietComfort 35. They still provide enough isolation to use them while on public transit without being too distracted by the loud environment. However, they won't be the best headphones to block out the noise of a particular noisy flight. On the upside, they don't leak much at moderate volumes, but in quiet settings the level of leakage could be distracting to those around you.
Average Isolation. The ANC on these headphones seem to be adding low-frequency artifacts that could go as high as 60Hz. This could potentially be heard in certain situations. The active cancellation provided from 100Hz to 1KHz is within good values. Like other ANC headphones, these headphones isolate passively above 1KHz. However, their performance in the Treble Range is only average probably due to seal issues.
Average Leakage performance. There is little leakage happening below 1KHz, and the amount of leakage from 1KHz onward is not too loud. However, the high-treble leakage seems uncharacteristic of closed-back headphones and could be due to poor seal.
The PXC 550 have one of the most feature-packed apps that we have evaluated so far. They also have a great battery life, especially, considering these are wireless and active noise canceling headphones. They will last up to 27 hours they have great and versatile power saving features and do not take too long to charge. Unfortunately, although they have a stable wireless connection that has quite a decent range and supports aptX and NFC pairing, they have quite a bit of latency which is most noticeable when watching videos.
The PXC 550 have a great wireless range indoors or outdoors. They were able to reach up to 50ft when the audio source was placed in another room. This makes them good headphones to use around your home or at the office as they won't easily drop the Bluetooth connection even when there are a few walls between you and the source. They have NFC and remember the last synced device. However, switching between devices that are not NFC-enabled can be quite tedious as their pairing state can sometimes have difficulties connecting to new devices.
The PXC 550 have an excellent battery performance. They last well over a day of continuous, wireless playback and only take about 2 hours to charge. They have an adjustable auto-off timer to save power and can continue charging while playing audio, which is great if you're close to a power outlet, like being at the office. This makes them good headphones to use in most travel situation unless you have no access to a power source for more than 24 hours.
The Sennheiser Cap Tune app give you an amazing amount of control over the active features of the PXC 550. They provide lots of options, from an auto-off timer to an adjustable Noise Canceling profile. The best feature, however, is the fully parametric equalizer, which lets you customize the sound to suit your taste for particular music genres, or even an individual track. The app is available for both Android and iOS with no practical difference between versions and it is one of the most complete companion apps we've tested. However, the sheer number of features and menus can get overwhelming at times, and there's a slight learning curve before you can use the app to its full potential.
In the box
- Sennheiser PXC 550 headphones
- Audio cable
- Airline adapter
- 1/8' to 1/4' adapter
- Carrying case
- USB charging cable