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In the box
Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC
The Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC are decently versatile over-ear headphones for most use cases. They have a customizable and above-average sound. They're well built, comfortable, and stable enough to run with although they won't be the ideal headphones for sports. They cancel enough ambient to be suitable for commuting but don't have as many features or options that you can control through the app, like the PXC 550 Wireless.
See our recommendations for the best Bluetooth Headphones.
- Highly customizable sound.
- Sturdy build quality.
- Low Leakage.
- Slightly tight on the head.
- Lacking in app features.
Update 9/28/2017: The microphone has been tested with our new methodology, as explained here
Update 8/10/2017: Converted to Test Bench 1.1. Learn more about our new versioned test bench system here.
The Sennheiser HD 4.50 look somewhat like the PXC 550 Wireless with a slightly less premium build quality. They're still sturdy headphones that won't break easily, and they have a comfortable fit thanks to the well-padded ear cups. Unfortunately, they tend to feel a bit tight out-of-the-box on most heads, and their included carrying case feels a bit cheap for their price range. On the upside, because they're a bit tight and wireless, they're stable enough for running and they fold so they won't take too much space in your bag.
The Sennheiser 4.50 look like a more budget version of the PXC 550. They have differently shaped ear cups and have a significantly thinner headband, but they keep the same matte color scheme and polished Sennheiser design. Unlike the PXC 550 though, the HD 4.50 ear cups feel a little bland since there's no branding. They're not very fashion-forward headphones, but their understated and minimal over-ear design will appeal to some.
The Sennheiser 4.50 are comfortable and well-padded headphones that feel a bit tight on the head. They're decently lightweight with ear cups that fit comfortably around most ears. The padding on the ear cups especially is thick and soft, but the headband lacks a bit more cushion to feel as comfortable as the PXC 550. The cups are also a bit smaller than on the PXCs. Unfortunately, they clamp the head quite a bit which may loosen over time, but out-of-the-box, they get slightly uncomfortable during long listening sessions.
The Sennheiser HD 4.50 have an above-average control scheme that gives you all the necessary functions but feels a little cramped and unresponsive. They provide call/music, track skipping, and volume controls. The volume also controls double as a noise canceling off switch when you press both buttons at the same time. However, you only get a visual feedback from the LED, and there's not vocal feedback when they're on your ears so you may not know when you've turned the noise canceling on or off. The track skipping toggle and play/call button is a little recessed and not as responsive as some of the other headphones we've reviewed with a similar control scheme.
- 100% Avg.Temp.Difference
These headphones are not very breathable. They have a tight fit and a decent seal around your ears which obstruct a good amount of airflow. They should be ok for casual listening and most use cases but will make your ears sweat during more demanding activities like running and exercising.
The Sennheiser 4.50 BTNC are decently portable headphones. They fold to take less space when you're carrying them around in their case. However, they're still a bit cumbersome to carry around on your person without a bag due to the relatively large ear cups.
The Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC come with a soft case that won't protect the headphones against impacts or drops but do have enough room for all the accessories and will shield the headphones from scratches and scuffs when in your bag.
The build quality of the Sennheiser 4.50 is as good as the PXC 550 Wireless. They're lightweight yet still durable. The ear cups are dense and won't break from a few accidental drops. The headband is also decently flexible but won't be able to bend past 180° without getting damaged. The headband is also relatively thin although it is reinforced by a metal frame. Overall, it's a sturdy design, but it won't be as durable as some of the more premium headphones we've reviewed that use a lot more metal in their build quality.
The Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC Wireless 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 Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC is an above-average sounding pair of closed-back over-ear headphones. These headphones have an excellent, deep, thumpy, and consistent bass, a well-balanced but forward sounding mid-range, and an even treble which lacks a bit of detail and brightness. Overall, they would be a very good choice for most genres, especially bass-heavy ones, but may not be best for classical or vocal centric-music because of their forward mid-range and lacking treble.
The Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC have an excellent bass. LFE (low-frequency extension) is at 13Hz, which is great. Low-bass is flat and over our neutral target by 2dB. This brings a bit of excess thump to their bass which some people may like. Mid-bass responsible for the body of bass guitars and the punch of the kick drums is flat and within 1dB of our target. High-bass, responsible for warmth is flat and quite well-balanced.
The mid-range is good. Low-mid and mid-mid are well-balanced and within 1.5dB of our target. This is important for a clear reproduction of vocals and lead instruments. High-mid however, is over our target by more than 4dB, bringing excess intensity and projection to vocals/leads.
The Sennheiser 4.50 have a mediocre treble range performance. The treble response is relatively even, but under our target by about 2dB. The dips around 4KHz and 7KHz have a small negative effect on the clarity and presence of vocals/leads.
The frequency response consistency is above-average. The bass range is quite consistent across our human subjects, which is impressive since they're closed-back headphones. Their consistency could be due to using their active noise cancelling as a feedback mechanism, similar the QuietComfort 35 II and WH-1000XM2. However, above 1KHz, their consistency is about average since there could be more than 4dB of deviation around 2KHz.
The Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC have great imaging. Weighted group delay is at 0.26, which is very good. The GD graph also shows that the group delay response is almost entirely below the audibility threshold. This results in a tight bass and a transparent treble reproduction. Additionally, the L/R drivers of our test unit were exceptionally well-matched in frequency, amplitude, and phase response, ensuring accurate placement and localization of objects (voices, instruments, video game effects) in the stereo field.
The Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC have a sub-par soundstage. The PRTF graph shows an inadequate amount of pinna activation with low accuracy, and there's not a notch present in the 10KHz area either. This suggests a soundstage that will be perceived as small and located inside the listener's head as opposed to in-front.
The Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC have an average harmonic distortion performance. The bass range distortion is within good limits. But the THD produced in the mid-range is elevated, especially in the Mid Range. There is also a peak in distortion around 9KHz which could make the sibilances on these headphones slightly harsh.
The Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC Wireless create a decent seal around most ears. This prevents them from being too leaky even at higher volumes and also stops a good amount of noise from seeping into the earcups. That and the above-average noise cancellation makes them a good option for commuting although you may still hear a bit of the outside world in really noisy environments.
The isolation performance is decent. The active noise canceling system of these headphones are effective from 20Hz up to 1KHz. In the bass range, where the rumble of airplane and bus engines sits, they achieve about 9dB of isolation which is about average. In the mid-range, important for blocking out speech, they reduce outside noise by almost 16dB which is good. In the treble range, occupied by sharp S and T sounds they isolate by 34dB, which is good.
The leakage performance is great. The significant portion of their leakage is between 500Hz and 3KHz which is not too broad. However, the overall level of the leakage is very low. With the music at 100dB SPL, the leakage at 1 foot away averages at about 31dB SPL and peaks at 44dB SPL, which is noticeably quieter than the noise floor of an average office.
The Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC have an average integrated microphone. In quiet environments, speech recorded or transmitted with this mic will sound relatively thin and noticeably muffled and lacking in detail. In noisy situations, they do better than most Bluetooth microphones and are able to separate speech from background noise in moderately loud environments, like a busy street.
The recording quality of the mic is sub-par. The LFE of 329Hz results in a recorded/transmitted speech that sound relatively thin. The HFE is at 3.4KHz, making speech noticeably muffled and lacking detail. The response between the LFE and HFE points is quite uneven suggesting an unnatural speech transmission.
- 100% SpNR
The integrated microphone of the HD 4.50 BTNC is decent at noise handling. It achieved a speech-to-noise ratio of 21dB in our SpNR test. This means it will be able to fully separate speech from ambient noise in moderately loud environments.
The Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC have a good battery life and decent app support. They do not last as long or have as many customization options and features as the PXC 550 wireless, but they have a good EQ and about 22 hours of continuous playback, which will easily last you the whole day even if you're a heavy user. Unfortunately, they do not have an auto-off timer to extend their battery life and you do not have as much control over the noise canceling or the sound profile like some of the more recent releases, like the Sony WH-1000XM2.
The Sennheiser HD 4.50 have a good battery life and charge relatively fast. They lasted up to 22 hours of continuous playback at average volumes which should easily last you full day's worth of use. Unfortunately, they don't have many power-saving features. There's no auto off timer, and you can't charge and listen at the same time. On the upside, they can be used completely passively which makes them a decent option if you're close to a power source like being at the office.
These headphones also support the excellent Sennheiser Captune app but have limited functionality. Unlike the PXC 550 Wireless which gives you full control over the noise cancellation and additional functions like an auto off timer and smart pause when you remove the headphones. You still get access to the great parametric equalizer, but that's a bout it which is a bit disappointing when comparing it to the functionality and versatility of the PXC 550.
- 10% Bluetooth
- 32% Wired
- 10% Base/Dock
- 22% Wireless Range
- 25% Latency
The Sennheiser HD 4.50 like the PXC 550 Wireless can pair simultaneously with multiple devices, support NFC and have an above-average wireless range. They also come with a regular audio cable that will work with most devices but does not have an in-line microphone compatible with consoles and PCs. Unfortunately, like most Bluetooth headphones, they have a bit too much latency, which won't be ideal for gaming or watching a lot of video content.
- 79% Multi-Device Pairing
- 20% NFC
- 0% PS4 Compatible
- 0% Xbox One Compatible
The Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC can pair simultaneously with 2 devices and support NFC. This makes them a rather versatile headphone when using Bluetooth.
- 13% Analog
- 9% USB
- 26% PS4 Compatible
- 26% Xbox One Compatible
- 26% PC Compatible
These headphones come with a 1/8TRS audio cable that does not have an inline mic like the PXC 550 wireless so they won't have a mic compatible with the Xbox One, PS4, and PCs. On the upside, you can use the USB cable for audio over USB when connected to PCs or tablets.
- 4% Optical Input
- 22% Line In
- 4% Line Out
- 22% USB Input
- 4% RCA Input
- 9% PS4 Compatible
- 9% Xbox One Compatible
- 9% PC Compatible
- 2% Power Supply
- 13% Dock Charging
These headphones do not have a base/dock. If you want a versatile headset with a base that you can also use wired, check out the SteelSeries Arctis 7 by SteelSeries.
The Sennheiser HD 4.50 have a good wireless range indoors and outdoors. They reached up to 40ft when the Bluetooth source was in another room and obstructed by walls and up to 120ft in direct line-of-sight. This should be more than enough range for most casual uses.
The Sennheiser 4.50 benefit from aptX which gives them a slightly better latency performance than typical Bluetooth headphones. However, your Bluetooth source needs to support aptX and the at 140ms and 161ms for the default (SBC) base latency is a bit too laggy for watching movies and gaming.
In the box
- Sennheiser HD 4.50 headphones
- Audio cable
- Carrying case
- USB charging cable
Compared to other Headphones
The Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC is a decent mixed usage headset with strong noise isolation and an above-average sound quality. These headphones have slightly fewer features than the similarly designed PXC 550 Wireless but still benefit from a good app that offers decent customization options. They have a long 22-hour battery life, they isolate well enough in loud, noisy environments and do not leak much which makes them a good choice for commuting and office use. Unfortunately, their build quality is not as good as some of the other wireless over-ears we've tested, and they're a little tight on the head so they won't be as comfortable as some of the headphones compared below.
The Sennheiser HD 4.50 are a good alternative to the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 with a more customizable app. They do not sound as exciting out of the box as the Plantronics, but they have a decently balanced sound and a comfortable if slightly tight fit. They're also not as well built as the Plantronics, but their smaller size and more stable fit make them a bit more suitable to take to the gym. They also have a better isolation performance than the Plantronics but they're not as intuitive and do not have aptX-LL for home theater use like the Pro 2. The Sennheiser are the best alternative to the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2, especially if you need strong app support to tweak the performance of your headphones to match what you're listening to.
The Bose SoundLink Around-Ear II are a better sounding but less versatile wireless over-ear than the Sennheiser HD 4.50. Like the QuietComfort 25 or 35, they are super comfortable, so you can wear for longer than the Sennheisers. They're also a little more lightweight and portable to carry around in your bag with their good hard case. They have a more balanced audio reproduction but do not benefit from an EQ with their app so you can't customize their sound like the HD 4.50. The Sennheiser HD 4.50 are, overall, the better, more customizable headset. However, if you want the better-sounding option and comfort is your highest priority when getting a headphone, then the Soundlinks are a decent alternative
The Bose QuietComfort 35 II are better commuting and mixed usage headset than the Sennheiser HD 4.50. You can't customize their sound profile like with the Sennheisers, but they do sound better out-of-the-box and may not need an EQ for most listeners anyway. On the upside, they're one of the best noise-canceling headphones with a comfortable, easy-to-use design and a very good sound. So if you need a headset that has a customizable EQ and doesn't leak much, then the Sennheiser HD.450 could be a decent and cheaper alternative. But for most use cases, especially commuting and traveling, the QC35 II are the better more comfortable headphones.
The Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless is a better-mixed usage headset than the HD 4.50. These headphones have a slightly better sound and have a lot more customization options and settings than the HD 4.50 despite having the same app. They isolate well enough for moderately loud environments and for commuting, although they do leak a bit more than the HD 4.50 so they won't be as good to use in noise-sensitive environments like a quiet office. On the upside, they have a longer battery life, with power-saving features, and a better wireless range. They also come with a more versatile cable that will provide audio and mic support when plugged into your console controller or PC. Overall, the PXC 550 wireless are the better choice for most use cases but they're also more expensive.