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Sennheiser PXC 550-II Wireless Headphones Review

Tested using Methodology v1.4
Reviewed Nov 29, 2019 at 09:33 am
Sennheiser PXC 550-II Wireless Picture
7.3
Mixed Usage
7.0
Neutral Sound
7.7
Commute/Travel
7.4
Sports/Fitness
7.6
Office
5.8
Wireless Gaming
7.2
Wired Gaming
7.1
Phone Calls
Type Over-ear
Enclosure Closed-Back
Wireless Yes
Noise Cancelling Yes
Mic Yes
Transducer Dynamic

The Sennheiser PXC 550-II Wireless are decent, well-rounded headphones. These premium-looking over-ears are very similar to the previous version, and the most noticeable difference is their greatly improved ANC performance. Their sound profile is very well-balanced and they should be versatile enough for most genres of music. Like the previous version, they have a comfortable and very stable fit, meaning they're even a good choice if you prefer using over-ear headphones at the gym.

Our Verdict

7.3 Mixed Usage

The Sennheiser PXC 550-II are decent over-ear headphones for mixed usage. They're quite comfortable and their ANC blocks a good amount of ambient noise, making them great for commuting or using in the office. They're also very stable and breathe well for over-ear headphones, making them a good choice if you prefer the fit of over-ears at the gym. They also have a fairly well-balanced sound profile that's well-suited for a wide variety of genres and content.

Pros
  • Great ANC performance.
  • Very stable and comfortable fit.
  • Very accurate bass and mid-range performance.
  • Premium look and feel.
Cons
  • Minor upgrade over the first generation.
  • Uneven treble performance hurts overall audio reproduction.
  • App lacks advertised EQ settings.
7.0 Neutral Sound

These neutral sound of these headphones is decent. While their bass and mid ranges are excellently well-balanced, unfortunately, their treble isn't and may sound harsh or piercing. Due to their closed-back design, they also have a very poor soundstage reproduction which sounds small and in the user's head. Overall, they're versatile and well-suited for most genres of music, but more critical listeners may want to look elsewhere.

7.7 Commute/Travel

The Sennheiser PXC 550-II are very good for commuting or travel. Thanks to their well-padded design, they're quite comfortable and can be worn for extended periods without fatigue or soreness. They also have a very good battery life, which is great for long flights. Their ANC performance is also great and does an effective job of blocking out the engine noise on a plane or bus. Unfortunately, they aren't the most portable, though they do fold flat and come with a soft carrying case to give them mild protection.

7.4 Sports/Fitness

The Sennheiser PXC 550-II are good over-ear headphones for sports use. They're comfortable and feel quite stable on the head, meaning they likely won't move or fall off during jogs or light work-outs. They also breathe very well for over-ear headphones, so you won't sweat more than usual, making them a very good choice if you prefer the fit of over-ears but want headphones that you can also take with you to the gym.

7.6 Office

These headphones are good for using in the office. They're quite comfortable and have a very long battery life, meaning you should be able to use them for a full work day. Their ANC also does an excellent job of blocking out background chatter, helping you keep focused at work. Unfortunately, they do leak a bit of audio, though it likely won't be enough to bother those around you unless you work in an extremely quiet environment or blast your music.

5.8 Wireless Gaming

The Sennheiser PXC 550-II aren't recommended for wireless gaming. They can only connect wireless via Bluetooth, meaning they won't be compatible with PS4 or Xbox One. While you can pair them to a Bluetooth-enabled PC, their high latency makes them a poor choice for gaming, unless your PC supports aptX(LL).

7.2 Wired Gaming

These headphones are decent for wired gaming. While technically they work, it's worth noting that when plugged into the controller for an Xbox One, we were able to get audio, but unfortunately the microphone didn't work. On PS4, both audio and the microphone were supported, but talk-through on the headphones was automatically enabled and couldn't be turned off, which may get irritating if you game in noisy environments. This doesn't appear to be an issue if you plug the headphones directly into the PS4 console using USB. For PC we did not notice these issues, and the headphones and microphone worked as expected.

7.1 Phone Calls

The Sennheiser PXC 550-II are decent headphones for phone calls. Their microphone performance is decent and speech transmitted with these headphones sounds better than many other Bluetooth headphones. Unfortunately, their noise handling isn't very good, and the person on the other end of the line will likely have a difficult time hearing you if you're in even a moderately noisy environment.

  • 7.3 Mixed Usage
  • 7.0 Neutral Sound
  • 7.7 Commute/Travel
  • 7.4 Sports/Fitness
  • 7.6 Office
  • 5.8 Wireless Gaming
  • 7.2 Wired Gaming
  • 7.1 Phone Calls
  1. Update 8/24/2020: Validated our results.
  2. Update 6/17/2020: We've retested these headphones' passive playback support.
  3. Update 2/5/2020: Converted to Test Bench 1.4.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style

The Sennheiser PXC 550-II are over-ear wireless headphones with a fairly sleek and understated style. They look identical to the Sennheiser PXC 550, though they're now all black with no silver accents. They're made with high-quality materials that give them a premium, high-end look.

7.5
Design
Comfort
Weight 0.51 lbs
Clamping Force
0.8 lbs

The Sennheiser PXC 550-II Wireless are quite comfortable over-ears. They have the same great padding as the PXC 550, with fairly small ear cups that should still be large enough to comfortably fit most people. Unfortunately, though the headband is heavily cushioned and comfortable, it doesn't extend too far, so these headphones may not fit all head sizes and shapes.

7.6
Design
Controls
OS Compatibility
Not OS specific
Ease Of Use Good
Feedback Decent
Call/Music Control Yes
Volume Control Yes
Microphone Control No
Channel Mixing
No
Noise Cancelling Control Adjustable
Talk-Through
On/Off
Additional Controls Voice Assistant

The touch-sensitive control scheme of the PXC 550-II is great. It's quite intuitive and easy-to-use and lets you adjust volume, skip tracks, turn on/off talk-through, and pause/play music or answer/hang up phone calls. The Bluetooth button pulls up your phone's assistant, and there's a dedicated slider to choose from the 3 levels of ANC: off, user mode, and max.

7.3
Design
Breathability
Avg.Temp.Difference 3.5 C

The Sennheiser PXC 550-II Wireless have decent breathability, especially for closed-back over-ear headphones. They may cause you to sweat more than usual but will keep your ears cooler than most other over-ear headphones, making them decent for lighter workouts.

6.5
Design
Portability
L 7.0 "
W 6.3 "
H 1.4 "
Volume 62 Cu. Inches
Transmitter Required No

The Sennheiser PXC 550-II are decently portable. They're mid-sized over-ear headphones that can fold one ear cup in at a time. They can lay flat, and come with a hard case to protect them in a bag.

7.0
Design
Case
Type Hard case
L 6.9 "
W 7.4 "
H 1.8 "
Volume 92 Cu. Inches

The Sennheiser PXC 550-II come with the same case as the first generation. It's a decent soft case that should protect your headphones from light water exposure but probably won't do much for harder falls or drops.

7.5
Design
Build Quality

Like the first generation, the Sennheiser PXC 550-II have a good build quality and they feel quite solid. They're made of dense plastic, and the headband is reinforced by a thin metal frame. Overall, they should be able to withstand a few accidental drops and bumps without too much damage.

7.5
Design
Stability

The Sennheiser PXC 550-II are quite stable and shouldn't easily fall off your head. They're just as stable as the first generation and are some of the best over-ear headphones for working out we've tested. While they may not be stable enough for more intense workouts, you should be able to jog with them without them swaying too much or falling off.

Design
Headshots 1
Design
Headshots 2
Design
Top
Design
In The Box

  • Sennheiser PXC 550-II headphones
  • 1/16" to 1/8" TRRS audio cable
  • Airline adapter
  • Carrying case
  • Micro-USB charging cable
  • Manuals

Sound
Sound
Sound Profile
Bass Amount
-0.62 db
Treble Amount
-0.53 db

The sound profile of the Sennheiser PXC 550-II is bright and well-balanced and should be well-suited for most genres of music and content like podcasts and audiobooks. Unfortunately, the treble range isn't as well-balanced as bass and mid, which may cause vocals to be lacking in detail, and produce slightly harsh and piercing sibilants (S and T sounds).

7.0
Sound
Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
0.61 dB

The frequency response consistency of the Sennheiser PXC 550-II is decent. They're fairly consistent in the bass range, but their treble delivery is sensitive to the fit and positioning of these headphones on the head. This means that different people may experience their treble reproduction differently.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
8.7
Sound
Bass Accuracy
Std. Err.
1.83 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
23.44 Hz
Low-Bass
-0.61 dB
Mid-Bass
0.78 dB
High-Bass
3.0 dB

The bass response of the Sennheiser PXC 550-II is excellent and very well-balanced. While they won't provide head-rattling bass, they will produce just the right amount of thump and rumble. Overall, their bass is deep, well-balanced, and punchy, without sounding muddy or boomy.

8.7
Sound
Mid Accuracy
Std. Err.
1.69 dB
Low-Mid
0.36 dB
Mid-Mid
0.51 dB
High-Mid
-0.83 dB

The mid-range response of the Sennheiser PXC 550-II is very accurate. Low-mid and mid-mid follow the neutral curve almost perfectly, meaning lead instruments should sound detailed and present. In high-mid, our right driver dipped, though this result may not occur on all units, and overall, vocals should still stay present and sound detailed as well.

6.8
Sound
Treble Accuracy
Std. Err.
4.27 dB
Low-Treble
-3.06 dB
Mid-Treble
3.37 dB
High-Treble
-1.93 dB

The treble accuracy of the Sennheiser PXC 550-II is decent. Vocals may be slightly lacking detail, and cymbals and sibilants (S and T sounds) may sound harsh and piercing.

7.1
Sound
Peaks/Dips
Peaks
1.85 db
Dips
1.48 db

The peaks and dips performance of the Sennheiser PXC 550-II is decent. The most noticeable peaks/dips are in the treble range, which unfortunately is quite uneven. The dips in low-treble will result in some detail being lost from vocals, whereas the peaks in mid-treble will cause cymbals and sibilants (S and T sounds) to sound harsh and piercing.

8.4
Sound
Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
0.31
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
0.27
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
2.78
Weighted Phase Mismatch
4.48

The imaging performance of the Sennheiser PXC 550-II is great. The group delay is below the audibility threshold for almost the entire range, although it does cross it in low-bass, suggesting that the sub-bass may be a bit loose. Our L/R drivers also have a slight frequency mismatch, though this may not be noticeable. It's worth noting that these results are only valid for our unit and yours may perform differently.

3.1
Sound
Passive Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
5.3 dB
PRTF Size (Avg.)
1.3 dB
PRTF Distance
4.08 dB
Openness
1.9
Acoustic Space Excitation
3.7

The Sennheiser PXC 550-II have a poor soundstage. There's not much pinna activation, and the closed-back design sounds less open than open-back headphones. The soundstage will likely sound fairly small and unnatural, and be inside the listener's head as opposed to in front.

0
Sound
Virtual Soundstage
Head Modeling
No
Speaker Modeling
No
Room Ambience
No
Head Tracking
No
Virtual Surround
No
7.5
Sound
Weighted Harmonic Distortion
WHD @ 90
0.311
WHD @ 100
0.158

The Sennheiser PXC 550-II's weighted harmonic distortion performance is good. All frequencies fall within acceptable limits, which should result in a clear and pure audio reproduction.

Sound
Test Settings
Firmware
Unknown
Power
On
Connection
Unknown
Codec
aptX, 16-bit, 48kHz
EQ
Default
ANC
Maximum
Tip/Pad
Default
Microphone
Integrated
Isolation
8.1
Isolation
Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
Overall Attenuation
-21.88 dB
Bass
-15.02 dB
Mid
-21.04 dB
Treble
-30.12 dB

The Sennheiser PXC 550-II have great noise isolation performance, and their ANC feature works much better than the PXC 550. They do a good job at blocking the low rumble of plane and bus engines, and an excellent job blocking background speech. This means they'll be a great choice for your daily commute or to block out chatty coworkers in the office.

6.7
Isolation
Leakage
Leakage Audio
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
41.04 dB

The Sennheiser PXC 550-II have decent leakage performance. Most of the leakage will be from high frequencies and therefore will sound quite thin. Even at higher volumes, the amount of leakage is around the same as the noise floor of most offices. As long as you don't blast your music in very quiet environments, you shouldn't bother those around you.

Microphone
Microphone
Microphone Style
Integrated
Yes
In-Line
No
Boom
No
Detachable Boom
No
6.7
Microphone
Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
LFE
364.41 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
3.73 dB
HFE
7346.09 Hz
Weighted THD
1.586
Gain
12.54 dB

The recording quality of the microphone is decent. Speech transmitted or recorded sounds reasonably full and understandable and shouldn't be too muffled.

6.7
Microphone
Noise Handling
Speech + Pink Noise
Speech + Subway Noise
SpNR
18.55 dB

The microphone is decent at handling noise. Like most Bluetooth headphones, the microphone will have a hard time separating your voice from background sounds, even in moderately noisy environments.

Active Features
8.8
Active Features
Battery
Battery Type
Rechargable
Continuous Battery Life
21.3 hrs
Additional Charges
0.0
Total Battery Life
21.3 hrs
Charge Time
1.3 hrs
Power-Saving Feature
Standby mode
Audio While Charging
Yes
Passive Playback
Yes
Charging Port micro-USB

Update 06/17/2020: We've retested these headphones for passive playback and fixed the review as they do work passively. This review has been updated to reflect these changes.

The Sennheiser PXC 550-II have excellent battery performance. Their total battery life of over 21 hours means that they should easily last you a few days without you having to worry about charging them. They have an optional smart pause to pause your music when you remove the headphones and also go into a standby mode after 5 minutes without a Bluetooth connection. To turn off the headphones completely, you simply fold the ear cups flat. It's worth noting that while our test unit fully charged in under 1.5 hours, they're advertised as taking three hours to charge.

6.5
Active Features
App Support
App Name Sennheiser Smart Control
iOS Yes
Android Yes
macOS No
Windows No
Equalizer
Presets
ANC Control
Adjustable
Mic Control No
Room Effects
Yes
Playback Control
No
Button Mapping No
Surround Support
No

Update 03/06/2020: We had incorrectly stated there were no EQ settings available. There are indeed a few EQ presets, but no customizable graphic or parametric EQ. The text has been updated.

The dedicated companion app for the Sennheiser PXC 550-II is acceptable. Besides providing ANC adjustment, it only has a few EQ presets and room effects, unlike the Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless which have a full parametric EQ. On the upside, it's available on both iOS and Android.

Connectivity
8.2
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
5.0
Multi-Device Pairing
2 Devices
NFC Pairing
No
Line Of Sight Range
237 ft
PC Latency (SBC)
112 ms
PC Latency (aptX)
106 ms
PC Latency (aptX HD)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX-LL)
59 ms
iOS Latency
415 ms
Android Latency
70 ms

The Sennheiser PXC 550-II are Bluetooth headphones that support aptX(LL) for low-latency connections. While their default latency is decent, their aptX(LL) latency is quite good and should result in barely noticeable audio lag, assuming your device supports this codec.

0
Connectivity
Non-Bluetooth Wireless
Non-BT Line Of Sight Range
N/A
Non-BT Latency
N/A

These headphones are Bluetooth-only for their wireless connection.

9.2
Connectivity
Wired
Analog Audio
Yes
USB Audio
micro-USB
Detachable Yes
Length 4.7 ft
Connection 1/8" TRRS
Analog/USB Audio Latency
28 ms

Update 01/09/2020: Our wired latency test for the PXC 550 was incorrectly done with the analog audio connection and has since been retested with the USB connection with an updated score. However, the PXC 550-II was done with the USB connection and the score remains unchanged.

The Sennheiser PXC 550-II can be used wired with the included 1/16" to 1/8" TRRS cable if your device has a headphone port. They also can carry audio and charge through USB when connected to a PC.

Connectivity
PC / PS4 Compatibility
PC/PS4 Analog
Audio + Microphone
PC/PS4 Wired USB
Audio + Microphone
PC/PS4 Non-BT Wireless
No

These headphones can be used for both audio and microphone with PS4 when wired into the controller via the included TRRS cable. However, in our tests, this enabled talk-through on the headphones and couldn't be turned off, which could be irritating. On PC, we didn't have this problem. This doesn't appear to be an issue if you connect the headphones directly to your PS4 console with USB.

Connectivity
Xbox One Compatibility
Xbox One Analog
Audio Only
Xbox One Wired USB
Audio Only
Xbox One Non-BT Wireless
No

While you can plug these headphones into an Xbox One controller using the supplied TRRS cable, this only worked for audio in our tests and we couldn't get the microphone to work.

0
Connectivity
Base/Dock
Type
No Base/Dock
USB Input
No
Line In
No
Line Out
No
Optical Input
No
RCA Input
No
Dock Charging
No
Power Supply
No Base/Dock

These headphones don't have a base or dock.

Compared to other headphones

Comparison picture

The Sennheiser PXC 550-II are very similar to the previous version. They both look and feel the same, with the main improvement being their ANC performance, which works much better. They fit a lot more stable on the head than the similar Sony WH-1000XM3 or Bose QC35 II, which makes them a great option if you like using over-ears at the gym. See our recommendations for the best wireless Bluetooth headphones, the best noise cancelling headphones, and the best over-ear headphones.

Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Sennheiser PXC 550-II Wireless are a minor upgrade over the Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless. They have much better ANC performance and an easier-to-use control scheme. Other than that, they both look almost identical, have the same features, and have very similar sound profiles.

Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018 are better headphones than the Sennheiser PXC 550-II Wireless. They're much more comfortable, have a much better-balanced sound profile, and isolate noise better. The Sennheiser, on the other hand, are better for using at the gym due to their more breathable and stable design.

Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Sennheiser PXC 550-II Wireless are very similar to the Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless. The Sonys are slightly more comfortable, feel slightly better built, and have much better noise isolation. On the other hand, the Sennheiser have better controls, a more stable fit, and a more accurate and less bass-heavy sound profile.

Bose 700 Headphones Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Sennheiser PXC 550-II Wireless are very similar to the Bose 700 Headphones Wireless. The Bose are slightly more comfortable, feel a bit better built, and have better ANC. On the other hand, the Sennheiser feel more stable on the head, breathe better, and have a very similar sound profile.

Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless
SEE PRICE
BestBuy.com

The Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless and the Sennheiser PXC 550-II Wireless each have their pros and cons. Their sound profiles are fairly similar overall but fans of bass will prefer the added thump the Momentum 3 provide. While they both have great noise isolation, the Momentum 3 reduce more noise in the bass range while the PXC 550-II isolate better in the mid-range. Their battery performance is also better than the Momentum, but they don't feel as well-built.

Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Sennheiser PXC 550-II Wireless are better headphones than the Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Wireless. They have better controls, a much more accurate sound profile, and feel more stable. On the other hand, the Bowers & Wilkins feel much more premium, have a much longer battery life and have very similar ANC performance.

+ Show more

Sennheiser PXC 550-II Wireless Price

Black PXC 550-II
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

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