The Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless are above-average and versatile headphones for most use cases. They have a great design, excellent active features, and a customizable sound that's suitable for critical listening. They're lightweight, comfortable and stable enough to take to the gym. However, they don't have the most immersive sound quality, and their isolation is not as good as the Bose QuietComfort 35 in louder environments.
The PXC 550 Wireless are above-average headphones that perform admirably for most use cases. They have a highly customizable sound to suit your individual tastes, and they isolate well enough for moderately loud environments. Their wireless design feels comfortable, stable and durable. Unfortunately, they don't excel in one particular use case, and the isolation can be a little weak compared to the competition.
Good for neutral listening. These headphones have a multitude of ways to enhance and customize their audio reproduction. Therefore, you could find a sound profile to suit your taste, but it might not be the most accurate representation of the actual audio. The default sound profile is decently balanced and should sound good enough for most listeners. However, the lack of soundstage may not be ideal for those who want a more immersive sound.
Good for commuting. The Sennheiser PXC 550 have a decent noise isolation performance. They're comfortable and give you a high amount of control over your audio directly on the headphones or through the app. However, they're not the best in very loud environments.
Above-average for sports. They're not specifically designed for high-intensity activities, but they're stable enough to jog with. They have a comfortable fit and provide great control over your audio.
Suitable for office use. They don't leak much at regular volumes and isolate enough to prevent the ambient noise of a lively office from seeping into your audio.
Below-average for gaming. The Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless are comfortable, they have a good sound with a lot of bass and have a decent wireless range. Unfortunately, they have a mediocre-at-best integrated mic and a lot of latency which is not really suitable for gaming. On the upside, their cable is not os-specific and is compatible with most consoles and PCs.
The Sennheiser PXC 550 have a modern and sleek design that is 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 more 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. Unfortunately, the headband does not extend far enough to accommodate all head sizes and shapes. For a slightly more comfortable pair of headphones, take a look at the Jabra Elite 85h or the Sony WH-1000XM3.
Update 03/06/2020: After comparing more closely to the Sennheiser PXC 550-II Wireless, we raised the "Ease of Use" and "Feedback" scores. The text has been updated.
These headphones have a good, 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. It's a bit much, and isn't the most intuitive design, but it's fairly easy-to-use overall.
The Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless have a decently breathable design despite being closed back over-ear headphones. They still obstruct quite a bit of airflow so they won't be the ideal headphones to take to the gym or for more intense workouts. On the upside, the shape and size of the ear cups keep the outer ear relatively cooler than similarly designed headphones like the QuietComfort 35 or the WH-1000XM2.
Update 12/03/2019: After reviewing the PXC 550-II Wireless, we noticed that our measurements for the first version were off. We remeasured them and the review has been updated.
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.
They come with a decent soft case that will protect the headphones from mild water damage and potential scuffs and scratches. Unfortunately, the case will not shield them from hard falls or physical damage.
Although the Sennheiser 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.
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, although they're one of the best over-ear headphones for working out we've tested, and 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 frequency response consistency is about average. In the bass range, they performed quite consistently on our 5 human subjects, with little deviation between them. However, our one test subject who wears glasses experienced a 3dB drop in bass below 300Hz, and only in one ear. This suggests that under the right circumstances, the seal of these headphones could be broken with hair or glasses, and cause a noticeable drop in bass. In the treble range, the maximum amount of deviation below 10KHz is about 5dB, which is not bad, but is noticeable. This suggests that the treble performance of this headphone is also sensitive to positioning.
The bass is great. Their LFE (low-frequency extension) is at 26Hz, which is very good. However, it's not as low as some other over-ears' like the QuietComfort 35 II, and WH-1000XM2. Low-bass is about 2dB below our target, and mid-bass is underemphasized by 1.8dB. Overall, their bass is quite even and well-balanced, but a tad south of neutral, so fans of heavy-bass may not be completely pleased with them.
The mid-range is very good. Low-mid and mid-mid are flat and within 0.75dB of our target. This ensures a clear and well-balanced reproduction of vocals and lead instruments. The bump in high-mid however, gives a bit of excess intensity and projection to vocals and lead instruments, nudging them towards the front of the mix.
The Sennheiser PXC 550 have a good treble. The response is rather uneven, and overall, a tad north of neutral. The 10dB dip around 4KHz, negatively affects the detail and articulation of vocals and lead instruments, but it is too narrow to be noticeable. The 10dB peak in the sibilance range, however (6KHz-10KHz), makes the S and T sounds sharp and piercing, especially on bright vocals and cymbals.
The imaging of the PXC 550 is very good. Their weighted group delay is 0.34, which is within good limits. The GD graph however, shows that the group delay response crosses the audibility threshold below 40Hz. This suggests that the sub-bass of the Sennheiser may be a tad slow, which could be due to poor seal, or their ANC system. Their treble will still be quite transparent though. Additionally, the L/R drivers of our test unit were quite well-matched in amplitude and frequency response, but left some room for improvement in phase matching. This could weaken the stereo image to a small degree, but won't affect the accurate placement of objects (instruments, voice, footsteps) in the stereo image.
The Sennheiser PXC 550 have a sub-par soundstage. The PRTF graph shows that the response doesn't follow our reference at all. They have low accuracy, no distance, but above-average size. Therefore, their soundstage will most likely be perceived to be of a decent size, but not speaker-like and in-front. Their closed-back design also makes their soundstage feel less open than that of open-back headphones.
The isolation performance is about average. The ANC (active noise cancellation) on these headphones seem to be adding low-frequency artifacts that could go as high as 60Hz. This rumble could potentially be heard in certain situations. In the bass range, occupied by the rumble of airplane and bus engines, they achieved 4dB of isolation, which is sub-par. In the mid-range, important for cancelling out speech, they achieved more than 16dB of isolation, which is good. In the treble range, occupied by sharp S and T sounds, the Sennheiser PXC 550 achieve 30dB of isolation, which is also good.
The Sennheiser PXC 550 has a decent leakage performance. There is little leakage happening below 1KHz, so it will sound quite thin. The amount of leakage from 1KHz onwards is not too loud either. At 100dB SPL and 1 foot away, the peak is around 55dB SPL, which is the same as the noise floor of most offices. Also, the high-treble leakage seems uncharacteristic of closed-back headphones and could be due to poor seal.
The recording quality of the integrated microphone is about average. Its LFE (low-frequency extension), is at 293Hz, indicating speech recorded/transmitted with it will sound relatively thin. The HFE (high-frequency extension) of 3.5KHz means that speech will be noticeably muffled and lacking detail. But it will still be decently comprehensible, since speech intelligibility is mostly dependent on the 500Hz-4KHz range.
The microphone is decent at noise handling. In our SpNR test, they achieved a speech-to-noise ratio of 22dB, indicating the Sennheiser PXC 550 would be able to separate speech from background noise in moderately loud environments. But they may struggle in very loud places.
Update 02/14/2020: Due to an issue with the way we tested passive playback on headphones with no dedicated power button, these headphones were incorrectly listed as having passive playback when they don't. This review has been updated to reflect these changes.
The Sennheiser 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.
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.
Update 01/05/2020: These headphones used to use Sennheiser's CapTune app, but Sennheiser has been slowly moving to its newer SmartControl app and CapTune is no longer available. While these headphones should still work with CapTune if you have it installed, we're not sure how long it will be supported, and it can no longer be downloaded. This review has been updated to reflect these changes.
Sennheiser's Smart Control app is alright. You can adjust their ANC and there are a couple EQ presets and room effects. However, the Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless also give you access to a parametric EQ, which is lacking with the PXC 550.
The Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless can pair simultaneously with 2 devices and support NFC. This makes them a rather versatile headphone when using Bluetooth. However, pairing is not as easy as the Bose QuietComfort 35, since you have to switch them off first and hold the power button when turning them on to put them in pairing. It can be a bit tedious when trying to pair to multiple devices but on the upside once paired they will automatically connect to the 2 last synced devices as soon as you switch them on.
Poor latency performance. The Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless have about 200ms of SBC latency and 171ms when using aptX. It's within the range of most Bluetooth headphones but won't be ideal for watching movies or gaming.
These headphones come with a 1/8TRRS audio cable with an in-line microphone that's compatible with the Xbox One, PS4 and PCs. You can also use the USB cable for audio over USB when connected to PCs or tablets.
Update: 01/09/2020: Our previous test for wired latency was done with the analog audio connection, we have since retested with the USB connection and the score has been updated.
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 PXC 550 are a versatile wireless headset with great customization options and a good sound. They do not have as much isolation as some of the competing models within their price range, but they provide more control over their active features than the Sony WH-1000XM3. They also have a comfortable design that's slightly more well rounded than the QC35 or Sony WH-1000XM2 thanks to their tighter fit which makes them a bit more stable for sports. See our recommendations for the best wireless headphones and the best bass headphones.
The Sony WH-1000XM3 are a slightly better noise cancelling headset than the Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless. The Sonys have a more premium, high-end build quality and offer better noise isolation for traveling and commuting in noisy conditions. The Sonys are also a bit more comfortable than the Sennheisers. On the other hand, the PXC 550 Wireless have more connection options, making them a great choice if you have a lot of devices that you typically use your headphones with. The PXC 550 Wireless also give you a bit more control over their active features, and they sound a bit better with their default sound profile although both headphones can be EQed fairly easily thanks to their respective apps.
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.
The Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018 are a bit better than the Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless overall. The Bose have an easier to use control scheme and a more comfortable over-ear fit. They also have better noise cancellation and a better-balanced sound profile that packs a more bass than the Sennheiser. On the upside, the app for the Sennheiser gives you access to EQ presets so you can change the way they sound.
The Jabra Elite 85h are slightly better headphones than the Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless. They feel a bit more comfortable and their physical button control scheme is easier to use than the touch-sensitive surface of the PXC. Both have similar sound quality, but the Jabras have more bass. The isolation performance of the Elite 85h is also slightly better, which will be good for commuting. On the other hand, the PXC’s EQ is better and offers better customization.
The Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless are a better headset overall than the Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 Wireless. The PXC 550 are more comfortable, have a better battery performance, and more features. They also sound better out-of-the-box than the HD1 Wireless. On the other hand, the HD1 have a better build quality that feels more durable. The HD1 also isolate better in loud and quieter conditions thanks to their superior noise cancellation and low leakage.
The Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless are better headphones than the Sony WH-XB900N, especially when it comes to audio quality. Their sound profile is flatter and more accurate, resulting in better audio fidelity. Their ANC feature is also slightly better as they don’t create as much self-noise. While they don’t offer as much battery life as the WH-XB900N, they take noticeably less time to charge, which might be worth it for some. The Sennheiser Captune app also offers a full parametric EQ, and the PXC 550 can be connected to 2 devices simultaneously. On the other hand, the Sony WH-XB900N have better wireless range and are more comfortable than the PXC 550. They’ll also be better-suited for bass-heavy genres than the PXC 550.
The Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless are a slightly better and more customizable wireless headset than the Sony WH-1000XM2. The Sennheisers have a more customizable app, although it's not as well-made or as sleek as the Sonys. They also have a bit more control over their features than the WH-1000XM2. Their default sound quality is also a bit more balanced with instruments and vocals than the Sony, although they do have less bass. On the upside, the WH-1000XM2 look more premium than the Sennheisers. They also have much better noise cancelation that can optimize for different environments and will be more suitable for commute and travel than the PXC 550 Wireless.
The Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless and the Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless are very similar overall. On one hand, the Momentum 3 is better built, have a more retro look and a bit more bass-heavy sound profile, while on the other hand, the PXC have a more well-balanced sound, but are a bit bright. The noise isolation of the Momentum 3 is also better, especially against low-end frequencies like the rumble of engines. However, the PXC 550 have a better battery life and an in-line microphone. The PXC have a touch-sensitive control scheme while the Momentum 3 have physical buttons.
The Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless are better headphones with more features than the Sennheiser HD 4.50. The PXC 550 have a more comfortable fit, touch-sensitive controls, a longer battery life, a better-balanced default sound profile, and more control over their audio profile and noise cancelling. On the other hand, the HD 4.50 have a slightly better isolation performance, thanks to their tighter over-ear fit.
The Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless are marginally better than the Beats Studio 3 Wireless if the most important thing for you is an accurate and neutral sound. The Beats are slightly more comfortable and a noticeably better ANC feature, but when it comes to sound, the Sennheiser are more accurate. You can also customize the sound of the Sennheiser to your liking with their dedicated app, which the Beats don't have. They can also connect simultaneously to two devices and can be used wired when the battery is dead, which the Beats can't do.
The Sennheiser PXC 550 and the Sony WH-H900N perform quite similarly: they're both well-built, comfortable options that sound very well-balanced but have unremarkable noise cancelling. The Sony sound a bit more detailed and have more customization options with their app, but the Sennheiser have an auto-off timer to help save battery.
The Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless and the Nura Nuraphone are two good headphones but in very different ways. The PXC 550 will sound more neutral than the exciting-sounding Nuraphone. The PXC have a more traditional over-ear fit and are a bit more comfortable. On the other hand, their ANC feature isn’t great, and the passive isolation of the Nuraphone is better at blocking out noise, although their ANC is also pretty lackluster. However, the Nuraphone have a very unique app that lets you personalize the sound profile of the headphones to suit how you hear.
The Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless are a better headset overall than the Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 On-Ear, but since the Momentum are wired-only headphones, you cannot make a direct comparison. The PXC 550 are more comfortable and have a lot more features, like a customizable sound and noise cancellation. This makes them more versatile for most use cases and suitable for different environments, unlike the Sennheisers. They also sound better out of the box, but on the other hand, the Momentum are wired, so they have no latency when watching videos. They're also a bit more compact and portable than the PXC 550 Wireless. However, you can also use the Bose with the provided audio cable for the same use case.