Sennheiser SC 160 USB-C Headset Headphones Review

Tested using Methodology v1.4
Reviewed Oct 02, 2020 at 08:07 am
Sennheiser SC 160 USB-C Headset Picture
5.0
Mixed Usage
6.9
Neutral Sound
3.8
Commute/Travel
5.3
Sports/Fitness
4.5
Office
5.3
Wireless Gaming
7.0
Wired Gaming
6.7
Phone Calls
Type On-ear
Enclosure Closed-Back
Wireless No
Noise Cancelling No
Mic Yes
Transducer Dynamic

The Sennheiser SC 160 USB-C are on-ear headphones designed for business professionals. They have a flippable boom microphone that ensures your voice is heard clearly, even in noisy areas like a call center. They also have a slightly v-shaped sound profile but their mid and treble ranges are neutral enough to reproduce detailed voices too. Unfortunately, some may find the USB-C cable limiting, especially if you have an older device that doesn't have this input. Still, if you plan to use these with a computer, they're decently comfortable enough to wear for long periods.

Our Verdict

5.0 Mixed Usage

The Sennheiser SC 160 USB-C are poor for mixed use. As these headphones are designed for business use, they have a great-performing boom microphone which allows your voice to be heard clearly, even in noisy environments. However, they struggle to isolate ambient sound around you like a train engine or office chatter, but this is most likely by design so that you can hear yourself talk. They're not stable enough to wear while doing physical exercise and some may find them a little too boomy for neutral sound.

Pros
  • Great performing boom microphone.
  • Decently comfortable fit.
Cons
  • Almost no noise isolation.
  • Leak a lot of sound.
  • Unstable fit.
  • Limited music controls.
6.9 Neutral Sound

The Sennheiser SC 160 USB-C are alright for neutral sound. These headphones have a boomy sound that lacks a thumpy low bass. However, their mid and treble ranges are fairly neutral, ensuring present, detail, and clear vocals as well as lead instruments. They also have good frequency response consistency, although their treble delivery can vary a bit due to their on-ear fit.

Pros
  • Decently comfortable fit.
Cons
  • Disappointing passive soundstage.
3.8 Commute/Travel

The Sennheiser SC 160 USB-C are bad for commute and travel. They're decently comfortable, so you can wear them for long trips without too much fatigue. However, they're less than ideal for traveling as they don't cut down almost any background noise such as bus engines or passenger chatter. They're also somewhat bulky since they can't fold up to a smaller size.

Pros
  • Decently comfortable fit.
Cons
  • Almost no noise isolation.
  • Leak a lot of sound.
5.3 Sports/Fitness

The Sennheiser SC 160 USB-C are disappointing for sports and fitness. While they're decently comfortable, these somewhat bulky headphones aren't meant to be worn during physical activity and can move around or fall off of your head with the slightest amount of movement. Their USB-C cable can also limit which devices you use them with, especially if your phone doesn't support this connection.

Pros
  • Decently comfortable fit.
Cons
  • Unstable fit.
  • Limited music controls.
4.5 Office

The Sennheiser SC 160 USB-C are poor for office use. These headphones are comfortable enough to wear throughout your shift. However, they don't isolate against almost any background noise such as office chatter. On the upside, their USB-C connection can be used on compatible PCs with full audio and mic support.

Pros
  • Great performing boom microphone.
  • Decently comfortable fit.
Cons
  • Almost no noise isolation.
  • Leak a lot of sound.
5.3 Wireless Gaming

The Sennheiser SC 160 USB-C Headset is wired-only and can't be used wirelessly.

7.0 Wired Gaming

The Sennheiser SC 160 USB-C are decent for wired gaming. As they use a USB-C cable, they can only be directly used on compatible PCs or by using an adapter. That said, as they have full audio and mic support on PC, you can use them while playing your favorite games. They have a decently comfortable fit with a boomy sound to help bring out some sound effects. Their boom microphone also does a great job of capturing your voice clearly, even in noisy environments.

Pros
  • Great performing boom microphone.
  • Decently comfortable fit.
Cons
  • Disappointing passive soundstage.
6.7 Phone Calls

The Sennheiser SC 160 USB-C are alright for phone calls. These business-oriented headphones have a great performing boom mic and your voice sounds clear and natural to those on the other line, even in noisy environments. However, these headphones struggle to cut down ambient noise like office chatter, which can make it more difficult to hear your conversation.

Pros
  • Great performing boom microphone.
  • Decently comfortable fit.
Cons
  • Almost no noise isolation.
  • 5.0 Mixed Usage
  • 6.9 Neutral Sound
  • 3.8 Commute/Travel
  • 5.3 Sports/Fitness
  • 4.5 Office
  • 5.3 Wireless Gaming
  • 7.0 Wired Gaming
  • 6.7 Phone Calls

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style

The Sennheiser SC 160 USB-C are very nondescript and plain looking. They have a matte black look with a thin, flippable microphone.

7.0
Design
Comfort
Weight 0.23 lbs
Clamping Force
0.5 lbs

These headphones are decently comfortable. They feel quite light on the head and barely clamp your ears. However, if you try to move the ear cup, you can accidentally change the headband length, which can become annoying.

6.6
Design
Controls
OS Compatibility
Not OS specific
Ease Of Use Good
Feedback Subpar
Call/Music Control Yes
Volume Control Yes
Microphone Control Mute/Unmute
Channel Mixing
No
Noise Cancelling Control No
Talk-Through
No
Additional Controls Voice Assistant

The Sennheiser SC 160 USB-C have alright controls. There are four physical buttons including volume up/down, and mic mute, which has a red light that turns on when you're muted. There's also a dedicated call management button that additionally activates voice assistant on Android devices. Unfortunately, there's almost no feedback and the buttons don't feel very clicky.

5.9
Design
Portability
L 7.6 "
W 6.4 "
H 2.3 "
Volume 112 Cu. Inches
Transmitter Required No

The Sennheiser SC 160 USB-C have sub-par portability. While their ear cups can swivel to lay flat, the headband can't fold to help reduce their footprint. The boom microphone isn't detachable either, and it can snag on something if you throw them into a bag.

0
Design
Case
Type No case
L N/A
W N/A
H N/A
Volume N/A

These headphones don't come with a carrying case.

6.5
Design
Build Quality

The Sennheiser SC 160 USB-C have an alright built quality. While they're mostly made of plastic and silicone, they still feel somewhat solid. However, the ear cups are a bit loose, which makes it easy to lose your fit.

5.5
Design
Stability

These headphones have disappointing stability. They can easily move around on your head, even with light movement. Their wired design and non-detachable microphone also make them prone to getting snagged on something, pulling them off your head.

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

  • Sennheiser SC 160 USB-C Headset
  • Manuals

Sound
Sound
Sound Profile
Bass Amount
-2.01 db
Treble Amount
-1.06 db

The Sennheiser SC 160 have an excited, v-shaped sound profile. If you're taking a lot of phone calls, they have smooth and accurate mids, which helps the presence and clarity of vocals. However, fans of EDM may find the lack of thump and rumble a little disappointing,

7.7
Sound
Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
0.46 dB

These headphones have good frequency response consistency. While the bass response is fairly consistent, the treble response varies a bit more, most likely due to their on-ear design.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
5.7
Sound
Bass Accuracy
Std. Err.
5.96 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
40.0 Hz
Low-Bass
-5.28 dB
Mid-Bass
7.23 dB
High-Bass
5.96 dB

The Sennheiser SC 160 have disappointing bass accuracy. They're lacking low bass but this shouldn't really affect speech. However, they're overemphasized in both the mid and high-bass, so voices sound very punchy and boomy.

8.7
Sound
Mid Accuracy
Std. Err.
1.69 dB
Low-Mid
2.38 dB
Mid-Mid
0.03 dB
High-Mid
0.1 dB

These headphones have excellent mid accuracy. They're a little overemphasized in the low-mids, which makes them sound a little muddy and cluttered. However, mid and high-mid are both very neutral and flat, which results in present and clear speech.

7.4
Sound
Treble Accuracy
Std. Err.
3.5 dB
Low-Treble
0.07 dB
Mid-Treble
4.87 dB
High-Treble
-4.75 dB

The treble accuracy of these headphones is decent. The even and neutral low-treble ensures that voices sound detailed and present. However, the mid-treble is overemphasized, which makes sibilants like S and T sounds bright and piercing.

6.3
Sound
Peaks/Dips
Peaks
2.8 db
Dips
1.19 db

The Sennheiser SC 160 have a mediocre peaks and dips performance. While they may not have a thumpy sound, the peak in the mid-bass brings intense punch and boom to your mixes. There's also a peak in the mid-treble which makes sibilants like S and T sounds very sharp and piercing.

8.0
Sound
Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
0.47
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
1.14
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
2.04
Weighted Phase Mismatch
6.24

The Sennheiser SC 160 USB-C have a good stereo imaging performance. Their weighted group delay almost entirely falls beneath the audibility threshold, resulting in tight bass and transparent treble. Their L/R drivers are also very well matched in amplitude, frequency, and phase response. These headphones should accurately localize the placement of objects in the stereo image, which creates a more immersive listening experience. That said, these results are only valid for our test unit, and yours may perform differently.

5.2
Sound
Passive Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
3.51 dB
PRTF Size (Avg.)
2.07 dB
PRTF Distance
0.41 dB
Openness
9.6
Acoustic Space Excitation
5.4

The Sennheiser SC 160 have a poor passive soundstage. Their on-ear design partially interacts with your outer ear, but it results in a very small and unnatural soundstage. On the upside, they offer a very spacious listening experience.

0
Sound
Virtual Soundstage
Head Modeling
No
Speaker Modeling
No
Room Ambience
No
Head Tracking
No
Virtual Surround
No

These headphones don't come with virtual soundstage features.

6.5
Sound
Weighted Harmonic Distortion
WHD @ 90
0.343
WHD @ 100
0.862

The weighted harmonic distortion performance of these headphones is just okay. At a high volume, there's a large spike between the mid-bass all the way through to the mid-mid. However, this can be a bit difficult to hear with real-life content.

Sound
Test Settings
Firmware
44.05.18.18
Power
USB
Connection
USB
Codec
PCM, 24-bit, 48kHz
EQ
No EQ
ANC
No ANC
Tip/Pad
Default
Microphone
Boom

These are the settings used to test these headphones. Our results are only valid when using this configuration.

Isolation
0.9
Isolation
Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
Overall Attenuation
-1.49 dB
Bass
0.13 dB
Mid
1.51 dB
Treble
-5.84 dB

These headphones are awful at noise isolation. These on-ears block out almost no ambient noise, so you hear bus engines or office chatter as if you're not wearing anything on your ears. While they do a slightly better job at reducing the high-pitched hum of an AC unit, they still let in most treble noise. However, this could be by design so that you hear your voice as you talk.

5.3
Isolation
Leakage
Leakage Audio
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
48.37 dB

The Sennheiser SC 160 have a disappointing leakage performance. The bulk of leakage is in the mid to treble range, which may sound a bit thin. However, if you're talking to someone or listening to music at a high volume, your nearby coworkers can hear it.

Microphone
Microphone
Microphone Style
Integrated
No
In-Line
No
Boom
Yes
Detachable Boom
No

These headphones have a flippable boom microphone.

8.3
Microphone
Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
LFE
99.35 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
2.96 dB
HFE
7452.94 Hz
Weighted THD
0.047
Gain
24.45 dB

The Sennheiser SC 160 USB-C's microphone has a great recording quality. Your voice should be heard as clear, full-bodied, and natural, although a little bright.

8.6
Microphone
Noise Handling
Speech + Pink Noise
Speech + Subway Noise
SpNR
35.66 dB

The microphone has impressive noise handling. Even in very noisy environments like a train station, people on the other end of the line shouldn't have trouble understanding you.

Active Features
0
Active Features
Battery
Battery Type
No Battery
Continuous Battery Life
N/A
Additional Charges
N/A
Total Battery Life
N/A
Charge Time
N/A
Power-Saving Feature
No
Audio While Charging
No
Passive Playback
No
Charging Port None

These headphones don't have a battery and rely on passive wired playback.

4.0
Active Features
App Support
App Name EPOS Connect
iOS No
Android No
macOS No
Windows Yes
Equalizer
No
ANC Control
No
Mic Control No
Room Effects
No
Playback Control
No
Button Mapping No
Surround Support
No

The Sennheiser SC 160 have poor companion software. The EPOS software is only available on Windows. It lets you update your headphones and that's it.

Connectivity
0
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
No Bluetooth
Multi-Device Pairing
No
NFC Pairing
No
Line Of Sight Range
N/A
PC Latency (SBC)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX HD)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX-LL)
N/A
iOS Latency
N/A
Android Latency
N/A

These headphones are wired-only.

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

These headphones are wired-only.

7.3
Connectivity
Wired
Analog Audio
No
USB Audio
USB-C
Detachable No
Length 5.8 ft
Connection USB-C
Analog/USB Audio Latency
61 ms

These headphones have a non-detachable USB-C cable. When using their USB-C cable on a PC, they have 65ms of latency, and it slightly drops to 63ms when using an Android device, which is great. However, if your PC doesn't have a USB-C port and you want to use them with a USB-A adapter, their audio latency is 61ms.

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

These headphones can only be used on a PC that has a USB-C port or if you have a USB-A adapter. When connected to a supporting PC, you have full audio and microphone support. They're not compatible with the PS4, though.

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

The Sennheiser SC 160 aren't compatible with the Xbox One.

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 come with a base or dock.

Differences Between Sizes and Variants

The Sennheiser SC 160 USB-C are advertised as coming with 2-in-1 earpads, so that you can use either the included foam or leatherette padding, depending on your preferences. However, we couldn't find any variants that come with the leatherette or the 2-in-1 padding as they all only come with foam. Our test unit also has foam padding, and you can see its label here. As a result, we expect our results to be valid for these variants.

If someone comes across an SC 160 USB-C that's different from ours, let us know in the discussions and we'll update our review.

Compared to other headphones

The Sennheiser SC 160 USB-C are on-ear headphones designed for business use. They have a great flippable boom microphone that ensures your voice is heard clearly by those on the other line, even in noisy environments. Unlike other office-geared headphones like the BlueParrott B450-XT Bluetooth Headset, they use a USB-C cable, which is compatible with some newer smartphones that don't have an AUX port. If you're looking for more options, check out our recommendations for the best office headphones or the best wired headphones. If you're looking for a wireless option, check out the best Bluetooth headsets for phone calls.

Logitech Zone Wired

The Logitech Zone Wired are better on-ear headphones for making phone calls than the Sennheiser SC 160 USB-C Headset. The Logitech have better build quality and are more comfortable. They have a balanced sound profile, leak less sound, and can do a better job of reducing ambient noise around you. Their companion app is more comprehensive as it offers a graphic EQ and presets in addition to an adjustable mic level. However, the Sennheiser have a better performing boom microphone.

Jabra Evolve2 65 Wireless

The Jabra Evolve2 65 Wireless are better office headphones and are more versatile than the Sennheiser SC 160 USB-C Headset. While both have similarly great boom microphones, the Jabra have a well-built wireless design and a great battery performance. They're more comfortable and come with a soft case. They also leak less sound and they have a more robust companion app. They can also be used with their USB-C cable if you prefer a wired connection too. 

BlueParrott B450-XT Bluetooth Headset

The BlueParrott B450-XT Bluetooth Headset and the Sennheiser SC 160 USB-C Headset are similarly performing headsets for phone calls but you may prefer one over the other. The BlueParrott is a mono on-ear headset with Bluetooth wireless and great battery performance. It feels significantly more stable on the head and it leaks less sound. Its companion app also offers more features when used with Microsoft Teams, which some users may like. However, the Sennheiser is wired-only, which means you don't have to worry about battery life, and it also has a more neutral, less dark sound profile. 

TaoTronics TT-BH041 Bluetooth Headset

The Sennheiser SC 160 USB-C Headset is better for making phone calls than the TaoTronics TT-BH041 Bluetooth Headset. The Sennheiser has a more neutral sound profile and its boom microphone offers a significantly better overall performance than that of the TaoTronics. However, the TaoTronics is a well-built, wireless headset with a mono on-ear design. It has a good battery performance, so it should last you throughout your workday.

Sennheiser SC 160 USB-C Headset Price

Foam SC 160 USB-C Headset
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

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