Technophile

Sennheiser HD 450BT: Affordable headphones with a whole lot of pluses

Mala Bhargava | Updated on June 16, 2020

These not only do a great job of sound quality, noise cancellation and battery life but are also travel friendly. However, there are minor issues

One of the nicer sounding headphones I’ve seen this year — so far — the HD 450BT NC, are a recent introduction from the German audio legend, Sennheiser. Wireless audio devices are pouring in these days, and it’s tough not to be outright nonplussed with the choices, but the 450BT over-ear headphones have enough going for them to be somewhere at the top of the list in the mid-range category.

The egg-shell white 450BTs seem nice and clean, and feel smooth. They may be made of plastic, but they manage to look rather nice. The Sennheiser logo and matching metallic accents on the sides of the headband lend a bit of style, as do the contrasting grey cushion pads on the ear-cups. There’s a black set as well, but I was happier to check out the white — not that I can show them off anywhere from my locked-down abode.

The 450BTs are very well-built, sturdy with no creaks and weak joints, and just are overall reassuringly solid without being overly heavy. There’s surprisingly shallow cushioning on the underneath of the headband because of which you can faintly feel its presence on the skull, but it isn’t too bad. The padding on the ear-cups is more generous, but it isn’t super-soft and luxurious, and has a synthetic feel to it. Well, because it is synthetic.

I found the right side pressing down quite a bit on the tip of my ear, making it a tiny bit sore. Wearing them for a while also tended to get slightly warm and sweaty, unless you’re in good air conditioning. Somehow, they were a firm fit and comfortable enough to wear, but taking them off was a very slight relief.

The cans extend very nicely and also fold in to make the headphones fit into a canvas pouch provided in the box, and get them all ready to travel. The other things you get in the box is an audio cable, a USB-C cable and a bunch of literature.

Out with the noise

These headphones pair with a device very easily. Just long-press when powering them on. But also be sure to get the Sennheiser app, because you get access to EQ settings and can adjust them to your liking — something you might want to do when turning on the noise cancellation feature.

All the buttons on this device are lined up on the right ear-cup. It may look a little crowded, and perhaps it may have better if the controls had been distributed over both sides; but well, they’re not too hard to get used to. One of these handles the triggering of your virtual assistant. Another takes calls. The strange thing is, when these work, they turn off noise cancellation for the duration in a way that lets you hear the sounds around, including your own voice, separated and highlighted. It’s disconcerting, though interesting. If you’re on a phone call and pottering about, you’ll hear every sound you make nice and crisply!

Noise cancellation is otherwise quite decent, though not quite a match for the top-end models from Bose, Sony or even Sennheiser. With music turned on, I can neither hear the clicking of my keyboard keys or the hum of my air conditioner. Sounds from the street are all but absent as well. Strange thing is, there’s no vocal feedback on the status of the noise cancellation and ambient sound.

Sound quality on the HD 450BTs is really nice. I would describe it as full and well-rounded. There’s good bass and vocals, and mids sound great too. If anything, the highs could have been crisper, but you can tinker with the EQ settings in the app to tweak it to your liking, and even save presets of the sound profile you create. I liked it best at the default neutral however. It also sounds pretty good with movies. The sound stage is closer to you rather than open and airy, but in the sum really very enjoyable. In fact, I think I will be returning them with the greatest reluctance.

One noticeable problem, however, is a bit of hiss and interference, audible in the quieter parts of music tracks.

On top of all the plus points is also great battery life. With noise cancelling on, it lasts about 20 hours or a little less.

All said and done, these headphones have a big number of pluses: good sound quality with EQ adjustment, active noise cancelling that works quite well, a durable build and a truly reasonable price. These outweigh the minor discomforts enough to make it rather a good deal.

Price: ₹14,990

Pros: Good punch sound quality, app and EQ support, efficient noise cancelling, excellent battery life, solid build, travel-friendly design, great price

Cons: Squishes prominent ears a little, feels a bit warm, not enough cushioning under headband, some hiss and interference is audible

Published on June 16, 2020

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