A month ago, I was looking for a pair of wireless headphones with necessities from active noise cancellation to terrific battery life and good sound quality. I shortlisted about half a dozen products, but the ones I liked were too pricey (above $250 / Rs 20,000). Further, no sale was going on either so I had no scope for getting a good discount. That’s when Sennheiser sent us the HD 450BT for review.
Sennheiser is known for producing quality headphones and I’ve got to say, the HD 450BT are no different. That said, for most of the benefits they offer, there is a “but” to it, which I’ve mentioned throughout my review here. I’ve been using these headphones for the past three weeks now, and here’s what I make of them.
Build, Design and Comfort
The Sennheiser HD 450BT come in two color options – Black and White. We received the latter. While I prefer my tech to be black in color, the HD 450BT in White look absolutely gorgeous. They sport golden-silverish trims at each end of the headband, which gives them more appeal than the black ones. Overall, the minimalism here makes for a good-looking product. Further, I’ve used many headphones that creak while you open and close the ear flaps. Thankfully, the build is solid and these do not creak at all.
They feature an all-plastic build but do not feel cheap. The plastic is smooth and condensed. Further, the Sennheiser HD 450BT weigh only 238 grams. I wore them for a stretch of three hours straight without feeling the need to take them off.
The clamping force is tight enough without becoming uncomfortable. In-room temperature, the ear cushions – made of faux leather – don’t become overly warm with use. However, if you wear them during a run or even while walking, they do collect sweat since there is no IP rating. While we are on the ear cushions, it is worth mentioning that the space given to your ears in the cushion is not the biggest. And those of you who have big ears might face some discomfort during longer sessions.
It feels weird talking about portability at this point in time while we are in the middle of a pandemic and people aren’t traveling. But we need to mention this anyway. The Sennheiser HD 450BT are well suited for portability. You can fold them inwards, which makes them easier to store in your bag. Moreover, they come with a pouch for you to keep your purchase clean. Further, you also get a 2.5mm-to-3.5mm cable. It is hard to get so you don’t want to lose it.
So many buttons!
Rather than opting for pricey touch controls, Sennheiser went with an all-button layout on the HD 450BT. There are four buttons that are all located on the right earcup. The button layout includes three multi-use keys – a power/pairing/ANC key, a volume rocker, and a multi-button key that you can use for answering calls and skipping tracks.
The learning curve is real, folks! I’ve been using these for three weeks now and I still fumble my way to the button I need. I haven’t gotten used to it yet, and it seems like I won’t either. Now, don’t get me wrong here, having a button for each function I need is a blessing. I don’t need to pick up my phone for changing the track or answering calls or even calling somebody. I can do the latter by asking the Assistant from the headphones itself. But I wish Sennheiser had a better way to implement the button layout.
The Sennheiser HD 450BT supports SBC, AAC, APTx, and APTx-LL, which helps lower the latency that at times wireless headphones suffer with. I had no latency problems while watching videos on Netflix, YouTube, or Prime. Further, connection stability is good and I was able to listen to music while doing the dishes when my phone was kept in the other room 15 meters away.
It delivers on what you’d expect from a Sennheiser product. The sound performance is smooth, detailed, and the instruments don’t get lost in the mix. I enjoyed listening to my favorite tracks on these. I’m not a heavy-bass-person. That said, if you are looking for a pair of cans that are bass-heavy and thump your head with each beat, the HD 450BT are not for you. While the bass never gets overpowering, it hits where its need in electronic and hip-hop tracks. All in all, it delivers a balanced bass.
The details are good, and the treble is sharp. Moreover, you can add a little more treble from the Smart Control app to slightly increase vocal performance. Notably, the app is pretty useless apart from that.
The audio depth and dimension is good. However, the soundstage is more compact than expansive. Hence, some tracks felt a little enclosed. From Queen’s Rock to Kodaline’s Indie music, I loved listening to songs on these. Folk music like Riptide from Vance Joy had a good separation between the instrument (ukulele here) and the vocals.
While the range of upper frequencies can be improved, for the price, the HD 450BT offer above-average performance. Further, if you listen to a lot of podcasts, you are going to love the Sennheiser HD 450BT. The audio sounds clear with no noise or hiss in the vocals.
Coming to the mics, the listeners on the other side said that I sounded good and they couldn’t notice the difference if I was on the phone mic or my headphone mic.
Disappointingly, Sennheiser chose not to include the auto-pause feature on these headphones. What this means is the tracks don’t pause when you take the headphones off. This is a bummer.
The Sennheiser HD 450BT feature ANC, which is uncommon for a headphone priced under $150. The noise-canceling is not as good as the Sony WH-1000XM3, but then the Sony ones I mentioned cost a lot more as well.
To activate ANC, you need to tap the power button. Surprisingly, there is no notification when the feature is on or off. When deactivated, there is a slight pause, and when activated, there’s a slightly longer pause. You need to pay attention to the small pauses. Moreover, if you power off the headphones with ANC on, the feature will still be activated when you power up the headphones next time. Further, the HD 450BT do not offer degrees of noise-canceling. It is either turned on or turned off. There is no middle ground.
ANC on the Sennheiser HD 450BT is good but not the best, which is acceptable for the price tag. While the lower audio frequencies, voices, and TV sounds are blocked, it struggles in dealing with high pitched sounds and sharp noises. On the positive side, there is no cabin pressure, which is a godsend for me as I’m a bit sensitive to ANC.
Sennheiser claims that the HD 450BT can deliver up to 30 hours of playback time with ANC-on on a single charge. The battery life on these is excellent. It delivers on the promise. Further, there is a USB Type-C port for charging your device. It takes about two hours to charge from zero to full. In short, you are getting 30+ hours of playback if you charge your headphones for two hours. The company has done an excellent job here.
You no longer need to shed a premium on a pair of noise-canceling headphones with a good build and sound quality.
While these aren’t perfect, with up-to-date tech like Bluetooth 5.0, APTx-LL, USB Type-C, and excellent battery life, good sound quality, and above-average ANC, the Sennheiser HD 450BT are a good deal for $150. For reference, these were launched for $200 in February but are now selling for under $150 on Amazon, which makes them good value-for-money.
As for Indian consumers, for Rs 15,000 too, the Sennheiser HD 450BT are great. You can’t go wrong with these.
|+ Sleek style||– No auto-pause|
|+ Excellent battery life||– Smart Control App is basically useless|
|+ Good sound quality|
|+ Can wear for hours|