SENNHEISER PXC 550-II

Design & Construction

After 3 years, Sennheiser launches the successor to the original PXC 550, the PXC 550-II. Sennheiser played safe this time and stuck to the classic all-black finish on the headphones. All controls for music playback and calls are controlled via the touchpads on the right earcup Swipe down for Vol-, swipe up for Vol+, swipe towards the front for next track, swipe backwards for previous track, single-tap to play/pause or answer/end calls and double-tap to activate Transparent Hearing. Transparent Hearing allows users to hear their surrounding or talk to someone quickly. However, transparent hearing does not work with music playback sadly. There are also physical buttons controls on the side of the right earcup as well (From Top-Bottom): Bluetooth pairing switch, Noise-cancelling rocker, 5 LED indicators, smart assistant/Bluetooth pairing button, Micro-USB port and 2.5mm audio-in port. There is no power button as the headphones turn on when they are unfolded and off when they fold up.  To activate the active noise cancellation ANC, slide the ANC switch to the position –“I” (middle switch position): adjustable ANC mode “USER” (> Setting the ANC USER mode –“II” (lower switch position) for maximum ANC. To deactivate the active noise cancellation ANC, slide the ANC switch to the upper position “0”. Pressing the smart assistant button activates Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa or Siri and holding it down for 4 seconds puts it in pairing mode. Pairing via Bluetooth or NFC is simple. Throughout long listening sessions, I never experienced any wearing fatigue. Both sides of the headphones bear the Sennheiser logo. The headphones have thick earcup cushions which are meant for providing a comfortable experience and will not cause discomfort to those who wear spectacles. On the headband, there is also cushioned headrest which provides a decent amount of comfort. The exterior of the headphones gives off this matte understated colour scheme but it resists fingerprints smudges very well. On the top, the headband holding the structure is made of metal and the earcups pivot left and right and folds flat for easy storage. The earcups do a great job of encasing your ears, hence there is no wearing fatigue even after long listening sessions.

Sound Quality

The Sennheiser PXC 550-II produce a very balanced sound signature. Users can also tune the sound settings to their liking via the Sennheiser Smart Control App available on the App Store and Play Store. In the app, you will find an effects control panel which consists of presets like Neutral, Movie, Club, Speech or Director. In the director setting, you can customise the sound signature in areas like Boost which includes, thump, rumble, and voice that boosts certain frequency range like bass, spatial which includes off, near, medium and far simulates virtual external loudspeakers, Reverb which includes off, low. medium and high simulates a virtual room, DLC which stands for Dynamic Level Control. These allow users to tune the sound signature to their liking. Fiddling with it, you will hear a bass thump, rumble or treble boost, a wider virtual soundstage and imaging or enhanced resonance. Highs are crisp and mids have clarity and bass rumbles lightly for an enjoyable experience. The soundstage was not bad with distinct left and right channels being heard clearly. This makes the headphones great for all genres of music ranging from soothing jazz to fast-paced EDM tracks. There was minimal sound leakage at full volume and no high-volume distortion. Based on user experience, the noise cancellation is top-notch, I could not hear much of my surroundings even when I had no music on and when I am using it at a low volume level. There are 2 modes of noise-cancelling: Adaptive: Anti-wind and Max. Max for flight use and maximum reduction of noise, Anti-wind for combating wind and movement noise outdoors. Call quality was not bad, the caller managed to hear me clearly on the other end.

 

Connectivity & Portability

The earbuds support the AptX Low-Latency, AptX, AAC and SBC codecs together with Bluetooth Version 5.0. In the app, you can configure the smart pause feature which allows the user to stop music from playing when the headphones detect that you remove them. The battery life peaks at 20 hours with Bluetooth and ANC on and 30 hours with ANC on and in wired mode. The headphones' connectivity to the app is perfect as I never experienced it being unable to detect my headphones. If you are planning to watch videos or movies with these, I am glad to report that they do not suffer from any latency.

 

PROS

  • Durable Construction

  • Premium Materials

  • Lightweight & Comfortable

  • Bluetooth 5.0

  • AptX LL & AptX Support

  • Controls For Music Playback, Volume & Calls

  • Ambient Sound Hear-through

  • Simplified in-app Effects

CONS​​​​

  • No Quick Charging

  • Micro-USB Charging

  • Short Battery Life

  • Only One Colour Available

The Bottom Line

The Sennheiser PXC 550-II excels in certain areas that its competitors haven't been able to do so but fails to get the essentials right. In a saturated market of noise-cancelling wireless headphones, it is hard to justify its full value. However, with a clean and balanced sound signature, customisable sound effects and comfortable wearing experience, it could be everything certain users really want.. Sennheiser does only offer these in black.

WE RATE IT!

9/10

Other Notable Competitors

BOSE NOISE-CANCELLING HEADPHONES 700
BOWERS & WILKINS PX7
SONY WH-1000XM3
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