Sennheiser HD 4.50 Special Edition BTNC Review

The Sennheiser brand of audio products has always been known for delivering high-quality sound in a truly immersive experience. The Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC promises to do precisely the same.

The company boasts a line of impressive industry-quality headphones. However, the catch is that these are usually out of the average consumer’s budget. As a result, Sennheiser came up with their budget options to take on the competition.

Costing under £150, the HD 4.50 BTNC sits between the mid-range and premium segments of the headphone market. It is a prime example of premium tech on a budget.

These headphones offer a wide array of features that should keep any audiophile satisfied for quite a good while.

But whether they live up to Sennheiser’s lofty standards is another question. Read on to find out if they do.

Are These Headphones For You?

As with any pair of cans that cost almost 150 pounds, these headphones aren’t exactly aimed at the casual on-the-commute listener. However, they are sure to elevate the listening experience for anyone who tries them on.

These are a great option whether you’re an audiophile looking to upgrade to a luxurious, distraction-free affair or a casual listener looking to explore.

You get a lot of higher-end features at a slightly more affordable price, albeit without the shine of a truly premium product. You get Bluetooth connectivity too so that you can use them anywhere reasonably comfortably.

Amazon also offers used pieces for anywhere up to £50 less. However, these offers are usually hit-or-miss in terms of product condition.

Features

Now, let’s go over the main features of the headphones in detail.

Product Specifications

Wearing StyleAround-Ear
Transducer PrincipleDynamic, Closed
ConnectivityBT 4.0/NFC
Frequency Response18 – 22000Hz
Impedance18 Ohm
Sensitivity113 dB
Battery Life25 Hours(Without ANC)
Weight238 g
MicrophoneYes
Active Noise Cancellation(ANC)Yes

Design

In The Box

Sennheiser has made sure to include a few useful add-ons in the box.

  • In addition to the headphones themselves, you get a handy cloth case for storing them. As this is a budget version of higher-end noise-canceling headphones, you will miss out on the hard case.
  • The soft case will protect the headphones against minor scrapes and scratches but not against any significant impact. You also get a 1.2-meter long audio cable that you can use on low charge.
  • Finally, you get the charging cable and, of course, a user guide. A charging adapter is not included. But this shouldn’t be a problem, given the prevalence of smartphones and their chargers.

Aesthetics

The product comes in a tasteful matte black finish. Unlike Sennheiser’s more expensive metal offerings, this one has been completely designed from plastic. Due to this, it lacks the premium feel of the higher-end lineup.

The earpads are made from ergonomic memory foam which is comfortable enough. However, this is also a step-down from the usual soft leather we’ve come to expect from higher-end headphones. In addition, leather has been observed to assist in better noise cancellation.

Ease of Use

The ear-cups are foldable. So even though the product is a bit bulky, it isn’t too much of a hassle to carry around.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t fold flat, falling a bit short in that aspect. Also, there are buttons mounted on the cup, which make it easier to skip tracks, take calls, and so on.

The integrated mic works well. However, you can’t use it when using the headphones in wired mode.

At 238 grams, the headphones don’t weigh down on your head, even during long sessions of listening.

Your ears can get a bit stuffy after a while though. They’re also quite settled while walking, so there’s no need to keep adjusting them, unlike a few smaller models.

However, expect sweaty ears if you’re running or exercising while using them.

The size of the earpads is an issue – people with larger ears might not be able to use them for very long. The earpads are replaceable. However, you may lose some of the noise-cancelling effectiveness in the bargain.

Here’s a quick tip:If noise cancellation is important to you, choose leather earpads.

  • They are slightly more expensive than conventional ones made of foam but do a much better job of blocking out noise.
  • The headband could also be a little more comfortable. It is made of plain plastic and is very tight in the beginning, causing the earpads to press down on your ears.

Sound Quality

A common problem with wireless headphones is a lack of audio quality when compared to their wired counterparts.

For the most part, the HD 4.50 BTNC manages to dismiss those fears.

It provides great punchy sound no matter what genre is thrown at it.

The bass is heavy and well-defined, and the treble is also good.

The midrange doesn’t sound too artificial, either.

However, particularly high trebles seem to lack a little clarity. Overall, the cost-cutting is relatively evident as there is a noticeable difference from higher models.

But this is not a dealbreaker, as, given Sennheiser’s standards, the quality is still great, especially at this price.

Taking phone calls with these headphones is a joy, as voices are crisp and clear. But sometimes, the mic picks up sounds other than your voice and disturbs the call.

An interesting feature these headphones have is the sidetone feature. This feature takes your voice from the mic during phone calls and sends it to your own earpieces at a lower volume. This helps indicate that your mic is working.

Also, it helps the wearer judge how loud they’re speaking as active noise cancellation can disorient your hearing quite a bit.

In addition, if the headphones are connected to your computer, you will hear the sound of your keyboard clicking through your cans. This feature, though useful, can take a while to get used to.

We tried gaming with these headphones. Suffice to say; gamers will continue to stick to wired cans. This is because the sound falls just short of the depth and quality required by serious gamers.

When wired, though, these held up decently well. The quality hardly distracted us from the sound itself.

Connectivity

These headphones go wireless with the help of Bluetooth 4.0 technology. The standard Bluetooth tech lets you move 10 metres from your paired device. In addition, you get aptX codec compatibility.

  • This means more efficient data transmission, letting you listen to high-quality audio files without a hitch. In a welcome addition, the headphones also come equipped with Near Field Communication(NFC).

This makes pairing with compatible devices even faster.

The Bluetooth is quite capable, with almost no lag, unlike more budget-friendly wireless cans. The aptX compatibility also helps contribute to the great sound quality we mentioned earlier.

Let’s dive a little deeper into why aptX compatibility is important. Firstly, a codec is a piece of software that converts audio files at the source into a suitable format for Bluetooth transmission.

A good codec should be able to transmit high-quality audio at as low a bitrate as possible. Most early codecs could transmit only lossy formats, and so people preferred wired headphones.

However, now Bluetooth has improved greatly. Qualcomm’s aptX codec is one of the best out there as it supports a very high quality of transmission.

Though most wireless headphones have adopted aptX by now, it is often overlooked in low- to mid-range offerings. The aptX compatibility of the HD 4.50 BTNC ensures you hear your music almost exactly how it should be.

Noise Cancellation

The HD 4.50 BTNC is equipped with Sennheiser’s active noise cancellation technology NoiseGard. It does an admirable job of keeping out outside noise, thus helping users get a truly premium music experience.

Even outdoors and while walking on the streets, the noise cancellation works quite well, letting only a faint murmur through. During particularly quiet songs, however, we could hear a barely audible hiss.

But this is probably to be expected for a product at this price. Noise-canceling headphones are also usually relatively bulky. That is not the case here though, with these cans tipping the scales at 238 grams which is manageable.

We noticed that turning on noise cancellation noticeably alters how music sounds on the headphones.

In particular, bass with noise-cancelling turned on is much less intense than with it turned off. This is a drawback, as anyone would want an identical listening experience between the two settings.

But again, considering the noise-canceling headphone market, these headphones qualify as lower-end.

There are better products out there, but they will burn a much larger hole in your pocket. We feel that all things considered; this downside can be brushed aside. Audio quality is still great and gives definite value for your money.

Companion App

In late 2019, Sennheiser discontinued CapTune, their companion app. They then launched a Smart Control App that lets users customise their listening experience. Fortunately, HD 4.50 is compatible with the app.

In addition to being convenient, the app provides an equalizer for effortless tinkering. Users can also control how much ambient noise to let in, enable smart pause, and so on.

Moreover, the app has versions compatible with mobile devices that run on Android as well as iOS.

Battery Life

These headphones are powered by a single lithium-polymer battery that provides 19 hours of listening time. In addition, this can be bumped up to 25 hours with noise cancellation turned off.

These are very respectable numbers, and this is one aspect where the HD 4.50 BTNC scores high. As a result, even the most hardcore listeners of music will have a tough time running out of juice.

Also if you do run out, there is the option to connect a cable and use it wired. However, using it wired robs the mic of its functionality.

On the other hand, the standby time isn’t the best. In the unlikely case that it goes unused for a couple of weeks, you will need to top it up first before use.

This, like every other pair of headphones, lacks the fast-charging tech that has become ubiquitous in smartphones. Of course, this is not necessarily a drawback.

Pros & Cons

Whenever you buy a new piece of tech, you have to consider what the product is giving you. Is the product going to solve your problem? Is it worth your money? Also, are there better options on the market? That being said, before we offer our final verdict, let’s weigh the pros of the Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC against its cons.

ProsCons
Great sound qualityNot the best build quality
Good value for moneyInconsistent sound between modes
Effective noise cancellationCan get uncomfortable
Good battery life 

Conclusion

The essence of modern technology is to pack both high-end specs and practicality in the same cost-effective package. Wireless headphones are an epitome of this. But delivering on high expectations can be difficult.

Sennheiser has proved its capability in the premium segment time and again. Fortunately, it has shown that it can compete at lower price brackets too with the HD 4.50 BTNC.

In short, these headphones are fabulous if you want a taste of the premium aural offerings on the market without spending an entire month’s savings. The outside of the headphones may not look as stylish or shiny as the heavy-hitters.

However, there has been little to no compromise on the internals and the actual experience. And at the end of the day, isn’t that all that matters in a pair of headphones?

Whether wireless or tethered, the HD 4.50 BTNC gives you premium sound quality. Its sonic range is quite extensive, right from the deepest bass to the highest trebles.

It packs enough power in its battery to last at least a few days for regular listening.

Whether you are listening to Adele, talking on your phone, or playing video games, these cans can handle it all. On the other hand, heavy listeners would prefer a slightly comfier pair. The noise cancellation isn’t the best, but it is on par for the price.

In the end, these headphones are quite suitable for both casual and serious users. If you absolutely want only the best, there are better choices available at higher prices. But at this price range, the Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC is one of the best, if not the best.

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