15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
NoiseGard ruins the sound - don't buy if you're depending on the noise cancellation,
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This review is from: Sennheiser MM550-X Travel Wireless Bluetooth Headset (Electronics)
For the first time in 30 years of buying Sennheiser headphones, I find myself having to return a pair of Sennheisers for a refund. I'm a big Sennheiser fan; I currently have the HD 595 for the Hi Fi, the HD 380 Pro for work, the MM 450-X when mobile, and the PX 100-IIi as a spare. I've owned many others over the years.
I um'd and ah'd for several weeks before deciding to take the plunge and buy the MM 550-X, having mainly been influenced by the excellence of the MM 450-X - I wanted a larger version of the 450 with the same functionality.
When they arrived, I paired them with the BTD 300i APT-X adapter plugged into the iPad and fired them up. Setting up Bluetooth devices is simple, as long as you look at the instructions first. I thought the sound was a little hollow immediately, but I just thought they'd need to be run in a bit. I thought the build quality was excellent, and they are very comfortable. I imagine they could be worn all day without discomfort.
NoiseGard: noise cancellation
I carried on experimenting with with the settings on different music types, and with different settings on and off, and the results were always the same: with NoiseGard turned on, the sound quality is more like AM radio; it was as if the life had been sucked out of the music. The only near-acceptable configuration for noise cancellation is when using a wired connection. This completely misses the point for travel headphones: many users will want to use them without wires, and having a wired connection prevents the use of the headphones for calls. In each case, NoiseGard seems to hollow out the sound, a bit like boosting mid-range frequencies while leaving bass and treble slightly down. It does, however, do a fairly good job of cutting out the background noise. Outside, I was unable to listen to the headphones without seriously compromising the sound quality.
Speaking of mid-range frequencies, the SRS setting works like a loudness button on an 80s-era stereo - it boosts bass and treble way up, and cuts the mid range significantly. That might be great for a poor sound source, or for cheaper headphones, but I was unable to find a single track where the sound was improved.
NoiseGard works reasonably well, but at huge cost to the sound. SRS it absolutely useless in my view, unless you love loads of distortion in your music. Combining the two will make you ill, I'm quite sure. The price of the MM 550-X in no way relates to the sound quality - you're meant to be paying a premium price for all the additional functionality, so if the additional stuff doesn't work, what you have is an expensive pair of headphones that sounds like a mid range (or budget) pair, depending on the configuration.
If you want a pair of headphones with good noise cancellation, stay away from these, and take a look at the MM 450-X; they're excellent all-rounders.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 28 Mar 2013 08:34:36 GMT
Mr. D. Hamilton says:
Thanks for the critical review.
I've got a pair of MM450-X, along with a set of aging HD590 home cans and CX300 in-ear. So I know what Sennheiser are capable of producing. The 450s are not the last word in staging or clarity, but they're very good for what they are.
Are the 550s really that bad compared with the 450s?
In reply to an earlier post on 28 Mar 2013 14:46:39 GMT
Jon White says:
I really did think that the 450s were superior in terms of sound quality (overall), when compared to the 550s. The best sound for the 550s is when using a cable, and that was the only way I could find to get acceptable quality with NoiseGard enabled.
I've found that the MM 450-X rarely makes the sound *worse* with NoiseGard on (in fact, it can sometimes add a pleasant amount of ooomph when you want a punchy sound), but the MM 550-X always took away a significant amount of "body" from the sound, in any configuration - best to worst sound quality = wired > wireless (APT-X) > wireless (SBC).
Audio quality on the MM 550-X *without* NoiseGard is better than the MM 450-X - it's at about the level of the (great value for money) HD 449. It's *with* NoiseGard that the problems start; 450s are much better than the 550s with NoiseGard on. I feel that overall the 450s have it (but that depends on how often you want noise cancellation).
I hope that helps.
In reply to an earlier post on 29 Mar 2013 09:03:31 GMT
Mr. D. Hamilton says:
Jon, thanks for taking the time to respond - you may have saved me £262. Having a set of 450s for the train into London and general usage, the 550s would have been reserved for business flights.
However, that said, I don't use 450s NoiseGard that frequently - often find it's not necessary as the closed cup blocks a surprising amount of ambient noise.
Try before I buy, I think.
Posted on 31 Jan 2014 08:35:31 GMT
The Happy Space Invader says:
Excellent review - I'm another MM450-X user who had thought these would be great for flights.
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