Sennheiser PXC 360 BT and MM 550 Travel Headphones
Being one of the leading manufacturers of headphones, Sennheiser isn’t short on good cans. So what do these new travel orientated models offer that we haven’t seen before?
Evolution is the word that comes to mind. Although there’s nothing revolutionary, the PXC 360 BT and MM 550 combine wireless bluetooth, great sound, foldable design, high build quality and clever functionality to make the headphones highly desirable.
The PXC 360 BT and MM550 are pretty much the same headphones, with the latter priced a tad higher and being geared towards multimedia use.
We we’re invited by Sennheiser to try out both models during the launch event, where they used their new showroom to simulate an in-flight scenario – here’s some of the key points we noted during our short session.
They both feature wireless A2DP bluetooth connectivity for high-quality audio transfer between a bluetooth enabled device (phone, audio player, laptop etc).
They also can be used with the optional BTD 300 dongle for computers or iPods that allow the use of apt-X audio coding for even higher sound quality.
When wireless use isn’t required, the headphones can be used with an included detachable cable with 3.5-mm stereo jack.
Also, when the batteries run out, they can be charged directly via a USB port on the right ear cup. It also should be noted that the headphones can still function without the electronic enhanced functions once the batteries are drained, which is something many similar cans on the market can’t do.
Those who spend a lot of time with headphones will lament that comfort is one of the key factors that lead to an enjoyable audio experience.
Ear fatigue and strain on the head are common problems, and the two cans on show here deal with that by using comfy padded leather on the head band and ear cups.
The cups feature a circumaural design that fit around the ears rather than on them. They’re of a "closed" nature too, so sound wont be leaking out and annoying people close by.
Some prefer the audio fidelity of supra-aural or "open" design, but that’s another argument that will end up in user preference. These are meant for travel, so comfort and privacy come first.
That out of the way, the key features of both the PXC BT and MM 550 headphones is the integration of wireless and audio functions with the intuitive control panel on the left ear.
The much talked about NoiseGard 2.0 active noise cancellation technology – which Sennheiser first developed for the aviation industry to allow air crew to communicate clearly in their noisy environments – has been employed very effectively.
Long story short, the built-in microphones pick up interfering sounds and block them out, resulting in a better audio experience. Ambient noise can still be heard, but the tech does greatly reduce it.
How it integrates with the control panel is with the red colour TalkThrough button, which not only stops the audio, but continues to utilise the built-in mics to lower the environment noise whilst slightly amplifying vocals, which results in not having to remove the headphones to hear what people are saying.
The yellow button is to activate SRS WOW HD audio upscaling, which simulates surround sound and intensifies bass. We watched a movie trailer and it does indeed work, adding subtle depth to the experience.
The blue button merely switches on the bluetooth, whilst the directional buttons control the volume and allow the user to fast forward or skip tracks/segments.
The only point that I haven’t talked about is the sound, which I must admit didn’t blow me away during the short time I had with the device, but more surprised me at how good bluetooth-based cans have become since I first tried them quite some time back.
These aren’t for the picky audiophile, who would be better served with other models from Sennheiser’s impressive line-up of headphones, but more for people who want a nicely designed product that sounds good and offers useful and practical functions.
The PXC 360 BT and the MM 550 retail at SGD699 and SGD720 respectively and are available at Pacific City (Marina Square), CK Tang and at selected Sennheiser dealers.