Premier headphone manufacturer Sennheiser has been rather low-key in its efforts with noise cancellation functions and its headphone models. However, in addition to the established PXC models, the HD 4.50BTNC is now on the market for those seeking a low-cost over-ear solution with noise cancelling properties as standard.
As you’d expect from Sennheiser, the workmanship on show is of high quality. It’s both a visually elegant and contemporary offering, with plenty of first-rate features to enjoy. The adjustable headband and pivoting earpieces are clad in artificial leather that proves comfortable, while the folding mechanism means these headphones can be stowed away discreetly in the carry bag provided. Due to the good fit of these headphones, wearing comfort is high and you shouldn’t find yourself feeling fatigued wearing them, even after a long listening session.
On a technical note, these headphones use Bluetooth 4.0 and offer pairing alternative via NFC. Thanks to the 600 mAh lithium battery, overall battery life can be as much as 19 hours (or 25 hours without noise cancelling functionality enabled). These means you can sit back and enjoy your audio during long haul flights and other epic journeys. What’s more, you can operate these headphones via cable, if need be.
Key Functions & Features
In addition to some quality comfort levels, the function and user-friendliness of this headphone model convinces. On the right-hand side, there’s the on/off switch, which also serves to trigger pairing. Once paired to a chosen device, connection will be continuously re-established, every time you switch the headphones on. The next switch allows you to start/stop music playback, as well as handle call functions. This control also doubles up as a track skip function, while also providing you with the option of rewinding individual tracks. However, this isn’t the most reliable functions offered by these Sennheiser wireless headphones. The button can further be used to redial and call up voice control functions, while there’s two more buttons on offer that control playback volume.
More extras are available should you download the free app, CapTune. Available for iOS and Android, this app not only offers convenient travel functions, but also boasts an enticing media player with playlists and support for Tidal, AirPlay and DLNA. In addition to this, there’s a multi-band equalizer with various visualisations and automatic level compensation, not to mention a bass and treble booster. There’s an appealing spectrum display on offer here as well, however it’s too low in contrast. However, you can find a preferred EQ setting in the Sound Check section of the app, with A-B comparisons making it a very user-friendly extra.
As a well-designed closed headphone model with plenty of cushioning, the HD 4.50BTNC scores high notes for its effectiveness at passive cancellation of ambient noise. In spite of potentially high volumes during playback, those in the immediate vicinity of the listener shouldn’t be disturbed in the slightest. The active noise cancellation, christened ‘NoiseGuard’ by Sennheiser, is no longer controllable and can only be switched off if necessary. To do this, a cumbersome key combination must be input in Bluetooth mode, which sill prove a hassle to most. The same action is much easier to trigger when in wired operation, via the on/off switch.
When used, the result is a permanent shielding from static and low-frequency interference, improving things overall so that you can enjoy a peaceful silence, even in between tracks. At the same time, signal-to-noise ratio is improved when listening to music, with quiet dynamic ranges better delivered. Ambient noise ultimately becomes significantly quieter, even though high-frequency noise and speech penetrate the shielding slightly. However, this is only really noticeable when no track is playing.
There are two operating modes for cable operation. Passive mode works automatically, acting as a safety net in the event of an empty battery situation. If, on the other hand, battery power is readily available, you can also noise cancellation can be activated. In active noise cancellation mode, you can hear fine level of detail, with more pressure and a fuller bass as standard.
The sound performance of these headphones is convincing indeed. On the technical side however, iOS users are left slightly short changed. For more sophisticated music via Bluetooth, Sennheiser only offers the aptX HD codec, which provides a better overall quality of sound with Android devices. Under iOS, however, AAC would be needed to produce similarly impressive results. Since this codec is not on the table, SBC is used instead.
When these headphones were tested on my iPhone 8, the device delivered a consistently harmonious, and really rather neutral sound with a range from deep bass levels to finer details at higher frequencies. The result was ultimately balanced and impressive enough across all genres, even though the focus here is not on complete neutrality, bur rather a more enhanced approach to audio listening.
The HD 4.50BTNC convinced me with its power, especially in the bass range. It delivers tonality, dynamics and definition at the same time. However, it never suffers from seeming overemphasised. In low bass, it holds back in neutral EQ setting, but still provides the necessary detail.
The midrange spectrum is reproduced in an equally balanced and dynamic manner, with all the requi9rewd detail providing a good basis for instruments and voices across the board. In addition, it gives rock and pop productions a particularly rich sound.
Finally, the highs are illustrated beautifully open, without any harshness to them. The various fine details ensure a wide stereo stage, provided you’ve adequately detailed source audio playing.
For a price of around 199 euros, Sennheiser offers an enticing package with the HD 4.50BTNC, combining quality sound, functionality and convincing performance into one neat product. Even better, you’ll be able to find the model in specialist shops at an even lower price of around 140 euros. Noise cancellation and user-friendly controls make it an ideal choice for easy listening on the go. Should the manufacturer make the decision to develop an upgraded version, I can only hope some of the slight nags outlined above can be ironed out.
Measurement ResultsMore measurement results
- Ear couplingOver-ear
- Transducer principledynamic
- Frequency response (headphones)18 - 22.000 Hz
- Impedance21,2 ohms
- Sound pressure level (SPL)100,91 dB
- Pressure averaged from big and small head512 g
- Weight with cable255 g
- Weight without cable242 g
- Cable length145 cm
What's in the box
- Mini jack cable
- USB charging cable
- Carrying pouch