For the second time on the list, Sennheiser makes it onto the list of the top 10 noise-canceling headphones in the market in 2019.This time with the review of the Sennheiser HD 4.5 BTNC.
The BTNC stands for Bluetooth noise cancellation.
These headphones did not just make it onto the list for their active noise cancelling capabilities, but because they are also an excellent choice for they frequent traveler.
The first of Sennheiser’s Bluetooth noise canceling headphones to make it onto the list was the Sennheiser Wireless PXC 550.
This time around we are reviewing the Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC, noise canceling headphones. These cans are in the $200* and below price range of headphones.
Therefore, a direct competitor would probably be the JBL live 650 BTNC headphones which are also retailing for a price of roughly $200*, or slightly below depending on where you shop.
Naturally, I am going to be lenient on the features as I expect that for the headphones to retail at this price, the makers would have had to make some trade-offs.
Nevertheless, the cans still make the top 10 list because in typical Sennheiser fashion the cans are solidly built and really do offer an excellent value proposition.
This review will focus on the characteristics of the headphones, if you are interested in the instruction manual for the Sennheiser HD 4.5 BTNC noise cancelling headphones click this link.
Here is a link to the Sennheiser HD 4.5BTNC Quick Start Guide
I think if you have reviewed the other headphones within this top ten list you would know that the top of the range wireless noise canceling Bluetooth headphones are the Bose QC35II and the Sony WH-1000XM3.
The question that one would have to ask themselves is whether the slight deficiency in noise cancellation and perhaps certain sound elements is worth the saving of plus minus $150-$200* depending on where you shop.
In my view the answer is yes. The sound and the noise cancellation are pretty good and for the casual listener these headphones really do a good job of keeping out unnecessary noise, whilst providing your music with the necessary oomph that it needs.
Often the high end noise canceling headphones come with a lot of bells and whistles that one could honestly do without, and I think if you want a solid set of cans without the fuss, these are the bad boys for you.
Note also that a lot of the technology from the PXC 550 has been incorporated into these headphones so you are definitely getting a high quality set of headphones.
Click here to see my review of the Sennheiser PXC 550 wireless headphones.
The right ear cup has your power on and off buttons. Below that there is a very smooth multi function switch, which allows you to skip and go back on your music.
This is actually quite a clever design and is something fresh compared to the normal raised skip forward and back buttons.
The multi function button is also used to answer phone calls. Generally phone calls are clear, but numerous people have asked me why it is that moderate background noises can be heard.
Next to the multi function button is the active noise cancellation button. Sticking with the right earcup a 2.5mm port is available for connecting non wirelessly.
Thankfully the accompanying cord is a locking cord, ensuring that you do not accidentally jerk the cord out of the headphones.
With ANC off, the headphones can do 25 hours of battery life. With ANC on the headphones can do up to 19 hours.
This is quite reasonable in my view and competes well with the JBL live 650 BTNC headphones.
However, the BTNC does go for 30 hours with noise cancellation off, but this is not a deal breaker in my view.
When you charge, once the USB plug goes into the computer the headphones turn off. So like most noise canceling headphones you cannot charge them and listen to them at the same time.
Now this is where a quick charging feature would have come in very handy. Unfortunately the Sennheiser HD 4.5 BTNC do not come with quick charge capability.
This is a little disappointing as the similarly priced JBL live 650 BTC have up to 2 hours of battery life with a 10-minute quick charge.
Therefore, when your headphones are running low on battery and you do not have a long time to charge them, you basically will not be able to listen to your music.
Balanced, accurate and clear, those are the only words that I can use to describe the sound of the HD4.5BH NC. The sound profile is most definitely neutral.
The bass is just sufficient if you do not like excessively high base. Unfortunately these cans do not have the same thump as you would find in a set of Beats studio wireless 3 headphones.
So if you are the type that is looking for a bass boosted set of headphones, these may not meet your expectations.
The mids probably lacked a little of detail in my view, not really capturing instruments in the manner that I had hoped.
I have nothing bad to say with the performance of the highs, I did not experience any tiny character, and the highs were nice and Sharpe.
The sound stage is moderately open and you can hear audio in different directions, but it did provide somewhat of a mid tier mid level experience.
One drawback that I did have though was when I was playing music at work. When I cranked up the volume above 70% to listen to some of my favorite songs
I got the sense that the clamping was a little hard when I tried them on for the first time. But as with most headphones they need to get used to the shape and the size of your head.
After 4 consecutive days of use they are like a pair of new shoes and fit perfectly. I could wear them for 4-5 hours straight before I started getting wearing fatigue.
I never experienced any heat on the ears whilst wearing them, which was awesome.
I love the fact that the ear cups do fold for ease of fit into a nice small carrying case.
If you have read any of my other reviews you will know that I am no fan of large carrying cases, as they can be a little annoying when traveling.
Design and build Quality
One of the most obvious cost savings features is in the fact that the headphones are made of plastic. But the plastic is solid and does not make the headphones fragile at all.
When I conducted the stretch test I noticed that the headphones did not rattle and do not look like they would simply break after a few months.
The head band does seem a little thin in my view, and I think that people with larger heads are going to struggle to fit these on.
The top of the headband is made of synthetic leather. The padding is desperately thin and could cause discomfort but I personally did not experience any problems.
The headphone slider is also made of plastic which does worry me a little. Metal hinges and sliders are often good for long term durability.
The Sennheiser HD 4.5 BTNC came in at an impressive 240 grams on my scale. I must say they felt like it as well.
What’s in the box
I have always been a fan of the hard shell carrying case as this by far provides the best protection for my headphones.
So as you can imagine I was a little disappointed when the accompanying carrying case was just a normal soft case.
At least it will provide the necessary protection against scratches and bumps.
Audio and connectivity
Hands free calling
You can manage your calls with the buttons on the right earcup.
The headphones include a micro USB port. Now ordinarily I have criticized the inclusion of a micro USB port when so many devices today are becoming USB-C compatible.
However, I am happy to give Sennheiser a pass on this as they had to, make some compromises in order to keep the headphones cost effective.
I was a bit concerned that there was no option for music playback when connecting the headphones with my USB to my personal computer.
It’s a slight hack in that when I am at home. I first have to download music onto my android or apple device in order to listen to songs.
One feature that the headphones do come with is NFC. This feature allows you to connect your headphones to a device without directly connecting to Bluetooth.
If your device is NFC enabled, simply place your device on next to the NFC marked portion of your headphones and they should pair.
What better place to test the noise canceling ability of a set of cans than on the city streets.
I am actually surprised that Sennheiser decided to place almost identical noise canceling capability in the HD 4.5 as the PXC wireless which compete in the high end price category.
As soon as I put them on, I tried the noise canceling feature without any music to hear the extent of white noise. Surprisingly these did an excellent job of providing just pure noise cancellation.
I say surprisingly because the reality is that for less than $200* you expect some deficiency. But Sennheiser still placed their quality stamp on these headphones.
So like the higher priced PXC wireless headphones, the HD 4.5 BTNC headphones did a splendid job of blocking out the higher frequency sounds.
I could fly with these and also use them on the bus, and they successfully muzzled out the low frequency sounds emitted from the bus engine and plain.
But like their more expensive counterpart (PXC 550) the HD4.5 BTNC did not do an excellent job at blocking out the higher frequencies.
When I went to the closest restaurant to see of I could block out the noise of the locals.
Unfortunately, I was able to still here shopping mall and restaurant chatter. Comparing apples with apples I definitely think that these headphones fair better at noise cancellation than the similarly priced JBL Live 650 BTNC.
The Sennheiser HD 4.5 BTNC also does not come with ambient noise control, which means that you do not have the power to control the type and amount of nose that comes into your ears.
But honestly at this price point I think that I can live without this feature.
Active noise cancellation
The headphones are priced for perfection. I believe the value for money proposition is very enticing.
To get quality noise cancellation for less than $200 is something rare, and Sennheiser have achieved this.
These cans are not in third place purely from a feature perspective, but more so because they offer you manner more than you pay for.
So overall if you are looking for headphones with balanced sound, solid noise cancellation at a good price, I think the Sennheiser is definitely a good pair of cans to buy.
It would be hard for me to criticize these cans except for artificial reasons.
If you are looking for bells and whistles such as touch sensors and the like and an app that can give you more control over the sound, then consider going for the headphones above $300*.
If you would like full control over your level of noise cancellation then, these are not the type of cans for you.
Balanced, clean and accurate audio is what you get here. The battery life is comparable to headphones that cost twice as much.
I think these are worth every penny and definitely a must have I your headphone arsenal.
Reasons to buy
Sennheiser’s NoiseGard™ active noise cancellation
audio codec for reliable transmission and true wireless Hi-Fi sound
Intuitive ear cup mounted controls
ergonomically designed ear pads it allows you to enjoy the most extended of listening sessions.
19 hours of battery life with noise cancellation, 25 hours without noise cancellation.
Signature Sennheiser quality sound.
Other Relevant reading
Sennheiser HD4.5 BTNC Instruction manual
Sennheiser HD4.5 BTNC Quick Guide