Product Reviews

Can These Headphones Beat City Traffic?

Can These Headphones Beat City Traffic?
Image credit: Dan Bova

My ears do not play well with earbuds. I don’t know if the problem is that the holes in my head are too big or too small, but failing to duct tape the damn things to my head, earbuds always pop out as soon as I start to move. Jogging, walking, sometimes even just breathing—boing!—out they go. It's annoying and grinds whatever I am doing to a screeching halt. And trust me, I don’t need any extra excuses to stop me from exercising or ending a boring conference call.

Related: This Speaker is Cuter Than R2-D2 and Louder Than the Death Star

That’s why I’m an over-the-ears headphones kind of guy. Typically they stay put and even act as earmuffs during cold weather walks here in New York City.

 

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Trouble is I’m not a teenager or a professional athlete, so I feel like Beats aren’t really exactly suited for my noggin. Maybe I could confidently rock them if I was 20 years younger or had just laid down a hot track on Kendrick Lamar’s new mixtape, but sadly neither of those things are remotely true. I want to look cool but I can't help but feel that I look more like this:

 

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So with all that said and GIF-ied, I was excited to try Sennheiser’s PXC 550 headphones. In my mind, they look cool without desperately trying to be cool. Does that make sense? Keep re-reading that sentence until it does, I’ll wait. Here's a visual to help speed up the process:

 

See what I'm saying? Effortless cool, like a napping Fonzi. But looks, shmooks, the important part of headphones, of course, is how they sound. Given Sennheiser’s reputation for making premiere audio equipment, I had high expectations. And when I popped on these bad boys, they delivered. It was like the skies cleared in my cloud music library. Songs and even just people talking all sounded amazing. Here’s a quick spec check:

  • Price: $399 (treat yo self!)
  • Weight: 7.8 ounces (Light!)
  • Fold flat design easy to store in my man bag
  • Bluetooth 4.2 wireless technology, with option to connect via cord
  • NoiseGard adaptive noise cancellation, which monitors outside noise levels to provide the exact suppression level needed
  • Promised up to 30 hours of battery life and with noise cancelling off, lasted even longer
  • An Earcup-mounted touch control panel that did what I asked when I poked it

A little more on the noise suppression: it really works! Sennheiser wants you to hear everything well and wants you to hear it for years to come. The noise cancelling tech allowed me to take the edge off of New York City’s symphony of honks, construction and men just banging crap around for no apparent reason so that I could hear the music without blasting my eardrums. The quality is amazing: deep bass, sharp high end, crunchy on the outside and with a soft, chewy inside. (Whoops, started talking about my afternoon cookie there for a second.)

As for phone headset, I don’t think I’ve been on more crisp-sounding calls before in my life. I was on one call with a guy pitching an idea and it sounded great. The quality of the sound, that is. The dude's idea was terrible, but damn if it didn’t sound like he was standing right there in the room making absolutely no sense.

So if calls and music are in your future, I highly recommend adding a pair of these to your listening arsenal. Two ear holes up!

Edition: December 2016

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