When it comes to noise-cancelling headphones, Bose is widely regarded as best in class, with its QuietComfort 35s doing a stellar job at blocking out unwanted distractions. Here at CES, Sennheiser has its own wireless model with active noise cancellation: the HD 4.50BTNC. Naturally we wanted to see how the headphones held up in the chaos of a trade show booth. Spoiler alert: Bose may have some competition on its hands.
While the company actually debuted two wireless versions here in Las Vegas, the $200 HD 4.50BTNC adds active noise cancellation for $50 more than the HD 4.40BT. As a refresher, Bose’s QC35s are $350. Sennheiser’s new headphones are not only $150 less, but their performance is nearly on par with those Bose cans.
With the HD 4.50BTNC, you can expect a warm clear sound with crisp highs and punchy bass that’s adequate but it never overpowers. Much like the QC35s, if you want a heavy dose of low-end like Beats and others employ, you’ll want to look elsewhere. For those who are after crisp audio and well-rounded tone, the HD 4.50BTNC is worth considering. Even when I cranked them all the way up, the sound remained quite clear and didn’t distort.In terms of design, the new Sennheiser headphones bring in some aesthetic touches from the HD 4 with a mostly black design. Unlike the Momentum line, the look is rather ho-hum and a plastic construction likely helped keep that price down. One notable design touch is the super thick and cushiony earpads. They not only ensure the HD 4.50BTNC is super comfy, but they also do an admirable job of blocking out noise on the HD 4.40BT too. In fact, I could barely hear all the noise around me in the booth when I tried the model that didn’t have noise cancelling. It was still there, but it was certainly faint.
These new HD series headphones don’t best my current favorites — the Sony MDR-1000X — but the cans that currently have my eye cost $200 more than the HD 4.50BTNC. What Sennheiser has accomplished here in a $200 (and $150) package is pretty impressive. These headphones certainly give Bose a run for their money and you will save a few dollars along the way. You won’t have to wait long either as the HD 4.40BT this month while the HD 4.50BTNC is scheduled to ship in February.