The best noise canceling headphones can cost a small fortune, but the Sennheiser HD 450 BTNC stands against the crowd. These headphones offer active noise canceling (ANC) and great sound quality at an affordable price.
The battery life is enough to power you through plenty of roundtrip commutes, which is no small feat when ANC is involved. But are they the best budget ANC headphones available?
Let’s find out if the price overcomes the inevitable corner-cutting in our in-depth Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC review…
Keeping to their usual over-bloated onboard control scheme, the HD4.50 can be overwhelming for first-time users. Once you get used to the layout, it’s fine, albeit not the most intuitive. The power button, located between the USB-C port and microphone, can be especially hard to find quickly.
Finding your fit…
The ear cups themselves have a decent ergonomic shape but are on the smaller side. The leatherette is reasonable, and the earpads are soft and comfy to touch. That said, if you have larger than normal ears, you will struggle to find a fit with these headphones.
Fortunately, the earpads can always be replaced. So if the stock earpads do not work, you might find a better set from a different manufacturer like the range of Defean replacement earpads for the HD4.50. These are a bit deeper than the stock earpads and might provide some added comfort.
Breaking them in…
Upon wearing the headset for the first time, we were a little discouraged by how uncomfortable the headset was. The clamping force was quite strong and created an overly-warm spot on the crown of our head after only ten minutes.
That said, after a few days of testing, the headset did loosen a bit and became more comfortable. However, we could only wear them for a few hours at a time before we had to take them off for a break. The ear cups don’t rotate much, which not only adds to the overall discomfort of the headset but also makes carrying them around more difficult.
The only storage option is folding the ear cups down towards the headband. The added case isn’t a horrible way of storing the headphones, but if you prefer folding your headphones flat and sliding them into a bag, these won’t work for you.
Sennheiser has a reputation for making the best sounding headphones, and there are no changes with these. No matter the genre, these headphones always sound great, whether you are blasting EDM or rock.
This is mainly due to the excellent, flat frequency response. There’s very little changed apart from a slight bump around the 100kHz range. This just adds a bit of definition to the low bass frequencies but does not interfere with the rest of the mix.
Audiophiles will appreciate these…
Listening to Blue October’s “She’s My Ride Home,” the guitars are beautifully accentuated and crystal clear. When the chorus kicks in, the bass sounds warm, and the crashing cymbals sound bright without becoming ear-piercingly sharp. Furthermore, there is a mobile app if you want to play with the settings and adjust the sound to suit your taste.
The vocals are mixed right in the middle of the song, with the instrumentation panned around the vocals. This gives us a taste of the excellent soundstage on the HD450. It’s wide enough that each instrument gets its own little space within the mix. Not only is this great for listening to music, but the wide soundstage also makes gaming fun.
Gamers, take note…
The excellent stereo separation is useful for first-person-shooters where knowing the direction of the footsteps or gunshots can be life or death. With these headphones, we could easily distinguish where footsteps and gunshots were coming from. While these can be a nice alternative for gaming headphones, they will cost more.
Microphone quality is serviceable at best. You can use it for emergency calls and talking to family over Skype or Zoom. But for any professional business, you’d be better off with a proper microphone.
Noise-canceling can sometimes be used as a marketing ploy or buzzword, but in reality, seems like it was an afterthought for some companies. The HD4.50BT noise canceling function doesn’t seem to be an afterthought, although it seems that it needed some more time in the oven.
It does well enough to reduce a lot of low-frequency noises but struggles with anything above that. This means in the office that daily chatter will still easily pierce through. But at least you won’t have to worry about the air conditioner rumbling.
However, the same cannot be said for wind. On a particularly hot day, we had the fan blowing directly on the headphones, and needless to say, wind noise was present the whole time.
Battery Life and Connectivity
With Bluetooth and ANC activated, we cranked the headphones up to 75% of the maximum volume and let them run. The battery lasted just over 27 hours, which is not too shabby. The headset charges using USB-C, which is great, although there is no fast-charging.
The only problem is that Sennheiser advertises 30 hours of battery life. Although, even on a long international flight, 27 hours is more than enough.
Versatile audio support…
The HD4.50 uses Bluetooth version 5 and supports a large range of different audio codecs for Hi-Res listeners. If you are subscribed to any streaming services with Hi-Res audio support, like TIDAL or Deezer, then these will be a benefit for that.
The headphones support AAC, aptX, and aptX HD. All of these are low-latency audio codecs that offer superior audio quality over SBC connections. However, if you want the best audio experience, sticking to the 3.5mm cable is your best bet. That said, when it comes to the best Bluetooth headphones, these are right up there.
Who is the Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC For?
Costing less than Sony’s WH-1000 series of headphones, commuters looking for ANC headphones in the $150 range might like these. The noise-canceling is not as good as the flagship ANC headsets but will adequately keep you isolated on your daily commutes.
If you work remotely, the ANC might also suit you. Likewise, the microphone is good enough for a conference call or quick Skype chat.
Audiophiles on a budget who are looking for the best wireless ANC headphones should definitely check these out. With Hi-Res audio codecs for streaming services and an excellent, fairly flat frequency response, audiophiles will appreciate the audio quality and sound of these headphones.
Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC Review – Pros and Cons
- Hi-Res audio codecs supported.
- Good battery life.
- Replaceable earpads.
- A great sound profile.
- The microphone is only average.
- Ear cups are on the small side.
- Not comfortable to wear for long periods.
Looking for Something Else?
Headphones, earbuds, headsets, and Airpods, we have the audio equipment you want. So, check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Wireless Bluetooth Headphones, the Best Headphones with Microphone, the Best Skullcandy Earbuds, the Best Bluetooth Headphones for Commuting, and the Best Lightweight Headphones you can buy in 2021.
Also, have a look at our comprehensive Razer Nari Ultimate Review, our Sony WH-1000XM3 Headphones Review, our ZOLO Liberty Bluetooth Earbuds Review, our Bose QuietComfort 35 II Review, and our Sennheiser HD660S Review for more great products currently on the market.
Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC Review – Final Thoughts
Coming in hot and with a fair price tag, these are great headphones for those looking to try out some wireless ANC headphones but do not want to pay the flagship price that Apple and Sony are asking.
That said, the company also offers a more expensive option with their Sennheiser PXC 550-II range. These headphones have superior ANC technology and are comfier. They do cost quite a bit more. Although you can save some extra cash with this pair, if you want better tech, you’ll have to pay for it.
Otherwise, these headphones have everything you need. Great sound, USB-C charging, 27 hours of battery life, and serviceable ANC. Another winner from Sennheiser.
Until next time, happy listening.