Sennheiser is known for its large-sounding noise-canceling headphones, and its latest, the Sennheiser HD 450BT, offers a cheaper alternative to previous models such as the Momentum 3 Wireless and class-leaders such as the Sony WH-1000XM3. With minimal design and built-in noise reduction, these fully foldable wireless headphones are designed for commuting. But how can they compete against their more expensive competitors? This is our Sennheiser HD 450BT Review.
Sennheiser HD 450BT Review: Design
The se over-ear headphones come in black and white color variations; we’ve tried the white model, which has chic silver-grey ear pads and details on the headband. The y look stylish, if not as eye-catching as the recently launched Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless headphones; for some, the understated design may be a bit undersized. However, if you prefer a subdued design, these cans are likely to be right up your alley.
The Sennheiser HD 450BT is fully collapsible and can easily be stored in your bag when not in use. Credit goes to that foldable design; they take up minimal space in your bag, making them ideal for traveling. Compared to the Momentum 3 headphones, the construction of the new cans feels less high-quality and less sturdy: the plastic construction can even be described as a feeling of brittleness. The construction of the new headsets is not as robust or high-quality as that of the Momentum 3 headphones, and the plastic construction sometimes feels brittle.
While that lower build quality is reflected in the lower price, it wouldn’t be reasonable to expect a more luxurious finish for the money. An advantage of this plastic-like design is that the HD 450BTs feel very light and comfortable to wear during long listening sessions. The ear cups are generously padded, and they don’t lead to the clamping sensation familiar with on-ear and over-ear headphones.
On the underside of the right ear cup, you’ll find a USB-C charging port, a 3.5mm jack, buttons to play your music and control voice calls, and a special button to call up your voice assistant of choice, whether it’s Siri or Google Assistant.
Pairing these headphones with our devices was quite easy, thanks to Bluetooth 5.0 support. Gamers will be pleased to know that these cans, in addition to codecs such as aptX, AAC, and SBC, support aptX Low Latency, so you won’t experience any annoying delay between what you see on your screen and what you hear through the sound. When watching videos on our smartphone, we didn’t experience any problems with latency, either.
The Sennheiser HD 450BT works with the Sennheiser Smart Control app, which allows you to switch the equalizer settings: a neat touch that will appeal to those who like to personalize the sound of their headphones. Unlike the Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless, there is no option to switch between noise-canceling modes; you can only turn the noise reduction on and off using the dedicated switch on the right earcup.
We thought the noise reduction worked well enough, although it seemed to be better at blocking out low, rumbling noises than higher-pitched sounds. For example, when used outdoors, they did an excellent job of shutting down the sound of the strong wind blowing through the trees, but still, we were able to pick sirens in the distance (regarding safety, that’s not a bad thing).
Sennheiser HD 450BT Review: Performance
Sennheiser’s on a winner with the soundstage it’s edited for the HD 450BTs; detailed and precise, without sounding too dull and boring, these headphones convey a fantastic blend of high fidelity sound with warm, fun-to-listen-to-bass frequencies. This combination of controlled (but warm) bass and tight, lively treble became clear when listening to Kendrick Lamar’s Alright; flowing, dissonant vocals created a challenging harmonic background that was cut with sharp bows and resonating drums.
The move to King Kunta gave glances the chance to show off those lower frequencies, with deep, spongy bass lines that underpin the cartoonesque chimes and fateful electric guitars with toe-tapping energy. Because we wanted to test the Sennheiser HD 450BTs on something a bit mellower, we chose Joanna Newsom’s Sprout and the Bean. The plucked harp flaunted the full range of these headphones, with rumbling bass notes and dripping treble.
Listening to this song, we found that the headphones can handle all temporary and dynamic changes very well. Sure, you’ll get a more dynamic range and a wider soundstage from the Momentum 3 Wireless, but the HD 450Bts sounds clear enough to bring out the hidden details in your music. We’ve noticed that the headphones struggle a little with busy, medium-frequency heavy tracks like The National’s Sea of Love. We would have liked to hear more of the top end of this song, and found some of the higher guitar drones lost in the mix.
If we wanted to nitpick, we would also have preferred a more open sound from these headphones; they do have a more closed feel compared to the Momentum 3 Wireless.
Sennheiser HD 450BT Review: Battery Life
With 30 hours of battery life (which is with active noise reduction enabled), the Sennheiser HD 450BTs can take on the Sony WH-1000XM3, and the Bose Noise-Cancelling Headphones 700 can beat the Sony WH-1000XM3 with a significant 10-hour margin. It’s also much better than the 17 hours offered by the more expensive Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless.
Price and Availability
The Sennheiser HD 450BT is available to buy for $199/£159 – that works around AU$280, but we are still waiting for official prices and availability in Australia. That’s significantly cheaper than The Best 2020 headphones, the $349/£300/AU$499 Sony WH-1000XM3, and the previous model of the brand; the Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless comes in at $339/£349/AU$599.
Sennheiser HD 450BT Review: Conclusion
Overall, we are quite impressed with the Sennheiser HD 450BT, especially in the way they sound; their balanced profile should appeal to both audiophiles and bass hunters. Battery life and connectivity are both perfect, and the noise reduction works well enough, although you may find these headphones don’t completely block out all external noise. Our biggest bugbear is with the thinner-touch construction of these cans; although they’re cheaper than the Momentum 3 Wireless, $199/£159 is still a lot of money to pay for headphones – and for that, we think it’s fair to expect a more premium-touch construction.
That said, they look pretty good on, and if you’re looking for a cheaper alternative to the Sony WH-1000XM3, the Sennheiser HD 450BTs are a great choice. Also, check our list of The Best Headphones To Buy Right Now
With great sound, good noise-cancellation and a comfortable (and fully foldable) fit, they are suitable and a cheaper alternative to the Sony WH-1000XM3.
- Fantastic sound
- Comfortable fit
- Decent noise cancellation
- Soundstage could be more open