Sennheiser MM 450 Travel headset
This on-ear headset has great noise-cancelling and flawless Bluetooth connectivity
The Sennheiser MM 450 Travel is a Bluetooth-enabled supra-aural headset that folds up for easy portability. It has inbuilt active noise-cancelling and an internal microphone to allow complete integration with a Bluetooth-equipped mobile phone.
- Great noise-cancelling for an on-ear model, flawless Bluetooth implementation, good sound quality
- Low battery life with noise-cancelling enabled, dorky headband
Sennheiser's premier Bluetooth travel headset has great sound quality considering its portability. Good active noise-cancelling and a flawless Bluetooth implementation make it even more appealing.
We've never been huge fans of supra-aural (on-ear) headphones and headsets. We either prefer a small pair of in-ear headphones or some reassuringly hefty full-size cans. The Sennheiser MM 450 Travel is the first on-ear headset we've felt properly comfortable wearing, with a good level of clamping force and a flexible headband. It's not particularly light, but our main concern lies with the strangely shaped headband. It bulges at each ear-cup hinge and looks slightly dorky when being worn.
Like the Sennheiser PXC 450, this pair of headphones is intended for travellers, with a collapsible design that means the headset can fit in a jacket pocket. A sturdy fabric-lined carry bag is included in the retail package for storing the headphones. There's no noticeable compromise in the sound quality, though: the headset is a commuter's dream, with a high quality inbuilt microphone, active noise-cancellation and a new Bluetooth codec to ensure the best wireless sound quality possible.
We connected the Sennheiser MM 450 Travel to an Apple iPhone 3GS using Bluetooth for the majority of our testing. While the removable battery was charging, we also connected the headset to a Dell Inspiron Mini 9 netbook using the supplied 2.5mm-3.5mm adapter cable.
To be honest, we didn't notice a difference in sound quality between using a wired connection and using Bluetooth. This is testament to the quality of the wireless connection; sound didn't drop out once during our extensive testing. The quoted maximum range of the headset is 10m, but we found we could travel a few metres past that and still maintain a connection — and despite a few walls between the headset and the iPhone, sound quality remained great.
Sennheiser claims the frequency response of the MM 450 Travel is 15-22,000Hz. Mid-range is probably the strongest area of the headset, with acoustic guitar and male vocals displaying significant detail and a warm, pleasant tone. Treble isn't as forward or as bright, but there's still representation of song detail to the point that we were able to hear the compression artefacts in our MP3 test files. With such small drivers these headphones would be excused for having little to no bass response, so we were surprised to hear a reasonable low-frequency kick during our hip-hop test tracks.
Active noise-cancelling is often derided by audio purists — it interferes with the sound by introducing an artificial frequency to cancel out detected ambient noise — but we're fans of this particular headset's performance. Ninety per cent of background noise is minimised, with only a faint background hiss remaining. For commuting and office work it's a god-send.
The inbuilt microphone is well suited to mobile phone calls but it shines for Skype calls (which have slightly higher quality). It did have problems when we used it in strong wind, though.
Our only concern with this headset is the significant drain that the combination of Bluetooth and noise-cancelling puts on the rechargeable battery. It's only rated at 10 hours of listening via Bluetooth, dropping down to eight with noise-cancelling enabled. If you've got a particularly long train ride home, you might find yourself recharging the battery every second day — though the fact that you can do this with either a wall socket or a computer's USB port helps.
We're quite enamoured with the Sennheiser MM 450 Travel headset. The Bluetooth implementation and the noise-cancelling work fantastically together and the sound quality is great — but you might want to buy an extra battery.
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