Far better than your typical utilitarian cans
Sennheiser sent me a pair of their HD 350BT headphones last week. Needless to say, I was fairly excited and held high expectations. While I can’t deny that they had some room for improvement, I wouldn’t say I was disappointed. In fact, they exceeded my expectations by a small margin considering its modest price tag. Let me walk you through my experience with this awesome product.
Thoughts While Unboxing It
The first thing that caught my eye after I hurriedly demolished the box was a beautiful set of white cans stowed in a remarkably small place. Since they were wireless and foldable, my first instinct was to look for a pouch. Upon realizing it didn’t come with one, I was a little let down, especially given its portability factor and how complete of a package a pouch would’ve made it.
My second minor gripe arose when I began looking for a 3.5mm cable – a standard accessory with most, if not all, headphones. I didn’t find the cable in the box and that immediately deducted a point from its connectivity options. The 350BT came with only a USB-C charging cable along with a quick guide. The inadequacy in terms of accessories left me slightly dissatisfied and I’m still confused behind this display of meagerness.
Thoughts While Putting It On
I found myself torn between appreciating and critiquing the 350BT’s body. While it was gorgeous, light-weight and minimal, it also somewhat crossed the boundary of sleek to trespass into the territory of flimsy. Its plastic body, lacked the sturdiness and premium feel of top-tier Sennheiser cans, and was a constant reminder of its low price. However, aesthetically, I found them to be quite elegant and the lack of solidity is not the worst omission in an otherwise great device that costs only $120.
My ears were at peace against the fine leatherette finish of the 350BT ear cups that hugged my cranial area securely but gently. The top of my skull was the most content against its headband that had the perfect clamping force. It offered an impressive amount of give when stretched out from the sides and offered generous rubber padding around the length of it. Comfort-wise, I was thoroughly impressed.
Thoughts While Navigating It
It took me quite a while to not just navigate but get used to the rather clamped together buttons—all on the 350BT’s right side. Both the design and controls could have been significantly better if more though had gone into making them more intuitive. There are four buttons and a port all squeezed together that makes maneuvering the device difficult. All the buttons are small and hard to toggle, leading the user to struggle for a while before finally adjusting to them. Something as simple as distributing the buttons and port to both sides of the unit could have significantly improved the user experience.
User friendliness is somewhat balances its not-so-easy mechanism with quite helpful status alerts that serve to enhance your experience. There’s a separate alert for being powered off/on, connecting and losing connection. This definitely helped the device gain a point in both navigation and controls.
Thoughts While Testing Its Audio
The 350BT audio left me impressed. Overall, the feel of its audio was light and fresh. It had little depth and warmth and was, instead, incredibly airy and refreshing. I tested bass, treble, high, mid and low frequencies on it and, to my surprise, it delivered with flying colors. The bass may have fallen a little short than what a high-end pair of headphones might offer, but then again, these utilitarian cans are not intended to be high-end.
I put it through the rite of passage that all headphones should go through, The Knife’s Silent Shout. The sound was clean and clear, handling the low rumble as well as its high pitches. I turned its volume all the way up and experienced zero muddiness. It did an incredible job at delivering a crisp audio without muting low pitches and distorting high frequencies.
The soundstage was the best part of this highly-recommended device. It was ridiculously spacious, offering as much height as depth. Every single gradation whether the song went from low to high or vice versa could be clearly felt. It provided the kind of soundscape that makes every track sound 3D, spreading instruments across a spacious stage you can’t see but feel. A huge plus for headphones this cheap was the very neat Sennheiser Smart Control App. It provided pretty good out-of-the-box tuning and equalizer adjustments that genuinely enhanced the terrific audio already on offer.
Another great feature was its ability to keep audio inside its ear cups resulting in absolutely no sound leakage even at its highest volume. Not a lot of headphones are capable of accomplishing this let alone a device this economical.
Thoughts While Testing Its Mic
I sufficiently liked the mic on the 350BT but it didn’t blow me away. It picked my voice in milliseconds and transferred it with smoothness and alacrity, at least according to my friend. Her voice was also adequately clear, giving me no major complaints with it. I just feel like the mic tended to isolate my friend’s voice at times making it feel like she was in a huge field.
I used nothing but the 350BT for four days straight. The aptX Low Latency codec support came through with its highly reliable, lag-free connectivity not letting the connection even slightly suffer at any given point. The promised 30-hour battery life claim didn’t turn out to be an exaggeration at all. The first time I had to charge it was after using it for hours on end for three consecutive days. Even then, just 10 minutes of charging replenished it with enough juice to last another day. All in all, the 350BT, in spite of minor issues, turned out to be quite impressive, in terms of both performance and reliability.
Is it Hardcore?
A big yes.
There’s no denying that these 350BT cans thoroughly impress. They have their share of shortcomings in terms of design and accessories but in terms of performance and reliability, these minor complaints take a back seat.