We have reviewed a number of Sennheiser headsets in the past. We last reviewed their HD 350BT, and recommended them to you. They did have their share of shortcomings in terms of design and accessories but in terms of performance and reliability, those minor complaints took a back seat. Sennheiser’s gaming sub-brand, EPOS, has been producing top-quality gaming headsets for as long as we can remember. We last reviewed their H3 and loved every bit of it. We were now sent the Sennheiser HD 450SE Wireless. Priced at $200, these cans had to be great to justify their not-so-economical price. Unfortunately, they failed to do that.
The 450SE are very portable thanks to their design. They’re foldable which makes them easy to be stowed away. They are also fairly light. To make portability even better, the headphones come with a carry case for its accessories. These include a standard USB-A to USB-C charging cable and a 3.5mm audio jack for when you run out of juice. The carry case is zippered and features an extra pocket. The company deserves a point for a brilliant form factor and another for generosity in terms of accessories.
However, the cans being lightweight have a downside to it too. They do not look like $200 cans at all. The plastic body comes off as rather cheap and makes you feel like you’re holding a toy. With a body this flimsy, I’m not sure about the durability of these headphones. There is absolutely no inclusion of metal anywhere in the cans. The headband features a fairly thin plastic band with unbelievably little padding underneath. The band branches out into two slim forks that hold the ear cups. There are silver bands on either side of the headband that looks metallic but are made of average-quality plastic as well.
Not Enough Padding
In a pair of cans that are worth $200, Sennheiser could have easily managed to give us a little more. Not only did they try to reduce costs in the material of the 450SE but the headband padding is also less than enough. There is a very thin layer of memory foam stuffed in the area. The headband is already pretty thin. Add insufficient padding to that and what you get is a slim and sharp band that hurts your noggin. The least the company could have done was increase the surface area of the band so that its pressure gets divided, and it applies less force on the top of your skull.
They nailed the ear cups, though. They feature generous padding and are big enough to allow enough space for not only my ears but my cartilage piercing as well. The 450SE was also deep enough to make sure my cartilage isn’t touching it inner walls. However, the headband made my overall experience of donning these cans quite unpleasant.
It took me quite a while to get used to the rather clamped together buttons—all on the 450SE’s right side. The controls could have been significantly better if more thought had gone into making them intuitive. There are four buttons and two ports all squeezed together which makes maneuvering 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.
It took me quite a while to get used to the controls and, even then, I was constantly messing up. Companies these days make multi-function buttons that are capable of performing multiple jobs so that the control panels can have the least number of buttons. Sennheiser took a completely different approach on the 450SE.
Music on the 450SE
I was hoping the 450SE would deliver excellent music so that the complaints I have from the headphones in other areas would balance out. However, the sound is just average with sufficient bass and treble. The bass isn’t punchy enough to be felt in your throat and the treble isn’t sharp enough to be enjoyable. Mids are impressive and the music is loud and clear. It doesn’t lose its richness at higher levels so that’s a plus.
The headphones don’t sync with Windows 10 automatically like most cans do. So, if you’re using these with your laptop, the laptop’s volume controls will have no effect on the 450SE’s volume. The ANC is pretty great. It isolated the sound to a good degree and muted ambient noise. The ear cups provide great passive noise isolation as well.
The 450SE lasted me around 32 hours. Considering their advertised runtime says 30 hours, the battery life is impressive. Apart from that, there’s not much I can praise. The accessories and form factor are commendable and so is the ANC. But spending $200 for these features is not a good idea.
Is It Hardcore?
The Sennheiser HD 450SE Wireless is not worth its price. They feature poor controls, an uncomfortable headband and average sound.