Sennheiser HD 4.50 Special Edition Matte Black Wireless Headphones
Category: Audio > Headphones

Sennheiser HD 4.50 Special Edition Matte Black Wireless Headphones Review

The Swift Summary

Pros

Cons

  • Superb active noise cancellation
  • Clean minimal design
  • High quality audio performance with aptX encoding
  • Battery life could be better
  • Mic only works when in wireless mode

Features list for the Sennheiser HD 4.50 Special Edition headphones

The HD 4.50 SE headphones have pretty much the same spec as the Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC headphones with the additional of a super stealth matte black finish.

  • Wireless Bluetooth connection (with aptX audio coding)
  • NoiseGuard active noise cancellation
  • Instant pairing to devices via NFC
  • Closed back around ear cup design
  • Integrated controls and microphone
  • Matte black colour
  • Up to 25 hour battery life (19 hrs with NoiseGuard active)
  • Adjustable padded head strap
  • 1 year manufacturers’ warranty

Swift Thoughts

Design

If you’re looking for clean lines, minimal design with subtle branding and embellishment, then the HD 4.50’s offer a superb choice. This special edition version of the HD 4.50BTNC was a matte black finish which really gives them that ‘stealth’ look. The over-the-ear cups are slightly larger than on-ear alternatives but they don’t look or feel overly big or clumsy when worn.

Audio Performance

Sennheiser are well known for superior audio quality and the HD 4.50’s really deliver. The balance and range from bass to treble tones are on point.

My only criticism would be that some audiophiles might notice a slight lack of audio range with the noise cancellation feature switched on.

Comfort

Super comfortable over ear design. You can wear these for long periods. Over the ear cup designs are less well suited to exercising in as your ears will sweat more.

Build Quality

I found no issues with build quality. If you look after them these headphones will last a long time. The headphones come with a nice soft case to protect them which might save you a bit of extra cash.

Functionality

The buttons around the ear cups are easy and intuitive to use. Pairing via NFC is also a nice feature.

The HD 4.50 headphones work well when answering calls, the mic picks up your voice without needing to talk louder than normal. Unfortunately the microphone will only work with the headphones connected wirelessly via Bluetooth – which is a bit odd but no big deal.


Swift Scores

Design
90%
Audio Performance
90%
Comfort
90%
Build Quality
85%
Functionality
85%
Battery Life
75%

FAQs

Q: Does it have a mic
A: Yes

Q: Will these connect to my Bluetooth TV?
A: The headphones will connect to most Bluetooth devices but it does largely depend on the device’s particular Bluetooth firmware being compatible. Older devices with older Bluetooth firmware are more likely to have connection issues.

Q: What’s the difference between the HD 4.50 and the HD 450BT headphones?
A: Essentially the 450BT is the newer version of the 4.50 range, which includes the 4.50 BTNCs and the 4.50 Special Editions. More info can be found in the ‘Alternatives’ section below.

Q: What’s the difference between version 4.50 and the 4.4 version?
A: The new version has active noise cancelling!

Q: What’s the difference between version 4.50 and the special edition 4.50?
A: The unique matte black finish.

Q: Can people sitting next to you hear the noise?
A: No, the headphones are really well insulated.

Q: Can I use these headphones for gaming on the PS4 or XBox?
A: These headphones are not aimed at gamers and I wouldn’t recommend them for that use.


What’s in the box?

  • Sennheiser HD 4.50 Special Edition Headphones
  • Carry Case
  • Audio cable with 2.5mm and 3.5mm jack plugs
  • USB charging cable with micro USB connector
  • Quick guide
  • Safety guide

Tech Talk

What does NFC device pairing mean and how does it work?

These Sennheiser headphones allow you pair them with NFC compatible Bluetooth devices. NFC stands for Near Field Communication which is a short-range wireless technology in which pairing starts by simply touching the two devices to each other.

To pair your HD 4.50 to your device, first activate NFC on your smartphone or device, then scan (touch) the device onto the left ear cup. You’ll hear a voice prompt “power on” and a beep sound. The LED will flash blue and red. You may then need to confirm pairing on your device by clicking “Yes”. Once connected correctly the voice prompt with say “connected” and the LED will flash blue 3 times.


You want it? We’ve found it.

The HD 4.50 Special Edition’s are available in matte black.

Sennheiser HD 4.50 Special Edition – Black

Download the manual

If you’re interested you can download the Sennheiser HD 4.50BTNC Manual in PDF format. Just look directly underneath the ‘Product Details’ section header. Here you’ll also find the ‘Quick Start’ guide.

Alternative headphones

The newer version of these headphones are the Sennheiser HD 450BT (without the decimal point). Not to be confused with their predecessor the HD 4.50 BTNC and its matte black special edition variant. These new headphones are slightly more expensive than 4.50SE but you get better audio encoding (Bluetooth v5.0 with low latency aptX) and a longer 30 hour battery life.

Recommended accessories

If you are looking for a case offering more protection than the one supplied then I’d recommend this hard carrying case. The 4.40 and 4.50 ranges fit perfectly without any rattle.

Sony WH-1000MX2 Noise Cancelling Wireless Headphones with Google Assistant
Category: Audio > Headphones

Sony WH-1000XM2 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones Review

The Swift Summary

Pros

Cons

  • Clean minimal design
  • Superb audio performance and noise cancelling
  • 30hr battery life
  • Audio customisation (via app)
  • Optimised for travelling on planes
  • Gesture controls not for everybody

Features list for the Sony WH-1000XM2 headphones

  • Superb high resolution sound
  • Wireless connectivity (via Bluetooth or NFC)
  • Foldable design
  • Over-ear cup design
  • 30 hour battery life
  • Rechargeable battery via USB
  • Remote audio control via touch interface (gesture control)
  • Integrated microphone
  • Detachable mini jack audio cable for wired use
  • Integrated Google assistant
  • Available in two colours: black or gold (as shown below)
  • Adjustable padded head strap
  • LED status indicator
  • 1 year manufacturers’ warranty

Swift Thoughts

Design

The Sony WH-1000XM2’s have a clean, modern, minimalist design. I’m not sure they look particularly high-end, but the features built in certainly make up for this. I especially love the touch controls for audio playback and taking calls. A really neat feature that helps eliminate visual clutter around the ear cup. They’re not what you’d call ‘ear candy’ and wearing them you’re certainly not making any brand statements. If you’re looking for more subtle sophistication than a trendy statement – these are the headphones for you.

Audio Performance

The Sony WH-1000XM2 noise cancelling headphones offer an excellent all-round audio experience that are ideal for those who love listening to more bass-favouring tracks. The noise cancelling feature is exceptional and really eliminates intrusive ambient noise.

The headphones use an Adaptive Sound Control system that automatically adjusts the ambient noise depending upon your situation. Whilst you’re WALKING the noise cancellation is on its lowest setting and the ambient noise is most noticeable. Presumably this is a safety feature so you can hear cars and the people around you. Whilst you’re WAITING the ambient noise reduces to a middle setting, so the ambient bustle of an airport or train station is reduced, but you can hear the all important announcements. Then thirdly, whilst you’re TRAVELLING, the noise cancellation really kicks in and you get the full immersive audio experience.

You can manually adjust the ambient sound setting as well using the Sony Headphones Connect app.

Comfort

As with a lot of headphone designs the Sony WH-1000XM2’s can feel a little tight when you first use them. But once you’ve worn them a few times and you’ve correctly adjusted the headstrap they are a really comfortable set of headphones.

Build Quality

I have no complaints about the WH-1000XM2 in terms of build quality. If you look after them well they’ll last a long time.

Functionality

The touch controls can be a little fiddly, but once you get used to them they’re very satisfying to use. You simply double-tap the centre of your right ear cup for play/pause and taking calls. Swiping up and down over your right ear cup changes the volume and swiping left and right changes the track.

Noise cancellation and ambient sound adjustment can be switched on or off by cycling through the second (NC/Ambient) button around the left ear cup.

Battery Life

With a whopping 30 hours of claimed battery life you won’t be recharging them often.


Swift Scores

Design
85%
Audio Performance
95%
Comfort
90%
Build Quality
95%
Functionality
85%
Battery Life
95%

FAQs

Q: Does the WH-1000XM2 come with an adapter so I can use them with aeroplane headphone ports?
A: Yes, they come with a standard 2-pin adapter plug for flying.

Q: How long is the wire for connected use?
A: Approx 150cm (1.5 metres)

Q: Do they come with a case?
A: Yes.

Q: Are they suitable for use whilst running?
A: Yes they work fine. Once the headphone band is adjusted properly, they clamp over your ears with enough force to not move about.

Q: Can you completely turn off Active Noise Cancelling (ANC)?
A: Yes.

Q: Do they come with a case?
A: Yes.

Q: Do I need to download the Sony Headphones Connect app to use the headphones?
A: No. The app is just an additional nicety. It provides an alternative way to manage your connected devices as well as some audio customisation options. For example you can manually set the Adaptive Sound Control setting, pick a virtual surround sound effect and use an EQ tool where you have sliders to boost the bass, mid, treble to the exact levels you prefer.


What’s in the box?

  • Sony WH-1000XM2 headphones
  • Detachable audio cable
  • Micro USB charging cable
  • Semi rigid carrying case
  • 2-pin aeroplane adapter plug

Tech Talk

What is aptX HD?

The Sony WH-1000XM2’s are aptX HD compatible! But what’s aptX and why is it important? Well, essentially aptX HD is a modern audio codec that transmits data at higher bit rates than standard Bluetooth or the original aptX codec. The result is better quality wireless audio.

What’s a codec? A codec is a type of digital algorithmic program. It compresses and encodes data going out then decompresses and decodes the data at the other end. The main purpose is to allow for quick and efficient data transmission.

Although with aptX HD the data is still compressed, Qualcomm, the aptX creator and developer, say it is capable of transmitting 24bit high definition audio that is ‘better than CD quality’.


Sony WH-1000XM2 – Colour Options

The Sony WH-1000XM2 noise cancelling headphones are available in two colours – black or gold.

Sony WH-1000XM2 Black Headphones
Sony WH-1000XM2 Black Noise Cancelling Wireless Headphones
Sony WH-1000MX2 Gold Headphones
Sony WH-1000XM2 Gold Noise Cancelling Wireless Headphones

Download the manual

If you’re interested you can download the Sony WH-1000XM2 Manual in PDF format. Just look directly underneath the ‘Product Details’ section header.

Alternative headphones

The Bose QuietComfort 35 II wireless noise cancelling headphones are a good alternative and often compared with the 1000MX range from Sony.

Recommended accessories

Avantree Priva III Bluetooth Audio Transmitter. This neat little gadget gives your TV or PC Bluetooth capabilities so you use it with your wireless Bluetooth headphones.

Bose QuietComfort 35 Series II Noise Cancelling Headphones - Black
Category: Audio > Headphones

Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series II) Noise Cancelling Headphones Review

The Swift Summary

Pros

Cons

  • Superb audio performance and noise cancelling
  • Very comfortable
  • Premium materials and finishes
  • Google Voice Assistant integration
  • 20hr battery life could be better
  • Taking calls in noisy places is a struggle

Features of the Bose QuietComfort 35 wireless headphones II

  • Volume optimised EQ
  • Wireless connectivity (via Bluetooth or NFC pairing)
  • Acoustic Noise Cancelling technology (with three levels of noise suppression)
  • Foldable design
  • Over-ear cup design
  • 20 hour battery life
  • Rechargeable battery via USB
  • Integrated remote playback controls
  • Integrated dual microphone system (with noise rejection)
  • Detachable audio cable
  • Voice control (with Google Assistant built-in and Amazon Alexa)
  • Enhanced experience with Bose Connect App
  • Carrying case included
  • Available in three colours: black, silver or rose gold
  • Adjustable Alcantara® cushioned head strap
  • LED status indicator
  • 2 year (EU) or 1 year (non-EU) manufacturers’ warranty

Swift Thoughts

Design

Like all Bose products the QuietComfort 35’s have a sleek, sophisticated, timeless design. For an over the ear headphone design the ear cups are just the right size and the emblazoned Bose logo is subtle. Whilst the button placement and their ease-of-use is perfectly functional, their chunky feel is a tad dated, in my opinion. More function over form in that respect.

Audio Performance

In one word, the QuietComfort 35 II sound quality is just superb. Even with the noise cancelling function on, I couldn’t notice any compromise in audio clarity or performance.

Comfort

Comfort is great. I particularly like the luxurious materials used and velvety soft finishes. The QC35s are headphones that can be worn for hours with no problems.

Build Quality

When you pay premium, you get premium. These Bose headphones boast both impact resistant materials and corrosion resistance finishes.

Battery Life

The battery has a 20 hour life cycle which is more than enough for most users.

Functionality

Overall the functionality of these headphones is very good. The noise cancelling feature is excellent – by far the headphone’s best feature. If you want that sensation of pure isolation when listening to your favourite playlist, then I can’t recommend the QC35’s enough.

I found the wireless connectivity worked well and taking calls easy and intuitive. Some users have mentioned that Bluetooth connectivity gets a little flaky at longer distances to the device, but I didn’t notice any such issues. It’s possible these sort of problems occur with devices that use older Bluetooth firmware.

Now to the less good bits – taking calls. In order to take calls or listen to conferences you need to be able to hear your own voice, right? But how do you do this with noise cancelling headphones? It doesn’t sound like the two features should go together. Well, Bose’s answer is to use the microphone to pick up your voice and amplify it through your headphones. It’s what’s called the sidetone feature.

Unfortunately myself and many others have experienced poor results when taking calls in noisy environments. The sidetone feature literally amplifies too much of the outside noise, making it hard to hear. You also cannot adjust or turn the feature off. Boooo Bose Boo. 🙁

In order to remedy this situation you either look for an alternative that’s better designed for taking calls, like Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 or you could purchase a Bose compatible cable with an inline mic. This cable works with both Apple and Android devices.

I should also mention that making calls in quieter situations works perfectly well so this issue may not be a deal breaker for many people.


Swift Scores

Design
90%
Audio Performance
95%
Comfort
90%
Build Quality
95%
Functionality
70%
Battery Life
85%

FAQs

Q: What does the Bose Connect App do?
A: Whilst the app is not necessary, with it you can manage wireless connections, update software for your headphones, adjust the noise cancellation setting, use the volume-optimised equalizer settings, disable voice prompts or change the voice prompt language.

Q: What’s the difference between QuietComfort 35 series I and QuietComfort 35 series II headphones?
A: The series 2 headphones have an Action button on the left earcup that connects to Google Assistant. You can also keep noise cancelling on using both wireless and wired connections.

Q: Can it connect to Apple’s Siri or Android Assistant instead?
A: Yes. The Google Assistant connectivity is just an additional integration for the series II.

Q: Do the QC35’s come with a case?
A: Yes.

Q: Are these headphones suitable for people who wear glasses?
A: Yes, they are very comfortable.

Q: Do they leak sound?
A: Nope.

Q: Will they work with my iPad, iPhone, iPod etc…?
A: Yes, as long as they have Bluetooth connectivity.

Q: Are they suitable for wearing in the gym or exercising, running etc.?
A: No, not really. They are not water/sweat resistant.

Q: Can this be paired to multiple devices?
A: Yes. The QC35’s can hold up to 8 devices in its memory.

Q: Will they connect to an Amazon Echo?
A: No. I believe the Echo only has one way wireless connectivity. So it can be a speaker, but not connect to wireless headphones.

Q: Do they make your ears hot?
A: Nope. Never experienced heat issues.


What’s in the box?

  • Bose QuietComfort 35 ii wireless headphones
  • Audio cable
  • USB charging cable
  • Carrying case

Tech Talk

Voice Assistants – Siri, Android and now Google Assistant

Using the new action button on the left earcup you can now connect to your preferred mobile voice assistant. The Bose QuietComfort 35 II helps you connect to Apple’s Siri, Android Assistant and new for the QC35 series II, Google Assistant. The Google Assistant feature is a little better integrated as you can get notifications and reply to messages hands free.

It’s worth noting that although the headphones connect to these voice apps (via Bluetooth), the headphones themselves don’t have network connectivity (WiFi nor Cellular). Your connected iphone/Android/Pixel/device will need internet access.

How to pair your Bose QuietComfort 35 headphones to a Bluetooth device

First make sure your device has Bluetooth connectivity switched on. Then turn the headphones on by sliding the power/bluetooth button to the right for two seconds. You’ll hear a voice prompt saying “Ready to connect another device” and the Bluetooth indicator will flash blue. Then select your Bose headphones from the device list on your connecting device. Once connected you’ll hear another voice prompt stating “Connected to …” and the indicator light will glow solid white.

What does NFC touch pairing mean and how does it work?

The Bose QuietComfort 35 II headphones allow you pair them with NFC compatible Bluetooth devices. NFC stands for Near Field Communication which is a short-range wireless technology in which pairing starts by simply touching the two devices to each other.

To pair your QC35’s to your device, first make sure your device has Bluetooth and NFC connectivity switched on. Then turn your headphones on. Next, touch your NFC-compatible device to the left underside on the headphones. Once connected you’ll hear a voice prompt stating “Connected to …” and the indicator light will glow solid white.


Bose QuietComfort 35 II – Colours Options

The Bose QuietComfort 35 II wireless noise-cancelling headphones are available in three colours – black, silver or rose gold.

Bose QuietComfort 35 Series II Noise Cancelling Headphones - Black
Bose QuietComfort 35 II Black Wireless Headphones
Bose QuietComfort 35 Series II Noise Cancelling Headphones - Silver
Bose QuietComfort 35 II Silver Wireless Headphones
Bose QuietComfort 35 Series II Noise Cancelling Headphones - Rose Gold
Bose QuietComfort 35 II Rose Gold Wireless Headphones

Download the manual

If you’re interested you can download the Bose QuietComfort 35 II Manual in PDF format. Just look directly underneath the ‘Product Details’ section header. It’s called ‘User Guide’.

Alternative headphones

Maybe take a look at the AKG N60NC headphones or the Sony WH-1000XM2 – both are excellent noise cancelling headphones. The AKG’s have an on-ear design and the Sony’s an over-the-ear design.

Recommended accessories

Geekria EJB29 UltraShell is a well designed hard shell case suitable for your QC 35 headphones. Unlike cheap softer cases you might be recommended, this one will give your headphones better protection whilst travelling. It comes in eight different colour/material options and features an internal mesh pocket for accessories. It’s definitely worth investing in a case if you plan to travel with your headphones!

Avantree Priva III Bluetooth Audio Transmitter. This neat little gadget gives your TV or PC Bluetooth capabilities so you use it with your wireless Bluetooth headphones.