Sennheiser are renowned for their premium headphones, and with good reason: they're a category leader when it comes to sound quality and innovation. When you buy high-end Sennheiser cans, you generally know you’re going to be strapping something rather special to your head. But does that hold true when it comes to their budget wireless headphones?
These Bluetooth over-ear headphones are cut from the same cloth as their more expensive stablemates, and boast a ridiculously long battery life. They also boast the latest Qualcomm Bluetooth v5.0 chipset. Yet they list at $89/£89, and often can be found for less.
This makes them freakishly good value. There are caveats, of course, but none severe.
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Sennheiser HD 350BT: Features
The Sennheiser HD 350BT sport a fashionably minimalist design. Available in either all-white or all-black editions, we auditioned the former. With light grey ear cushions, they look cool (perhaps overly so), with the Sennheiser logo and branding printed in muted gold.
The ear cups twist left and right, and are hinged from the band, so that they fold down into a tidy bundle that can stow easily in a bag or backpack.
The finish is good, but build quality is lightweight. This makes them easy to wear, but doesn’t really inspire long term confidence if you tend to manhandle your cans during the course of a day.
The HD 350BT rank just below the HD 450BT. Unlike this pricier stablemate, they lack noise cancelling, but support aptX, for higher quality playback, and aptX Low Latency for superior syncing when watching visual content (Netflix and YouTube) on a mobile.
To accompany the headphones, Sennheiser has an app (for iOS and Android) that offers EQ adjustment and manages firmware updates.
We found overall usability to be good enough, but it’s worth noting that there’s no 3.5mm minijack, which means that your only option is to go wireless. This is rather limiting if you wanted to use them with in-flight entertainment, or cabled to save juice.
Sennheiser HD350BT: Features
The Sennheiser HD 350BT are light at 238g and the ear pads reassuringly comfy. The pleather can get a little sticky when wearing them for a prolonged period, but the padding is generous. It’s rather more frugally deployed in the headband though. Still, this doesn’t clamp overly hard, giving good isolation, and they stay in place when you start to rock out.
As you might expect, given the paltry price tag, there’s no touch sensor built in, so swiping hither and thither for track control is off the cards. You’ll need to master old-school physical buttons.
The right cup hosts a USB-C charging port, power and Bluetooth pairing, plus volume and playback control. Controls are positioned for functionality and you’ll soon get the hang of them.
Accessories are a bit thin on the ground. A consequence of its tight pricing, there’s no protective carry case included, but you do get a USB-C charging cable.
Sennheiser HD 350BT: Sound
The Sennheiser HD 350BT’s are refreshingly transparent for budget head-fi, and are able to find delicious detail amid complexity. I was prepared to make concessions given their impulse purchase price – but as it happens, I didn’t really need to.
Imaging is on the right side of immersive. The ominous, encircling beat of Senjutsu’s title track by Iron Maiden, does a full 360 with these Sennheisers, breaking out only for some minor skirmishes left and right. Bruce Dickinson occupies the sweet spot, his voice nuanced and rasping.
When Maiden’s new album breaks into a full gallop with Stratego, amid the propulsive energy, you’ll detect a physical twang to the riffing. The Sennheiser HD 350BT pick up on the small details in a really satisfying way.
They’re also as lively as hell. When Charlie Bellmore and Nick Petrino embark on a furious riff-battle in I Gotta Rock (Again) from Dee Snider’s Leave A Scar album the Sennheiser’s diminutive drivers square-off and only the singers ageless roar prevents them from shredding their foamy cushions.
Admittedly, the HD 350BT’s don’t drop deep; there’s a clear limit to their bass extension, but slip on Chubby And the Gang’s I Hate The Radio, a stripped back (surprisingly) melodic outing from The Mutt’s Nuts, and you’ll be engulfed by the band’s Uxbridge surf punk clatter.
As for the lack of noise cancelling, does it really matter when these over-ears get the naked guitar frenzy of It’s Me Who’ll Pay from the same album bang on? Chubby and his mates may only just be in control of their instruments, but Sennheiser knows exactly how they’re meant to sound.
For such cheapies, the HD 350BT exhibit remarkable sonic sophistication. They’re inherently, effortlessly musical – something I only really twigged when I realised my toes were tapping like a jack hammer.
That’s the magic of Sennheiser DNA. And here it’s going for a song.
Sennheiser HD 350BT: The Alternatives
If the Sennheiser HD 350BT headphones aren’t quite your cup of Joe, we’ve picked out a couple of other options for around the same price you to mull over. First up are the excellent Lindy NC-60 headphones. These boast noise cancelling, are comfortable to wear and sound fantastic. Next we have the Anker Soundcore Life Q20 which also have noise cancelling tech onboard. They have the BassUp feature built in if you want a deeper groove and they sound superb. Definitely worth a close look.