on June 13, 2012
I will grade it in categories on a scale of 1-10:
-Wired: 9 (Not Audiophile can killers, but better than most cool cans and slightly better wired than with BT)
-BT 2.1: 9 (best BT audio I have ever heard--and that is not with Apt-X profile. Apt-X, if your device supports it, is as good as advertised. It's indistinguishable from a wired connection. NOTE: While many commenters say the volume is weak, I have not found that to be the case. I can't put them up more than 3/4 volume for 5 seconds without risking hearing damage (both wired and BT). and when I try maxing it out, I can tell you that at loud levels, there is little distortion (wired). I did get this quiet sound once when I tried using the wire with the BT turned on at the same time. If you turn the BT off, it goes back to loud. I think some people (who have the 550-x) are experiencing that phenomenon when they write that they are too quiet.)
--Comfort: 9 (You'll forget they're on, soft ear pads and light weight)
--Fit: 10 (I actually play tennis with them on and they hardly ever move a bit yet there's no "clamping" feeling, although they tend to lean forward on you if you look down too often.)
--Durability: 10 (they are tough, have a metal band, and just won't break)
--Easy to pair: 8 (Don't try to pair with the cord plugged in)
--Plays nice with others: 9 (I have paired these with a phone, tablet, and 4 computers and have multi-point connected them with switching for calls on the phone and computers. It all works relatively trouble free except for one scenario: you can't send media connection music to it from two devices at the same time, or one device won't play any sound at all until you kill the BT switch on the device. This is true for any BT A2DP speaker device, so it's not Sennheiser's fault. You also can't connect to 2 devices while A2DP media services are running on the existing connection.)
--Mic quality: 8 (people can hear me fine, but for some reason my voice dialer can't understand me)
--Attenuation: 10 (I'm glad I didn't get the 550-x because the passive noise cancelling on these 500's is perfect. In fact, you won't hear certain background noises at all (I can't hear my loud microwave oven beeps a bit), tough part is using the phone feature because it is weird not being able to hear your own voice from without (like holding your ears shut and talking). I work around very loud machinery and I compared these to my trusty industrial earmuffs, the Sennheisers were WAY better and WAY more comfortable.)
--Call usage functionality: 9 (Switches to calls and back to tunes flawlessly, even when multi-connected, but sometimes doesn't resume music play once the call terminates)
--Remote Audio controller: 9 (a bit of a learning curve, but works fine)
--Charge/usage time: 10 (I haven't had been able to drain the battery yet (they say 10 hrs), but they charge up in 3 hrs or less)
--Value: 9 (I might put them as a 299 item)
Bottom Line: More a novelty item than a serious audiophile or pro headphone, but still incredibly awesome if you want the best of all worlds: day to day portable usage, handsfree communication, nice sounding wired cans, freedom from wires with great BT wireless audio, all day comfort, and good passive attenuation.
EDIT: 16 months later, I can say that these are the bomb! I use them every day--both wired and BT--on several computers, a tablet, my phone, and in my home studio for audio recording and mixing. Charge has consistently lasted 10hrs + as advertised. I have dropped them a lot and they are still flawless and look as good as the day I bought them. The only gadget I use more than these is my phone, which says a lot coming from a gadget junkie. Value=10, worth every penny.
EDIT: 21 months later, the metal headband did break after constant but normal use. It took me about a month or so to realize it broke because it apparently cracked on the inside of the leather cover and it doesn't completely fall apart, you could still wear them normally, they would just not clamp down as tight and would tilt forward or backward a little when you lean over. But the good news is they have a 2 year warranty. So I initiated a return to Sennheiser--pretty easy to do. I saved my battery and accessories lest they wouldn't come back (kind a like when you leave your sd card in your phone and send it for warranty service and the card doesn't come back). I thought they might just replace the band and send them back, but after about 10 business days, they sent me a brand new unopened box with a surprise upgrade from the 500-x to the 550-x. I was thrilled with that (I have been using the noise cancelling feature and pass thru feature a lot now and I really like it), plus now I have an extra battery and extra accessories. Outstanding customer service! I would choose Sennheiser over any other brand.
on July 15, 2012
I hope this review will help buyers to make a more informed choice. As of this review, there were only two other reviews of this model from which to form my opinion. I have used many bluetooth headphones in the past including earbuds, on the ear, over the ear, and everything in between. I wanted a set of headphones that I also could use as noise reducers,(I work in a noisy environment), so I felt over the ear headphones would be the best choice for me. The Sennheiser MM 500-X has passive noise reduction very much like my over the ear hearing protectors at work and are quite a bit more comfortable.
As for sound reproduction: Most reviewers say that bluetooth devices don't have very good audio as compared to wired headphones, in this case, the audio on this bluetooth device is as good or better than any wired headphones I have ever owned. I am using these headphones with my android phone, and have a good graphic equalizer app installed. This allows me to customize the sound. It delivers crisp highs and mid-range and very tight bass without being harsh. These headphones appear to be very well made, so I believe they will hold up a long time. Another bonus is the fact that the battery is removable so you can get a spare battery and swap for charging. I have used these headphones for about a week now, and have only had to charge them one time, so the usage time is quite good.
Volume: I have my phone volume at about three quarters and am able to adjust the headphone volume more than enough to be uncomfortable. No low volume problems with these headphones. The up down track forward and back are all on the right ear cup and are very easy for me to manipulate, having used bluetooth headphones in the past. They are very light and comfortable with very soft and plyable ear pads and can be adjusted to fit any size head. I have had no trouble with loss of signal to my phone and they paired up very easy.
Cons: I have a large head and fairly large ears, so I have to squeeze my ears in the earcups. if there were any comments to make to Sennheiser, it would be to make the earcups a little larger or offer a larger replacement pair. I would have given five stars to this product had it not been for this small issue.
Bottom line: You get what you pay for, and these headphones have delivered in a big way. A little expensive, but I believe worth the money.
on April 3, 2013
Sennheiser got a lot of things right here, but not everything. The core feature, superior BT audio quality with or without Apt-X, is right on the money. Of course it's not serious audiophile grade: there's just a hint of background hiss in the amplified modes -- reminiscent of tape hiss for anyone who remembers that -- and part of the midrange has a reproduction problem that's a little hard to describe, it sounds sort of brittle. It's not always noticeable, but sometimes quite distinct; it just depends on the music.
But even in absolute terms the audio is pretty full and rich and has a great deal of detail: remarkably so for the current bluetooth standard, and strikingly so when Apt-X isn't supported on your source. It's a significant achievement, good enough for properly enjoying music while relaxing, as opposed to "better than nothing for the gym" which is about where other BT headphones sit.
One thing that isn't obvious from the literature is that in practice it actually has three operating modes:
- Wireless, amplified
- Wired, amplified
- Wired passive
That last means that you can still use your headset when the battery is discharged, or just want to leave it switched off to save the battery because you're just listening to the news or something. What you lose is some volume, depth and fullness (but you also lose the faint background hiss) but it's still good and very detailed, and certainly better than having to put your headphones away for the rest of the flight if the battery's run down.
In that wired, powered-off mode, headset controls don't work, so you'll be changing the volume, skipping and pausing on the source device. It's worth pointing out here that the controls aren't quite the same the as iPhone earbud standard: volume control is local to the headset's amplifier: you're not changing the volume on the source the way you are with an inline iPhone control.
Interestingly, the wired, powered-on, amplified mode has the same sound reproduction flaw in the midrange as the wireless mode, suggesting that the problem is in the amplification and reproduction circuitry rather than in the BT decoding. This is surprising and a little disappointing -- if it were a bluetooth limitation it'd be much easier to forgive in a premium manufacturer like Sennheiser.
Opinions seem to vary on the physical design: I like it a lot, it feels strong and well made, it's comfortable, elegant, feels good to handle. On the controls front, powering on and off involves mashing and holding the button in the center of the right earcup for a couple of seconds, I find that excessive and not much fun, an old-school on/off switch would be quicker and simpler. The fancy colored light visual cues for various events like power and pairing look groovy but are largely useless since you can't see them while you're wearing the headset. Crucially, it is surprisingly light for its size and battery life.
On that last point, the audible alert that the battery is running low consists of three LOUD beeps. It's way overkill and you won't be tempted to try to keep listening until it dies, because it repeats frequently and again, it's loud. Generally all the audio cues, for things like volume change, skip and pause, are all too loud. But the battery life is very good. About the time I start to wonder if it's going to need to be charged soon, it's still got a couple of hours left.
I was very close to giving this 5 stars; it really is a fine device with just a few little quirks that don't spoil it at all. But that sound reproduction error in the midrange is just a little harder to forgive at this price and with me it costs a star. All the same, I would not hesitate to buy it again, and except when I have to settle for pocketable earbutds, it's the one I reach for, even in the house when there are wired options available.
on February 4, 2014
I'll start by saying my home stereo system is Denon components with B&W speakers. I start here as it tells you something of what type of sound my listening tastes are geared to. I prefer more of a neutral sound. Stereo equipment/speakers/headphones tend to have a certain sound, if you like this type of sound, you will relate to this review.
My wife gave me the Beats bluetooth headphones for Christmas. I really liked the bluetooth convenience. However, they were on the ear headphones. Generally I can't wear on the ear headphones for any length of time as they make my ears sore. So that meant I had to find a pair of over the ear headphones to exchange them for.
Another thing about me, I rarely by something like this without doing my research - yeah, I'm one of those nerds... The top priority for me in my research was the sound. I didn't care so much about features. Also, I'm also not a big fan of noise cancelling. When I wear them, I keep wanting to pop my ears, so that was not a priority for me.
I started doing my research and most of the reviews I found dealt with Bluetooth noise cancelling headphones. As you would expect part of the evaluation was based on the noise cancelling ability, so I had to try and figure out if a lower rated headphone was due to inferior sound, or because inferior noise cancelling. The headphones that made my comparison list were the Parrot Zik's, the HK-BT's, the Bose AE2w, and the Sennheiser 550-x and 500-x. Unfortunately, the only ones I could find locally to listen to were the Bose. I decided to scratch the Zik and HK off my list as they were too hard to find in my area. I was able to find Sennheisers, but not the 500-X's or the 550'X's. It seemed like those are virtually the same headphone except the 550-X has noise cancelling and the 500 does not. Even though I couldn't listen to the 500's, the reviews I read talked about great sound, but not so good noise cancelling. Well they aren't noise cancelling headphones, nor am I interested in how good noise cancelling works for a pair of headphones so I ordered them.
When I listen to music in these headphones, this is what I hear:
- I hear all the music. Instruments that I normally did not hear with other headphones on, I hear with these. I started to hear music the way I hear it if I put a good soundtrack into my home stereo system and let it play a little bit.
- I hear the distinct tap of a drumstick on the very crown of the cymbal.
- I hear a woodblock faintly playing in the background.
- I hear a triangles ping in the background.
- I hear the shaker softly shaking in the background.
- I hear whether the guitar player is plucking with their fingertips or a pick.
- I hear each 1/8 note being played by the bass.
I have been very happy with my choice. As I mentioned, I was also able to listen to the Bose and Beats (since this is what my wife originally gave me). The Bose sounded good. Bose usually has decent sound, but they usually don't have the best sound if you are willing to listen to others. They would have been the safe choice. However, for my listening tastes, the Sennheisers sound better than the Bose. The other thing about the Bose that bothered me is the remote. The remote is the same setup as the your normal idevice remote. one click, two clicks, and three clicks. I asked the Bose person if they would work with non idevices. They said only the one click function would work with other devices, the two and three clicks (fast forward and reverse) would not work with non-idevices. i currently have idevices, but could see myself switching to something else. So the remote on the Sennheisers made that a better choice for me.
I heard very little of those background sounds with the Beats. To clear this up on Beats. I believe they are a very good sounding headphone, but they present the sound in a very specific way and that way may not be what some people want to hear. If you like the Beats sound, you would probably like their bluetooth headphones (BTW their battery lasted forever). My tastes run different so I know there are better headphones out there for me.
Back to the Sennheisers. In my research it seemed there were two main complaints. One was they did not get loud enough. The second was the earcups were too small. Regarding the loud complaint. I have only listened to them on my idevices to date (after hearing how they sound, I decided to order a bluetooth transmitter for my stereo receiver but it hasn't arrived yet). I have found them to be as loud as any other pair of headphones I have tried with my idevices. At full volume on my idevices it is slightly uncomfortable. After one or two songs, my ears hurt so I have to turn it down. Again, every pair of headphones I have ever had on my idevices have been the same in terms of how loud. I find that loud enough. What I can't comment on is if they will get louder than that since I don't have a louder audio source to try them against until the BT transmitter arrives.
Regarding the ear cup size. I wouldn't want them any smaller, but the are sufficient for my ears. I was going to measure them and post the dimensions, but haven't had a chance to do so yet. I consider myself to have average size ears. If you consider yourself average or less, I wouldn't worry about it. If you think you have larger ears, you may want to try and find them somewhere before you buy them just to be safe.
I find them very comfortable. So far max, I have probably worn them for about 3 hours in one session. They did not become uncomfortable or hot during that time. I would rate them very high on the comfort scale.
Battery life. They say about 8 hours if you are running BT. I think that is probably about accurate. Another complaint I read about is the sometimes when pulling the charging plug out of the battery after charging, you could pull the battery out. This is true, but honestly it is not a big deal. Just push the battery back in and you are good to go.
I have not tried them in wired mode yet, so no comments there. But they do come with wires the you can plug/unplug in case you need to run them wired.
Noise isolation. Again these are not noise cancelling, they are noise isolating. My wife was watching a movie on our home theater system. We were both sitting on the couch and I was listening to music on these headphones. I never noticed any sound other than when the music would pause between songs. Then I would hear it a bit. My wife does not like these headphones so much because if I have them on and she talks to me, I don't hear her. She likes it when I wear headphones that allow me to hear her when she says something to me. I guess we'll have to disagree on that one:)
Bottom line. If you want great sounding, neutral headphones, I'd highly recommend buying these.
on June 13, 2013
FINALLY--an ear pocket big enough! I just returned the 400 series because they are WAY too small and were driving me crazy. The small ear pad also meant that too much volume seeped out, so the sound quality was constantly vacillating between too loud and a whisper. Also, the small size of the 400 meant (for me, at least) that they were more fragile and always felt on the verge of falling off.
These do not do any of those things!! These stay in place; sync'd up with my phone and computer in seconds; have consistent and quality sound; and even appear to be noise-canceling (although they're not literally so).
If you're on the fence about which to purchase, I would highly recommend you spring for these rather than regret your purchase. The price is relative, in the long run, for quality sound, a good fit, and complete satisfaction.
They're not a $500 set of headphones, but unless you work for a professional band or are yourself a musician, you probably do not need such an expensive headphone. These likely will suffice for everyday use.
on March 2, 2013
The MM 500-X headphones are exactly what I was looking for. I appreciate the full, rich sound and the comfortable fit. I auditioned the 550-X with the noise reduction feature, but since I rarely travel by air and listen in my office I chose the 500-X. I think the 500-X has a cleaner sound than the 550-X possibly because the noise reduction reduction microphone in the 550-X seemed to pick up movement sounds which weren't handled well by the noise reduction logic.
Battery life is reasonable but not terrific. I can listen for 8 hours + before the annoying 3 loud beeps indicates out of juice. I like the fact the battery is easily removable. Maybe a little too easily removable because it always pops out when removing the charging cable.
The controls take a little time to get used to, but after that they seem easy to use. They are significantly simpler than the 550-X which adds enough more buttons to be confusing.
When I purchased the MM 500-X it was around $150 less than the MM 550-X. Now the price difference is much less. The choice between the two would be more difficult with them being so closely priced.
I deducted a star because of the limited Bluetooth range. It doesn't nearly reach the 10 meters that I had hoped for, but it does well within 18 feet. Within my office that's just fine, but I can't walk down the hall to the coffee machine without losing signal. :-(
on November 2, 2014
Fit and function are good. Look is alright, nothing to brag about. Did a burn in for about 48 hours.
Sound is tepid. Does not fill the area. Even with some EQ I am not able to find my pleasure zone for listening.
If it wasn't for the decent price these would, and still may go back.
on October 15, 2012
Love the headphones. Sound quality is great, battery life is great, and they are portable.
My 2 issues however:
1. SIZE: my ears are pretty normal sized (I would actually call them small) but I feel that these headphones are just a bit too small for my ears. Wearing these for extended periods of time (couple hours or more) make my ears ache. Taking the headphones off makes me realize how hot and cramped they were inside.
2. The power/charging cable: Sennheiser made this product with a removable battery pack (not sure who would actually utilize this feature, but that is not my issue). Removing the charging cable after charging the headphones is REALLY hard to do without making the battery pop out. The cable is seated pretty securely in the port on the headphones (and the port is on the battery), so when you try to remove the cable, the battery pops out..
Both of these seem like silly design flaws in my opinion. How hard is it to make the ear cups a little bigger to accommodate more people? Also the charging port should either not be on the removable battery, or the battery should have a lock on it.
Not sure I would recommend this product, but if you're reading this and had as much trouble as I did finding quality bluetooth headphones, just go for it. Its gonna be expensive and you may find these same issues, but there weren't many options when I did my searching so I don't think I regret my decision...
on August 18, 2014
These headphones are excellent!!! I am very picky when it comes to music quality. In fact I won't even listen to crappy sounding audio. Nor do I listen to music as much when it becomes a PITA (Pain In The Ass). i.e. wires, uncomfortable ear pieces, batteries, and on and on... Enter the MM500-X Bluetooth Headphones. They have solved my music listening problems and I am enjoying Spotify music every day at work and home.
The sound quality of the aptX Bluetooth audio is better than wired. It is excellent. Yes, believe me. I plugged these headphones in and listened, then switched to BT and listened and went back and forth several times just to make sure I wasn't smoking dope or something because I couldn't believe what I was hearing. The BT is clearly better than wired on these headsets and every other "plugin" headset I have ever tried. No background hissing, no cutting off the high-end, no weak base... just crystal clear, rich, crisp audio.
Then comes the comfort. I can wear these for hours on end without a problem, they are completely comfortable and hardly noticeable.
Then comes the mobility. Fold them up and put them in my back pack. Small and compact for over-the-ear phones. Probably the most compact, mobile over-the-ear phones on the market. Very nice!
Then comes wireless. I can't stand wires. Wires are so 1990 and such a PITA. Using these phones are a simple as turning them on, putting them on and go. That simple.
One other feature that I really like is that the ear cups swivel and I can essentially fold them in. They key here is now my headphones lay flat on my desk. This way I don't have these ear cups sticking up getting in the way over everything. These are compact and out of the way. The total height of the headset laying on my desk is about an inch and a quarter tops.
Great job Sennheiser!
on January 20, 2014
These headphones sound great. The highs are fantastic, not tinny. Very clear and precise. Love the mids. The bass is great, just enough, and not overwhelming. However, If you are a basshead though, these aren't for you. Right out of the box, they sound ok, sort of muddy/reserved. But once you break them in, you can definitely hear the difference and the Sennheiser sound. The ear pads are comfortable, and they are very light. They last quite a long time. As for sound quality when switching between BT and wired, you can hear the difference. But it depends really.
Wired (amp on) vs. BT w/o Apt-X, you can definitely tell the difference. There's a lot less bass. Also you lose some staging, but overall sound quality is still better than anything else I've tried.
Wired (amp on) vs. BT w/Apt-X, very minimal if any at all. It could just be me, but in some songs there's a little difference in volume. Other than that, I have no complaints.
Then you have the option to turn off the built-in amp (or battery has run out and you have to run wired) When in this mode, you will lose a lot of volume. The signature sound is still there, but if your device doesn't have enough power to up the volume, it won't sound as great. The sound characteristics is similar to the BT w/o Apt-x at a significantly lower volume.
Other than that, I don't have any real complaints so far. I've only had these for a month. Having it BT and wired is a godsend as I switch between both modes for my use. I just wish the case was hard so that it can protect the headphones. It comes with a lot of travel accessories like different plugs for different countries and stuff like that. I also like the fact that you can use the headphones while it's charging (just take the battery out and let it charge on it's own). And you can buy extra batteries if you want to. They can also be used as a headset for calls, which you're most likely going to use all the time if you are using them with your cellphone (quality is great).