Sennheiser Travel MM550-X Review
According to the manufacturer, the Travel MM550-X is the “5-star flagship” for those who value wireless music enjoyment on the move. The designation “Travel” should already make it clear that these are not audiophile headphones for comfortable high-end sound enjoyment, but a device for travel. However, as Sennheiser is not satisfied with inadequate sound, this is a “high-end Bluetooth headset”, according to the company.
First impression & features
The closed, circumaural headphones leave practically no wish unfulfilled. A typical problem of this product series is the cable, which is a nuisance when listening to music on the move. The Sennheiser Travel MM550-X elegantly solves this problem by dispensing with a cable and receiving music via Bluetooth instead. This wireless technology is advantageous because it is already built into many devices, including computers, smartphones and some sound systems. Friends of upscale music enjoyment, on the other hand, are not big Bluetooth fans, as this technology compresses the sound. For this reason, Sennheiser uses the aptX compression standard. This technology is a loss-free audio compression method which is intended to improve sound quality. It also aims to improve the sound by using the built-in SRS function, which simulates surround sound and enhances the bass.
In addition to the aforementioned technologies designed to improve sound, the Sennheiser Travel MM550-X also uses the so-called Noise-Gard function, which produces a counter-noise that neutralises ambient noise. This enables Sennheiser to compete directly with other noise-canceling headphones such as the Logitech UE 9000 or Bose QuietComfort 15 for the favour of consumers.
Because the noise-canceling technology neutralises ambient noise, it would be practically impossible to talk to other people. Sennheiser has solved this problem by adding the TalkThrough function: This function records the voice of the person you are talking to and plays it back in your headphones while muting music.
Scope of delivery & accessories
In our tests we don’t really go into the scope of delivery, but in this case it is necessary because Sennheiser has packed quite a lot with it. As this is a wireless headset, a battery is of course needed for power supply. This is charged via the included USB plug-in power supply with micro-USB cable, which you should already know from your smartphone. Conveniently, the USB socket including automatic charging is directly integrated in the battery. Thus, the battery can also be charged outside the Bluetooth headphones. For holidays in foreign countries, you can change the power supply connection. Fortunately, Sennheiser supplies suitable adapters for the EU, USA, Australia and Great Britain.
For those who can or must do without Bluetooth operation, Sennheiser has packed an audio cable with a 3.5 mm jack plug. This fits all standard sound systems and mobile devices such as iPods and smartphones. For frequent flyers, Sennheiser has of course not forgotten a suitable aircraft adapter. By the way, all the accessories fit into a matching bag: the headset is stored in a padded main pocket, while the accessories are stored in a small compartment at the front.
Design & Finish
Let’s get to the exterior of the Travel MM550-X: Sennheiser has clearly opted for a simple design that mainly uses the colour black. The silver-coloured Sennheiser logo on the left earcup is the only colour highlight of these headphones. After all, the buttons light up in different colours when you press them. The illumination is definitely not necessary for the operation, as the keys can be easily touched.
Sound & connection quality
Bluetooth headphones have a rather bad reputation in the field of sound. As mentioned before, Sennheiser tries to improve this disadvantage with aptX. On a Windows PC the headphones are recognized as a “high-quality Bluetooth audio device”. There is no difference in sound reproduction via Bluetooth and audio cable. If SRS is activated, the bass is rich without overdriving or suppressing the mid, low and high frequencies.
The sound reproduction on the smartphone is a bit disappointing, as not a single model supports the aptX standard so far. Accordingly, the headphones use the A2DP protocol with the SBC codec. The compression of the audio playback is clearly audible and can be heard as a slight hissing in music pieces without perceiving sound.
Even if the headphones convinced us so far, the big disappointment followed as soon as we activated the NoiseGard and ventured into a noisy pedestrian zone. In the course of time we have