Sennheiser HD 350BT Review
After an HD 4.40BT half-fig, half-grape, but with an attractive price/quality ratio, Sennheiser renews its entry-level nomadic headset with the Sennheiser HD 350BT. But, will the few minor new features be enough for this helmet to surpass its predecessor?
- Balanced and relatively precise reproduction of bass to midrange.
- Very low latency with aptX Low Latency codec.
- Complete commands on the headset with voice prompts (in English).
- Compact soundstage that lacks readability.
- Comfort experience strongly dependent on the morphology of each person.
- No wired use possible.
In early 2020, Sennheiser took advantage of CES to announce the renewal of part of its range of nomadic Bluetooth headsets, including the Sennheiser HD 350BT. The latter replaces the HD 4.40BT by bringing a welcome refresh, invisible at first glance since the design remains unchanged.
This modernization is reflected on paper by several improvements: the arrival of Bluetooth 5.0, compatibility with the aptX Low Latency codec, the integration of a USB-C port, and a dedicated button to trigger the voice assistant of the smartphone, as well as the promise of better battery life.
Manufacturing & accessories
No revolution is to be noted at the level of the general design. The Sennheiser HD 350BT takes up the curves of the previous model, the HD 4.40BT, feature by feature. We, therefore, find a sober design very “all-purpose” made of matt plastic, a sworn enemy of fingerprints. We still advise you to turn to the black model, which will be more resistant to dirt than the white. The adjustable headband is very thin and is covered with a silicone band below which the top of the head is placed.
Each ear cup is adorned with extra thick ear cushions made of memory foam covered in faux leather. These ear cups fold up for easy storage and transport in a bag (unlike the HD 450BT, however, no cover is provided ), but cannot, in any case, rotate 90 ° to wear the helmet around the neck easily. At the level of these pivoting and folding hinges, one could blame a certain lack of care on the finish or even a potential point of rupture while the rest of the helmet seems relatively robust.
Comfort & support
The comfort experience offered by the Sennheiser HD 350BT is far from universal. While the headset is easily adaptable to any head shape thanks to the consequent deployment of its headband, the problem lies with the atria. Still, in a circumauricular format, they present a really, very narrow space in which to place your ears. The result is a very variable feeling of comfort: where owners of small ears will be delighted, those with larger pavilions will be greatly harmed. In addition, they will be able to experience a hybrid format between the circum and the on-ear, which is very unpleasant despite the large thickness of the pads.
In addition to this comfort that we will describe as “random” at the level of the atria, the hoop also induces its share of discomfort. Indeed, the latter is very lightly padded and applies a particularly localized pressure point on the top of the head, which can be annoying, especially during long listening sessions. The Sennheiser HD 350BT is, therefore, far from being a master in terms of comfort. However, it will suit certain body types without worry, in particular the smallest sizes.
The Sennheiser HD 350BT is relatively easy to use, as long as you spend a few minutes reading the manual (around twenty pages anyway) beforehand to learn about each action that can be performed via the various buttons. These, four in number, cover the lower edge of the right atrium and are very easily accessible using the right hand’s thumb. All the expected actions are there: powering on, pairing, volume control, and triggering the voice assistant of the device to which the headset is paired. In addition, a fairly ingenious toggle switch allows it to manage playback, calls, and navigate between tracks.
Certain actions such as switching on, switching off, or pairing are accompanied by voice commands (in English) to guide the user as well as possible. According to the instructions, the headset would also give its remaining charge level by simply pressing the volume button. However, despite our best efforts, we were unable to enable this feature. Fortunately, this value can be obtained visually on certain smartphones or on the Sennheiser Smart Control app, which also has an equalizer on board.
On the connectivity side, the headset abandons the mini-jack input for 100% wireless use thanks to Bluetooth 5.0 (SBC, AAC, and aptX codecs supported). Pairing is carried out by pressing the power button for 4 s, but only when switching on. You must turn off the headset to start the pairing process, which is not very practical. The Sennheiser HD 350BT also grants the multipoint functionality, which allows it to be connected to two devices simultaneously and thus juggle from one to the other depending on the audio stream received.
In use, the Sennheiser HD 350BT keeps its promises and reaches the 30 hours of autonomy announced by the manufacturer. This completely correct value allows the headset to be used for several days without worrying about recharging it every evening. However, when there are only 2 hours of reserve left, the LED lights up red, and the headset announces that it must be recharged. It must then be powered via the USB-C port located on the edge of the right atrium. Thus, the headset remains functional while charging.
We measured latency of 45 ms in Bluetooth communication with the aptX Low Latency codec, which is almost invisible with any compatible device. However, for smartphones, the latency is perceptible to the ear (around 160 ms). Still, fortunately, this delay is compensated for on the vast majority of video apps on smartphones, such as Disney +, Netflix, or YouTube.
Two microphones dedicated to calls are housed on the right ear cup. They are effective in quiet environments, both indoors and outdoors. The tone of voice is natural, and there is no “nasal” effect, as can be the case with other products. Even the low frequencies are correctly transcribed. Your interlocutor on the other end of the phone will therefore have no trouble understanding you. The headphones also slightly reflect the sounds picked up by the microphones to counterbalance the relatively good sound insulation of the pads. In a noisy environment, it’s a different story. Near a crossroads or a busy street that is a little too busy, the microphones become almost unusable: the voice is covered by the noise of engines and becomes barely understandable.
The sound performances offered by this Sennheiser HD 350BT are correct but far from being free from defects.
Many other nomadic headphones are very expressive in the bass, sometimes excessively. The Sennheiser HD 350BT opts for a wise and balanced treatment on the first part of the audible spectrum. The bass is reproduced without excess, subtly accentuated to strengthen the base and thus bring a little more immersion without ever swallowing up the higher frequencies. The extreme bass is not left out either, the headphones offering a nice extension in the lower frequencies. The precision is correct in this region, even if the helmet is sometimes found faulty when it comes to transcribe rapid attacks clearly and close to large percussions, for example, or even to maintain impeccable readability when numerous instruments are expressed at the same time (double bass/bass,
The transition between bass and midrange is not done almost seamlessly. There is indeed a small split between the two large frequency regions which is reflected from time to time by a slight lack of “roundness” and definition in the lower mids. Nothing serious for as much since one manages to apprehend and distinguish at least the stamps, even if it must be admitted that the helmet does not reserve a very natural treatment to them.
This is all the more true because of the major flaw of these headphones, namely the extremely sharp division between midrange and treble. As we had already noticed on other nomadic “HD” models from Sennheiser, the HD 350BT shows a particularly rugged response past around 3 kHz. The result is a dull sound – which we would sometimes even describe as dull – a lack of clarity and a “megaphone” effect. This prejudices the restitution of certain elements, especially the voices, which struggle to stand out and to express themselves fully. Even if there is no problem with precision or distortion here, this behavior can cause some hearing fatigue in the long run,
The highs are particularly set back and do not shine by definition. Without properly dissociating all the elements that operate in the center of the stereo scene (often compact and bushy), we sometimes find ourselves discerning without forcing certain effects of parts and subtle elements located on the ends.
The Sennheiser HD 350BT will not be the model that will revolutionize the mobile Bluetooth headset market. Admittedly, it brings a few welcome small updates to the HD 4.40BT. Still, it does not fundamentally correct some cleaving flaws of its predecessor from a comfort standpoint (the very narrow aspect of the pads, for example) or sound rendering ( very pronounced lack of homogeneity between midrange and treble …). We would more easily recommend the JBL Live 500BT or the Listen Wireless, which, although not ideal of comfort, are much more convincing when it comes to sound performance.