Where Style Meets Sound

Sennheiser HD1 Wireless Review: Timeless, Accurate and Dead Simple Noise-Canceling Headphones


Tech By Photo by Hunter Kelley
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German audio maker Sennheiser is known for some of the world’s best headphones, ranging from consumer models to extremely high-end studio headphones, like its $55,000 Orpheus headphones. Its flagship over-ear headphones are the Momentum 2.0 Wireless, which were released back in early 2015 as a wireless, active noise-canceling version of its original Momentum 2.0 headphones. However, Sennheiser rebranded them as HD1 Wireless ($350) — in the US, at least — and marked them as new to 2017.

When first released, the Momentum 2.0 Wireless (now the HD1 Wireless) cost $500, which CNET‘s David Carnoy wrote was probably $100 more than what they were worth. Now, the essentially two-year-old headphones come in at around $350. The adjusted price makes for a much more attractive offer and puts the HD1 Wireless in direct competition with the likes of Bose’s QC35 IIs and Sony’s 1000XM2.

The Good: The Sennheiser HD1 Wireless are lightweight headphones with ear pads that are super cushioned and soft — I was comfortable wearing them for hours. They support Bluetooth aptX for high-res streaming and sound very good, though it’s a very different sound signature compared to B&W’s PXs or Bose’s QC35 IIs. There’s no app to add further complications to the experience (this could also be a flaw). They’re collapsible, making them travel-friendly.

Who They’re For: If you’re looking for active noise-canceling headphones that just work, these are a more design-focused alternative than Bose. The music is very accurate, with crisp highs and not overly heavy bass. If you value music quality first, comfort second and noise-canceling third, you’ll be happy with the HD1 Wireless.

Watch Out For: You can’t turn off or even adjust the noise cancelation, which is actually a pretty big deal. When using as wireless you’ll always feel the suction to let you know that its noise cancellation is on, and this is isn’t ideal for listing in quiet environments when you don’t actually want or need noise cancellation. Also, the same button is used to pair and power on/off the headphones, so when I tried to turn them off they often went into pairing mode. Compared to the Bose QC35 IIs and B&W PXs, the noise cancellation isn’t as strong on the HD1 Wireless.

Alternatives: The Sony 1000XM2 ($299) is less expensive over-ear noise-canceling headphones that rival these Sennheiser’s in sound and comfort. The Bose QC35 II ($349) is slightly more comfortable and edge the HD1 Wireless in noise-canceling — they’ve got the best noise-canceling ability of any over-ear headphones we’ve tested. The B&W PX ($400) has a warmer, more grandiose sound signature, but they aren’t as comfortable.

Verdict: There’s a lot to love about the HD1 Wireless. Aside from the QC35 IIs, they are the most comfortable over-ear noise-canceling headphones I’ve tested. Their distinct design also makes them much more interesting looking than the Sony 1000XM2s and the Bose QC35 IIs. They’re also incredibly simple to use. You just turn them on, pair them with your smartphone and you’re off. There’s no distinct sound signature HD1 Wireless like you’d find with the B&W PX — the HD1 Wireless sound accurate and frankly really good.

You can definitely tell that the HD1 Wireless are taken from a slightly older model, however. There’s no app to allow you to adjust the EQ or intensity of the ANC. Yes, you can pause/play and adjust the music’s volume right from the headphones, but the fact that there’s no app or ability to customize the wireless listening experience make the HD1 Wireless feel slightly stuck in the past. On the flip side, the lack of companion app means the HD1 Wireless work like any other no-frills Bluetooth headphone.

Bottom line: the HD1 Wireless headphones are simple to use, uniquely designed and very comfortable to wear. Its sound isn’t as bass heavy as Bose’s QC35 IIs, nor does it have the grandiose sound of the PXs, but for the average listener who wants accurate and fantastic sound, these are the ANC headphones to buy.

What Others Are Saying:
• “For listening to podcasts, these headphones are more than capable. When it came to streaming more complex music, like an orchestral movie soundtrack, I was impressed. The HD1s sound crisp on the high end, and have just enough bass to lend a nice punch without overdoing it. Subtle details in the orchestra didn’t get too badly muddled, much to my surprise.” — Brendan Nystedt, Wired

• “The sonic feature of envy with the HD1 Wireless is the headphones’ talent for dimensionality. These cans draw up an expansive soundstage, broadly spreading out instrumentation throughout spherical space like glistening constellations. Unlike many wireless headsets, there’s no audible amplifier noise to speak of here, allowing the cans to expose stark clarity.” — Ryan Waniata, Digital Trends

Key Specs

Form: over ear, wireless
Frequency Range: 16 Hz – 22KHz
Impedance: 28 ohms (passive), 480 ohms (active)
Weight: 265 grams
Battery: up to 22 hours
Features: active noise-canceling
Ports: micro-USB (charge), 3.5mm jack
Colors: black or ivory

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