Review: Sennheiser CX 350BT
Sennheiser is known for releasing a solid lineup of headphones and earbuds on the regular, so I was excited to hear that I would be able to test out and talk about their newest wireless earphones. I’ve found wireless earphone models to be one of my personal favorite designs when it comes to Bluetooth audio devices, as they can be used most anywhere and be practically forgotten about due to comfort, yet you can still easily remove one earbud for a moment if you need to speak to someone. It can be very useful for exercising or doing work around the house, so I was interested to see how Sennheiser would optimize the device for not only comfort but also sound quality and battery life, which are two of the aspects that wireless earbuds can be lacking in. Some die quickly and charge slowly, making themselves not useful except for short bursts of listening activity. Many others simply do not have the noise cancelling power to be heard well if you’re in a noisier area (although they do often fare better than their wired counterparts). Plainly put, they aren’t usually for listening to music on long road trips or a crowded bus, but that doesn’t mean that this can’t change. The German audio company Sennheiser has been known to rank high in review lists for their innovative approach to all sorts of auditory equipment, but especially impresses in headphones and earbuds. But were they able to come through with a pair of stand-out earphones that improve on the inherent weaknesses of the design to create a great listening experience? Let’s take a look one of their newest wireless earphone releases, the CX 350BT, and see for ourselves.
Wireless and single-wire earphones are already so varied in not only features, but basic design. When you look at all of the different versions, you’ll notice how much creativity can be put into presentation. Some have a half-moon necklace-looking base that the earbuds can retract into when not in use, or others may forgo any connection between the earbuds at all. This model relies on a loose-hanging neckband to hold the two buds together, which sits on the back of the neck and has a small but easy-to-reach control panel where you can access the buttons. You can pause/play, skip around through your tracks, adjust volume, and also a button with which to summon your virtual assistant, whether Siri or someone else. It’s a nice, compact little control center which gives you quite a few options without making the interface a huge, heavy block of buttons. Overall, once you get a feel for how the neckband should sit, it rests comfortably on the wearer’s neck even when moving around, although if you’re going out running or any other vigorous physical activity, you may want to wear a hooded workout jacket or something similar to hold it even more securely in place, just to stop it from bouncing around. But for daily activities, the CX 350BT is a marvel of comfort, and looks pretty stylish to top it off!
However, we all know that being cute and comfy, while greatly appreciated, does not make a pair of earphones a technological masterpiece. What really stacks it up against the competition is how it functions and what features it boasts, the things that make it a must-have rather than an uninteresting copy of whatever’s on the market at the time. The great news? Sennheiser really delivers with the capabilities of their CX 350BT. Boasting a battery life of 10 hours, a good bit above the average for most wireless earphones that clock in closer to 6-8 hours. Not only can it play for a good while, but it also charges quickly with a provided USB-C plug, so that even when it dies, it won’t be down for very long. And of course, Sennheiser blows the competition out of the park when it comes to audio quality. Bass especially can be difficult for earbuds to fully nail down, but the CX 350BT gets it much better than we’ve seen in awhile. Music and podcasts have never sounded so good while also being so portable, and movies and television don’t sound too bad with them either (although it does depend heavily on the sound design of what you’re watching). While it may not be as fully immersive as an over-ear headset and noise cancellation would be a great feature to add in the future, it’s still as close to headphone-quality listening as you’ll get with an inner-ear device. And the price isn’t too bad at $100, especially when you know that you’re paying for great quality and that they’re durable enough to last for a bit, so I’d say it’s worth a bit more money in exchange.
The one thing that was promoted as a feature in marketing but has not yet been released (as of the publishing of this review) is the audio customization through Sennheiser’s app, Smart Control. It says that functionality with the CX 350BT will be coming soon according to their website, and I’m certainly antsy to try it out and play with the tools for myself. As of now, we know that there will at least be an equalizer that you will presumably be able to adjust to your heart’s and ear’s content, as well as a podcast mode. As it hasn’t been launched yet, I cannot speak of the freedom and choices that the equalizer will give users, but I did enjoy the customization tools provided in the app when I was testing the PXC 550-II headphones, so hopefully the update will give us a similar layout. I do wish that this could’ve been available at launch, but if it means that we’ll be getting a plethora of intricate customization options, I’m willing to wait a little bit past release day. Otherwise, Sennheiser has once again proved that they deserve to be as well-renowned as they are in the world of audio equipment, giving us a brand new pair of earphones that do above average in almost every field. If you’re currently in the market for a device like this, the CX 350BT may be the perfect device for all of your listening needs.
The Sennheiser CX 350BT retails for $99 and is available for purchase at Amazon