Sennheiser HD1 Review - Wireless Noise-Canceling Headphones

Sennheiser HD1 Review – Premium Wireless Headphones with Limitations

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The Sennheiser HD1 wireless noise-canceling headphones produce excellent hi-fi sound quality, feature premium materials, and boast minimalist yet aesthetically-pleasing craftsmanship. But they do have a number of limitations in other areas, and I ultimately decided to return them instead of keeping them as a replacement for my trusted Bose headphones, the QuietComfort 35.

To learn more about how the Sennheiser HD1 compares to other premium headphones with similar noise cancelation technology, check out my complete roundup.

Sennheiser HD1 Wireless Earphones Review

Sennheiser HD1 (Folded)
Sennheiser HD1 features a foldable design
 Pros
  • Premium sound quality
  • High-quality materials and craftsmanship
  • 22-hour battery life
 Cons
  • Unimpressive noise cancelation
  • Oversized storage case
  • Uncomfortable to wear for long periods

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Sennheiser chose a minimalist design for this set of headphones, which features only a single power button and a rocker switch for playback control. I appreciate minimalism, but frankly, I missed the ability to touch and swipe that I got so used to from Sony’s headphones.

When I took the HD1 headphones out of their box, I immediately noticed two things:

  • The device lacks any padding on the headband, and
  • The large size of the HD1’s beautiful storage case

Audio and Sound Quality

The best trait of the Sennheiser HD1 wireless noise cancelling headphones is the immersive sound they produce. Aside from the build quality of the HD1, sound signature and audio quality were among the few things I couldn’t complain about. The bottom line is that if you like music and you can tell the difference between a cheap and premium pair of headphones, the Sennheiser HD1 is the best wireless headphone option for you!

Specifications

Specifications
Type Over-the-ear
Design Closed
Wireless Bluetooth 4.0 + EDR
Battery life (Wireless playback, ANC on) 22 hours
Battery life (Wired playback, ANC on) 22 hours
Battery life (Wireless, only ANC on) N/A
Battery life (Wireless playback, ANC off) N/A
Charging time 3 hours
Quick charge
NFC
Audio aptX codec
Active noise cancelling method NoiseGuard Hybrid Active
Microphone Four beam-forming
Playback controls Buttons
Comfort ★★★
Material of ear pads Genuine leather
MSRP $399.95

ANC: Green = Excellent (25db+) | Yellow = Good (21 – 24db) | Red = OK (20db)
MIC: Green = Good | Yellow = OK | Red = Poor

Active Noise Cancelling Technology

With a price tag of almost $400 and four beam-forming microphones, I expected a lot from the Sennheiser HD1 in regards to its ability to cancel ambient noise. Unfortunately, these over-ear headphones miserably failed in that category. The headphones did suppress a lot of background noise, but their performance was nowhere near the Sony WH-1000XM2 that cost $100 less.

At first, I figured I had forgotten to turn ANC on. However, the HD1 headset doesn’t have a button that controls ANC. Then I downloaded Sennheiser’s CapTune mobile app (available for iOS and Android) to see if I could tweak the ANC settings. Ultimately, I realized that Sennheiser doesn’t provide any mechanism for customizing ANC in the HD1 and it is what is it. Which is not great.

Comfort

Sennheiser HD1 Leather Headband sans Padding
Sennheiser HD1 leather headband sans padding

Sennheiser chose a stainless steel headband for the HD1 that is wrapped in British leather. It looks gorgeous and features the same stitching as the storage pouch. The primary disadvantage of that fancy design is the comfort. While the HD1 felt comfortable on my skull for much longer than I anticipated, because of the lack of padding on the headband I could feel pressure points after 2 to 3 hours of continuous use.

The ear cups, on the other hand, are adequately padded and the leather Sennheiser used for the ear cushions feels soft and is incredibly comfortable. Unlike synthetic material, genuine leather doesn’t feel as hot when on your skin if worn over extended periods, which provides a more comfortable overall experience.

Battery Life

The battery of the Sennheiser HD1 wireless Bluetooth headphones is decent but not best-in-class. A full charge gets you up to 22 hours of non-stop listening with active noise cancellation (ANC) turned on. Turning ANC off is not an option while using the HD1 wirelessly, so you cannot use that trick to extend the headphone’s battery life.

Sennheiser HD1 Battery Life Indicator LED