Strong audio performance with excellent bass depth and solid high frequency clarity. Nicely designed and easy to operate. Solid value for the price.
Sculpted sound signature not for purists. Included cable lacks inline remote.
- Bottom Line
The Sennheiser HD 4.40 BT are reasonably priced, well-designed Bluetooth headphones that bass lovers are sure to enjoy.
Sennheiser's success with Bluetooth headphones hasn't been as profound as its achievements in the pro audio and wired headphone departments. With the HD 4.40 BT, we finally see the synthesis of what we've hoped for in a wireless Sennheiser pair: an excellent sound signature (with some boosted bass added to the mix) and the ease-of-use factor that makes or breaks so many Bluetooth models. At $149.95, the HD 4.40 BT headphones are priced to compete with some very strong models, but more than hold their own. Bass lovers seeking a balanced sound signature in a simple, minimalist design won't be disappointed, and the headphones earn our latest Editors' Choice in this midrange price point.
The HD 4.40 BT's circumaural (over-the-ear), closed back design is available in a matte black finish that's understated and handsome. While the earpads are plush and exceptionally comfortable, the headband could use a little more padding—over longer listening periods, it can make its presence known in the form of noticeable pressure on the scalp, but it's nothing a little adjusting can't fix.
On the right earcup's side panel, there are various buttons, including the power button, which also places the headphones in Bluetooth pairing mode (there's also an NFC zone on the left earcup for compatible devices). Near the power button, there's also a button/switch that operates playback and track navigation by either pressing or pushing the switch forward or backward—this button also manages phone calls and summons voice controls on your phone. Near this button, there's a dedicated volume rocker, which works in conjunction with your mobile device's master volume levels. All of these controls are intuitive and simply laid out. When it's so easy to get things like this right, it's a surprise so many companies get on-ear controls wrong by trying to assign too many tasks to a single button.
The right earcup also houses a connection for the included 3.5mm audio cable. It's great that Sennheiser includes a cable, though we wish it had an inline remote control and mic. When the cable is connected, it kills Bluetooth pairing and the headphones immediately power down. The right ear is also where the micro USB charging cable connects.
Sennheiser has a free app you can use called CapTune. The app lets you adjust EQ, but the headphones sound pretty excellent without without it. Think of it as an optional free extra that in no way detracts from the experience, but also doesn't add much.
The headphones include dual omnidirectional mics for better clarity on calls and when using voice controls. In our tests, the mics offered above-average intelligibility—using the Voice Memos app on an iPhone 6s, we were able to clearly understand every word we recorded. However, the mics can sound a little far away and there's still a hint of Bluetooth audio degradation. But overall, the audio quality is in the higher tier of wireless headphone mics we've tested.
Sennheiser estimates battery life to be roughly 25 hours, but your results will vary with your volume levels. In addition to the charging and audio cables, the headphones ship with a black drawstring carrying pouch.
On tracks with intense sub-bass content, like The Knife's "Silent Shout," the headphones deliver a powerful low frequency response that doesn't distort at top volume levels and should appeal to bass lovers. The higher frequencies are not forsaken here—there's a solid balance to the mix, but this is certainly a bass-forward sound signature.
Bill Callahan's "Drover," a track with far less deep bass in the mix, gives us a better sense of the overall sound signature. The drums on this track get some serious boosting in the sub-bass realm, making them full, round, and rich. Callahan's baritone vocals get plenty of low-mid presence, but receive enough in the high-mids to keep them fairly crisp and defined. The guitar strums on this track, as well as the higher register percussive hits, also have a brightness to them. The sound here is balanced, but sculpted, with a lean toward the lows, but enough definition in the highs.
On Jay-Z and Kanye West's "No Church in the Wild," the kick drum loop's attack has a sharp edge to it that is highlighted nicely by a somewhat sculpted high-mid and high frequency response. The drum loop also gets some serious added thump in the lows, while the sub-bass synth hits that punctuate the beat are delivered with depth and power. Simply put, bass lovers will be thrilled with the HD 4.40 BT's sound signature—it brings some serious rumble without sacrificing definition in the highs.
Orchestral tracks, like the opening scene in John Adams' The Gospel According to the Other Mary, sound vibrant, if somewhat sculpted through the HD 4.40 BT. Occasionally, we hear some added sub-bass depth, but mostly the lower register instrumentation sounds natural, while the higher register brass, strings, and vocals have a sculpted, clear, crisp sound. Purists might not fall in love with this sound signature, but the sculpting isn't over the top—there's some pushing of the bass depth, and some tweaking of the highs.
Sennheiser's HD 4.40 BT sounds fantastic for a $150 pair of Bluetooth headphones—there's full, round bass depth that goes all the way down to the subwoofer realm, matched with a clear high frequency response. Add to that a comfortable fit and easy operation, and there's a lot to like. They more than hold their own against favorites like the Klipsch Reference On-Ear Bluetooth, the Skullcandy Hesh 3, and the Sony MDR-XB650BT, earning our Editors' Choice award in the process. If all of these are a bit pricier than what you're hoping to spend, consider the more affordable JBL E45BT.
Other Sennheiser Headphones
By Tim Gideon Contributing Editor, Audio
Contributing Editor Tim Gideon has been writing for PCMag since 2006. He specializes in reviewing audio products, and is obsessed with headphones, speakers, and recording gear. More »
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