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Released in March 2014, the Sony MDR-ZX550BN is a mid/low-end wireless headband headset that aims to be efficient and technological. It takes its big brother's characteristics, the more expensive but more elegant Sony MDR-ZX750BN. Sony is, therefore, targeting customers looking for a decent Bluetooth headset on a relatively tight budget. Is this "low cost" model really worth it? We tested it for you.
With an NFC connection and active noise reduction, we have rarely seen a headset so well equipped at this price. However, “Noise Canceling” is not really efficient and therefore does not deserve to add to the bill. The Sony MDR-ZX550BN is a decent headphone at this price.
Sony MDR-ZX550BN On-Ear Bass Headphones Review
1. Overview - not finished
Type: Over-ear Noise Cancelling Headphones | Bluetooth: 4.0 | Battery: 30 Hours | Charging: 4 Hours | Drivers: Dynamic | Drivers-Size: 45 mm | Weight: 385g
Sony wanted to offer a technologically advanced headset, marketed at a low price. It was inevitably necessary to reduce costs. Therefore, it is the design and comfort that suffer. The headset is not ugly, but there is nothing exceptional. Its headband is plastic, flexible enough to adapt to all heads, but no foam comes to ensure comfort. The headset then becomes annoying quite quickly, despite a weight of only 168 grams.
The ear cups are also plastic. If the assembly is correct, there is no aesthetic research, they are relatively thick around, and only the brand logo appears. Sony products have accustomed us to more detailed finishes and details. Here the manufacturer really does the bare minimum.
The earphones’ interior accommodates ear cushions made of a memory foam covered with a good quality imitation leather. The ears are well wrapped, the headset does not tighten the head too much, which makes us regret the lack of foam on the hoop, which would have allowed a very good overall comfort.
No bad criticism to make regarding the controls; they are simple, efficient, and well placed, allowing for intuitive and simplified headset management. There is a double-tap button on the back of the right earpiece, + and -, you guessed it, it allows you to change the volume. Next to it, a switch will be used to go to the next track or go back to the previous track. Pressing this same button will pause or restart the music. Between the switch and the volume, the “Power” button is placed to turn the headphones on or off. A mini-USB port will allow you to recharge the headset when the battery is running out. On the left earcup, only one button is present, adjustable in two positions, ON and OFF, giving you the possibility of activating active noise reduction.
There is a button to take phone calls or call back someone on the front. As for the microphone, it’s integrated into the left earpiece and does a good job indoors. However, on the outside, its sensitivity makes it hardly usable. Our interlocutors heard all background noises, whether it was wind, cars, or even our footsteps.
The Bluetooth connection is done with the “Power” button or by touching the right earpiece with your NFC-compatible smartphone. The Sony MDR-ZX550BN on-ear headset is indeed equipped with this efficient technology that makes pairing smooth and effortless. Regarding the freedom of movement, ZX550BN offers approximately 10 meters wireless coverage before losing the signal altogether, but at 5 meters, cuts are already frequent even if they are very short. The Sony headphones is aptX compatible and also supports AAC.
In terms of autonomy, Sony spoils us with this headset since we will benefit from around 25 hours of listening. We often cranked up the sound near maximum and left the noise-canceling active during our tests, and the battery held up just over 21 hours. So it’s a very good performance. That said, you should not forget to recharge your headphones since no Jack port is provided for wired listening. The Sony MDR-ZX550BN is Bluetooth-only and will not allow it to be used while it is charging.
Let’s comment shortly about active noise reduction. It is not even nearly as exciting as we thought it would be. When turned on, we do not feel a big difference, whether it is off or on. You may notice that low frequencies, like engine noise, are slightly diminished, but that’s too little to be practical in day-to-day activities.
The audio quality is at the rendezvous with performance similar to the Sony MDR-ZX550BN, the sound balance is well respected. The bass is punchy and well defined, the midrange and treble enjoy a very decent definition for this price’s headset. The sound rendering is rather dynamic while remaining warm thanks to the voices, especially in the bass, while roundness. Regarding the distortion, nothing has been reported. We do not notice any variation even when the volume is raised to its maximum; we cheer for this accomplishment.
On the other hand, the low frequencies lack power; the Sony MDR-ZX550BN clearly lacks a bit of tone in that area, too. If you like to listen to your songs loudly and make your brain vibrate, then you will probably be a little disappointed. For that purpose, the Creative WP-450 bassy headphones might suit you a little more in this price range.
The MDR-ZX550BN sounds pretty good and will adapt to most styles of music without a problem. It is very well equipped with its NFC chip and active noise reduction. We regret the glaring lack of power, which is always a shame for a traveling headset. Its comfort is not optimal either, and it will not dazzle you with its design. In short, even if these headphones are not expensive, Sony has got us so used to better that we are necessarily a little disappointed.