Hands On: Sennheiser MB 660 Lifestyle Headphones Balance Work & Play
The MB 660 headphones from Sennheiser feature wireless connectivity and professional audio features.
Robert Archer · November 15, 2016
About 10 years ago I owned a pair of noise-cancelling Sennheiser over-the-ear headphones that I loved.
Then, during a family vacation, I made the mistake of letting my then toddler daughter use the headphones with a portable DVD player. We barely made it halfway to our destination before my daughter broke the headphones and my headphone heart.
Since then I’ve always kept an eye on the company’s products because of the amount of respect I had for its designs, so when the opportunity came up to review its MB 660 Series, I jumped at the chance.
Sennheiser developed the MB 660 for business professionals. Available in two versions: the MB 660 UC (unified communications) is designed for office professionals; it supports communications and sound quality in open offices. The other product within the line is the MB 660 MS. This product is certified for Skype for Business, and it too can be used in open office settings for communication without sacrificing sound quality.
Facilitating the headphones use in office environments is built-in Bluetooth wireless connectivity, as well as Sennheiser’s BTD 800 USB UC-certified dongle for PCs, and the company’s SpeakFocus technology that includes three digital microphones that enhance voice clarity in any environment.
The headphones also include Sennheiser’s NoiseGard hybrid adaptive active noise cancelation technology; TalkThrough, which allows users to listen to their colleagues without having to take off the headphones; and Windsafe, which reduces wind noise to ensure messages get through and are intelligible in outdoor settings, is also included in the Sennheiser headphones.
Sennheiser’s Room Experience is designed to reduce listener fatigue by delivering a conversational-like listening experience with someone in the same room when the headphones are worn over a long period of time.
The right ear unit incorporates touch-sensitive controls such as play, volume, up and volume down. There is a built-in rechargeable battery that runs for as long as 30 hours, a USB cable for recharging, an analog 3.5mm cable, an in-flight adapter, and users can pair the headphones with Sennheiser’s companion CapTune app. This app allows users to set up customized equalization curves (EQ); it allows for app-based control and near-field communication (NFC) pairing with devices equipped for NFC.
Both MB 660 headphones feature a foldable design that allow for their storage in a companion carry case, along with padded ear pads that utilize soft leather for long-term usage.
I used the headphones in the office for work, and at home for pleasure with my iPhone 6 and Apple MacBook Air via Bluetooth, digital USB and analog connections.
Setup and configuration of the headphones were pretty straight ahead. I started by downloading the free CapTune app onto my iPhone, and I plugged in the headphones into my work MacBook Pro’s USB port to charge the MB 660’s built-in battery.
To listen to the headphones while I was charging them, I entered System Preferences and under audio I selected “Sennheiser MB 660.” I then selected the first setting on the noise cancelling option, which is located on the rear panel of the right ear unit. I then adjusted the volume of “The Sports Hub” on TuneIn by moving my finger up and down on the side of the right ear unit panel.
Explore the Sennheiser MB 660 Headphones
At home I followed Sennheiser’s somewhat cryptic directions to wirelessly pair the headphones with my phone and my MacBook Air. To pair I pressed the button beneath the noise cancelation button on the rear of the right ear unit. This button also controls the headphones’ preset listening modes, and once you do press and follow the pairing directions the headphones will prompt you through the pairing process. Once it pairs you then go into the Bluetooth options of your computer or device to select the headphones.
Once paired, your devices will remember the connections and as long as the headphones remain untethered (no wires) the headphones will default to the paired devices once you pull the headphones from their case and activate the headphones (they activate once you twist the ear pieces into a listening position]. The dongle works in a similar manner with its button, which is on the back panel of the USB device.
Work, Fitness, Travel and Leisure
After running the headphones for a few days to allow the drivers to break in, I decided to give their communication capabilities a test. Calling a friend with my iPhone, I was able to wirelessly listen and talk with him.
The “feeling” was odd at first because the audio experience is so much different than with a phone, especially when you are speaking and not directly talking into any type of microphone. I should however add that in the case of the MB 660 MS’ different is good. My conversation was as clear as I’ve ever experienced with a phone call, and asking him how I sounded, and he simply stated that I sounded fine.
The next day really convinced me the MB 660 MS was a legitimate improvement over traditional phone communications when I conducted a phone interview with a respected video expert on the intense topic of HDMI. Untethered from my office phone I was able to freely type during the interview, respond to the conversation and ask my questions without once asking this expert to repeat his comments.
I then went on to do several more interviews with the headphones. I’ve now come to the point that I would rather conduct interviews on my iPhone than my office phone because the MB 660s blow away our phone system. I recently did an interview on our company phone system and I was quickly reminded of how a traditional headset sounds compared to the MB 660 MS.
Listening to music and watching videos for personal activities was just as gratifying as my work related experiences. The MB 660 MS’ produce a spacious and tight image with plenty of bottom end extension, well defined mid-bass, smooth midrange and a full top end. I did find the Bluetooth option just as good as the headphones’ digital wired and analog audio connections too.
Ultimately what I found was that the more I used the headphones, the more I liked them. They are really the ultimate solution for busy professionals. Why should people buy headsets for the office and headphones for travel, exercise and other activities? The MB 660s do it all. Trying the headphones for workouts, I wore them on the treadmill, lifting weights, and for other activities such as my Kyokushin katas.
The wireless option complements these activities nicely and the fit and comfort of the headphones don’t distract from the mental execution of activities like kata.
After a few weeks I determined with no second thought that I wasn’t sending the MB 660s back so I inquired about purchasing the headphones. They perfectly complement my daily work, exercise, travel and leisure activities without any compromise in functionality and performance. I cannot recommend the MB 660 line enough.
CE Pro Verdict
- Lots of options for office use, including conference calls, phone calls and all types of unified communications
- Wireless and digital wired connectivity
- Adaptive noise cancelling (ANC) technologies
- Excellent sound quality with well defined bass, rich midrange and warm, fully extended highs
- This is really nitpicking, but when the headphones are in range of two linked devices, the wireless connectivity will activate the secondary device immediately once the primary device is turned off even if you don’t want to use that secondary device
- The companion CapTune app takes a little time to get use to its navigation
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Bob is an audio enthusiast who has written about consumer electronics for various publications within Massachusetts before joining the staff of CE Pro in 2000. Bob is THX Level I certified, and he's also taken classes from the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF) and Home Acoustics Alliance (HAA). Bob also serves as the technology editor for CE Pro's sister publication Commercial Integrator. In addition, he's studied guitar and music theory at Sarrin Music Studios in Wakefield, Mass., and he also studies Kyokushin karate at 5 Dragons in Haverhill, Mass. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Robert at email@example.com
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