Sennheiser’s new MB 660 UC wireless headset is a serious piece of kit in many respects. A chunky headset with large ear cups and a solid, no-nonsense headband, it’s designed to take a few knocks — both in the office and at home.
When it needs to travel, the MB 660 UC sits in a tough, zippable carry case. The package will consume a fair amount of space in a travel bag and add to the weight too: all packed up and ready to transport, the case weighs 530g and measures about 23cm by 18cm by 5.5cm.
The price is serious too: at £250 this headset is an investment that’s going to have to earn its keep and live up to its aspirations of functioning as well at home as it does at work.
There is good news in that the MB 660 UC is comfortable to wear. The huge cups fit snugly right over the ear, their ‘teardrop’ shape ensuring that the whole ear is covered. As a glasses wearer I didn’t notice any of the discomfort that some headsets can create by putting pressure on the ear itself.
All of the controls are ranged around the right cup: Bluetooth can be switched on and off using a slider, there’s a button to control the Active Noise Cancellation and another to control ‘effect mode’.
Active Noise Cancellation, which in Sennheiser parlance is called NoiseGard, has two operating levels when it’s turned on: it’s either fully on or in adaptive mode. With the latter setting it will reconfigure depending on the audio environment to give a comfortably quiet working space even when external noise levels are variable.
This adaptive feature is a big sell for the MB 660, and a counter to the full-on ANC headsets that block out external sounds to the extent that they create what some (myself included) find an unnerving and unrealistic, almost claustrophobia-inducing silence.
My dislike of full-on headset-induced silence notwithstanding, I wasn’t entirely convinced by NoiseGard. It didn’t seem particularly efficient at reacting to different noise levels, and didn’t block out enough external sound for me. Radio, music and chatter came through pretty loud and clear, although keyboard tapping was almost inaudible.
Another feature, ‘effect mode’, alters the quality of sound so that the headset can function as much for leisure as for work. The effect button cycles through Off, Movie (for movie entertainment or presentations), Club (for listening to music) and Speech modes. Music sounded fine, as did catchup TV and movie viewing. Voice calls were crystal clear, and people at the other end of calls said I sounded ‘great’.
A free Android and iPhone app, CapTune, provides some controls for the headset, including setting the strength of adaptive noise cancellation when it’s in adaptive mode, and an additional ‘effect mode’ called Director, which is configurable. CapTune also allows for a few other tweaks such as selecting the headset’s language.
In addition to the button-based controls there is a mass of touch controls on the flat part of the right ear-cup. Various prods and sweeps here can control media playback, mute tunes so you can talk over them on a call, take, break, reject, mute and hold calls, redial and even invoke a handset voice dial.
You switch the headset on and off by turning the right ear cup inwards so it’s at right angles to the left cup. I invariably forgot to do this, and would have liked a physical on/off switch either in addition to or instead of this system.
Fortunately the 30-hour battery life (20 hours if Bluetooth and NoiseGard are activated) did mean that with regular short bursts of charging during the working week I didn’t run out of power during testing. Lights on the right ear cover help with Bluetooth pairing, show battery level when charging and can also show how much battery power is remaining.
Pairing can be achieved via Bluetooth or NFC, and the headset comes with a dongle for PCs. There’s also a cable for those times when a wired connection is required — such as if the headset is being used with a music player that lacks Bluetooth (like my iPod Classic 6th Gen), or if you want a wired connection to a handset, or if the battery has run down. The cable includes call control buttons.
It’s hard to think of a feature Sennheiser has left out of the MB 660 UC, and if you want it there’s a Skype for Business certified version.
Still I do have a couple of grumbles. The touchpad takes some getting used to, and I found it was easy to accidentally make presses — when adjusting the headset after a period of wearing, for example. I also found the adaptive ANC less efficient than I’d like, and the absence of a physical on/off switch annoying.
Read more reviews