Sennheiser MB 360 UC review: Business-grade headphones at a brilliant price
These cans are perfect for on-the-go professionals
Sennheiser is known for high-end audio equipment and has a good reputation for its business-focused noise-cancelling headsets, used by everyone from on-the-go executives trying to concentrate on busy flights to sales professionals who spend most of their time making calls.
We've previously reviewed the company's MB 660 headphones - a top-notch pair of cans which we absolutely loved, but which was slightly undermined by a rather eye-watering price tag. Happily, the Sennheiser MB 360 UCs promise to offer the audio quality and top-rate noise cancelling which made the MB 660s so appealing, all in a markedly cheaper package.
Sennheiser MB 360 UC review: Design
On first glance, the Sennheiser MB 360s are as sleek and sophisticated as you'd expect from a company as respected as this. The minimalist matte-black colour scheme with tell-tale silver accents gives them a subtle and refined look, and the leather-effect pads are soft enough to wear for extended periods with minimal discomfort.
However, it's hard not to compare these cans to Sennheiser's superlative MB 660 headset, and unfortunately, the design falls short in a few areas. For one thing, the headband has virtually no padding, so it can get a little uncomfortable if you're wearing it all day. The folding mechanism also isn't as slick as the MB 660s, meaning the MB 360s aren't as compact and easy to store.
Our biggest gripe, however, is with the controls. The right ear cup features buttons to control any media you're listening to, as well as various call-handling features, but they're fiddly and irritating to work with. Media is controlled with a slider - flick it one way to skip a track, the other way to go back, and press it down to play or pause.
It's way too easy to accidentally flick it one way while trying to pause things, and we would have vastly preferred to have playing and pausing be handled by a separate button altogether. This, too, is handled much better by the MB 660s, which feature simple and (relatively) intuitive touch-based controls.
Sennheiser MB 360 UC review: Sound quality
As with virtually all of Sennheiser's kit, the audio quality is excellent. While music can occasionally sound a little flat, with other headphones delivering wider soundstages and more defined vocals, the performance is still great on the whole.
More importantly, the call quality (which, let's not forget, is the main raison d'etre of professional headsets like the MB 360s) is brilliant. Voices come across clear and defined, even across shaky conference lines, with the headphones reproducing voices clearly and naturally.
The twin inbuilt microphones are a little more disappointing, though. While they worked perfectly well - for the most part - they struggled a bit in smaller spaces. There were a few occasions when the echoey acoustics of smaller meeting-rooms forced us to switch from using the MB 360s to our handset mid-call, which isn't necessarily ideal.
Thankfully, the Active Noise Cancelling of the headphones themselves is much more polished. As with the MB 660s, this is an outstanding implementation of the technology which strips out virtually all outside noise allowing you to fully immerse yourself in whatever you're listening to - or even just to cut out ambient noise for a bit of peace and quiet in a busy office. It's not quite as effective as the MB 660s, but we suspect that's largely down to the differences in physical design, and the difference is marginal.
Sennheiser MB 360 UC review: Connections and battery life
As you'd rightly expect from a set of business-grade headphones, the MB 360s come with a full suite of connectivity options, such as Bluetooth 4.0 (including support for Qualcomm's aptX technology), as well as NFC for rapid connection. If your laptop doesn't have Bluetooth connectivity built in, Sennheiser has bundled a USB dongle to get you connected. It's also got a 2.5mm jack input for connecting to traditional 3.5mm headphone ports - handy for long flights or for when the headset has run out of battery.
Not that that's likely to be a problem - Sennheiser quotes a battery life of up to 25 hours, and we managed roughly a week and a half of semi-regular use without having to put them back on charge. Our one complaint with regards to the charging is that there's no automatic power-off function.
Our beloved MB 660s, when folded up, automatically switch themselves off, allowing you to conserve battery easily without having to take the time to manually turn them off. By contrast, we repeatedly found that we'd accidentally taken them off and put them in our bag without powering them down, leading to an unnecessarily wasted few hours of battery life.
One big frustration we had with the connectivity is that the headphones can only connect to one device at a time; if you've connected them to your phone for a bit of music on the way into work and want to switch to your laptop for a video call, for example, you'll have to disconnect from your phone before you can connect to your laptop, which is an annoying hassle.
Sennheiser MB 360 UC review: Features
Aside from the excellent ANC technology, which we've already mentioned, the MB 360s have some tricks in store to appeal to busy modern professionals. As you'd expect, you have a full range of call handling functionalities built into the control buttons, as well as the ability to activate your device's digital assistant with a few swift button presses.
As the name would imply, the MB 360 UCs are optimised for unified comms tools like softphones, and they're also certified by Microsoft for its Skype for Business software. This will likely only make a difference if you're a Microsoft shop, but it's worth bearing in mind if so.
Sennheiser MB 360 UC review: Verdict
The MB 360s are an attractive compromise for businesses that want the professional-level audio quality of a set of Sennheiser headphones without the somewhat eye-watering price of its top-end range. True, they don't quite match up to the build quality or audio fidelity of the MB 660s, but that's a forgivable trade-off considering they cost roughly half the price.
For your money, you're still getting excellent ANC, a reasonably solid and sturdy construction, great audio and lengthy battery life. Honestly, the biggest gripe we have is with the fiddly controls, but in the grand scheme of things, it's a relatively small nitpick to overlook.
Busy mobile professionals will love the MB 360s almost as much as their more expensive cousins, and businesses will love the value they offer compared to flashier and more expensive headphones. If you're looking for business-grade cans at a wallet-friendly price, these are the ones to go for.
A few odd nitpicks aside, these headphones offer excellent business-grade connectivity for a great price, including top-notch ANC and great audio quality