*The opinions expressed in the blog are solely that of the author and in no way reflect the opinions of the Sennheiser company. Sennheiser is in no way affiliated with or sponsoring this post . Think of this as just another customer review.*
The Sennheiser HD429 was a great buy…at the discounted price I bought them for. While they give me some great sound, there were just a few things I just couldn’t get past. The incredibly thin, incredibly long, non-removable audio cable was the most prominent one for me. To this day, my heart stops every time the cable gets snagged on something.
Please don’t get me wrong…The HD429 both look and sound great…but they didn’t fit the bill entirely, so for that reason they have been reassigned to my work desk, and I continued my search for a primary pair of headphones for my home office. If you can find the HD429 at a discounted rate, I say go for it. If I had paid full price for them, I probably would have gotten my money back.
When the holidays rolled around last year, I received a gift card from my future in-laws for my birthday (which just so happens to be on the same day as Christmas). I knew exactly what I wanted to put it towards, which is when I ordered the Red Dragon Karura, The Serta Office Chair, and last but not least, the Sennheiser HD280 Pro headphones.
While some may think Sennheiser headphones are “ugly” or “dull”, cosmetics are nowhere even close to being on my list of have-to-have’s. Even if it was on my list, I quite like the look of the HD280 Pro. It’s a no nonsense design that brings about a feeling of confidence in it’s durability. The HD280 Pro was designed with function in mind, not fashion. If you’re looking for something pretty or shiny, this a’int it (by the way…a’int a’int a word).
Like many variations of “Senn” headphones, the HD280 Pro is made up of durable matte black plastic. Holding these in my hands, they didn’t seem that much heavier than the HD429… however something about the construction felt like they would be much more durable. The ear cups can articulate, which I like because I can then use the headphones as “neck speakers”.
They have an impedance of 65-ohms. I’m no electrical engineer …but impedance is basically the resistance the audio cable has to an electric current. There’s much much more to it than that though and I’m not extremely well versed on the term, but Snazzy Labs has a fantastic video that explains this feature.
These headphones are of the closed back variety, they are meant to block outside noise. The ear cups and headband padding are made up of a soft touch material, both of which are replaceable…so if you don’t digg the faux leather ear cups you can swap them for velour or some other kind of material.
The audio cable…oh the audio cable…it’s pretty much what I had expected with my last purchase. While it’s technically not “removable” it’s much more substantial, not longer than necessary , and it’s coiled so it’s much easier to stow away.
When I say technically not removable, I mean you can’t simply pull the audio cable out of the unit like the HD380 Pro. Instead, if you do damage your audio cable, you have to open the ear cup and do some light wiring to replace the audio cable. In fact there is a guide in the manual that shows you how to do so. To some this is unacceptable, however I’m just fine with a thicker, more durable cable that is more resistant to breakage in the first place.
They come with a 1/4 in adapter for the audio cable, making them more versatile as far as connecting to your audio source, be it a PC, phone, mixing board, or amplifier. Even though I won’t be using them for any mixing boards, having the option is very nice! The adapter even screws on, as opposed to “popping on” providing a more secure connection.
I’m not going to lie to you, these headphones have a crazy amount of clamping force! So unless you have a small-ish head…oh who am I kidding, even if you DO have a small-ish head, you’re going to want to break these in. I’ve read that some place them onto a basketball or volley ball to break them in and reduce that clamping force a bit. Otherwise, you’ll find it difficult to use them for extended periods of time. As durable as these are however, be cautious when breaking this in, as the construction is mostly plastic which has it’s limitations as far as how much flex it can handle. Before they were completely broken in, I’ve had to take breaks from several editing sessions because of a pressure headache caused by the death grip these things have on my head. The reason for this clamping force is in order to aid in noise cancellation or attenuation. According to the specs, they provide 32 decibels (dB) of attenuation.
They are pretty good at blocking out noise. While they won’t block out my dishwasher which is about 10 ft from my desk, they do block out a considerable about of noise, such as people talking, the TV (as long as the volume isn’t cranked too high) and general ambient noise. So far these have been great for when I’m video editing, or just want to chill and listen to music or watch YouTube video with less distractions. My darling fiancee will often have to physically signal me with a wave to get my attention, or come distract me with smooches…which I’m really OK with actually.
Being closed back headphones also means that your ears might get hot after so long, especially with the faux leather ear pads. So if you live somewhere warm…like…oh I dunno…a desert…you’ll want to either take brakes from your listening, or possibly invest in a more breathable material ear pad. Or just blast the A/C all the live-long day like I do.
How Do They Sound?
The HD280 Pro headphones have a great sound. Are they better than the HD429? Well, that depends on who’s listening. The HD280 Pro has a flat response and may sound uninspired to some, I felt this way myself at first. By the time I had picked these up, I had been using the HD429 for some time, and became quite used to them. I wondered why the HD429 had slightly more bass than it’s higher end relative.
From what I’ve read prior to the purchase, the HD280 Pro is a studio quality product meant for checking audio mixes, so accuracy of sound is a must. In fact, it’s the go to for several audio and film majors I’ve spoken to.
That being said, I tested these headphones with various types of music, hip-hop, rock, acoustic, metal, and even some EDM. I did notice that the HD280 Pro provides a good bass response, when good bass is present. It doesn’t do any fancy bass boosting or anything like that, which is good because it allows me to get a more accurate perception of my source audio. The HD429 seemed to give a slight (albeit smooth) boost to music tracks, which is no way was a bad thing, just different. The HD429’s slightly elevated bass response is better suited for casual listening, whereas the HD280 Pro is intended for monitoring. For that reason, I’m using the HD280 Pro as my main headphones for the home office, they help me monitor my audio levels in my video editing, which is something I’m becoming a stickler for.
I’ll wrap this up by saying I am not an audiophile by any means, nor claim to be! Also, everyone’s ears are different, and therefore each pair of headphones will sound different for each individual. The best way to see if a pair of headphones are for you, is to have your ears decide, don’t let anyone tell you which product is right for you.
Thanks for reading! In case you haven’t seen my unboxing, I was without a doubt, the most excited to unbox this product. I’ll include it below in case you missed it.