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A Review On: Sennheiser HD 280 Headphones

Sennheiser HD 280 Headphones

Rated # 80 in Over-Ear
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Cons: Uncomfortable, tonally unbalanced

I always see people recommending the HD280 like it's some amazing price vs. quality gem in the headphone world or something, and when I borrowed a pair to compare to my HD555 a few years ago, I was surprised by how bad the HD280 sounded and how uncomfortable it was. The bass was anemic, the soundstage was congested, and the way it clamped on the head was uncomfortable. For sub-$100 headphones, you'll be much better off with the Equation RP-21. But if you could spend a little bit more, you'll get into a far better range of headphones like the Audio-Technica ATH-M50 (for sealed cans) or Sennheiser HD555 (for open cans)--headphones that absolutely destroy the HD280 in every way possible.


I beg to differ since I have and still own the HD280 Professional. Purchased in February 2001 at the Hong Kong Audiophile Show in Central Hong Kong Island. After ten years of ownership the sound stage is not only open, but the bass, treble, and mid-range is well presented. Word of the wise is the Sennheiser HD280 Professional requires an exceptionally long burn-in.
I think Sennheiser will refute your claim that their HD280 Pro requires exceptionally long burn-in. Also, don't be surprised if after we did some serious measuring/testing of the same pair of HD280 Pro with pro audio measuring equipment before and after the so-called "exceptionally long burn-in," it will still sound pretty much the same.

Burn-in is one of the most persistent audiophile myth, and it's been refuted by people who actually took the time to test/measure the same pair of headphones before and after burn-in, and the headphones always measured the same. If any pair of headphones actually sounded significantly different after being used for a number of hours, then it is actually a defective product. The only time burn-in is legitimate is when the manufacturer states it so, and it'll be stated clearly in the user's manual. For example, Digidesign RM2 monitor speakers are clearly stated by Digidesign to require a certain number of hours for the drivers to loosen up and sound optimal, and this is only because of the very specific design involved with the RM series. This is NOT the norm and is a unique case.

As for how the HD280 Pro sounds, I trust my ears and experience as a composer, as well as my experience in building my own recording studio, doing acoustic treatment, testing/measuring my audio devices, and perfecting their sound with surgical EQ corrections. If an audio device simply sounds awkward, I don't need to second-guess myself--I know full well there are good reasons why it sounds awkward to my ears. If the HD280 Pro makes you happy, then great--enjoy it. It'll never have a place in my studio though.
You can't compare 555's and 280's. They are designed differently and they will sound differently.
I've never heard the 555 outside of a store, but have owned the 595 before. However I've long since sold that but still have my 280 Pro. They feel solid, for me they're comfortable, they have brilliant isolation and they sound much clearer than my 595 did. Not as 'hi-fi' in the way accoustic jazz sounds hi-fi, but very honest to the recording. I say they're decent sounding, versatile, and very good value.
I've had the 280 for years and years. They are definitely uncomfortable. The clamping force is way too strong. As for the sound, I generally agree with you except that they sound much better from a distance. I actually open them up and use them as mini-speakers, and they sound quite impressive (I listen to classical). Build quality is also good. The pleather on mine has peeled, but otherwise they are holding up excellently.
I agree, the hd280 pro sounds really bad. It's a shame that so many people buy them.
And to JoshKe, yes you can compare the 555's to the 280's, don't be silly.
Compare the HD280 pro to the Sony V6 and AKG K240 studio.
I agree that they're not really something to compare, but everything is possible, if you like the warmer hi-fi sound, the hd280 isn't for you. Comparing the 280 to something like the dt-770 pro or sony mdr-v6, the sennheiser is easily my favourite in both sound and build, in the same class I found the ath-m50 a bit more "consumer friendly" sounding but the build of them is way flimsier and they're not as comfortable on me.
Of course these are going to be boring, lifeless cans. They're studio monitors. These aren't going to colour the sound to make it sound nice, that would be completely contradictory to what they're meant for.
@zseries15 - The HD280 is nowhere close to being studio quality headphones--they are nowhere near being accurate/neutral enough. The Audio-Technica ATH-M50 is much closer to what a low-cost studio headphone should should like (it's not perfect, but FAR better than the HD280 while not costing much more). You might want to read up on the subject of the different tiers of accuracy/neutrality. Start here: http://www.head-fi.org/t/564465/misconception-of-neutral-accurate
I hate the sound of the M50s, so opinions are much wider then you think.
Everything you described makes me think you didn't have the 280's amped. I sampled the 280's @ guitar center and they sounded amazing. Even better then the beyerdynamic 770's. When I got them home they had no bass, everything sounded lifeless and just a horrible sounding. These may only say 60 ohm but I am very wary of that number. Compared to other headphones I've had the difference in sound makes me think they are more like 120 ohms. 
I disagree, picked up pair today and very happy with them. This review is not accurate as the comments suggest.
@Lunatique I see your point of view and as such understand that everyone's perception of sound may differ. I remember hearing the ATH-M50x for the first time.. WOW! The sound was, for lack of a better word, perfect. It was perfect in the sense that all the right areas in the bass, mids and highs were tailored to just "work" with all music. I had to cave and buy them right then and there. This is after owning the HD 280's for about 6 months or so. It has been about 6 more months since then. After adjusting to both cans, it's still hard to settle on which is "better". The M50x is a fun sounding headphone while the HD 280 is a more flat and true to the recording headphone. You can't go wrong with either.
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