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Great Budget Closed-Back Cans

A Review On: Sennheiser HD 439 Headphones Black

Sennheiser HD 439 Headphones Black

Rated # 22 in Over-Ear
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Review Details:
Audio Quality
Comfort
Design
Value
Purchased on:
nc863id
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Pros: Sound quality, comfort, varying cable lengths

Cons: Underwhelming aesthetics, possible build quality issues

I picked these headphones up as a replacement for my years-old Bose TriPorts whose earcups are falling apart. I already own a pair of 558s, but at present my girlfriend and I share a small room and open-back headphones don't work well with our respective sleep schedules. 

 

Packaging

Blister pack, nothing to write home about. Same basic packaging as most of their low-end stuff.

 

Accessories

Kudos to Sennheiser here -- included are two different cables (4' and 10') as well as a 1/4" adapter plug, which in my experience is kind of rare for $100 headphones. As a company, they're pretty good about this. 

 

Quick note about the cable: If you decide to swap them out, you're going to feel like you're breaking the cable connector trying to pull it out. This is normal -- it's at a funky angle as it goes into the speaker and it takes a good deal of prying to pull loose.

 

Build Quality

As already touched upon with the cable, build quality is only so-so. As is pretty typical of Sennheiser's lower-end products, there's a plasticky feel throughout. The weird cable requiring crazy amounts of tugging, the not-inconsiderable creak of the gimbals, etc. In reality, the headphones should hold up quite well to reasonable use...they just don't necessarily feel like it. Gotta cut corners somewhere, I suppose.

 

Comfort

I defy you to find more comfortable circumaurals at this price. The velour earcups and headband cause these suckers to melt to your ears and disappear after a few minutes' use. I can barely handle leatherette anymore, I'm so spoiled on this sensation.

 

Sound Quality

Why am I touching on sound quality last? It's the last thing you notice when you take the headphones out of the package. Boom, there goes your mind.

 

Looking at the package, you'll see the ominous phrase "Extended Bass Response." Oh lawd, Sennheiser is trying to make Beats, you may think. Thankfully, no. Bass is somewhat heavier than the other $100 headphones Sennheiser produces (the musician-centric 280s), but it doesn't have that bloated, overreaching feeling of Beats' EQ-based enhancement -- here it feels like a natural extension of the headphones' design, and helps to ground the overall feel of the music.

 

A few days' burn-in certainly won't hurt these guys, just to wear the edges off the sound. To my ears it felt more settled with use.

 

Overall, the sound feels assertive and balanced across the range, with surprisingly wide staging for a closed-back setup, especially one so basic as these. There's no confusing them with my 558s, but it certainly doesn't sound like the sound is emanating from my pineal gland, either.

 

Cable noise is noticeable at very low volumes, but that's par for the course at this price point / with this brand. Unless you have parts on hand and a good deal of electrical/mechanical savvy, they're not worth cable modding. It's just something you deal with.

 

At 32 ohms, these will sound fine coming from your portable device -- my Galaxy S3 with its shiny Wolfson DAC puts admirable sound into these cans, and I wouldn't expect much less from an iDevice or other mobile options. That being said, I noticed a distinct improvement in presence and clarity when I jacked these directly into my sound card (Auzen Raider 7.1) as opposed to the aux jack on my desktop speakers or through my phone. So if you have something to juice the sound (amp/DAC) then you'll hear a benefit. 

 

Summary

From start to finish, a worthy headphone. Especially good as backup cans or gifts to budding audiophiles. Build quality is -ish, but not distressingly bad. Best-in-class comfort and superb sound quality for price. 

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