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Sennheiser HD 560 Ovation II Review

post #1 of 82
Thread Starter 
Sennheiser HD 560 Ovation II

Equipment: Modified Marantz CD-67SE -> DIY MOSFET amp

Having only heard one Sennheiser phone before, an HD 265(hardly a good representation), I decided to delve further into the brand and discover the real "house" sound they offer. Actually, I had been really contemplating on purchasing a pair of AKG K271s or K240s for some time, as I knew I liked their sound, but I ran into the Sennheiser HD 560 Ovation IIs on eBay for a good price. I couldn't find any specs on the phone, but I had heard the Ovation name before. After weeks of waiting(shipping complications), I finally received them.



Comfort:

Clamping force is very light. Earpads are decently sized, and are shallow. These are very light headphones, and are generally comfortable. I didn't feel like there would be much to gain by "tweaking" the positioning of them, which is something I dislike having to do. Headband is pretty flexible, with a padded vinyl cushion. Because of the light weight and soft clamping force, they're great for extended listening sessions.

Sound:

The first thing I noticed about these phones is their upfront nature. I thought I was listening to a Grado for a second there! Generally I've read that Sennheiser headphones are laid back, quite the contrary with these. Soundstage is rather small, maybe a notch smaller than the AKG K240s. These are VERY accurate headphones however. No smudging of details or over-coloration here. The DT 880s(my main headphone) have a way of masking the details in their huge soundstage. Sounds I was used to hearing in the background are now upfront and very noticeable. The mids and upper mids have a hint of sweetness to them.

Listening to a Telarc Philip Glass recording, everything seems on point, but rather dry sounding. Soundstage is again, small. One very impressive note is the instrument separation. Nothing is running together, complex attacks are sharp and precise. I can almost feel the texture of the violin strings. They definitely jive well and really shine with faster movements.

Wow! These phones really ROCK. Listening to 311 and Chris Cornell, and I'm just totally getting into it. The sweetness of the mids has really come out. These are up close and intimate headphones. Kick drums do not have the kick they should, however. I feel like they must drop off pretty sharply in the mid bass region. Male vocals are presented well, but they don't stand out as much as I'd like; the instruments are winning my attention. Female vocals are dry and antiseptic.

Checking out some hip-hop and techno now. They just don't have the bass depth or slam to really work. Listening to Kanye West, and it's boring. Moving onto Chemical Brothers and System 7. They still retain some energy even without the lower bass. Not too bad, but really depends on the type of electronica.

Conclusion:

I was pretty surprised by the sound of this headphone. I definitely was not expecting the level of accuracy it presented. My only two real complaints are the lack of the lower and mid bass, and the small soundstage. I feel I made a great purchase though, especially for the price. Most definitely a good addition to the collection

Comments, questions?
post #2 of 82
If the female vocals are truly antiseptic i think you could help out a lot of people with persistant ear infections, perhaps patent the technology before someone else becomes aware of this...

nah, nice review but. The descriptive language actually told me something which is all too rare.
post #3 of 82
This is a nice idea, reviewing older phones still frequently available on Ebay. In my view there's too much posting about the same old clique of phones to the neglect of all the rest.
I notice these phones have the notorious Sennheiser plug. Have you experienced any intermittency problems?
post #4 of 82
Very interesting review. These 'phones were on the market around 1990, correct? Good to know they still sound great today, there must be some bargains to be had on old headphones with people constantly upgrading, sometimes for all the wrong reasons.
post #5 of 82
Just tried a pair of these on my Compass. My dad has a pair that he purchased back in the early 90s. They actually do have a pleasing sound, and I do agree that they rock pretty good. I haven't been enjoying my HD650s on the Compass, because they are just a bit too revealing and the Compass isn't quite up to the task IMHO. But these 560s and my Beyer DT770s sound good. I'm trading in for a Ming Da amp, so I'll hopefully have better luck with the 650s there.
post #6 of 82

I recently got an HD 560 on Ebay.  I would not call it dry, but I can see how people do.  The key I believe is giving it proper amplification.  You have to feed this headphone, and then it will reward you.  As soon as I improved the power supply on my V-DAC, the headphone opened up wonderfully.  There is plenty of bass, at least for the music I listen to.

 

For classical music listeners, the HD 560 is a wonderful headphone, with a hint of Sennheiser's warmth but without a veil. I actually think it sounds quite spacious as well.  This is the main difference from my HD 530, whose driver is the same but whose housing makes it somewhat more enclosed.  The HD 560 I got on Ebay had very worn ear cushions, but Sennheiser sells replacements.  I ordered two sets, as I expect to keep this as my main headphone for many years. (I am using it with a Purity Audio K.I.C.A.S. (regular, not Caliente) and the Musical Fidelity V-DAC, both of which I highly recommend as well.)


Edited by wyki - 12/31/10 at 7:00am
post #7 of 82

Nice to hear about these old phones, especially as I had most of them at one time or another. But the real gem is the 565 Ovation from around 1994, which you never see these days, maybe because owners never sell them. That was a beautifully balanced phone. 

post #8 of 82

got myself a HD560 Ovation 2 yesterday~ it sounds great! but too bad it's very unbalance~ hv to open it and check~ but wow they sounds great!

post #9 of 82

Hi everybody,

I'm discovering this site as my second son destroyed my HD560, which I adopted back in the late 80's (!). So, be warned that this model is NOT foolproof, and actually wasn't intended to be so. Well, apart from this, and the wearing-out of cushions, and the fragility of the lead, and so on, I can only say this: it still quite simply the most accurate set of headphones I've ever heard in my life. It takes a hefty phone amp to make this obvious, though, and when I read that for some reviewers it is bass-shy, I challenge these to make their own recordings on a (still) most current tape-recorder, namely a Revox B77. If your microphones are up to the task, you will hear the bass drums as close as possible to the real thing in front of you, with the proviso that the sound pressure level cannot possibly be as devastating. Actually, this is the main difference with the live sound: this transducer cannot match "natural" SPL's! Otherwise, I can name no transducer capable of a  better tonal accuracy. I've yet to hear more recent and expensive products, but I can't afford them anyway. So I'm looking for replacements capsules for my beloved sample...

 

Yours sincerely

Jefic (Brittany)

post #10 of 82

Thanks for your impressions of the HD 560's accuracy.  I can't tell from your comments whether you still have the headphones and if so, what parts are needed.  You can buy cables and earpads on ebay, or directly from Sennheiser, which does a good job of stocking parts for its older headphones; and if you live in France, you can -- I believe -- buy on Ebay.de, which often has HD 560s for sale.  They appear from time to time on the American site, but much more rarely.  I would be fascinated to compare mine to the expensive new headphones.  But in the end, these are lovely, and I should not talk myself into spending more than I need.  Cheers.


Edited by wyki - 8/24/12 at 4:01pm
post #11 of 82

HD560 Ovation(not II) is the most accurate & musical Sennheiser dynamic,

Developed by the same HE60/HE90 team.sound is natural, clear & sweet.

way better than hd650/600s

 

It's the only Sennheiser dynamic which can compete with the stax lambda series

it costs 300 Euro in 1989

 

The second best Sennheiser dynamic is the 1993 German made hd580 (new hd580 sucks)

it has the best vocal, but the highs & bass are not as refined as the hd560

 

hd800 is something like an upgrade version of HD540, a monitoring can, best clarity, but the sound is lacking life


Edited by pkshan - 8/26/12 at 1:55pm
post #12 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jefic View Post

Hi everybody,

I'm discovering this site as my second son destroyed my HD560, which I adopted back in the late 80's (!). So, be warned that this model is NOT foolproof, and actually wasn't intended to be so. Well, apart from this, and the wearing-out of cushions, and the fragility of the lead, and so on, I can only say this: it still quite simply the most accurate set of headphones I've ever heard in my life. It takes a hefty phone amp to make this obvious, though, and when I read that for some reviewers it is bass-shy, I challenge these to make their own recordings on a (still) most current tape-recorder, namely a Revox B77. If your microphones are up to the task, you will hear the bass drums as close as possible to the real thing in front of you, with the proviso that the sound pressure level cannot possibly be as devastating. Actually, this is the main difference with the live sound: this transducer cannot match "natural" SPL's! Otherwise, I can name no transducer capable of a  better tonal accuracy. I've yet to hear more recent and expensive products, but I can't afford them anyway. So I'm looking for replacements capsules for my beloved sample...

 

I agree with you. With the exception of slightly grainy and textured highs, this was as close to "accurate" that a dynamic headphone got.

 

After this, Sennheiser just gradually got more expensive and less "accurate", in inverse proportion.

post #13 of 82

Hi everybody

Thank you for your reactions and various advices. I would like to know to what equipment does Mr Beagle connect his own HD560. Personnally, I always use the headphone socket of a tape recorder, such as Revox's B77 or A700, and I didn't notice this grainy treble. My recordings are of breton pipe-bands, traditional singers of kan-ha-diskan*,  and on one occasion I recorded a college choir. Sadly I've never had the opportunity to "catch" a symphony orchestra, but on my vinyl records this shortcoming doesn't jump at my face, to be honest. I must admit that his model by Sennheiser is pretty demanding in terms of amplifier quality, however, and I've conned more than one digital worshipper by having him (them) compare a DAT recording via a lousy headphone socket to an analogue one via the B77's excellent one, with its full 5V ouptput on a high impedance load. I know: this is sheer cheating!

 

*kan-ha-diskan is a traditionnal breton way of singing, either for dancing or just for telling a story to a knowledgeable audience. Two persons sing in alternance, joining their voices on the last syllables of each sentence.

post #14 of 82

Jefic, For whatever it's worth:  I connect mine to a headphone amplifier -- Purity Audio K.I.C.A.S. Regular (more accurate than Caliente) and as DAC a V-DAC from Musical Fidelity.  One observation: the sound becomes richer -- without distortion -- as volume rises.  Be careful about your hearing, of course, and limit this to the quiet adagios.  At any rate, I have never noticed any graininess.  It's a very nice headphone, and the reviews on Http://www.HiFi-Forum.de confirm this.  

post #15 of 82
Don't invest too much on the amp for  the hd560,
Although it's one of my favorite headphone.
You could get better sound for the same money
the vintage stax lambdas sound more real than the hd560s
 
 
STEREOPHILE'S RECOMMENDED COMPONENTS 1996
 
Headphones & Headphone Accessories
 
A Class
 
Cary Audio Design CAD-300SEI: $3395
Sennheiser Orpheus HE 90/HEV 90: $12,900
Sennheiser HE 60/HEV 70 headphone amplifier: $1795
Stax SR-Omega headphones: $4500
Stax SR-Lambda Pro Signature: $2000 *
 
B Class
 
Etymotic Research ER-4S: $330
HeadRoom Supreme portable headphone amplifier: $399 $$$
Home HeadRoom headphone amplifier: $599
Koss ESP/950: $799.99 $$$
Melos SHA-1 headphone amplifier: $1095 *
Sennheiser HD580: $349 $$$
Stax Lambda Pro 3: $1200 *
Stax Lambda Pro Classic: $850
 
C Class
 
Grado SR-60 headphones: $69 $$$
Stax SR-34 Professional: $200 $$$ *
 
D Class
 
Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro: $159 *
Sennheiser HD540 II: $199 *
Sennheiser HD560 II: $289 *
Sennheiser IS 850 Digital Infrared Wireless Headphones: $1395
 
 
$$$ = "Product found to perform much better than might be expected from its price."
 

* = "Has been on the Recommended Components list for few years


Edited by pkshan - 8/27/12 at 10:25pm
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