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Headphones item created by , May 5, 2010
Pros - Cushioned cups & headband. Pivot friendly.
Cons - EQ sounds boxy, a little charred in the mids. Bass' freq response isn't very reliable. Erect end jack.
These were actually my first pair of mixing headphones. I can definitely say they worked for me at the time, but this is also the time I did not acknowledge the importance of EQ & compression.
I don't know a lot of terms, but I'll say that the "inner-sound design", in comparison to my other three pairs of headphones, is a little bit more meshed together; centers are more pronounce & dynamics aren't very golden. Basically, perception of stereo space sounds "filtered", & the EQ is boxy. Doesn't mean you can't still use these headphones to achieve some decent mixdowns/masters.
Pros - Cheap, Light, Extremely Comfortable, Moderately Isolating, Balanced And Articulate
Cons - Thin Sound (unless EQed or DSPed), Minor Sound Leakage At High Volume, Skinny Three-Foot Cord
I found my HD 428s for $37 new on a NewEgg flash sale. I purchased them based on price (MSRP is around $100) and because I was curious about some of the positive reviews I'd read.
My early impressions were negative. I'd listened to a pair of them at a retail store after demoing several mid-high end closed headphones and found them to be thin (papery?) and too laid back to my ear. However, I after the requisite burn-in (only 30 hours, I still don't know if it works), they seemed to improve. The real trick has been pairing them with an appropriate source.
For instance, my Asus DG sound card, which has an HF amp, seemed to bring out the limitations. Only my better headphones sound rich and full from this source. My Zune HD also didn't do them any favors, perhaps for the same reason.
However, the HD 428s sound surprisingly good when paired with my smart phone (an HTC Trophy with a DSP software enhancement) and my work laptop (usually Spotify Premium paired with the Equalify plug-in, or DFX Audio Enhancer). My theory is that the HD 428 is more forgiving of mediocre sources, and is designed for them.
I realize that for an audiophile, this setup may be cringe worthy, but that’s what I’ve got to work with. I typically listen to streaming music at work with a pair of Sennheiser Amperiors or Shure e215 IEMs. The Amperiors are delightful, and noticeably more energetic, even from this source, but they hurt my ears after an hour or so and certainly do not benefit from DSP. The Shures are also decent, but they also bother my ears after a few hours.
By contrast, the HD 428s are extremely light and comfortable, even after several hours of use. The sound (from this source) is on par with the e215, and maybe 70-percent as good as the Amperior. The nearest comparison I can make is -- oddly enough -- the old PX100.
Although the PX-100 was a supra-aural and not a circumaural headphone, I barely noticed I was wearing them. And the sound -- while not supremely articulate or detailed -- was relatively balanced and clear when compared to many sub-$100 headphones. This is what the HD 428s sound like to me ... like an over-the-ear PX100 with all the advantages that larger drivers provide (better imaging, larger soundstage). Like the PX100, I can wear the HD 428 for several hours without tiring my ears, or my eardrums.
The HD 428 is not a "flat" headphone to my ear (for reference, I consider my old HD 598 Ovation-IIs to be "flat" or neutral), but it is "flatter" than my HD 238 or the Amperior. It is somewhat similar to the e215, in that the bass is accentuated somewhat and the mid-highs get a little crowded. I'm sure you can compare sound graphs if you'd like for an unbiased analysis, but this is my impression. [My typical listening day includes bands ranging from jazz (old Herbie Hancock) to death metal (Nile, Opeth)].
Rambling aside, here is my point: The HD 438 is a fantastic "compromise" headphone. It probably isn't worth $100, or even $75, but at less than $60, it is a great value. The build quality feels inexpensive, but not cheap, and my guess is that it will hold up, even after being thrown in a bag or drawer every day.
You will never confuse these with a premium headphone, but sometimes, a decent, cheap set of cans is the perfect thing. You don’t have to baby them. You don’t need to worship them. You just wear them. If they walk away one night when you’re not in the office -- no big deal – you can afford a replacement. In the meantime, though, you can have a very pleasant and painless listening experience. The 428s are that type of headphone.
Pros - A massive bang for the buck if you buy them refurbished for $30
Cons - Bad isolation, a little hard to drive, Crap build quality (Cheap plastic all around), One-tone bass )read more)
I wanted to get a pair of headphones that would cost almost nothing and I would be able to use them as a gaming headset. For $30, these headphones are a steal. I don't want to write a very long review so I'm going to state the cons first. Firstly, the headphones feel like they are for people with extremely wide heads. I have to hold the headphones and almost crush them together so that the headphones don't feel like they're gliding over my ears. Secondly, the headphones leak a lot of external noise. I ran back crying to my Etymotic HF3's when I wore these headphones on the bus. Definitely not like open headphones, but not closed either.
EDIT 5/17/12 lastly, the bass that these headphones have is something a few people here call "one tone." Only way I can really describe this is the headphone's produce a bass thump that is the same tone every time, it's very dull and boring to hear again and again. Since the review I have recabled the headphones with 24AWG silver cable which gave no audible difference, sold them for the same price as I got them, and a few moths later was told that on one of the rotating earcup hinges the headphones broke. Oh well.
If someone recommended these headphones to you, I suggest you really look into the Panasonic RP-HTF600. Much more comfortable, WAY better bass which is far away from being "one tone", better build quality, basically everything is improved except for slightly recessed mids and being a semi-open design which leaks sound in and out.
Pros - Balanced sound, great typical Sennheiser mids, good bass, great treble presence while staying smooth, stylish, comfortable
Cons - Flimsy cable, they don't extend very well
At the price you can get these, they are very worth well the price. Typical Sennheiser sound that don't disappoint. Within their respective range they do everything well but they don't extend that far.
Cable is weak and otherwise the design is good.
Pros - Great LF extension, good detail and sounstaging, very comfortable
Cons - Colored lows, slightly recessed highs, short and wimpy cord
I am an old time audiophile - I started off my headphone "career" back in 1971 with the original Sennheiser lightweight phones (white plastic with blue or yellow foam pads). They were a revelation in the 1970s and as my interest in the hobby progressed, I purchased and enjoyed most of Sennheiser's popular models (except the HD 800 and HD650).
But over the past 10 years or so, I drifted away from Sennheiser and I have mostly used Beyerdynamic or Audio Technica cans. Recently, on a whim, I decided to buy a pair of "refurbished" HD 428s from DAKMART for just $23.98 and I must admit: Sennheiser has come a long way with respect to a closed headphone design.
First, the HD 428s are quite comfortable. Well, maybe even extremely comfortable as they are very light and the fit is excellent. Next, these cans deliver solid, clean, extended bass - impressive bass, actually. Colored? Perhaps. Well, yes a little. And the upper mid bass suffers because of it, but the all important midrange is fine and the highs are very clean and nice, if not a tad recessed. Detail and soundstaging are really impressive for closed phones.
The negatives? Very few, actually. The construction quality is, well, "plastic-y", so these are not super rugged, but certainly they are fine enough for home use.
The only real negative is the short, very thin cord. That is small print that comes with the bargain. The refurbished model I received is the HD 428 "S" version which comes with an extremely thin, 4-foot long cord. It does also come with a 1/4" adapter, a plus for sure, but the cord is silly thin and short - oddly out of place for the excellent sound quality the HD 428 delivers. But don't let the cord scare you off.
In short, the HD 428 delivers in spades and these phones are, without question, a gateway to true high end sound for very, very few dollars. If you are on a budget or just starting out, consider starting here. Pair these with a $50 Cmoy amp or an inexpensive Bravo or Indeed tube amp from China and you'll be pleasantly surprised what your $100 or so has returned in listening pleasure. You may not need anything else.