Sennheiser HD 449 Headphones - Reviews
Pros: Good soundstage, smooth mids, comfy, lightweight and portable, nice with "gentle" music
Cons: A bit bass light, could be more sensitive to signals.
I purchased these as my first "Audiophile headphones" a couple of years ago, and have since purchased better pairs. The good news is that they still work perfectly. They are lightweight, comfortable and not as flimsy as they feel, however for people with larger ears they will not fully fit and will feel like very big on-ears phones. They do not leak much sound and the isolation is OK but if your not playing music, anything above a moderate crowd throng will come through quite clearly.
The sound quality is very good in terms of mid to treble response, detail and sound stage width, and is very appealing for vocals and more relaxed genres of music as well as. Sadly the bass is slightly "recessed" however this ca be rectifed with gentle equalization from the source to provide a good neutral response, however these cans are hopeless for any basshead as they can't handle loud & hard pumping bass without slightly distorting the rest of the sound due to their "relaxed response" . Also, sadly for a headphone of such low impedance, it cannot be easily driven to an ideal volume by my Sony A17 Walkman (I have to set it to 28/30), and maybe it isn't the strongest source but it drives my other phones to even louder volumes at much lower levels (20/30), and I need to use my FiiO E17 DAC to get these to an "exciting" volume.
They are a really big step up from low-end crap but there are even better On and Over Ears sets for the price for Seventy quid or so, such as the Audio Technica M40X. I would advise people to avoid the replacement to the HD449, the HD471, if they don't like the sound of these, they apparently have the same sound quality, albeit with a detachable smartphone friendly cable.
Pros: Price
Cons: None yet
I have only bought these headphones today, so haven't used them properly to rate yet.
I had been thinking of buying my first pair of quality headphones for around two weeks now. I had narrowed it down to either Bose, Audio-Technica or Sennheiser.
Was prepared to spend up to $250, then came across a pair of Sennheiser HD 558 advertised at JB HIFI for $145.60 on the web, a saving of $62.40.
So off I go to buy them but you guessed it they had none. So I noticed JB had 30% off all Sennheiser so I grab a pair of HD 449 instead at a measly cost of $97.96.
That will do for my first pair of decent headphones.
For anyone who is interested, JB have a special on Sennheiser Urbanite XL for only $279.96, that's $119.99 of the normal retail and then Sennheiser give you a $100 cash back.
These baby's will only cost you $179.96, from a $399.95 retail, that's not bad if I would say so myself.
I might buy these for Ron. 
And no I don't work for JB, just like a great deal when I see it. Cheers. 
P.S. Audio Quality and Comfort yet to be rated.
The Senn HD 439 449 are regularly on sale in the $40 range.
Pros: Light weight, comfortable, detailed, balanced, wide frequency response
Cons: Some may think the bass is lacking but, they are remenicent of my old electrostatics
It is hard to find a pair of isolating headphones that won't rob the bank leaving a bitter after taste, a feeling of being conned, misled or otherwise suckered into filling another segment of that rapidly filling cupboard you so do not want the wife to find out about, you know, the one that is festooned with average, over priced abandoned audio kit.
In this case, the the phones were on special at £25 (retail normally £80) in Sainsbury's (a national supermarket).
Sennheiser is a name that is relatively reliable though that cupboard has a number of big S abandoned new kit.
So why try these. 
I suppose I was facing despair and a lack of major funds.  The inane desire for accurate, open, expansive phones often outweighs reason.
Are they the best I have heard? 
Honestly, no.  That honour lies with a pair of early 70's Beyer DT100's I stupidly traded for a pair of electrostatics that never really cut it.
Are they uncomfortable? 
No they are as comfortable as that top of the range pair of Koss I dreamt of as a lad.  They are like a feather on my head, bliss for a change, no crimping, scraping, pinching leading to an aching desire to throw them into a distant corner of the listening room.
Could they do with more bass? 
That's a big one.  A sort of subjective what is really needed, what is real, what should bass really sound like.  They may open up, it maybe the lack of low end drive in the laptop which, running Linux, is bereft of any tonal adaptability.  Though to many from my era we tend to believe that everything should be 'flat' when played.  For me, they have the detail of electrostatics without the punch of the tiring gaming phones.
Are they sharp and painful at the top end? 
For a new audio product fresh out of the packet, a set of phones with no run time no, not at all, there is no shrillness, no biting top, no brittle distortion.  But then, I don't run my phones at levels that equate to me hugging a 500w Marshall stack during a Metallica concert.
Are they are flat, too two dimensional? 
Surprisingly no, their balance and channel separation is impressive, there is real depth.  It's sort of built to listen to sound rather than built to impress.  Far better to have a pair of phones you have no conscious knowledge of as you listen.  Phones that let you listen to the music rather than concentrate on listening to the equipment.
Are they underwhelming? 
Well, at £80 ($120) I may have been a bit cheesed off (English expression) and feel I had had my pocket picked.  At less than $40 there is no way I can moan.  As they mature, one would expect them to settle in, like a V12 working within it's relaxed power band rather than a Japanese 1.2 screaming along at 9000 revs.
Overall impression? 
They handle my genres well, they are not the most dynamic but then again, that's not what I want.
Who or when in real life, in the real world does music contain the range of dynamics as the stuff that is promoted as being DVD hi-fi quality. 
I have a £50k hi-fi (yes I am that mad), as I sit here to listen to the Ghost of Tom Joad in HD lossless, hey it's pretty close.  Especially for laptop stereo and knowing the music intimately, yep, it's bringing a tear to my eye as I type (that doesn't happen often).  The bass is deep, detailed and not overpowering.  I had anticipated the harmonica to cut through and tear my ears out, nope, sweet, balanced, detailed.  I had expected the highs of 'the highway is alive tonight' to crackle in a cheap, boxy, forced, low value phone breakup.  Nope, clean, detailed revealing, nothing is drowning out the detail of anything else.
Walk on the Wild Side.  So hard to achieve an image on many an expensive system. 
Hmm. The double bass rattles and harmonics ring out beautifully.
But what about the backing the singers?  Well, it's YouTube, not a £5k turntable with virgin vinyl so, I have to settle for the shortfall of CD quality.  Even so they seem to be advancing towards the microphones.  It doesn't sound like their voices are being ranked up by an engineer with a slider.  So just maybe, that magic image of them stepping forward towards the microphone is almost there.  Oh and the sax doesn't break up or have an edge to it.  Nope it's all good.
I tried for some sibilance (I hate sibilance), such a let down for many a recording.  Nope, nothing harsh here. 
So.  In about 60 hours, hard driven, when things loosen up, experience says they will improve. 
Hey but they were only £25, so no complaints.
Interesting review @d-l-b! Glad you enjoy the HD 449! 
Pros: Nice sound, good looks.
Cons: Weak build.
This is just an re-post of one of my first head-fi reviews from 2012, I hope Sennheiser is working on a newer version of these HD4X8 series headphones.
Caution:- This article has serious grammatical mistakes, do forgive them.
 This is the newest edition to the headphones from sennheiser , the last batch of hd 4xx were some of the best in class acts . the hd 448 was topper under $100 segment . the hd 428 were nice too , but now there is this batch to take their place . Can the hd 449 replace the old good hd 448 ? i may not be able to tell you that , cuz i dont have the hd 448 , but you guys can help me in there . Now what i am gona compare it to is the hd 238 , my mp3 buddy , and hd 203 , my laptop buddy. I have others but these two are the segments where you are most likely to use these hd 449 with but i will test it only on my mp3player , (the legendary) cowon j3 will do my job for this review, with equalizers applied at 6,6,5,5,5 , bee and mach bass at 10, others off except stereo enh at 3 vol from 22-30. All bands at wide.
         At least 15days for a 150hr burn-in for these, may be more. But the present impressions can be shared and review will be updated with improvements i feel it made. First update is at the bottom.
Before that here are some pics and some present standing against the hd 238 and hd 203. ( pics may not be the best in world , but will show what you need to see ). I have a hd 280, but sadly its worn out, or i would have made it feature its muscles.

Its the hd 449 written, so when you buy it you know where to find it written " hd 449 ".

Supportive padding on top.

Sennheiser anyone?

Its on the pouch provided with it.

The cup.

The hinge, to twist or to pull the cups out of the band.

The insertion plug.

The thing in action itself.

I convinced my good old hd 203 to do a cameo.

This guy was angry to see its replacement.

Not the best pics.
       Even from the early days its got big sound stage, even being closed its good. The bass is lower then the hd 203 for sure, but not much low when comapred with hd 238. Notes were awesome , clearer i must say than the 203 and 238. I get this type of music from my ultimatears 700 but in ue 700's bass is a bit better.
Now the benchmark being set, here we go with rating.
hd 203 :- bass - 7.5/10 , mids 4.5/10 , highs 4.5/10 . sound stage :- 4.5 .
Hd 203 got things to entertain, the biggest bass phone i have. Bass is huge, distorts at higher volume. Mids are the missing part, its not that present neither the highs. Blown by the bass of course. the cord is looooong. 3m, and strong enough for years of use, not the most comfortable headphone, its too tight on head and gets hot sooner than HD449. and the moveable ear cups (owners may now how it behaves ) may not be the best and are smaller than the hd 449. Hd 203 dont flush over my ears, it just presses on them, ( my ears are a bit big ). It makes up with the bass it got. And the price is one third of hd 449 . These are the best value for money headphones in the market.
hd 238 :- bass 6/10 , mids 6.25/10 , high 7/10 . sound stage :- 7.25 .
Hd 238, the sound stage hog, open, loose and value. Bass is what you should not complain about, its good if not the best. Mids are good, why you need it? not too may guys ask for mids? its the part of the spectrum that holds the music in its place. 500hz to 6.5 khz. Hd 238 dose nicer than the 203. The highs are the best of its attributes. Its distinct and good enough to make you hear all the instruments in this frequency. These are open, and wont help in noisy places. I have modded it by having the open back closed by a black cloth and aluminium foil. This headphone falls off easily, not good for runners at all. Its cups are the smallest, obviously, its an earpad in design . Build is not the best but they makes me feel like there is nothing on my head .
hd 449 :- bass 5/10 , mids 7/10 , high 7/10 . sound stage :- 7 .
You may say that its not that much of an improvement from hd 238. It is , you havent tasted its sound stage and its just an hour burned, bass is to open up more. Its fit is as good as my old hd 280. but not that tight. it feels like god of mid range. This can comes with a nice pouch and a 1.6m extension cable with a one quarter inch adapter. Its not the strongest feeling headphone at all, but strong enough for day to day use and can take some hits too. The strongest is hd 280 as far as i have seen and the hd 203, ear pads are a bit stiff, some may find it good and some may say it has heating problem due to it. but its not that bad. ( use the pouch when not in use )
update :-
        May you guys forgive me, cuz i was not able to burn in the hd 449 for last two days, but, yesterday i burned it for some good 15 hours and up, now what i can see is you cant say there is a fault in sound quality at all, just like my hd 280, but it still lacks some punch in the department of bass, vocals are crystal clear and nearly par with the hd 280, above the hd 238 and far superior to the hd 203, now i have earphones in the no of 65 and likes, that includes, cx 400, image s3, ue 350, ue 700, she 9800, to name the class leaders, but the only two i can say par with vocal clarity are she 9800 and ue 700, there is a reason for them to excel too, 9800 got big heavy drivers and 700 got dual drivers, and 9800 is like hd 238 with big sound stage.
    sound stage :-
       Now its improving, the stage has grown bigger i dont know how, cuz hd 280 of mine for now dont have that big sound stage anymore but the hd 238 is a champ in here . Its like nearly par with the hd 238 , but its supposed to improve too . lets hope it goes over ? how big you want ? like a stadium may be . just kidding .  Its like a small hall for now .
bass :-
      A bit more to say but cant take on the hd 238 or the hd 280 , hd 203 is too far . So this is the part where i want to see some more improvements in upcoming days , i can sacrifice some sound stage for some more bass , lets see what it can do .
      Now some basics , what you want from your head/earphone ? bass ? vocals ( mid and submid clarity ) ? or highs ?
i think this hd 449 can be tuned to flex the driver in favors to these to some extend , tune it with bass by burning with bass tracks , but volume should be just below avg . hear them for 5 mins in every 2-3 hrs , or when ever you can , and never put them burn in for more then 18 hrs , for the safety of the drivers , cuz bass brings stress to them more than the mids and lower then the super demanding highs .
     never burn in with wav files of pink , brown , white noise for more then 12 hrs , for bass , try the freq sweeps , low freq sweeps , 20 , 30 , 40 , 50 , 60 , 70 , 80 Hertz for 2 hrs every day for a week . White noise is the best to burn in but that will take a toll on it if its not mixed with some thing less demanding . Like a soul song with nearly nothing in it .
      But thats how i do , and i dont like to take risks , find the way good for you or be safe and drive like me . Comments please if you guys like or dont like what i say .  Peace all over .
update 2 :- Now after 80 hrs of burn in , the only thing that improving is bass . Sound stage is supposed to grow a bit more . Mid and the highs have not changed much to write about.
        If you can get a tight seal, bass is nice and punchy, if you want more bass like from an earphone ( more bass means cracking at high volume , which , let me tell you hd 449 dont do )  try the hd 439 , 429 , 419 and let me know . One thing bothering is , its got a bit microphonics.
update 3 :- So this may be the final out come i think , its the bass that has come up the most than others . The mid is nearly the same as it was , and i cant see any change in highs ( change in highs can take more time , but i dont need it to change ) . the sound stage surprises me still now cuz its good and big and entertaining (its the most significant thing i came across cuz i didnt expected it ) . Some of my friends are saying that hd 449 is confirmed from sennheiser that it has the same driver as the hd 448 had , but still it can be differently tuned . but it can be same at some points .
         So what i have been missing is isolation . im really sorry for this mistake.
  Here are the value, hd 203 :- 7 , hd 238 :- 3.5 , hd 449 :- 5.5 .
         Hd 449 is not the most sound isolating headphone . It dont leak much but it lets in . Not bothering though .
  Sorry for this inconvenient article, so many mistakes, cant correct them all 
, harsh on eyes and your mind too, bugged with mistakes.
  Still thanks for reading. If you read.
Pros: Great highs, well-defined mids, balanced lows
Cons: Can't handle lows that well
Great for 
Pros: Light weight (compared with previous, with batteries).
Cons: High frequency/ techno vocals hurt my ears; flat/unexciting sound (missing low and mid-range?)
I just bought them (89€) and compared with my 50€ Wireless Philips... so dissapointed. With these 449 the high ferquencies hurt my ears, and the techno songs I had on my youtube playlists seem so flat. I try back with the half-of-their-price Philips and the exciting and uplifting sound comes back.
Next workday I'll be returning them.
1-No amp. Directly plugged to my macbook. That is not important: if my wireless Philips SHC5100/10 almost half-priced sound great in it, these HD449 should too.
2-Mistake? Every model of headphones have good and bad opinions, depending of the person likes and the type of music. In the shops of your city you have an isolated cabin to try the products? Great for you.
3-why roll eyes when talking about youtube playlists? I listen to the songs I like and they sound different (worse).
I am doing a moderate "break-in" as I've read in some webs (moderate volume, differents music styles, silences). If it's true, nice; if not, I lose nothing trying it, so don't blame on it.
I have found a single song that sounds great with the Philips, and when I put the 449 I find that clearly sounds worse, and the vocals and high instruments hurt my ears (yes, real). Seems that I'm not the only one with this issue with Senn HD4XX. If that does not improve in 10 days I'll return (or exchange).
Update for bonami2
"Good headphone will make youtube sound crap lol it compressed to death" --> and how does the compression make the simpler Philips sound great? Come on, man.
Also, my ears hurs after some hours; I imagine the cushion/foam needs to adapt.
Last update: finally I got Sony MDR-V55 after trying some at the audio store. That is music!!!
Actually @bonami2 could be right..
For example, paly a 1080p blueray movie and its 1080p bdrip compressed to 1.5GB on a HQ,HD 1080p screen and you will see the difference in video quality. Whereas you watch both of them on an average quality 720p screen and they will look the same..!
I think you should try them after burn in and with high quality music downloaded from a good source or a dvd album etc.
~~Dude... Have you tried the bass mode? Apparently not. You see, I had been having the exact same opinion about these, but after trying the bass mode (full mode, all 3 holes open plus the towel mode to ..cut down the bass a bit!) I LOVE them! Also have the HD-439, full bass moded them as well. If you still have them, go for the bass mode and forget about other headphones!
Oh man, i ordered the 449 and they will be delivered tomorrow. I'm gonna allow around 40 hours of break in before i decide but after reading this, i'm worried. Its not too bad i can always return them for something else. At this 80 dollar price point does anyone have any recommendations on closed back headphones? I have my HD598's at home but i want something that sounds great for out of the house.
Pros: Good isolation. Extension cable and pouch are nice touch
Cons: None so far, than again, what do I know
Just got the headphones. It took me a great deal to settle with them as these are my first headphones in this price-range.Till now I was using the HD201 headphones from Sennheiser, but wore off the last pair so decided to try out something new.
As other Sennheiser models, earcups rotate and tilt. Headstrip is padded, and adjustable in length, gives a good but not too firm grip. I have a big head and they fit me perfectly.
The earcups are oval and a bit small. It takes some time to adjust them, once there it's confy for an hour or two, but not a headphone to wear all day, not for us with big ears.

I'm not a conaisseur, so don't expect me to say things like "even frequency response" or "a bit weak in the mid range". It's ok for me.
That's where the HD 449 shines, one of the reasons I bought this one. Even when I listen to nothing, my surroundings seem like a distant place. When one talks to me, I notice it but don't understand a word. I listen on low levels, so no complains about leakage.

Mostly medium to crappy plastic, same as the cheaper HD201. But it can last. Chord going only to one side makes it easy to wear.It comes with an extension cable, without it (around 120cm), the headphone is good for use with laptops or on the street.
While giving only 3 starts it's a better headphone than any of my previous ones from the 20-30 USD range, I just am not sure what to expect for this price.
Pros: Lightweight, Neutral, Balanced, Stylish
Cons: Cheap build quality, Flat/unexciting sound, Low sensitivity, Narrow ear pads
I'll give a quick overview of my thoughts on the 449's here, but if you want a full review, you can check out a complete breakdown here:
HD 449 Review
My quick thoughts on the HD 449 is that it has a decent sound in that it's tonally accurate as it has a very neutral sound.  The bass, midrange and treble are all well balanced throughout the volume range but overall the sound just lacks that level of detail that gets you tapping your feet and nodding your head.  The one huge plus of the HD 449's is they are super lightweight.  You'll barely notice these things on your head.  To get more detailed information check out the review above, and for more headphone reviews check out my main site:
Headphone Reviews
-Amazing Mids( RIP ATH-M50)
-Great soundstage for a closed back at this price (where you at ATH-M50?)
-Very Balanced sound
-Comfort and sound signature match for long listening sessions (Grado and ATH-M50?) (though this one is faster than the HD 448 and more agressive)
I disagree on the "amazing mids" - while they are definitely not recessed like the M50's (slightly recessed) - they definitely don't have the resolution or the detail the M50's have (I had both and did SEVERAL back to backs).
- Soundstage was good, but I felt the M50's were about on par
- Yes, very balanced sound
- Comfort - no question (if your ears are small enough, which mine are). Grado's - no question, some of the most uncomfy headphones out there. M50's heavier and hotter.
M50 on par with soundstage ? have you tested it with games and movies? m50 has the narrowest sound stage at this price point
Pros: Great Clear Highs, Great Clear Mids, Excellent Clarity
Cons: Slight Bass but still Good and Better than HD 448
NOTE: Not for Bass Heads, you will not be satisfied 

How do these sound to you with electronic music
Sorry i don't listen to electronic music..maybe i'll try and write a review about it. Cheers!
First, I should note that I auditioned these both straight out of the box, without any break-in time and then later after 53 hours of break-in. Recent scientific studies have shown definite differences between new headphones and used headphones in frequency response; of course, "better" is a subjective impression outside the realm of science, but the studies confirm that reviewers are not imagining things. I heard no significant sound difference in this case, other than perhaps a little overall smoothness (so these are not phones that require major break-in to sound their best - unlike some others).

My overall impression is that the HD449's are a very versatile and enjoyable product, especially in this price range.


* Excellent midrange response - the timbre reproduction of the instruments is very good (meaning that the instruments sound close to their real life sound, if the recording is good). Not reference quality, but excellent for this price range.

* Excellent balance of bass/midrange/treble. You never get the sense that there is too much of any particular frequency, in other words, it never seems overly bright, or recessed, or overly bassy - unless, of course, the actual recording is that way.

* Classic Sennheiser easy, smooth sound, but without the "veil" often associated with that (evidently they have been working on tweaking this).

* Very good "pace" and "rhythm". A compelling dance track will get your toe tapping.

* Very good stereo imaging - especially for closed back headphones. Instruments are placed accurately from left to right, and from front to back. Depth (front to back) is not very deep, but that is typical of closed back headphones, and also hard to find in affordable ones.

* Excellent for a wide range of music types. As you can see from the tracks listed at the end, I verified that these have good sound quality with any music style.

* Relatively portable. Sennheiser seems to have this as a major design goal for this product, since it is relatively lightweight and compact for a full size audiophile headphone. It also has a single sided, short cord for use with ipod, phone or tablet (with the standard smaller plug for those), and then includes a nice 5 foot extension and 1/4" adapter for use with audio receivers. This is a much better solution that the HD202 which includes a massively long two-sided cord that is always in the way.

* Includes a cloth drawstring bag for protecting and carrying the headphones.


* Sennheiser seems to reserve the really nice earpads for the price range just above this model. These come with a practical and durable soft fake-leather material backed with a good - but not great - foam. If you wear glasses, this will be a little more apparent, since these pads don't give as well as the better quality ones found in the HD558 or RS180, and so glasses make the pads fit more poorly. Also, the better pads are more comfortable if you are listening for extended multiple hour periods. While these pads are probably standard in this price range, I would be remiss if I did not mention this factor.

* These headphones are probably unique in that they work well with any music style, but conversely, they are not outstanding with any, either. Many professional headphone reviewers advise people to get different headphones for different types of music, i.e. rock phones, hip-hop phones, classical phones, etc. So, if you only listen to one genre, then you might prefer headphones that are particularly suited to that genre. For example, while these do not skimp on the bass in hip-hop tracks, they also do not reproduce bass in the sort of quantity and impact that hip-hop lovers have grown to expect.

* The main difference that I found between these and more expensive models is a coloration of the overall sound that adds a "plastic" quality to everything. This is more subtle than what the words might indicate, and is only noticeable to someone who has heard audiophlie speakers or headphones (because most under $100 speakers or headphones have the same quality). And, of course, there is a level of detail in more expensive models that you do not get in these or other more affordable products (with the exception of a few pro products like the AKG K240 that have exceptional detail, with some other tradeoffs that make it unsatisfying for everyday enjoyment.)

Album/tracks used in evaluation:

Alison Krauss & Union Station - Paper Airplane (hdtracks)
Miles Davis - Kind of Blue SACD
Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon (MFSL CD)
N.W.A. - Straight Outta Compton (20th Anniversary)
Mozart - Violin Concertos (Marianne Thorsen) (hdtracks)
Galactic - Crazyhorse Mongoose
Mozart - Sinfonia concertante (Julia Fischer) (hdtracks)
Lil Jon - "Outta Your Mind"
Andreas Vollenweider - White Winds
Derek and the Dominos - Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs (hdtracks)
Buena Vista Social Club - Buena Vista Social Club (hdtracks)
Opus 3 Test Record "Depth of Image"

Previous headphones owned (not used in this review): Sennheiser HD590, HD518, HD424x, RS180, CX300II, Shure SE215, AKG K240DF

Equipment used: Custom built home theater PC using cPlay audiophile music player and HRT MusicStreamer II asynchronous DAC (an excellent product and outstanding value) into an Onkyo home theater receiver.
From memory, the 518 has an emphasis on lower mids which means that the treble is less emphasized relatively. To the ear, this means they are less emphasized. But the drivers are good quality and reproduce the high frequencies.
Remember also that the 518 is open and the 449 is closed. With the 518, you will hear noise around you, and others in the room will hear your music. The 449 will isolate you from sound around you, and others in the room will not hear your music.
Also, trying searching this site for "518 449" to see if anyone has compared them. Also, read the Amazon customer reviews on both.
I think that both Amazon and Headroom allow people to buy two different headphones and then return one (if done within the return period). Check their policies.
Lastly, I have not heard them, but the 558 are very popular, and include the better quality earpads.
Thanks for the excellent, impartial and thorough review. From your comments, these should be great for acoustic jazz, Coltrane et al., and classical. I've seen some negative reviews on the 449 though; I suppose those reviewers were trying to be controversial and/or noticed. Is the 449 worth the cost over the 439? I'm mostly interested in neutrality, and want nothing to do with bloated/booming disco noise.
Thanks for the excellent, impartial and thorough review. From your comments, these should be great for acoustic jazz, Coltrane et al., and classical. I've seen some negative reviews on the 449 though; I suppose those reviewers were trying to be controversial and/or noticed. Is the 449 worth the cost over the 439? I'm mostly interested in neutrality, and want nothing to do with bloated/booming disco noise.
Pros: Great detailed sound, very modern looking, good isolation, feel solid in the hands
Cons: So far not good with all genres (especially ones with electric sounding instruments), padding feels stiff
I'm not experienced in this field so I will mostly talk about the characteristics of the headphones that don't have to do with sound.  But I will still talk about the sound as best to my abilities.  I also would take my descriptions of the sound as a generalization rather than specifics because I said before I have little experience and would hardly call myself an "audiophile".
Packaging and Accessories
Comes in a simple plastic box surrounding the headphones.  Nothing to write home about.  You get a carrying bag with a pull rope to close it.  It seems to be durably made of fabric and so far has seem to make a nice plus for its portable use.  However its not a hard case, so I don't feel entirely comfortable throwing it in a backpack without being aware of what I do with that backpack.
It comes with an extension cable with a 1/4" adapter for other uses besides portable use.
The structure of these headphones are plastic.  There is some metallic material (most likely aluminum) on the cups with "Sennheiser" embedded into them.  Though it seems like it only serves a service to the looks of the headphones
They don't feel very flimsy, so they are sturdy in the hands.  They may seem flimsy but its only the cups using their adjustment abilities
The cable is just, a cable.  It hasn't tangled too much but doesn't seem tangle resistant in any way.  Not terribly durable either, I'm not comfortable with bending it in an unnatural position.
One complaint I have is that the padding is already starting to rip within the cups.  Quite a surprise.
EDIT: Accidentally dropped these from about 4' to a tiled floor.  I was expecting some kind of damage, maybe a scratch, possibly a dent.  But they seem to have made it out unscaived which was a nice surprise.
EDIT: Looks
I think I should talk about this briefly.  If you like the looks of these from the picture, you will like them even more in real life.  Very simple, yet appealing design.  The cups are simple and flat.  Very modern, not radical, looking.  Sometimes I take these off just to look at them.  I also notice people look at them while I'm wearing them occasionally, and not in a bad way.  This is a plus for some people, especially portable use.
The band won't fall and do a 180 on the floor, but I would be surprised if it couldn't extend to a pretty large head.
The cups swivel left right, and fall in and sit back.  So it should adjust to whatever shape head you have.
Now how do my ears fit inside the cups?  They aren't very shallow so the farthest parts of my ears do touch the bottom. However, they put a nice fabric at the bottom and does not bother me in the bit.  But continuing, my ears do touch the sides of the padding, which can get irritating at times.  But in general my ears are quite comfortable.
These headphones feel very light, and almost like they're not there when you wear them minus the cups.
The padding on the top band is very soft and has so far not been uncomfortable.
The padding around the ear is a bit stiff, however the headphones themselves don't apply much pressure and it doesn't feel "too" uncomfortable.  And in general the headphones themselves feel comfortable and I have fallen asleep with them on a few occasions already with no problems.
Now as far as the sealing is.  There isn't much pressure like I said, so the padding doesn't push into your head, which is a good thing sense the padding doesn't feel all too comfortable.  But they do seal completely.  The best way I can describe it is "a car door that didn't close all the way".  Its fine, it works, but it could be closed more.  However this is my head and might be different for other people.
One thing I can let you know is that several people at school have already tried these, and have all found them comfortable.
EDITS:  After going to sleep with these a few more times, I notice that the headphones tend to slip a bit off your head.  I believe this is due to the low clamping pressure in them.  These defiantly aren't for jogging/gym as I can easily shake them off my head without much effort.
I don't know if I'm adjusting to the pads or the pads are they're loosening up, but I am able to wear these for longer periods of time.  I'd say my longest (conscious) session was about 4 hours, however the padding does seem to get irritating around 3 hours.  One thing I have been doing is taking my palm and pressing on the padding about 100 times each, left and right, each day.  I'm not sure if this is causing them to loosen up, or even do anything, but they do seem more comfortable now.
The isolation is adequate.  I was in a rather chatty classroom, with about five people just a couple feet away from me, and my music was obviously the dominant sound at a regular volume.  I would have to describe my environmental sound as background noise.  You can hear it, but not notice it most of the time.  Was really happy for this as these main purpose for me were portables.
There is very little leakage.  In a silent room, people just a few feet away don't notice the noise to a bothering level.  And in a room with talking going on, it was almost non-existent.  Another great thing for me.
According to Sennheiser, the sound is identical to the HD 448's
I will say this again.  I am not very experienced with these kinds of things, but I will still try to describe the sound as best as i can.
The sound is general can be said in 4 words.  Neutral, balanced, detailed, impactful.
I really like the sound of these headphones.  The lows, mids, highs, all sound like they should as far as my experience with sound goes.  No exaggerated bass, no harsh highs, and very detailed across the spectrum. Another comment I can make is the detail.  I listen to lossless audio so the whole recording is there.  However, I have heard things that I never heard before on headphones with my current library.  In some ways its bringing a new liveliness to them.
The bass is probably my favorite part of the headphones.  I own a pair of XB500's, real bass heavy and I still listen to them.  However, the exaggerated bass in some ways wasn't for me.  The Sennheiser's bass is much different.  First off I noticed much less, makes sense its a more balanced pair of headphones.  But in genres that aren't bass heavy, such as jazz, classical, classic rock, R&B, I much prefer the bass of these.  With the XB500's the bass was rumbly and I felt like it more of an over powering kind of sound.  With the Sennheisers the bass is more of a punch, kind of "let's just get to the point" kind of bass, and hits you with the sound.  Again, I'm not very experienced with audio-reproduction technology and I'm trying to describe the sound as best as I can, but all I can say is that I really like the bass and usually leaves me with a smile because it feels like it fits into the music so well.
However, these aren't perfect.  I would not recommend these if you like to listen to genres like hip-hop, house, dubstep ect... I much prefer the XB500's for these genres for the bass that really fills in the song.  I'd say after listening to deadmau5's 4x4=12 album with the Sennheisers, everything felt empty in some way.
The soundstage is nice.  Placement of instruments is obvious, and distinction between them is great and not a "wall of noise".
As to not dig myself into a deeper whole of talking about something that I'm quite ignorant to, I'll describe a couple tracks on these from several genres.  So far I only have about 15 hours of burn in through these.
This is coming straight out of an iPod Classic 7th gen unamped.
EDITS:  As far as driving these things with my iPod, its fine.  I need to get it up to about 70%-80% volume for it to get to an normal volume.  I also noticed my iPod is drained of its batteries much faster then with my XB500's (which need the volume to be at around 50%).  However it can defiantly power them, which is what I expected since these things were meant to be portable.
I found the sound signature very different out of my laptop.  The sound card only says "Intel High Definition Audio", which from my knowledge is a pretty basic sound card that comes stock in many computers.  I much prefer the sound out of my iPod.
I Was curious and listened to lower bit rate audio.  After listening to a bunch of 128 kbps AAC they handled them nice and was not able to here the imperfections of the audio file.  This was also expected from these headphones because again, they are meant for portable use, since in general, audio files on portable devices are at a lower bit rate for space concerns.
-Adele: Rolling in the Deep:
Intro comes in really nice.  Acoustic is really settle and detailed, making a nice feeling.  Then Adele's voice comes in, sounds VERY nice.  You can hear a bit of an echo, making it sound like she's really in a room signing. Then a nice beat from the drums comes in, very nice and impacting.  Really gets your foot tapping. Then starts the chorus.  Piano feels distorted, and there is less distinction from it and between other instruments, hopefully this will improve with more burn in.  Background signers are obviously separated from Adele, drums start playing some more and are really nice and detailed.  Everything sounds nice at this point.  Then Adele yells a high note and the piano makes it sound rumbly, bad sounding at this point.  In general pretty nice sounding.
EDIT: Got some more burn in and the piano doesn't sound as bad, and doesn't mess with the sound of Adele and the other instruments as much.  But still bad.  I'd say it when from "I want to take the headphones off" to "Let's try another song".
-Cross Canadian Ragweed: Dimebag:
  Electric guitar starts out, very clear and I can actually hear it fade over the the other side of my head.  Then comes in another one, more fast paced.  Both guitars sound clear and detailed.  Then comes in the drums, you can really feel the thump, shingles are nice and clear.  Then the vocals come in and are nice and detailed and leave me smiling.  Bass guitar is really nice to hear and is really setting a nice tone.  Every instrument was clear, detailed, could hear sound I didn't hear before. Just sounded great throughout the whole song.
After hearing more from Cross Canadian Ragweed, every song sounded great.  Especially the drums.
-Ella Fitzgerald: Dream a Little Dream of Me:
Trumpet comes in leading and is very nice and detailed.  Followed by several other jazzy instruments, all have good placement.  Then Ella starts signing...WOW, really liking the sound of her this time around.  Already hearing many details I didn't notice before.  Somewhat hard to describe the change of her voice, but much better than what I've heard before.  Then Louis Armstrong comes in.  I'd say he sounds very clear, maybe not as much of an improvement in detail from before as Ella, but still a lot better.
-Elvis Presley: If I Can Dream:
Just everything left me with a smile.  Presley, trumpet, xylophone?  not sure I didn't even know of this sound before in this song, organ, bass, guitar, drums.  Everything was really clear, and just sounded excellent.
-Mozart: Horn Concerto #3 In E flat K 447 - 1. Allegro:
Lows and mids sound really nice and detailed, and highs are all crisp.  Really linking the sound of the french horn in this one.  Strings are very detailed and shine in this song.  Everything had good placement.  Can't really say anything bad as far as my limited opinion goes.
EDIT: -Paramore: Misery Business:
 then went to 
 Hayley Williams sounded great.  Drums sounded great.  Bass sound really nice.  But I think the guitar really killed this song.  It didn't sound distinctive, and messed with the clarity of the whole song at some times.  Just not what I expected.  But after some burn in it really improved.  Ended up sound good like everything else.  However, these things just really don't sound like they are the best choice for this genre.
Now to try dubstep
-deadmau5: 4x4=12:
Opening bass sounds different, not quite as smooth.  after that rises, comes in a guitar.  like the sound of it.  The bass behind it doesn't sound as powerful as it usually sounds.  Then the drops starts, everything just isn't as "I NEED TO DANCE!" as it did on the XB500's.  Though it sounds clear, I much prefer the XB's on this track.  One thing I can say though is that the bass was much more impactful.  But in general I thought the song was lacking something.
Just one last time, this is my first review, I'm no expert, I haven't tried very many headphones, to put it into perspective these are the best headphones I've listened to.  So you can tell I don't know "much".  But hopefully I can help you put a generalization of the sound and a pretty good idea of the physical headphones themselves into perspective.  Perhaps you've listened to XB500's before and can use the comparisons I made to help also.
Sturdy, decently comfortable, nice portables because of isolation/leakage, high frequencies come out clear, everything is detailed, bass is really nice and has a thump to it, not so much headphones for modern rock/bassy/electronic music.  More for classical/jazz/classic rock.
Hope this helps in some way.
@JAWM will do lol , but your review is pretty good and comparable to what others say
I'm sold on these cans now. Great review
very nyc review dude.. looking forward for more reviews..