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Over-Ear item created by JAWM, Jan 6, 2012
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.
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.
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.
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.
Its on the pouch provided with it.
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 )
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 .
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
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!!!
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:
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
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.