Sennheiser HD438 Around The Ear Headphones (Black)

General Information

The HD 438 is part of a series of headphones designed to be an extension of consumers lifestyles.

Latest reviews

Pros: Balanced sound
Cons: Lack of noise cancellation
I have used these when doing a few sets at the uni bar,
As a quick review of these headphones:
  1. Turned up loud they rattle (foam moves about)
  2. Bass is present, and has some detail
On a DJ Deck they can handle a beating, as a night progresses you will find yourself turning up the mixer volume to deliver power that would likely blow things up. These have extremely poor noise cancellation and is an extremely poor choice if doing anything but practice or casual listening.
These things are very very comfortable, and you can listen to tracks all day without hassles.
Pros: Good sound quality, made of hard plastic does not feel too flimsy, quality bass.
Cons: Velour pads get hot, some parts fail rather quickly
These cans are definitely comfortable. They are not too heavy despite their size but they would be better suited for home use, I'll elaborate later on. The velour pads are warm and if you're living in a hot and humid climate, I wouldn't suggest these. They get really hot outside. One of these cans' strongest points is that they feel really comfortable for prolonged usage.
These are not noise-cancelling headphones. These headphones enclose your ears, blocking out some ambient noise but it is definitely not noise cancelling. These cans are hopeless on trains and other forms of public transport. I'm not sure how much they block out, but as a guide, if you are playing loud music, and you have someone shouting in your face, you can just hear them.
I suspect pleather pads would work better for attenuating noise but it has been suggested that pleather pads will make the bass bloated. 
I'm currently running it without an amp, but I'm planning to get an amp soon, so I'll update the review when the time comes. It plays fine unamped, but I'm curious as to what it would sound like amped. Extra bass? Hmm.
Edit: I didn't get an amp, I got a Sansa Clip+ instead. Much better internal amp and DAC compared to my PSP. I'm very satisfied with the purchase. 
Sound Quality
This is my first real headphones (former ones were stock Sony Ericssons/ Cheap Audio Technicas) so I can't really make a comparison in sound quality but in my opinion, they sound pretty darn good on my Clip+. My HD438s sound amazing plugged into my laptop but I say the type of music you play also determines the sound quality. I have a couple of FLAC music albums which are lossless compression formats, and the musical details can be heard clearly.
There is no hissing sound with the HD438s when I play music on high volumes, the bass is tight and punchy and not really boomy and overpowering. You can also hear the tiny little details as the sound is not too squashed together. Soundstage is average, but I would not recommend these headphones for first-person-shooter games where you need the treble to locate/position your targets. It can separate the music, bass on the left, lead guitar on the right, vice versa, etc but it doesn't give you that imaging needed for positioning in gaming.
These headphones come with 2 cables, so if one's broken or frayed, you can always switch to the other. The HD438s does not leak sound, unless the room is dead quiet, so I wouldn't worry too much about that either.
For those who are more ambitious, there was a head-fier who put up a video of himself changing the stock cables on the HD428 to Mogami cables. The HD4*8 series are built almost identical, so the youtube video might be useful for those keen on modding their cans. I included a couple of mods below in the mods section.
I've heard complaints and seen reviews on Youtube where amateur reviewers say the Sennheiser 4x8 series are of terrible build quality but this is not true. They do not look or feel as flimsy as SkullCandy headphones and the headband's hard plastic is really solid and scratch resistant. The cable is also quite difficult to detach, which is a plus for me, I don't want my cables detaching when it gets snagged on a bus seat or something.
  1. The cables are thin, but they feel rather solid. It does make a little 'friction' sound when rubbed across plastic surfaces.
  2. The plastic part of the head band that elongates are rather weak. It's not built like a tank that for sure, but I'm sure it'll do just fine in a home/outdoor environment if you don't mistreat it.
  1. The only downside to it's looks is probably the "rims". The chrome rims can get stained easily (fingerprints, etc) and they might be too flashy for some people. Some have said they look "skullcandyish". But I don't really care. The sound quality makes up for that.
Comparing the HD438 to HD418, HD428 and HD448
  1. The build quality is very simiilar with minor design changes. The HD418 have a wavy cup design and both the HD428 and HD448 feature sleek and classier designs. There is no noticeable difference in weight whatsoever.
  2. The HD438 is the only model from the HD4*8 line that has detachable cables. 
  1. The HD428 and HD448 feature pleather or plastic leather earpads, while the HD418 and H438 both feature velour pads. There are stores that sell the headphones in different configurations.
  2. I prefer pads that are velour since they're more comfortable but they can really heat up your ears. It really depends on the weather. The velour pads need to be washed since they are dust magnets.
Sound Quality
  1. I have auditioned the HD418, HD428 and HD438 for a short period of time. They are not new products and have been available for auditioning for a few months before I took a trip to the store, so they are burn-in'd.
  1. The HD418 and HD438 have noticeably more bass than the HD428 on songs such as It was written by Damien Marley and Fluorescent Adolescent by Arctic Monkeys, which are pretty bassy songs imo. The HD428 feels like it lacks the kick, but that's just my opinion. You can actually get the HD438/448 and apply the bass mod to enhance the bass.
Tape Mod ♞



This is what it looks like. [Disregard the 4 holes, that's for later] 


Step 1: Detach the ear pads from your headphones. This requires quite a bit of force.

Step 2: Get some double-sided tape and tape the sides of the circle ring as shown in the picture.

Step 3: Attach the ear pads back on, all you have to do is clip them to the tiny hooks on the edge of the oval. 

Step 4: Press the gauze of the ear pads inwards towards the drivers to ensure the gauze sticks on to the tape.


What this modification does is it reduces the vibrations caused by the gauze of your ear pads when playing music at a high volume. Personally I don't think this mod is that important (I did it anyway) but if the gauze vibrations bother you, try it. 


♞ There should be no noticeable differences in sound quality. 






The next modification requires you to open up your headphones even further. What it does is increase/decrease/tighten the bass on your headphones, depending on your preference. By default, there is a black mesh that covers three holes (iirc). This image below shows the backside of your HD4x8 headphones' driver enclosure.


Bass Mod 






Step 1: Use your fingers to locate the 4 screws hidden under the grey foam. 

Step 2: Get a Phillips screw driver and twist the screw out from above the foam.

Step 3: Once all the 4 screws are out, pull the driver enclosure out by pivoting from one end of the ear pad hooks. 

Step 4: Remove the black mesh. 


There are a couple of configurations.


Leaving all the holes (which were initially covered by the black mesh) uncovered will give you a full-blown bass. There will be lots of bass but the quality of the bass will not be as refined as it was. I suggest you experiment with the covering the holes with tape (this involves repeating steps 2-4 a couple of times) to get the best results. 


Edit 1: I covered one of the holes and the bass sounds a little tighter.


You can also try adding some deadening material in the chamber that surrounds the driver enclosure to tighten the bass, dynamat would be good for this.


Edit 2: Apparently the space in the chamber behind the driver enclosure is too small to attach dynamat or any other sound deadening material, or am I not doing it right?


♞ There is a huge difference in sound before and after this mod. 

♞ Left and right cups have different internal wirings.



Modifying tips:


☛ Place all the screws in a cup.

☛ Preferably do it on a table with a large surface area with ample lighting.

☛ Careful with wires, you might accidentally rip them loose.


I used my phone's camera to take the pics. 




sbwf mod


bass mod

Foobar Configuration
I'm using the WASAPI plugin and a preset Home Theater EQ which can be downloaded off another audio forum. 
Clip+ Configuration
I didn't rockbox the player. I listen to most of my music on FLAC or high quality AAC and on the Jazz/Rock EQ settings. 
Extra detachable cable (long)
Gold plated jack for plugging it to your stereo.
TL;DR If you're into classical music, this isn't for you.
nice, good review +1, good mod seems intresting, might try


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