Senn HD-500, the misunderstood headphone
Mar 16, 2006 at 12:32 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 3

Visigodo

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One thing that I have seen often in these boards is a lot of controversy about the Sennheiser HD-500, one of those models from the 1998 Senn line. People either loved it or hated it. And those who hated it did it with a passion.

Me? well, I can see both sides of the divide, mainly because I have actually been on both sides of the controversy. I have hated the HD-500, but came to love them in the end. Why? Because I found they are perfect for home theater usage.

I bought the HD-500 in 2002, and although it wasn't my first high-quality headphone, it was the first one I spent almost $100 on. Later I have spent much more, but at the time, it was my top expenditure on head gear. I was a bit disappointed at first because, as many have pointed before, the lows were boomy and the mid-bass was bloated. They were not very good for rock or acoustic music, but certainly were fine for electronic music, techno, hip-hop. I believe Sennheiser designed this model with the late-90s electronica crowd in mind... and it shows.

While all that was fine, the HD 500 posed a problem: I had spent all that money on a expensive headphone, yet seemed inadequate for all types of music. Still, I decided to maximize my investment and make the best off them. After all, I still think their look is quite sexy (like my HD-590; I just love that circumaural design).

I found that with some equalization, I could pretty much use them for all types of music. Of course this required that I would have to use them only with equalization (home gear, computer), but hardly with my portables.

Then I realized that they were perfect for watching DVD movies at home, particularly action movies with lots of special effects. One thing that bothered me about watching movies late at night using headphones (in order to avoid waking up the neighborhood), was the fact that I would lose all that subwoofer goodness from my 5.1 surround system. My Sony headphones (at the time) didn't quite cut it, not even with bass boost on.

Then I used the HD500. Wow!
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I certainly found their place with my home theater system. Of course, you have to use them with the bass boost OFF, but they give me those nice thuds, thumps, and kaboooms I love from my action movies in full surround. That's why I never sold them, even though I was initially disappointed by their boomy sound. (While they produce only stereo, obviously, I think they are a great alternative to watching films on 5.1 without bothering anyone or late at night). And I still think they look awesome.
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Mar 16, 2006 at 5:21 PM Post #2 of 3

Visigodo

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Just a quick clarification before anyone get the wrong idea:

the Sennheiser HD500 is NOT a surround sound headphone. It is a stereo headphone, with good sound-staging (about as good as the sound-staging of the HD-590), but with with a lot of boomy bass.

Using the HD-500 will not produce surround sound, just stereo. Ok? What I meant to say is that the extra bass in this model is very good at replicating those bass kicks that you get from your subwoofer when you watch movies in your 5.1 surround. In my Sony surround receiver it works like a charm, as long as I disable the "bass boost" mode; otherwise the bass would be too muddy.

As a matter of fact, of all the headphones I owned, this is the best one at getting that extra bass kick from surround sound DVD movies in stereo. On the other hand, that very same boomy bass does not work well various music genres, which makes this headphone not good for rock or folk. If you are into electronica/techno music and need a pair of headphones for watching DVD movies, this can be a good option (you may find it on eBay for less than $40).

PS: It also helps to improve the sound of the HD500 to remove the very thick foam padding they put on top of the drivers. The highs improve considerably, and the bass becomes less boomy when you remove that thick padding.

Hope it helps.
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Mar 16, 2006 at 11:08 PM Post #3 of 3

catscratch

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I also had these for a while. Honestly, I'd much rather listen to KSC-75's; they blow the HD500 away at a fraction of the cost. I like the design of the HD500, and as a gaming headphone it has pretty good positioning. It's comfy and reasonably easy to drive. But, that's the sum total of all the nice things I have to say about it. They certainly have a lot of bass for movies, but it's mostly midbass.

Now, as to the HD590, now there is a headphone for movies! Solid bass thump and all the detail you could wish for.
 

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