Senn HD280PRO vs Beyer DT250-80 (long)
Sep 14, 2002 at 5:37 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 20

RunsWithScissors

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Hi Everyone,

This is my first post here and I've been lurking for quite a while doing research to find some cans for use mainly at work. I realize this topic has been covered already but I would like to add my impressions to the mix and hopefully return a little something to this community who has unknowingly helped me quite a bit. Sorry for the novella which follows...

Executive summary:
I compared the senn HD280PRO to the Beyer DT250-80. Both are closed designs and are capable of being driven without an amp from most sources. Perform a search and you'll come up with full specs if you wish. Both cans were purchased new with the intention of keeping only one for casual listening at work and at home. I'm not a DJ nor do I intend to create any mixes.

I ultimately liked the Beyers better and returned the Senns. If you care to know why - Abandon hope all ye who enter here...

I feel that it is important to state that I purchased the Senns based on my research on this forum, head-wize, headroom and outside reviews (google search turns up a few). I did not place the information I gathered in the proper context and I hope to remedy that in this post for others who are trying desparately to do so for themselves. What I mean by this is that while many reviews of the Senns actually stated that these cans were good for DJ'ing and mixing and were very 'analytical' and 'flat' I did not let this sink in thoroughly. While these are all qualities that may be desirable for a set of cans which are to be used for DJ'ing or mixing they may not lend themselves to allowing the casual listener to simply enjoy music - good and bad recordings and less than ideal sources must be factored in. Then again, they may be just what you are looking for in your headphones for the way you enjoy listening to music. Just keep this in mind as you read this and other posts.

The best advice I can give anyone (on this comparison or any other you read) is to try to place everything in context. It helped me to try to identify with the postors and find similarities in musical taste, sources, application, and if possible any other non-tangible preferences that are otherwise highly subjective and very personal. Use the info as a foundation and then go out and TRY them yourself. If you can't audition before buying, then buy from a vendor with a good return policy such as headroom.

You just have to try them for yourself to form your own opinion and see if they suit your needs. This is paramount with audio IMO so please take this info I present for what it's worth, my opinion alone. Anything said here is neither right nor wrong - it is my opinion and you are entitled to agree or disagree. I only hope that this helps some people in their own quest to find some headphones to suit their needs by identifying similarities between their needs and experiences and mine.

Getting down off my soap box here are my impressions of two headphones:

I set out to fill the following wish list:
pricepoint $100 or less
easily driven by portable, or computer soundcard without an amp
comfortable for extended periods
isolation - block outside sound and not disturb my neighbors in the cube farm

The last point on isolation came about as I was fortunate to be able to audition a friend's Grado SR-80. The Grado SR-60 and SR-80 were on my short list and the 80's sounded great to me but they leaked too much sound and did not block outside noise because they are an open design. This sound leakage ruled them out for my use at work. I had no real issues with comfort as have been raised here by some but this is highly subjective as is preference for the way any set of cans sound to you. Closed cans became a prerequisite but Grados may be in my future for use outside of work - nice cans.


After reading everything I could find here on numerous searches I came up with several cans to compare and choose between:
Senn HD280, Sony V6, and somewhat beyond my price range - Beyer DT250-80.

All posted information indicated that the Beyer's would be a good match for me but I could not overcome the $$$. This is my first set of decent cans and my sources are far from ideal so I did not want to break the bank.

I chose the Senn HD280 and found them on-line for $76USD so I bought them.

I burned them in for 50+ hours and listened to a wide variety of material including alternative rock, classic rock, classical, classical guitar, and jazz.

My sources included a portable (RioVolt with commercial CD and high quality MP3CDs), computer soundcards (Aureal and crappy Dell laptop soundcard - the worst source tested), Denon AVR-3300 home receiver. I did not have access to any amps so none were tested.

Sound:
The Senn HD280 were very detailed and analytical. The bass was not as deep as I would have liked even after burn-in. These cans really put details 'in your face' whether you want them or not. They reveal bad recordings and are not at all forgiving. They are pretty flat in their response on good recordings but again, they put every detail in your face. I found it very hard to get involved in the music and enjoy it. I found myself being drawn to details and imperfections and this ultimately detracted from my enjoyment with these cans. They would indeed be good for mixing but for my intended use they were not a good fit. This was compounded by the sources I used though good recordings with my Denon recvr were not as grating as the bad recordings it was still hard to relax with these cans.


The Beyer DT250-80 are another story. These cans are colored in their presentation and lean towards warmth (read bass). The bass was deep right out of the box and these cans like to rock. Many people have said that the highs are a bit rolled off. I mainly agree but would like to spin this by saying that the highs are definitely present but they are just not in your face like they were with the senns. There's plenty stated on this aspect of the DT250s so I won't beat a dead horse. Ultimately, I found the Beyers much more involving and enjoyable. They were a bit more forgiving with non-ideal recordings and had me toe-tapping and head-banging. I really *felt* bass with these cans and the mids and highs were quite pleasant.

Comfort:
This was the deal breaker where the Senns were concerned. I have a pretty average size/shape head and avg size/shape ears but the top headband on the Senns was extremely uncomfortable for me. After about half an hour I felt like someone had hit me with a ball-peen hammer on top of my head where the headband rests. I contemplated making some padding mods as MagicThyse described but decided it was not worth it. The earcups were very roomy (deep cups w/pleather pads) and the clamping force was kind of high (as in tight fit) but this could be alleviated by stretching the headband and probably contributed to the Senns excellent isolation. They blocked more sound than the Beyers and put you in your own little world at least in my office environment. I also could not hear my phone ring (not sure if that's good or bad
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).

The Beyers were very comfortable to me. The headband was not a problem at all and the cloth/velour pads were nicer IMO than the Senns' pleather. It might be worth noting that while the pads were about the same size on each can, the Senns were deeper and the inner diameter was bigger so there was lots of room for my ears in the Senns. With the Beyers I could fit my ear inside the pad but it was a snug fit since the inner diam was much smaller. I've heard you can use Beyer pads on the Senns if anyone has an issue with the pleather or just prefers cloth. The Beyer's also did not clamp as tight on my head.

Build Quality:
The Senns gave me the impression that they were built better. Both cans are all plastic so take this for what it's worth...the fit and finish was clean on both but the Senns just felt more solid. They were also a bit bigger and heavier so perhaps that biased my opinion. Both cans seem durable and can take some abuse. Only time will tell for me. The Senns allow you to replace most of the parts including the cord but you need a screwdriver to do so, while the Beyers have a detachable cord with pin connector. The Senns' earcups rotate to lie flat and also allow you to monitor with one ear easily, while the Beyers' cups are fixed - one of the only things I don't like about the Beyers and wish they had this feature of the Senns. The Senns also fold but the final package is not appreciably smaller than unfolded.

Amp'd or un-Amp'd:
I only tested un-amp'd but did notice that the Beyers were harder to drive by both my portable and soundcard. My portable handles them and my work computer strains.

Final Result:
Keeping the Beyers sending the Senns back. I did not intend to spend as much as I did in buying the Beyers but after my experience with the Senns I had to make another purchaes. I am pleased with the Beyers and will probably have them for a while which should justify the expense (until my next upgrade but then you guys have no idea what I'm talking about do you
wink.gif
).

An amp is probably in my future - any suggestions for a good pairing with the Beyers?


Last words of advice - Don't buy some headphones just because someone tells you they sound the best (not even me
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). Don't be too quick to assume that someone elses opinion is better than your own. Try to identify with someone making a recommendation to you that listens to similar music, has similar sources, is looking for the same things from their headphones as you are.

Many thanks to a long list of Head-Fi members who have helped me (I use 'he' and 'she' loosely as I don't "know" anyone here yet just the usernames):

Snufkin - "Stick a pair on your head, sit back, relax and enjoy the music - that's how the DT250s work "- best description/advice I found and his comments on the Beyers lead me there and I'm pretty happy

Flasken, meithkiller, elnero, Alan, delenda est Sony, and blr for reviews (that I found) and good info

Macdef, HighwayStar, Kelly, kwkarth, Audio&Me for great info and objectivity.

MagicThyse for opinions against hd280s and speaking his mind

I'm leaving out a bunch of people that helped me through their posts and of course thanks to Jude.


That's all I have to say about that
smily_headphones1.gif
 
Sep 14, 2002 at 5:56 AM Post #2 of 20

Snufkin

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Nice read and glad I could help
smily_headphones1.gif


I'm always surprised when I find people who agree with me as I often find myself thinking I'm the only person who hears or sees things the way I do
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Quote:

The bass was deep right out of the box and these cans like to rock. Many people have said that the highs are a bit rolled off. I mainly agree but would like to spin this by saying that the highs are definitely present but they are just not in your face like they were with the senns.


While I can't really speak for the HD280pros, that is exactly the way I find the 250-80s, the high end is definately detailed if you want to hear the detail. It's the extra peanuts that are availabile for no extra charge if you ask for them. Sometimes you want extra peanuts, sometimes you don't
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In terms of amp combinations - I found both the X-Cans and Creek OBH-11 work well with the 250-80 and neither will break the budget. Hopefully I'll get to hear some portable/kit amps in the future as I think the 250-80 does very well without amplification, but a little nudge in performance is always nice
smily_headphones1.gif


FYI; if you find the coiled cable to be a nuisance you can get a straight cable to replace it.

And btw, sorry about your wallet
very_evil_smiley.gif
 
Sep 14, 2002 at 6:05 AM Post #3 of 20

radrd

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Outstanding first post!

I've been here a while and I haven't contributed anything this significant.
redface.gif


I wonder if the Beyer would be considered to have exagerated bass, or if the Senn would be considered bass-light?
confused.gif


Either way, I would like to hear the Beyer because I like bass. However, I have a feeling I would end up keeping my HD280 Pro. I really like the analytical sound.
smily_headphones1.gif
 
Sep 14, 2002 at 6:43 AM Post #4 of 20

BenG

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Quote:

Originally posted by RunsWithScissors
Hi Everyone, Sound:
The Senn HD280 were very detailed and analytical. The bass was not as deep as I would have liked even after burn-in. These cans really put details 'in your face' whether you want them or not. They reveal bad recordings and are not at all forgiving. They are pretty flat in their response on good recordings but again, they put every detail in your face. I found it very hard to get involved in the music and enjoy it. I found myself being drawn to details and imperfections and this ultimately detracted from my enjoyment with these cans. They would indeed be good for mixing but for my intended use they were not a good fit. This was compounded by the sources I used though good recordings with my Denon recvr were not as grating as the bad recordings it was still hard to relax with these cans.


The 280s have a sort of "fake" detailed quality in the higher highs to me, no matter the recording, source, or amp. They have this sort of hard and plasticky sound up there.
 
Sep 14, 2002 at 7:12 AM Post #5 of 20

MacDEF

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RunsWithScissors: excellent Head-Fi debut!
biggrin.gif


Your comments are dead-on in my opinion -- you hit both headphones' pros and cons extremely well.

And FYI:

Quote:

The Senns' earcups rotate to lie flat and also allow you to monitor with one ear easily


/me picks up his HD 280... "well I'll be darned."
biggrin.gif
I didn't even realize that -- thanks!
 
Sep 14, 2002 at 8:15 AM Post #6 of 20

Magicthyse

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Thanks for a great review. Which incidentally has more disclaimers than any other review I've seen
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>Try to identify with someone making a recommendation to you that listens to similar music, has similar sources, is looking for the same things from their headphones as you are. <

I think this is the hardest thing to do here. I do take a peek at profiles, and try and take in whatever info they've put there, but some people have profiles, others don't and don't mention preferences in the message. Update your profiles, gents...

MacDEF - FYI, although the cups on the 280's do reverse for single-sided monitoring, due to the ovoid shape of the cups you're limited to holding the phones in a certain way. I think that's the reason why many popular DJ phones have round cups.
 
Sep 14, 2002 at 3:55 PM Post #7 of 20

M.Sensation

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Quote:

Originally posted by Snufkin
FYI; if you find the coiled cable to be a nuisance you can get a straight cable to replace it.


Quick Question.
Is this an aftermarket replacement cable (like the cardas, equinox, etc for hd600) or is it just a straight replacement cable from Beyer? Is there such thing as an aftermarket replacement cable for these headphones or has no one really bothered?
 
Sep 15, 2002 at 2:10 AM Post #8 of 20

RunsWithScissors

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Thanks for the kind words. You guys really helped me out so I'm just trying to return something to the community.

radrd - don't be so modest. I've read a number of your posts that I found helpful and insightful. Keep it up!

I re-read this just now and actually thought I rambled a bit but it was about 1:30am when I posted this so maybe that's a good excuse.

I sent back my Senns today and am listening to the Beyers with no regrets (except maybe my wallet
wink.gif
).

I didn't really intend so many disclaimers but rather some advice to nOObs like me. I bought the Senns sight unseen (sound unheard?) based on recommendations and while they are good cans, they simply didn't meet my needs as well as the Beyers. After the Senns proved a bad match for me I searched all over again and reviewed a bunch of posts over and over and found that if i could identify with the reviewer, that their experiences and opinions might better match mine and it looks like I was right. This is difficult to do as Magicthyse states - took me a long time to figure this out.

Now if I can just repeat this for an amp (prolly DIY) I'll be all set. Gotta first figure out how to use the word 'headphones' in a sentence without the word 'divorce' coming up - he he
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Here's a question that may be a bit off topic and better suited to the Amp forum but here goes anyway - sorry if this is a breach in etiquette...

...in a post in the Amp forum Audio&Me stated the following:

Quote:

Originally posted by Audio&amp;Me
I do not recommend the META42 for Beyer DT 250-80, the headphones simply cannot keep up with the speed of the meta. Also, the light body of the amp does not mate well with the heavy nature of the beyers, it sounds hollow. Although I only listened to the Corda HA-1 on an unfamiliar system, I think this would be the amp of choice for the 250-80. Granted the Corda is more expensive, but if you have no plans on getting better headphones, I say get a Corda.


Can anyone comment on this? There seems to be a lot of self perpetuating hype about META42 amps from many who have never heard them first hand but only read rave reviews from others. I am impressed with the META42 reviews and am seriously considering commisioning a custom build and would appreciate comments on pairings with the Beyers.

Anyone got any opinions in addition to Snufkins very helpful comments?
 
Sep 15, 2002 at 2:37 AM Post #9 of 20

Snufkin

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Quote:

Originally posted by M.Sensation
Quick Question.
Is this an aftermarket replacement cable (like the cardas, equinox, etc for hd600) or is it just a straight replacement cable from Beyer? Is there such thing as an aftermarket replacement cable for these headphones or has no one really bothered?


It's a straight replacement cable from Beyer
smily_headphones1.gif

I don't know of any after market cables.
 
Sep 15, 2002 at 6:17 AM Post #10 of 20

mnemonic

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Quote:

After about half an hour I felt like someone had hit me with a ball-peen hammer on top of my head where the headband rests.


That's actually exactly what happens to me with the DT250-80's on my head. Shifting the headband a bit usually gets rid of it for a while. Otherwise though, I am very happy with them.
 
Sep 15, 2002 at 8:12 PM Post #11 of 20

RunsWithScissors

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Quote:

Originally posted by mnemonic
That's actually exactly what happens to me with the DT250-80's on my head. Shifting the headband a bit usually gets rid of it for a while. Otherwise though, I am very happy with them.


just to be clear - the discomfort I described applies to the Senns HD280. I did not personally have the same discomfort with my Beyer DT250-80 and found them much more comfortable.

Sounds like comfort can be a very individual kinda thing.

more comfortable + sounds better = enjoy music (beyers)
 
Sep 16, 2002 at 1:49 PM Post #12 of 20

elnero

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RunsWithScissors,

Excellent review! I'm glad to hear that you've found a can to make you happy. I've never had the opportunity to try the Beyers although I hope to soon. Where I live there is no such thing as decent audio equipment for sale but my wife and I are going on vacation to visit relatives in Ontario so maybe I'll get a chance to audition a pair while I'm there.

I can fully understand your opinions of the 280's. To be honest I feel that sometimes the highs can get really out of hand as well. I don't tend to fault the cans so much as the recordings and equipment, the 280's just don't have much in the line of forgiveness. When I first tried them it was with my wife's Sony D-EJ621 discman and I really liked them alot. At work through the computer with mp3's I sometimes feel the highs need to be tamed a bit. On the other hand I've had sometimes I've been able to reeaally get into the groove with them at work.

I just got a Sony D-25S last week. Initial impressions are more overall extension in both the lows and the highs than my wifes discman which tends to show the hardness in the highs in a different manner. (hmmm, I wonder if this hardness is the same plasticky quality BenG describes) I've been in the midst of a move so I haven't had a lot of opportunity to test this further though.

Your now the third person that I can think of that has had comfort issues with the 280's. I'm starting to wonder if my smaller than average head has something to do with this. Alot of headphones with the Beyer type headband are too big for my head so maybe that's why I don't find any real problem with them.

I also just got a pair of HD580's for home use and find them quite different. While there is a family resemblence in the sound it is alot less than with other Senns I've heard. The 580's are quite laid back and darker sounding. At first I didn't like it but after more listening I really started to get into it. There is alot of detail to be had from the 580's it's just in a different package. Overall I like both, the 580's are more laid back and relaxed while the 280's are more forward and boppier if you will.

I'm also planning on getting a CMoy from JMT in the very near future (Due to a spur of the moment move, finances are a bit limited at this time or I would be getting a Meta42) I plan to do a further review and comparison between the 580's and 280's once that arrives.

Anyhow sorry I'm rambling here, really I just wanted to say thanx for the great review and I'll now have to find a shop in Ont. when I'm there that carries the Beyers so I can try em out.

Phil
 
Sep 17, 2002 at 1:17 AM Post #13 of 20

RunsWithScissors

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Glad I finally have something to offer with my impressions of these phones.

I found your posts on the 280s during my initial search and they were very helpful. I just didn't luck out with a good match.

I'd be interested in your review of the 580s compared with the 280s. It would help if you filled in more info in your profile so others could see your taste in music and your equipment too.

Where'd you score a Sony D-25S? Aren't these tough to find? Is it what you hoped it would be?

I'm toying with the idea of getting some more stuff but not until I get over the shock of my headphone purchase which went well beyond my original budget. I'll eventually get a DIY amp (built for me rather than me building it) though I'm not certain what is the best pairing with my Beyers yet. So much hype about meta but I'd really like to hear from more people who have listened to a meta themselves (instead of just read about it) AND listened to it on the Beyer DT250. I may also get an ipod or slimX if I find lots of extra $$$ anytime soon but I'll prolly have to get by with present sources for the near term.

Thanks again for the kind words.

I'm very happy with my new phones but I'm not so sure that I'm all that happy about finding this forum
rolleyes.gif
. It's kinda like getting a free sample of a highly addictive drug and now I've just begun dipping into my wallet to fuel my habit
eek.gif
 
Sep 17, 2002 at 1:33 AM Post #14 of 20

Snufkin

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Quote:

Originally posted by RunsWithScissors

I'm very happy with my new phones but I'm not so sure that I'm all that happy about finding this forum
rolleyes.gif
. It's kinda like getting a free sample of a highly addictive drug and now I've just begun dipping into my wallet to fuel my habit
eek.gif



*evil laugh*

Welcome to head-fi, sorry about your soul... er... wallet!
very_evil_smiley.gif
 
Sep 17, 2002 at 1:40 AM Post #15 of 20

RunsWithScissors

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Snufkin - I hold you responsible as one of the main pushers for the drug known as Beyer (and I ain't talkin bout the apirin)
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