Right now I’m sitting at my friend Colin’s apartment with nothing to do, so I thought I would borrow his Sennheiser HD-280 PRO headphones and write a quick review. I’ve read about these headphones in the past, and they seem to get a lot of hate over at HeadFi. I’m not sure how people find time to bicker over what defines what a “professional” headphone is or how “flat” a headphone’s frequency response has to be in order to be neutral-soudning. Anyway, after listening to a few tracks through the AudioQuest DragonFly DAC, I found the Sennheiser HD-280 headphones to be pretty superb for what they are.
The Sennheiser HD-280 headphones are marketed as professional DJ and monitoring headphones. While some recommend them as a good entry into the audiophile world, detailed and revealing presentation of audio was never the number one goal with this particular product. Being closed, they definitely lack the soundstage of Sennheiser’s higher end open offerings. I think the HD-280s have a decent representation of the frequency range with a good amount of treble sparkle. The bass is well extended, without overpowering mid-bass frequencies…so good job in that department.
Due to the small soundstage, listening to classical music with the HD-280s is pretty uninspiring. On the other hand, pop and rock sounded pretty decent with these headphones. One of my favorite tracks is Daft Punk’s “Fragments of Time”, and I listen to it with every new pair of headphones I try. I really liked the HD-280’s representation of the kick drum and vocal sound. I also liked intimate vocals with these headphones. Eva Cassidy’s “Songbird” sounded fantastic, and so did “Long Time Gone” from Norah Jones and Billy Joe Armstrong.
Overall, I think the Sennheiser HD-280 is a great choice for someone looking for a closed headphone for listening to modern pop, rock, and intimate vocal music. I can see it being very useful for commuters who prefer headphones over earphones. The isolation is truly superb — I couldn’t hear people talking a few feet away from me when the music was playing. At 64 ohms, the HD-280 is also really easy to drive with any portable music player or laptop. I would not recommend the HD-280 headphones for any serious mixing and sound design, but they would be great for tracking, editing, or live monitoring.
Build Quality & Comfort
The Sennheiser HD-280 have quite a utilitarian design philosophy. They’re not flashy like the Sennheiser Momentum and they don’t have the space age look of the HD-800. They’re just basic and plain. This isn’t a negative aspect at all. In fact, I really like the HD-280’s minimal look. They’re made of thick black plastic, and they actually feel much sturdier than the HD-650s which cost much more.
Comfort is definitely a selling point. I wear glasses, and I tend to avoid headphones because of comfort issues. I had no issues with wearing the HD-280, and I had them on for about half an hour without any sort of discomfort. I wouldn’t mind using these headphones on a longer commute if I didn’t own in-ear monitors.
I didn’t spend a lot of time with Sennheiser HD-280 PROs, but I didn’t expect I would have to in the first place. I wouldn’t purchase these headphones myself for a few reasons, none of them have anything to do with how they sound.
- I already own a few pairs of in-ear monitors for commutes.
- I don’t do enough live sound to warrant purchasing closed headphones.
- I don’t do enough tracking in places that do not have headphones.
Your situation might be completely different. Due to their excellent sound isolation properties, the Sennheiser HD-280 PRO headphones are spectacular for tracking and/or commuting. Best of all, they can be had for less than $100.