Saturday, December 29, 2012

Sennheiser HD-280 Headphones Review

I was looking for affordable headphones for personal listening while traveling that could also be used for work in the studio and in the field.  I purchased the HD-280's after several months of research, and I am extremely happy with my purchase... so much so that I will be outfitting the studio with several more pairs.

413dm8SG1nL._SY300_Most of the headphones I own are for "professional" application, and thus require more power to drive the speakers. At 64 ohms, these cans are easily driven by my iPod and sound great without requiring a headphone amp.

There are a lot of reviews regarding the sound of these phones, so I'm not going to spend a lot of time on audio "flavor."  The HD-280's are nice and flat --minimal audio coloring, which makes them perfect for a studio tracking situation.  There is plenty of bass, but they aren't bass heavy. After a lot of research, I don't think there is a pair of headphones out there that can stand up to the "true" audio quality of these phones at this price point.  They could be used for mixing in a pinch, though I will always use a higher quality set of headphones for mixing (I rarely mix with headphones, but for reference, when I do I use Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO’s at 250 ohms).

For tracking, the HD-280 can't be beat.  And at under one hundred dollars, there is no question that these are the most affordable, quality option for outfitting a studio.  However, even if I had unlimited money, I can't imagine purchasing anything but these in quantity.  The attenuation is fantastic (they are tight to the user's head and leak almost no audio), and I get little to no audio bleed even when tracking super-close vocals.  While they *can* take a lot of abuse, at this price, they are practically disposable (even though the ear pads, cord, and headband pad are easily replaced), so I don't have to get so testy with the jackass lead guitar player tossing them on the floor after a session. [smile]

Because of this fantastic attenuation, we will also be using these to record audio in the field for film and video applications.  I first received these while on vacation, and I was actually using them NOT PLUGGED IN to simply create silence.  They are on par with the ANSI ear protection I use while working in the woodshop.

The coiled cord will keep the cord alive longer, but it is a little annoying because of its weight. If one is not careful, they will also tangle more easily than a straight cord. I will likely explore options for a straight cord, especially when using these while traveling.

The cord is made to be easily changed, and the included instruction manual has clear and specific instructions for how to do this.  However, it's not as easy as simply unscrewing or unplugging the cord (my Beyer-Dynamic DT-150’s have a 6 pin connector you simply unplug); you need to take apart the housing of the left speaker and unplug the cord from the inside.  There is no soldering involved (the end of cord plugs into a spot on the inner board), and the entire process should only take a couple of minutes.

There seems to be a lot of disagreement as to whether these phones are "comfortable" or not.  I chose to ignore the people complaining that they were uncomfortable, even painful, after about an hour of use and decided to take a gamble.  Due to the tight compression of the pads against the head, the complainers were right.  While I don't think my ears stick out abnormally far, I do find that the inside of the headphones (the speakers) press up against the top of my ears, so I do need to take a break every once in a while.  I would say this is simply the price of such a tight seal against the head (and worth the trade).  It's actually also a good "timing device" to remind the user to take a break every once in a while; when they start to get uncomfortable, it's probably time to give your eardrums a break anyway.

I will eventually have to purchase more appropriate "personal travelers" that are a little more comfortable (lighter, less pressure on my ear tops), but for now these are fine --I just have to give my ears a chance to breathe a little more often. They definitely aren’t the best choice for traveling phones (too heavy, too bulky). Perhaps the "in-ear" options can never be beat for this reason (weight, comfort, and size).  Luckily these will continue to fulfill a role in the studio and in the field, so I don’t need to worry about buyer’s remorse regarding personal headphones.

The padding is leatherette (like all of my Beyer-Dynamics) and will likely need to be replaced after a couple of years (I recently had to replace my DT-150 pads), but due to the popularity of these headphones the replacement pads are readily available (have been for years, and likely will be for many years to come).  The padding for the headband is made of the same material, and also readily available.  There is a "Ziploc" type fastening system that runs the length of the entire headband (on top) for easy and secure fastening.

I love that the speakers are rotatable 90 degrees.  They lay flat on the table when you set them down, and you can solo one side or the other (though they don't flip 180 degrees as some reviewers have suggested so you have to pull them away from your head a good deal to do this).

While they don't get "tiny," its nice that these full-size headphones can collapse to about the size of a 750ml bottle of Crown Royal (though I prefer Pappy Van Winkle bourbon).

1 comment:

Unknown said...

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