Sennheiser HD 560s Open-Back Headphones - Official Thread

@Resolve’s video review of the Sennheiser HD 560s went up yesterday. Wish we could have kept this pair as I’m personally a fan of these over the 600 series but one day in the distant future when stock is finally available I’ll grab a pair for myself.

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Are those the same ones Oluv uses?

The in-ear mics? They’re made by the same person. I don’t know if they’re exactly the same though.

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Yeah, the in-ear mics. How would you say they will add value to what you are already doing?

They can show a difference between the GRAS pinna and my own. So this may be useful for identifying times when there’s a unique interaction with the rig that doesn’t happen when the headphone coupling is with my head (or vice versa).

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Thanks. I’ll tune in for that when you get those incorporated into your workflow.

Well it’s not for every one of them haha. It’s really more for research purposes and making sure that what does get published on the standardized measurement rig is correct. The pinna is only one part of the various gain factors, and while the rig is able to represent the rest, I don’t have the ability to put the mic right at the ear drum. So really it’s just pinna differences.

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First wanna apologize for any layout or grammatical problems. I am on business trip this week so am writing this all out on my phone, which is not as easy as some might think.

Chain: Yggdrasil GS > DNA Starlett/EC BW2 > HD560S

Build: I found the build to be pretty bad. It felt much cheaper than the HD6X0 series. The plastic felt flimsy and maybe I just have a big asian head but felt like it could snap when I don’t feel the same about my other headphones. Also the cable is meh and the 1/4 inch jack felt hollow. Pads were good and comfort was also nice due to low weight.

Sound:

Overall I found this headphone to be meh. Similar to the HD 558/598 I have tried before. Bass was just okay. It felt alittle flimsy to me, but also lacking the detail of something like the HD6XX. It neither impressed me with quantity nor quality.

Mids were good, vocals sounded realistic and present in the mix, but it felt like it was slightly washed over. Lacking deeper details overall.

Highs were elevated but not sibilant. I’m not upset with it, it added an increased sense of clarity and airiness but it felt slightly artificial.

Resolution was not on the standard of something like the HD6XX KISS. I think it wasn’t bad, but just not on the same level.

Scaling ability wasn’t there. I tried the HD560S with onboard audio as well as my “higher end” gear, and it did not scale the way a HD6X0 would. Was a bit disappointed at this.

Soundstage. I might actually be bad at telling soundstage but I felt it actually wasn’t that big. Maybe I’m just not able to discern the differences in soundstage well, but it felt like a headphone and it didn’t exactly feel wide. I haven’t heard an HD800, so when I read this was similar I expected more but I was left feeling meh. Maybe I’m just not able to tell this very well though to YMMV.

I feel this headphone is too expensive for what it is. For the price one can get an HD6XX and I found this to be much better. I don’t think this is the “giant killer” that many on youtube are touting. I think it’ll have an audience with some on the entry level, but ultimately I feel it’ll get lost to history as many headphones that are touted “giant killers” always do.

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Great writeup @dncnexus.

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Sennheiser is kind enough to approximate the quality in the product family numbers: 500, 600, and 800. Your review echoes that heuristic perfectly. Beware that some reviewers such as DMS tend to get on every hype train that comes along.

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I always find the hype behind these “entry level” cans amusing. There have to be compromises at that level (even TOTL have compromises) so swooning over something even as a a value option is something that sends up a flag for me.

I don’t think it helps those looking for entry level headphones either to make something appear greater than it is. Community reactions to these has been very muted at best. When I read the comments on some of these audio channels I am always take a aback when people seemingly use one reviewer to make a purchase decision for them.

Maybe I’m now an audiophile snob but that’s the community I’ve chosen to become a part of. I still like to think I could enjoy gear from all price brackets though. Don’t think this will be one of those products.

Nice review @dncnexus! Even better consider the UI you were using.

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Entry-level gear drives affiliate sales. Sounds harsh to say but you’re a lot more likely to sell hundreds of HD 560s through affiliate sales than you are a pair of $2k cans. Entry-level gear also tends to have a much larger reach than the more niche high-end gear so it will reach a larger audience.

Outside of reviewers though, oftentimes whatever FOTM legend killer that gets released is the first pair of “good” headphones that someone with no frame of reference buys. So to them, the headphones are the best thing in the world.

I often tune out when FOTM reviews get praise like “competes with headphones in the $1k range” . Often times the person hasn’t actually heard anything in that range and without any context it’s still useless. Does the KZ 64 driver IEM compete with the Shure SE846 in the $1k price range or the Campfire Audio Andromeda? The Thieauio Monarch is up there in that price range so does it compete with that?

It’s why most opinions on the internet that you read aren’t very useful unless you have a frame of reference behind them.

I personally found the HD 560s to be in an appropriate spot. You get pretty good sound, guaranteed warranty and good customer service (depending on who you buy from). I still stand by my original impressions as its a toss up between these and the 6XX depending on what you’re looking for.

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Agree. No issue with these cans existing and there is a market for them. I bought something similar when I first started up in this hobby but was disappointed in them as they were hyped up by whatever websites I trafficked back then. It was two years before I tried this whole audiophile thing again. The funny thing is I did quite a bit of internet research before buying them and still didn’t get what I thought they were reviewing. Hype is pervasive.

As you say context is key.

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As someone who bought Beats In-ears 9 years ago, I have fallen victim to hype buying as well.

The FOTM applies to high-end gear as well. It’s just not as accessible so generally you see less of it. But it’s just generally something that’s applicable across all hobbies and walks of life. New products can never live up to the hype they generate.

However, I realized that my bit about affiliates was a little disingenuous as it doesn’t’ take new toy syndrome into account. Because of the way Youtube as well as written pieces work for SEO, there’s a direct benefit to getting out content as quick as possible for new products, especially ones with a lot of anticipation. Reviewers are also human so it’s easy for them to get caught up in the hype train as well. A lot of time content creators will circle back on headphones later on with a bit more of a sober take on it.

On the 560s front though, initial orders have started shipping and there should be another wave mid-December. So there should be a lot more impressions / reviews out there that fall outside of the hype.

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Oh sure, you say this and it sounds (reads) just fine. I say it and I’ve got torches and pitchforks in my DMs. LOL

Very muchly right tho. Couldn’t agree more.

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Sometime we just need to launch a crusade…

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LOL, well, have fun storming the castle. I just upgraded the catapults. Haha

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Tunnels… maybe trebuchets.

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Full review published on Medium

The author:

I’m an audio engineer, music producer, musician, cat dad, and occasional gamer.

r/headphones - Sennheiser HD 560S Review — New Benchmark in Headphone Neutrality

Source

Spotify → Motu M2 (DAC)→ Schiit Heresy (AMP)→ Sennheiser 560S (HEADPHONES)

Reference Tracks

These are tracks I use to test speakers, headphones, and rooms.

SENNHESIER HD 560S

Build, Design, and Comfort

Grade: B+

The 560S feels cheap but looks sleek and ergonomic. The entirely plastic construction doesn’t scream luxury and that’s fine by me because they aren’t expensive headphones. It seems like Sennheiser set out to produce the cheapest possible headphones with the flattest possible frequency response in order to edge out the competition.

The clamp force is a little tighter than that of any other headphones I’ve used. I’ve read that the clamp force reduces over time. I remember my Sennheiser HD6XX felt tight when I first got them and now they are extremely comfortable.

The sound changes drastically depending on where my ears are relative to the drivers. They seem to sound their ~best~ when my ears are centered. If my ears are sitting towards the front of the ear cups, the sound is much brighter. Conversely, if my ears are sitting towards the back, the sound is much darker and less focused. I don’t know that this is a design flaw necessarily, but it does make me wonder if ear shape/size will influence one’s perception of the 560S’ frequency response.

Eyeglasses seem to have a small but noticeable effect on sub bass reproduction. With glasses on, the sub frequencies sound slightly less full. I avoid this issue by resting my eyeglass temples on top of headphone ear-pads like a complete maniac.

Measurements above are conducted by Crinacle and can be found via their amazing and generous free headphone comparison tool .

Frequency Response / Sound

Grade: A

These are being marketed as “reference” headphones and I think that that’s a fairly accurate label (for once). The frequency response sounds very “correct”… and unforgiving. For music production this is fantastic. If you’re an audio producer, these are going to be your friend because they will do your tracks no favors. There is no extra warmth (mid bass hump) or sparkly highs (elevated 10kHz region). Everything about the frequency response sounds, to me, flat, apart from a slight elevation around 4kHz. For everyone else from casual music listeners to ~seasoned audiophiles~… this might be cause for concern.

A lot of songs don’t sound very good. This isn’t a big problem if you’re listening to music on Apple Airpods or Dr. Dre Beatz because those headphones are tuned in such a way that potentially irritating frequency ranges are more subdued. Consequentially, they sound a little wonky and lack a lot of detail. But that’s probably a calculated decision in order to deliver the most universally inoffensive experience possible to consumers. I love my Airpods. It’s very easy to recommend Airpods because of the forgiving sound and unmatched convenience. With the 560S, Sennhesier is taking the opposite approach. It’s delivering a level of detail that we aren’t used to in headphones. If something is off about the mix, you’re going to hear it and if you’re like me, it’s going to drive you nuts. Here are a couple examples from my Reference Playlist that sound a little grating at times played through the 560S:

  • “Ordinary Pleasure” by Toro y Moi
    -vocal Sibilance around 4 kHz
  • “Shooter” by Lil Wayne, Robin Thicke
    -3:19 vocal adblid presence
  • “Frida” by Holy Holy
    4:18 synth treble around 3.5 kHz

Aside from highlighting potential harshnesses, I find the ‘reference’ tuning to be less relaxing overall — especially for longer listening sessions. The tuning of the Sennhesier HD 650 / HD 6XX sounds, to me, less fatiguing probably due to the elevated mid bass and relatively subdued 6 to 8 kHz region even though the 6XX’s bass clearly doesn’t go as deep.

Compared to the more expensive Hifiman Sundara, the 560S sounds like it lacks detail (slightly) across the frequency spectrum except in the sub bass region where the Sundara doesn’t seem to dig as deep. Listening to “Light A Cigarette” by Husky, the Sundara seems to hold on to small details in busy swelling sections (like the one at 3:30) a little tighter than the 560S can.

pictured: Sennheiser HD 560S, Crumbs

Soundstage / Imaging

Grade: A

The soundstage and imaging are both great. Both are more accurate and satisfying to me than the soundstage and imaging on the most obvious competition — Sennheiser’s own HD 650/HD 6XX. Compared to the Hifiman Sundara, I think it’s much closer with the Sundara exhibiting an arguably more exciting and enveloping sense of space.

Listening to “Jesus, She’s A Good Girl” by Andy Shauf, it’s easy to hear where the hard panned (very wide) acoustic guitars end and the more centered acoustic piano begins.

Listening to “Eat Your Heart Out” by Hungry Kids of Hungary, the separation between the lead vocal and the pool of stereo lead vocal reverb is articulate and satisfying.

Listening to “I Give Up” by Caroline Polachek, the lead vocal is stunningly intimate, maintaining a strong center image throughout as various vocal harmonies, vocal doubles, and synthesizers appear and dissapear on either side.

Value / Conclusion

Grade: A

The 560s at their current price is an incredible value. To get comparable sound out of speakers, you’d have to spend far more than $200 on room treatment alone. Speakers that cost exponentially more than $200 will not sound as accurate as these headphones. Personally, I’d take these over the currently more expensive Sennheiser HD 650 / HD 6XX because of the more elaborate soundstage and more articulate frequency response. The HD 650 has an undoubtedly more subdued/laid-back sound so it’s easy to imagine someone preferring those for casual listening. Between the 560S and the Hifiman Sundara, it’s more complicated. The 560S may be a better tool for audio producers because they do less favors to the source material. The 560S will make you work harder to create a more engaging musical experience than the Sundara because the Sundara seems to impart a little magic by default to whatever content they’re reproducing. To anyone like me on the fool’s errand of searching for a taste of ‘objectivity’ in audio, I highly recommend considering the HD 560S.

Thanks for reading.

-J

Full review published on Medium

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Great review @reallyoldcob. I like your use of test tracks to highlight any issues or give praise. It always makes it a little easier for me to picture things.

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