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Sennheiser HD 280 Pro Review – Great For Reference?

The HD280 Pro has been hyped by everyone and their grandma over the years, but is it actually any good?

by Stuart Charles Black

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Originally published 6/7/15.

Updates:

  • 2/23/22. Article revisit.

Greetings mate and Welcome aboard. Stuart Charles here, HomeStudioBasics.com helping YOU make sound decisions leading to a beautiful audio experience that will make you fall in love with music (NOT gear) all over again, so…

What I will bring you in this review

  1. Specifications
  2. Summary/Sound
  3. Build
  4. Comfort
  5. Mobility
  6. Pros/Cons
  7. Video Review
  8. Amp/DAC requirements
  9. Who do these headphones benefit?
  10. Consensus/Conclusion
  11. Final Word

Let’s get started!

Sennheiser HD 280 Pro

Specifications

Summary

Well, it’s been quite a while since these headphones were a twinkle in my eye. Back in 2015, I had next to no experience with cans outside of the MDR-7506 and Audio Technica ATH M50.

IIRC, the HD280 was around my third set of “good” headphones, but looking back, they were a bit of a disappointment for a few reasons. I remember being fairly underwhelmed by them when listening to music, as they sounded kind of dull to me.

It wasn’t until years later when I found out why. One look at a graph of these tells you all you need to know. Is that really something you’d want to mix or even listen casually with?

The dullness I mention? Well, it’s due to a horribly scooped out mid-range/low treble area which makes complete sense. The mid-bass? Also scooped out.

This is what I actually said in 2015:

“The low end is lacking a bit, however. Even for neutral cans, I feel like there could have been a slightly beefier bass presentation. At times the music feels a little hollow.”

I have no idea what Sennheiser was thinking when they made these, but they are definitely not something I’d ever recommend for mixing.

The worst part is that they’re actually marketed that way, which has almost become a meme at this point. Nearly every company that sells semi-to fairly well-known headphones somehow always tacks on that stupid “reference” moniker to headphones that have no business being labeled as such. I suppose it entices new people to buy things without thinking much about it.

Take it from a guy who’s mixed countless tracks over the years – the HD280 is just not something that you’d ever want to use for such a purpose.

For casual listening, they are “okay” I guess, but the sound signature is pretty lacking to put it nicely. Unless you want to fall asleep from pure boredom and are okay with strange peaks and valleys in the response, I’d stay away from these.

Build

The build seems solid enough, but don’t sleep with them on your head as the plastic on mine cracked over time. Now you may be wondering, “Why in the crap would you ever sleep with them on?”

To that I say,

I’LL ASK THE QUESTIONS AROUND HERE!!

Lol, nah.

It’s just something I used to do when I was younger. I loved falling asleep to music and the HD280 was a great companion until it decided to be a little b**ch and break.

The other thing about these is that they’re incredibly bulky and fat. If your goal is to get punched in the throat by a bully, then go ahead and walk around with them outside. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Aside from that, I could probably toss these around and they would still be okay. I never actually did, but build wise they were some of the toughest headphones I owned.

As mentioned above they are quite bulky, which sort of explains their rugged nature. They are comprised almost entirely of plastic, but it’s a thick plastic that has some meat on its bones.

It’s DUMMY THICC

They definitely feel like a solid set of headphones when you’re holding them. They also fold and contort in a myriad of ways for added durability, and prove to be very versatile in this regard.

Comfort

Comfort here is about average, maybe slightly below due to them clamping rather tight on your melon. The faux leather cup material also sweats a bit and you’ll be making semi-frequent adjustments over long listening sessions.

I don’t know if the cup material breaks down over time as the M50 and 7506 do, but leave a comment below if you have any insight into this.

Mobility

If what you’re looking for is mobility, then look elsewhere. Again, they are big and bulky and actually look kind of ridiculous/nerdy in the mirror.

Check out Alex Rowe’s hilarious Sennheiser HD 280 Pro Review (Old Model) on Medium!

The Sennheiser HD 280 Pro looks a fair bit like an old telephone receiver on your head. (Telephones are things we used to use to talk vocally with each other). It doesn’t matter though, because everything else about these headphones is completely perfect.Alex Rowe, medium.com

Lmao.

I may have considered taking them out, if not for the coiled cord. It becomes a huge inconvenience, and to be quite honest I haven’t ever worn this outside of my home, though you may. If you do, be prepared for people to look at you like you got a flower pot head kid. Lol, that was taken directly from a Wu-Tang intro.

Pros

  • Built pretty well.
  • Good isolation.

Cons

  • Scooped out mid-range.
  • Scooped out mid-bass.
  • Dull, boring sound.
  • Bulky, not great for portable use.

A couple of other potential cons that I haven’t come across, but other reviewers have:

  1. Headband sometimes prone to cracks and breakage. These were isolated cases.

Video Review

Credit to Jonathan Morrison.

Amp/DAC requirements

At 64 Ohm impedance, you will not need an amp to drive these puppies and they’re pretty efficient at around 113dB/mW

Who do these headphones benefit?

  • People who want to get bullied.

Consensus/Conclusion

A below-average set of headphones sound-wise with the rugged build as their only saving grace. There are much better options nowadays.

Final Word

If you’re looking for the best studio headphones for mixing, definitely check out my gargantuan article on what I personally believe to be the best.

 

Well, that’s about it for today my friend! I hope you enjoyed my Sennheiser HD 280 Pro Review!

Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I miss the mark on something? Please let me know down below or Contact me!!

If you love what I do here and want to support the blog and channel in a more personal way, check me out on Patreon and discover all the value I have to offer you.

What do you think about these? Are they as bad as I made them out to be? What are your favorite headphones? I would love to hear from you. Until next time…

All the best and God bless,

 

 

-Stu

[Xtr@Ba$eHitZ]

Can’t decide which headphones to purchase? Interested in a complete buyers guide outlining over 40 of the best options on the market? Click on over to the best audiophile headphones to learn more!!

Be sure to also check out my Reviews and Resources page for more helpful and informative articles!

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Sennheiser HD 280 Pro

3.15

Build

4.3/5

Comfort

3.0/5

Sound

2.3/5

Pros

  • Good Isolation
  • Good Build

Cons

  • Scooped out mid-range
  • Scooped out mid-bass
  • Dull, boring sound
  • Comfort isn't great

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2 comments

Jesse March 13, 2019 - 9:27 pm

Hey Stu,
Long time no see. Every now and then, I’ll come across the article summarizing your review and thoughts on the Sennheiser HD 280 Pro, which is a well thought out and articulate review by the way. Although I have more reverence and general usage regarding the Sony MDR V6/7506, the 280 pro have not gone by the wayside personally speaking.

I’ve both previously and currently own a pair of the 280’s. They are a very competent headphone though it’s somewhat funny seeing a rather uncolored sounding headphone sell for less compared to say an M50x or DT770. From my experience, the Sennheiser’s stack up interesting with either the V6 and 7506. While I like how the bass on the 280’s are not muddy in addition to being neutral, there are times where it’s somewhat lacking. On a sliding scale between these and the V6/7506, these may be more realistic though the V6 hits the sweet spot between being pretty neutral and not really lacking either.

The 7506’s bass is very clean though slightly hyped vs the V6 and 280. The mid-range on the Sennheiser’s is quite flat and balanced. Though, I felt there was slight clutter to vocals and instruments vs either of the Sonys. That being said, the overall body of the mids remained more preferable to the 7506 for instance. Treble on the 280’s are intriguing. They sound more realistic and extended when stacked up to the V6 and 7506. Though, there is a relative lack of excitement regarding sound signature compared to either pair of Sonys. From my perspective, the Sennheiser’s are smoother and less fatiguing than the 7506 certainly. While very precise, the 280’s don’t sound quite as knife-edge like vs the 7506 or V6. This can be both good or bad depending on perspective and application. Lastly, it would be interesting to see a comparison review between the 280’s and/0r V6/7506. Anyway, keep up the good work as always Stu.

Reply
Stuart Charles Black March 27, 2019 - 12:11 am

Hey Jesse!

Sorry for the late reply. A lot going on lately!

Thank you so much for the kind words. I agree with all of your sentiment on these headphones. Your impressions line up with mine and thought it was an excellent write up.

You’re right about the 280; it can be rather dull sounding at times and I think for me it boils down to 2 things. One is the treble like you mentioned. It’s not bad. It’s actually good and comes across in a very organic and natural way. But it sometimes lacks a bit of zest and energy. The second is the mid-bass. Looking at Ty’lls graph of the 280 makes perfect sense when I think back on my time with these headphones. I owned them at one point and gave them away. I just got super bored with them but we should also keep in mind I had them in 2015 or thereabouts when I was still kind of a bass head. I think now I’d appreciate them a lot more since I value mid-range clarity more than bass slam. I wish I had NOT gave them away because I’d have more headphones in my collection now to demo and do videos on. A couple of others I gave away were the HD201 and HD202.

You’re right about the V6 and 7506’s treble. For me it’s mostly good; I enjoy that extra sparkle although at times it can get a bit hot. Still, the V6 is probably the best overall headphone I’ve ever heard for the money or otherwise. Like you said, it strikes that perfect balance between being great for reference but also as a casual listener as well. My friend Brennan Parker from YT always thanks me for that recommendation because he says the same thing: It’s a great headphone just to kick back with even though some other people online might tell you otherwise. He swears by it in fact, that to this day he’s heard a lot of headphones but nothing really makes him want to upgrade from the tried and true V6.

I’d have to agree.

Out of all of my current crop, the V6 is one that’s staying. I would love to get my hands on a 280 again. I think it would be a great candidate for some Shootout/Comparison videos. Have you subbed my YT? I have some good stuff on there you may like as well!

Anyways, thanks for stopping by man! Hit me back up soon.

-Stu

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