I’ve said this a few times in some of my other articles, but I wish I hadn’t given away the HD 280 Pro in retrospect. It’s always nice to have a healthy headphone collection, for the purposes of comparing and just keeping your impressions of a particular sound fresh.
It’s much easier to do a comparison when you already have one of the headphones on hand. Especially if you’re struggling financially and can’t really afford to splurge on headphones all the time.
That said, while I did sell the HD 280, my 7506 broke but it wasn’t the headphones fault. It was my fault.
You see, I used to be a “passionate” Call of Duty 4 player, and very immature in my younger years. Well, I had a bad match and, yeah you know the rest.
To this day I still feel like crap for breaking it, as it was my very first audiophile headphone and was purchased on the basis of many hours of painstaking research.
The 280’s build is very solid considering it’s made of all plastic. The difference here is the weight and thickness of the plastic. It feels rugged if a bit on the bulky side. It’s a harder type of plastic that will hold up pretty well over time.
The ear cups as well as the headband padding are both made of faux leather, and it doesn’t seem to be the type to crack and peel like the padding on the 7506.
One of the most irritating aspects of the 7506 is its propensity to flake and peel over time, leaving these ridiculous small specks of black everywhere. In your ears, on the floor, etc.
Fortunately, the cups can be replaced, but it’s still kind of a hassle. Expect this to happen around the 1-2 year mark of heavy use. If you don’t use them every day, it will take much longer for this issue to set in.
For instance: I own an MDR V6 right now, and I’ve had it since 2017. Because I have other headphones at my disposal, the ear cups on it are still fully intact.
The 7506’s build is by contrast flimsier, but not any less durable. It’s smaller and more compact than the 280 and is still made of mostly plastic. The plastic does not feel as rugged as a 280, but it does have metal for the headband adjustments which I’ve always enjoyed.
There’s less headband padding on the 7506 as well, and the actual material is stitched inside the headband.
The clamp on the 280 is similar to an HD600 in that it really hugs your head hard at first, but it’s more snug than uncomfortable. I really enjoy the seal on the 280. It tends to isolate sound very well.
By contrast, the 7506 clamps a bit lighter, but the headphone is also kind of a cross between a Supra-Aural (On-Ear) and Circumaural (Around-Ear) fit. It’s not quite either. It sits somewhere in the middle, while the 280’s cups fully engulf your ears.
Both terminate in a 3.5mm jack and come with a 1/4″ adapter.
To sum up, the 280 will feel bulkier and is bigger both in weight and appearance. The 7506 is much more compact, though both do fold up.
The difference here is that the 280’s cups can rotate around horizontally while the 7506’s cannot. Both headphones’ cups can however rotate vertically.
The coiled cable on both the V6 and 7506 has always annoyed me. With heavy use, it will start tangling in on itself and become kind of a pain actually. This and the flaking issue are my only complaints, but I do tolerate them both because of the sound.
The 280’s cable is also coiled, but it’s less prone to tangling and seems more rigid, stiff, and less apt to contort into knots as soon as you turn your head. 😛
BUILD WINNER: DRAW
There’s nothing inherently better about one or the other. They both hold up very well over time. One thing to note is that my 280’s from around 2015 did crack, but I slept with them on so there’s that. 😛
The comfort here is very good. As mentioned before, the clamp is nice and isolates well. As with most headphones, you will notice some fatigue but I think the 280 circumvents this issue and you’ll be able to keep one on your head for quite a while before an adjustment is needed. They hug your head quite snugly, but it doesn’t feel like a vice grip which is always nice.
The 7506’s comfort isn’t bad, but because it’s kind of not really an On-Ear or Around-Ear, the padding will dig into your ear lobes and leave marks and stuff. Not only that, but it will hurt a little. Some adjustments are needed at various intervals throughout your listening session.
I don’t find this a deal-breaker because I love the sound so much, but it’s something to keep in mind. The 7506 will dig into your head a tad as well, but it’s a relatively minor issue.
The sound of the 280 is extremely neutral, some would even say kind of dull. This is a studio headphone above all else but can function as your casual listening headphone depending on the kind of sound you prefer.
Fortunately, there isn’t too much in the way of bass roll-off, so you can enjoy these for Hip-Hop, Rap, etc. Even so, around 60Hz it takes a weird dip. This could explain my indifference toward the headphone (in part).
I just find them kind of listless sounding at times.
The mid-range is very very good however and has a nice amount of presence. There’s a small bump at 1k, and then it kind of trails off after 2k leading into the treble. Check out Tyll’s Sennheiser HD 280 Pro Measurement!
There’s another peak at 9k which is fairly standard, but it doesn’t sound sibilant really. I would classify this headphone’s top end as fairly even sounding. It’s not dark, but it’s also not that bright.
This is another reason for my indifference. I can’t really decide if I like it or hate it.
Overall, the headphone is relatively flat so it will work tremendously well for mixing/mastering/reference and general studio work and/or tracking, etc.
The MDR 7506 has a similar sound signature, with a somewhat less pronounced dip around 200-300Hz. It’s also brighter sounding than a 280 in the treble to be sure.
As much as I love both the 7506 and V6, both can get a tad hot at times. I wouldn’t really label it sibilance though. It’s more just maybe too much sparkle. What does Sibilant mean?
Still, the overall sound of the 7506 is phenomenal, with a fantastic mid-range and just enough bass for my taste.
This headphone was my primary mixing can from around 2011-2012. I spent almost every day that year mixing beats on nothing but these and a laptop. Some good mixes came out of it, and I still have a lot of my work on Soundcloud if you ever care to listen.
I would say the bass on the 7506 rolls off more than an HD 280 Pro, but there’s more mid-bass emphasis on the 7506.
As far as Imaging goes, both won’t wow you with regard to Soundstage, but both do have very good instrument separation. Just don’t expect a lot of width here although both have some nice depth to the sound. You will start to hear more subtle details in the mix which indicates a clear step up from the Drug Store Homie Headphones.
This is one of the first things you’ll notice when you take that step up to around the $100 mark; the quality jumps exponentially. Most regular folks wouldn’t dream of even spending a Benjamin on headphones, but thankfully we’re not losers like them.
Imaging, clarity, dimension, and spacing all take a gigantic leap forward. Sort of like when we “allegedly” landed on the moon. 😛
SOUND WINNER: MDR 7506
There’s just something more crisp and lively sounding about the 7506 that I prefer over the 280. Your mileage may vary depending on the type of sound you prefer. The darker sounding treble may be off-putting to some people as well as that mid-bass dip that sounds kind of awkward the more you listen to the headphone.
I scoured my old photos and this is really the only one I have of the HD 280 when I still owned it. Unfortunately, I never took any pictures of the 7506 because it was such a long time ago and I didn’t even have a website at that time. 🙂
Stay tuned though! I will be adding pictures as soon as I can get my hands on both pairs again.
Will you need any amplification?
Both the 280 and 7506 do have a somewhat higher impedance than your average dollar store headphone, but even at 60+ Ohm, neither will resist power all that much. They both also have a Sensitivity over 100dB, which basically means they are very efficient on their own and don’t need much power from an Amp to reach acceptable volume levels. What is Sensitivity in Headphones?
Now, while an amp isn’t necessary per se, it can help improve sound quality. The key here is to not go overboard and buy a $15,000 Chord Dave for a $100 headphone. That’s an extreme example, but you get the point.
It provides about 613mW at 33 Ohms. Yeah, way more than you’d ever need for either of these. The reason I recommend it is that it’s a perfect desktop solution that will be a mainstay for years to come. You’ll upgrade headphones, but the Objective 2 will always be serviceable and in fact, can drive just about any headphone.
I would focus on lighter genres for the 280, but it can work with bass heavier stuff. Just be aware of that mid-bass and its propensity to sound a bit off.
The thing about mid-bass is that it’s really important. It gives the sound life and the bass its thump, but most headphones tend to over-exaggerate it. The 280 takes a radical approach and tries to make it sound a bit more subdued, but I’m not entirely sure it works that well.
You can comfortably pair the 280 with just about anything and it will sound pretty good though – just don’t be disappointed when you buy it and it doesn’t sound amazing with Rap. Forewarning.
The 7506 is about the same. It’s going to sound great with most genres including Rock, Hip-Hop, Indie, Pop, Jazz, Classical, Acoustic, Folk, Soul, Bluegrass, R&B, etc.
I would say both are sort of Jack of all trades type headphones, but the 7506 more so. It sounds more airy and detailed, while the 280 is more mellowed out like Cheech and Chong.
Hey Mellow Out Man!
Anyway, that’s enough talk. It’s time for the final exercise. Raiden, TAKE SOLIDUS DOWN. Lol sorry had a Metal Gear Solid moment there.
This becomes a tough decision on which to go with.
Personally, I’m more partial to the 7506. It works a bit better for more genres, sounds more lively, and has a more even sounding, predictable bass.
That’s not to say the 280 is bad though. Quite the contrary, it’s a good sounding headphone that will be kind of dull and boring to some. It’s mid-bass is a tad uneven for me, but other than that it’s a fine choice.
That said, if comfort is more of a priority, I’d probably go with a 280 and call it a day. Very good comfort levels, very good isolation, less annoying cable, and the ear-cups won’t peel on you.
If the overall sound is more important to you, in addition to being able to use the headphone for more genres and more enjoyment, I would go with the tried and true industry staple, the MDR 7506. This headphone has stood the test of time for many years and will continue to do so. It’s the quintessential budget audiophile headphone, along with its big brother, the MDR V6. It’s one of the few headphones out there that’s always a good purchase no matter the situation. You really can’t go wrong.
Stu is determined to help you make sound decisions, and strives to deliver the best and most in depth content on the internet! In his spare time, he likes to fish, paint, play guitar, pray, rap, make beats, take photos, record videos, graphic design, and more. His sense of humour, coupled with a knack for excellence and strict attention to detail are what allow him to stand out in an crowded industry.