Shoutout to Patron David Rupp for the loaner unit!
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…
This is going to be long-winded, but by the end, you’re going to know exactly how the 560S sounds, how it compares with other headphones, and if it’s worth a purchase or not.
If you’d like to skip to the actual sound impressions, they start at “K612 Comparison” in the table below.
So let’s get rolling!
At A Glance
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Table of Contents
In The Box
Build & Comfort
Sound + Stu’s Notepad
Gaming & Film
The HD600 Conundrum
Q&A + Final Word
In The Box
Sennheiser HD 560S High-Performance Headphones
1/4″ to 3.5mm Adapter (not pictured)
Limited 2-Year Warranty
- Mostly plastic. Doesn’t feel cheap. Terminates in a ¼” and comes with a 9.8′ Cable as well as a 1/4″ to 3.5mm Adapter. The cable is detachable 3.5mm and snaps in. The other end of the cable is a detachable 2.5mm and snaps into the earcup. This is your typical 500 series headphone with regard to build and comfort. It’s lightweight and nimble.
- R and L indicators on the inside are common to all 500 model headphones.
- The crater pad in the middle is similar to the HD650.
- Velour padding mimics the shape of your ear. Your ears will touch slightly, but by and large, it’s a perfect fit with minimal clamping pressure. You can wear them for extended sessions without an issue.
Price: Check Amazon! | Check B&H!
- Source: Spotify, YouTube videos, general listening, film/gaming on PS4
- Amps & DACS used: iFi Zen V2 (Upgraded), iFi Zen (Original), xDuoo TA-20/DragonFly Red, FiiO K5 Pro.
- Playlist: Here!
Does the 560S replace the K702 for full-time duty?
This is a question that I was forced to ask myself the more and more I listened to the headphone in terms of Soundstage, gaming, film, and genre versatility.
Both are pretty similar in these regards, but we’ll get to that later.
These are loosely written notes that I jotted down during my listening sessions.
With the right music, oh my god. Lane 8 – “The Rope” (treble), and Dayglow – “Close to You” are 2 examples that really stuck out as sounding absolutely sublime in every way.
I’m finding Jazz (Stan Getz specifically) sounds incredibly natural and effortless with the 560S.
They just sound so correct and perfect, but maybe boring?
is delicate and present without being overbearing, essy, or sibilant.
I’m constantly thinking something’s going on outside the headphones. Great width but is not unnatural.
You’re frequently feeling like you need to take the headphones off to make sure that subtle hum directly behind you and about 25 feet away is actually coming from the song or if it’s something going on in your apartment complex.
The Soundstage here is really that good.
The sensations you’ll experience will vary from song to song depending on the composition in question.
and imaging are also very good.
Female voices sound lush and realistic.
Very intimate, present, lively, etc. Tonality is just about perfect.
Even so, sometimes the mids can sound just a bit too forward.
Voices on certain tracks sometimes sound a little in your face, but the distinction can be pretty subtle. Rhye’s “Open” is a good example of a track that’s a bit forward in terms of her voice.
Common’s “The Light” is another example and a song I’ve heard probably a thousand times since it came out.
Common’s voice is a tad too aggressive, and the song itself feels like it’s trying too hard to impress.
There seems to be more sub-bass extension, but it’s still not as resolving as I would like.
Bass notes are still a little wooly and kind of boomy-sounding.
That lush, hi-fi quality is missing. In short, remember that this is still a 500 series headphone through and through.
Foreign Exchange’s “Come Around” doesn’t sound quite as good or snappy as I would like in terms of the bass, but it may come down to how the bass was actually recorded.
The bass should in theory provide more impact and weight but it still mostly comes up a bit short.
It’s missing the life that you would expect when looking at the graph.
The Ananda would be an example of bass that hits hard while sounding incredibly lush and realistic.
The 560S is trying, and the attempt is admirable, but in no way does it come close to that mark.
Perhaps it shouldn’t matter being that it’s a $200 headphone? I fully realize that.
I’ve been doing quite a bit of gaming with the 560S and iFi’s Upgraded Zen V2.
Yes, they just came out with a firmware update that makes the V2 compatible with my PS4! A dream come true, really.
I love this combo for gaming and film, which is perhaps the BEST reason to snag a 560S without question.
The gaming environment is super immersive and the Soundstage is again, exemplary.
This is a perfect FPS shooter headphone as you can also wear it for hours without an issue.
Get this 3.5mm female to 2.5mm male, this boom pro + the G6 and you’re ready to go.
The Zen, while good for single-player games or film, won’t really work with the boom pro.
You’ll want something like a Mod Mic wireless instead.
If I had to rank them in terms of best to worst gaming/film experience?
I played some Fallout 4 this morning and found it super convenient that it was raining in-game.
I decided to analyze the 5 headphones in terms of voicing/dialogue/intimacy, Soundstage, clarity, immersion, comfort, as well as spacing of the sound as a whole.
Here are my conclusions:
- Intimacy: Above Average.
- Soundstage: Poor.
- Clarity: Average.
- Comfort: Above Average.
- Overall Spacing: Average.
- Immersion: Below Average.
This is clearly the worst out of the lot for gaming.
It’s too relaxed sounding and the Soundstage is pretty bad.
Everything is much too boxed in sounding and lacks the spaciousness needed for serious duties.
Most people already know this about the 20+-year-old headphone, but it’s absolutely not the ideal choice for FPS shooters or even casual single-player gaming.
The treble will also likely bother you as it’s much too dark for picking out sounds and making you aware of what’s going on in the immediate vicinity; as well as farther off.
It’s not that the HD600 sounds bad, it’s just that it was absolutely not made for gaming and that becomes apparent almost immediately.
- Intimacy: Average.
- Soundstage: Above Average.
- Clarity: Average.
- Comfort: Above Average to excellent.
- Overall Spacing: Above Average.
- Immersion: Average to slightly below average.
As much as I trash the K612 for music, it’s always been a pretty good performer in terms of watching films or playing games.
Obviously, the Soundstage here is going to be much wider than an HD600, but the overall sound is still a bit too dull and warmed-over for my tastes.
Things are spread out nicely, but there’s not much life to the dialogue or sounds.
Voices and the like still sound too distant without having the clarity of a K702.
In other words, it’s more of a relaxing experience rather than an immersive one.
It’s a headphone that can definitely work in a pinch, but there are better options.
- Intimacy: Above Average.
- Soundstage: Average to slightly above average.
- Clarity: Above Average.
- Comfort: Above Average.
- Overall Spacing: Average.
- Immersion: Above Average.
The 58X brings up an interesting conundrum.
On one hand, the sound has plenty of life to it – probably the most out of this lot.
On the other hand, it’s bordering on too much.
As with music, the sound here has a sometimes overly lush and holographic character, as if it’s trying a bit too hard to impress you.
Soundstage is definitely a bit wider than that of an HD600, but this still isn’t a 560S or K702.
Newbies will likely love this sound for gaming initially as stuff is spaced out decently enough and the sound doesn’t feel nearly as claustrophobic in terms of Soundstage as an HD600.
- Intimacy: Above Average to excellent.
- Soundstage: Above Average to excellent.
- Clarity: Above Average to excellent.
- Comfort: Excellent to exemplary.
- Overall Spacing: Above Average to excellent.
- Immersion: Excellent.
It was so hard for me to decide between the 560S and 702, but I think I prefer the 702 more.
Some may prefer this one and that’s completely fine.
If the 58X is opening things up a bit more, the 560S is in its final stages of flowering.
Sounds have much more room to breathe now, and the Soundstage is nice and expansive without feeling too far off.
The sound itself also feels a lot more natural and organic vs. the somewhat forced nature of the 58X.
As with music, everything sounds just about 100% correct which makes for a distraction-free experience.
- Intimacy: Average.
- Soundstage: Excellent to exemplary.
- Clarity: Excellent to Exemplary.
- Comfort: Excellent to exemplary.
- Overall Spacing: Excellent to exemplary.
- Immersion: Excellent.
As much as I love the 560S, I personally believe the K702 is just a hair better (at least for my needs).
If the 560S is just about flowered, think of the 702 as a peacock.
Things are spread out pretty wide, and while some may call it unnatural, I find it perfect for quickly surveying a situation and figuring out who, or what is where at all times.
In other words, your head is always going to be on a swivel when listening to these headphones; an ideal scenario when gaming competitively.
Unlike the K612, the 702 has a much snappier character so you’ll almost always feel like sounds have a distinct definition to them.
It’s all there.
Intimacy isn’t as good as some would like, I get that.
For me, it’s not a big issue because the clarity of the sounds is on point and I can hear and experience everything going on without a problem.
With the K702 I know exactly where/how close the enemy is and oftentimes am ready for him before he has a chance to ADS (aim down sight).
The 560S’ sound is also going to feel a bit closer to you, but it may not always be a good thing when you’re trying to hear what’s farther off in the distance.
For that, I still love the 702 for gaming a bit more.
The 560S isn’t very hard to drive, but interestingly enough does have a higher impedance than most other 500 series headphones.
Nearly all of them have a 50 Ohm impedance and anywhere from 106dB – 112dB Sensitivity.
The 560S doubles that plus 20 at 120 Ohm, but still has a Sensitivity of 110dB.
In other words, it doesn’t need much power at all from an amp to reach peak loudness. It will resist power a bit more than the others, but by and large, you won’t even notice this.
By now you may be wondering what you should go with.
I would go ahead and get a Zen since the 560S already terminates in a 1/4″ and it’s meant to be used in a quiet environment.
The Zen also isn’t overly warm or clinical and will provide more than enough power for these headphones. The combo sounds great!
Console homies should consider the Upgraded V2 with a firmware update.
Update: I’m no longer recommending the Zen due to its price inflation, and would rather you get a K5 Pro or K7 – both of which are much better overall values.
Here I was comparing it with music.
HD560S vs. K612
On paper, these headphones are almost identical and both are pretty much dead neutral/flat.
However, the K612 sounds noticeably more muffled and wonky in comparison to the perfectly tuned 560S.
The K612’s bass is a bit less elevated, but there’s still not much roll-off in the sub-bass regions.
Even so, the K612 seems more distant as if you’re listening to music in a smaller, less expansive tube or congested space.
It doesn’t sound good at all when placed side by side.
The 560S easily outperforms the K612 in pretty much every way.
Imaging is much better, the impact is better, and the 560S generally sounds livelier and more engaging.
With the 612, everything is mostly pushed back and sounds farther away from you, while the 560S is right there, present, and accounted for.
If I was close to tossing the 612 out the window and never listening to it again, the 560S actually makes me do exactly that.
It exposes the K612 for what it is; a really God-awful headphone in all regards the more I listen.
Listening to the K612 actually seems like you’re hearing music through a wet cardboard box in contrast to just how good the 560S sounds.
The difference is truly night and day.
You can hear the subtle treble spike on the 560S when comparing it to the 612, and that’s part of the difference.
Crinacle talked about this and I think he’s right on.
By itself, you don’t really notice it, but when listening to another headphone (in my case the 612) and then swapping, it was definitely apparent.
Still, the treble isn’t going to annoy most people and for the most part, you’ll never feel like it’s overbearing.
In other words,
unless you have a bunch of headphones to go back and forth with, you’re not going to know or even care.
For me, it strikes a perfect balance. There’s a good amount of life here without bordering on essy or sibilant.
It’s got a wonderfully wispy quality that hits just right.
HD560S vs. 58X
You can immediately tell the mid-bass is more pronounced and less neutral than the 560S’, even though technically there is more sub-bass roll-off in the 58X.
After going back and forth for quite a while, I think I prefer the 560S.
It’s cleaner and more accurate sounding than the 58X to my ears.
This has a little to do with the mid-bass, but to me, the 560S is a tonally more accurate headphone with slightly better resolution.
There’s something about the 58X that sounds strangely artificial, but it’s not completely obvious when you’re not going back and forth between headphones.
It’s only when you put the 560S up to the 58X that it becomes apparent.
Maddie Jay’s “CR78” is a prime example of a song that almost sounds overly holographic and in your face on the 58X.
Vocals feel more present, but in a way that feels slightly forced and unnatural.
The bass thumps on both, but on the 560S it feels a little more controlled.
The 58X is fun, but it’s starting to veer towards sloppy.
“I MADE ‘EM EXTRA SLOPPY FOR YA!!”
With the 560S, everything is just about 100% correct; a running theme in this article with regard to its almost immaculate tuning.
HD560S vs. HD600
The difference here is rather obvious. The 560S’ treble is noticeably brighter than the HD600’s.
This again goes back to the fact that on its own, the treble on the 560S only seems bright when you put it up against another, darker headphone like the HD600.
On the surface, this may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised at just how much it comes out when swapping back and forth.
This is in large part why I’ve always liked comparing headphones even when doing single reviews.
It really helps to clarify sound signatures and sort out what’s what.
In The 1975’s “Be My Mistake” the distinction is apparent.
The 560S is more intimate and livelier sounding than the darker homie HD600.
Do keep in mind that my HD600’s pads are fairly worn, but you’ll still notice the mid-range is very similar on both.
There’s plenty of vocal presence and forwardness in each.
even the snobbiest of audiophiles would be hard-pressed to find huge differences in the mids here.
These are Senny mids through and through.
The other difference you’ll notice is a sense of air missing in the HD600 that’s there in spades with the 560S.
The more I listen to the 560S and compare it to other headphones, the more I realize just how good it actually is.
Worn pads or not, the HD600 doesn’t sound nearly as good to me, which is fairly surprising.
One of my favorite test tracks for bass of late is No Rome & 1975’s “The Narcissist” because it rolls and thumps incredibly well.
In other words, it’s mixed properly. If that groove doesn’t make you want to get up and dance, you have no soul.
But Gingers do.
“GINGERS HAVE SOULS!!!”
Had to throwback Thursday that one.
The 560S renders The Narcissist with a bit more punch, but it’s not overdone like your mom’s meatloaf.
It really warmed my non-ginger soul.
The bass is still there and sounds great with the HD600, but it’s a bit more subdued.
What I like about the 600’s rendition is that it’s just a hair more resolving. While you feel it more with the 560S, you hear individual notes better with the HD600.
This is something that I’ve talked about before with the 9500’s bass, and something that doesn’t make much sense to our natural intellect.
“But Stu,” you ask. “If there’s more sub-bass on the HD560S, wouldn’t that mean I can hear those notes better?”
I’d say no, not necessarily. I’d argue that keeping the sub-bass a bit more rolled off allows it to breathe and express itself a little better, and this is certainly apparent when swapping back and forth between these 2.
The question is,
Will you enjoy that rise and subtle bass shelf that the 560S provides?
That entirely depends on taste.
David, in a rather hilarious email, put it like this:
“Sometimes in a person’s life, there is a moment, when they doubt everything they thought about themselves. Comparing the 560s and the 702 is that moment.
I now know I have been living a lie.
I have lied to myself, my friends, my loved ones.
I thought I wanted neutral, I thought I wanted balance, I thought I wanted soundstage. I looked into the mirror and I did not see who I thought I was.
“I am not a bass head!” I screamed.
Well after listening to the 560s on my iFi Zen Dac, I saw who I really was. I am going to say it out loud for the first time, I like bass and I am proud!!!”
HD560S vs. K702
Speak of the devil.
This is the moment of truth because the 702 has been my daily driver for quite a while now.
There are no other headphones I’d rather listen to in my ever-growing but completely unnecessary collection.
The reason for this is that the 702 does well for anything and everything:
Gaming, film, mixing/mastering, any genre, etc.
It has all bases covered with a great Soundstage, great imaging, and out-of-your-head moments aplenty.
It’s tuned perfectly and has a bump around 2kHz for extra spice and lively flavor.
The 560S is similar; you can use it for all of the above.
Both are open, both are lightweight and incredibly comfortable, and both come in at similar price points as well.
The question then becomes, which headphone is tuned better? Which is more resolving?
We’ll get to that in a second.
Imaging & Soundstage
Right away you’ll notice the 702 is spread out a bit more than the 560S.
It’s not that the 560S is “in your head”, but it’s certainly more closed-in sounding than a K702.
Because of this, the 702’s sounds are imaged a bit better.
Sounds have a more distinct “Spot” in the image if you will, but the center image can sometimes go missing.
The other thing that will probably jump out at you is that the 560S, like the contrast with the K612, feels closer to you and more immediate/intimate than it does with the 702.
The same happened above when we discussed the merits of each for gaming.
I can’t decide if this is a good or bad thing at the moment, but I’m still leaning toward the 702 as preference.
As much as I hate to say it, I think the 560S is tuned a bit better and I think it comes down to the 2kHz bump that I mentioned earlier, in addition to the treble.
You can tell both are emphasized a bit more than a 560S.
In that sense, the K702 is exposed a bit for being somewhat less neutral and flat than a 560S.
It’s a subtle distinction, but still apparent.
So 3 things that immediately make themselves known are the following:
- The mid-range is more forward on a K702.
- The treble is brighter on a 702, but still not essy even though it’s getting there more than a 560S is.
- The Soundstage is wider on a 702.
The K702’s bass is almost completely neutral.
It doesn’t roll off (if it does, it’s not by much), there are no weird mid-bass bumps, and it sounds really good. Nice and clean.
The 560S’ bass also doesn’t roll off, but it’s more emphasized around 40-60Hz.
The 560S has a very tastefully done bass shelf that may make a believer out of you as it did David; to the point where you’re screaming at yourself in a bathroom mirror.
As mentioned earlier, to me this doesn’t make it sound better.
It’s trying to be hi-fi bass but falls short even though the attempt is admirable.
By contrast, the 702’s bass is exactly what it is and I like it a bit more for that aspect.
It’s not trying too hard and understands its mid-fi bass without attempting to be something else.
You’ll notice the 560S’ bass thumps a bit harder, but it may not necessarily be a good thing with regard to every track.
I think whether or not you enjoy it will depend largely on the song in question and how it was recorded, mixed, and mastered.
This is something I harp on quite a bit on the blog and channel and it’s no different here.
Dayglow’s – “Close to You” sounds fantastic on both.
You’ll notice the 702’s bass is a smidgen leaner but still retains some nice thump, all things considered.
The slight issue I have with the 560S is that it sometimes feels almost too present; as if everything is sort of in your face and lively, but not necessarily in a good way.
The problem I have with the K702 is that it sometimes feels like sounds are spaced almost too far apart.
With certain tracks, the 702 may feel a little bit too thin-ish and overly bright.
Overly bright in this context doesn’t actually mean “Oh my God I can’t listen to this” though – the distinction is rather subtle.
These are minor nitpicks in both headphones, but should be noted.
I think the K702 is slightly more resolving because of the 560S bass.
You can immediately hear the difference when going back and forth, and dare I say the 560S’ kind of gets in the way of the mid-range here, at least in comparison to the 702.
I think because the 702 is more neutral (outside of 2kHz), it sounds clearer and comes across as slightly more detailed.
Keep in mind this distinction is incredibly subtle to me.
I sat here for quite a while listening to music before coming to this conclusion as the headphones are very similar in a lot of ways.
The HD600 conundrum
At the end of the day, The 560S is another similar headphone in a long line of 500 series products dating back quite a ways.
It’s not exactly a 500 headphone in that the bass is a bit more elevated and tonality seems a bit better, but it still behaves mostly like the others in the line.
Detail, resolution, and the overall sound more or less mimic the overall signature of a 500 headphone; incredibly accurate, but can also sound a bit dull and boring.
It’s a fine entry into the series but may still not be necessary because of the HD600/6XX.
This is something I’m currently wrestling with, and my cognitive dissonance is rather strong right now.
In some ways, I think the 560S kind of does outperform my HD600 in terms of a sound that’s neither too dark nor too bright.
It actually feels and sounds more neutral than an HD600, even though on paper this may not quite be the case.
I think it has a lot to do with the fact that I actually prefer the treble on the 560S in comparison to the darker HD600.
So yes, I think the 560S is actually tuned a bit better than an HD600.
It seems more open, and airy (but still natural) without getting out of line; an issue apparent in a LOT of entry and even mid-fi audiophile headphones.
It’s a signature that almost impeccably represents what music is supposed to sound like if it was 99% unbiased.
The HD600 is noticeably darker than the 560S, and this may or may not bother you depending on who you are.
- Read: Is the HD600 veiled?
It’s a debate that’s raged on since the headphones’ inception, only really flaring up and getting out of control within the last few years.
My stance has basically always been,
“On its own, not really.”
But when pitted against other headphones? Sure, you can definitely hear it. Big fax.
For me, this isn’t really debatable but there will always be Senny 600 fanboys ready to fight you tooth and nail about it. Whatever.
This may be the million-dollar question. Is the HD600 tonally a better headphone than the 560S?
I would say yes, ever so slightly.
As good as the 560S is, in comparison, it kind of leans towards holographic, at least when doing a side-by-side with the HD600.
It’s just a smidgen unnatural sounding when listening to the build-up of a song like Joan’s “I loved you first.”
It felt a bit overwhelming to the point where I had to dial the volume back a bit, but only in terms of energy.
When considering the song as a whole and how it performed technically (how the instruments and voices interacted together), it was darn near perfect.
The volume thing could have simply been due to the fact that the HD600s are harder to drive and thus I just needed to turn it down a hair when switching back to the HD560S.
I’m fully aware of that.
Still, as mentioned earlier, the HD560S has this “in your face” quality to it that can manifest itself on certain tracks, but not necessarily in the best way if that makes sense.
“Do I make myself clear, Mr. Bender?”
Clarity & Resolution
Let’s be clear about what these terms mean to me.
Clarity = The sound signature and frequency response as a whole.
As noted earlier, the 560S is basically a perfectly tuned headphone, so clarity is wonderful.
It’s crisp, lively, and sounds impeccable from the standpoint of “This is what a good headphone is supposed to sound like.”
Decay is likely better than the average headphone.
Sounds and voices trail off noticeably better.
No frequencies overpower others.
You can hear everything going on with good accuracy.
Everything’s easily accounted for.
Imaging and instrument separation is above average or excellent.
Resolution = Micro detail & detail retrieval as a whole.
How well the headphone portrays music in its most natural, organic, and realistic state.
Think of an instrument as it may sound in real life vs. the way it sounds through a device – as if you were there with the artist or you could at least get a sense of the space they’re in.
More detail in most cases = a more realistic and engaging listen.
Good headphones can make this distinction better than average headphones, and amazing headphones do an even better job.
Resolution and instrument Timbre go hand in hand here.
Again, the 560S is still a mostly “500-sounding” headphone.
In other words, it’s still mid-fi. It still mostly sounds like mid-fi.
Put another way, there’s a stark contrast between this and an LCD-2, Ananda or Utopia.
All of those headphones are infinitely more resolving than a 560S and pretty much no one will argue that.
Stu & A
Q: So, are the HD600 and 6XX more resolving than a 560S?
Q: Does it matter?
A: Yes, but only because of the fact that for only about $20 more, you can get a more resolving headphone in the 6XX.
In 2016 I paid around $300-400 for the HD600 (It was $330 on the dot IIRC).
Q: Would you pay that now?
A: Not when I can get a 6XX for around $220.
Q: Would you pay for the 560S?
A: Not when I already have a K702.
Q: Would you pay for the 560S if I didn’t already have a 702?
A: I would lean towards yes, as a complement to an HD600/6XX.
As it stands now, and because I have the K702, I don’t really need a 560S for gaming and film; tempting as it may be to get one.
That is to say that listening to it doesn’t make me want to sell my 702 and get a 560S for full-time gaming duties.
It kind of sort of almost does? But not quite.
I still like the 702 as my jack of all trades, but your mileage may vary.
For me, the reasons come down to the following:
- The 702’s Soundstage is wider and separation tends to be a little better. I like that extra width and depth. Some may call it unnatural and that’s completely fine.
- I personally enjoy the leaner and more neutral bass response, though the 560S’ is certainly growing on me. This is coming from a former bass head!
- Both are pretty neutral (702 a bit less so), but I like the mid-range boost on the 702 and always have. The 560S, while being light years better than a 612, is still a little too flat and dull for me even despite its impeccable tuning. There’s some sort of excitement missing that I can’t quite explain.
When I make recommendations to people, I always bypass the 500 line in favor of a 6XX.
Why buy one of those when you can just spend $20 more and get a superior-sounding headphone?
To me, it’s an easy decision.
The problem is that the HD600/6XX isn’t very good for gaming.
This is why I have both the HD600 and K702. They complement each other perfectly.
I’m of the mind that if you’re reading this, you should either get an HD6XX AND a 560S as complements, or an HD6XX AND a K702 as complements.
Get an HD600 if you want to be all original and hip.
I have both a 600 and 702 as complements and don’t plan on selling either because they both do fantastic for different uses, though the 702 has become my daily driver for everything really.
Here are my final recommendations:
What you go with as far as the complement to the 6XX is up for debate, and a bit of a toss-up.
Both sit at similar price points, but which you prefer depends mostly on taste.
I think I’ve outlined that pretty well in the article, but let me know if you have further questions! For now,
Well, that’s about it for today my friend! I hope you’ve enjoyed this Sennheiser HD560S Review/Shootout and came away with some valuable insight.
Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I miss the mark on something? Please let me know down below or Contact me!!
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Would you invest in a 560S? I would love to hear your thoughts and/or experience with any of these. Until next time…
All the best and God bless,
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!!
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Album, Film, & Gaming
More to come!
- Incredibly comfortable.
- Built well despite its weight.
- Soundstage is exemplary. Perfect for gamer nerds.
- Balanced sound.
- Perfectly tuned.
- Sound can be dull and/or boring. Lacks excitement even despite bass shelf.
- Value suffers because of the HD6XX
i counted there were only 4999 words.. lol
Hey Stu thank you for your reviews! I read you were trying the HD 58X. It’s a nice headphone but for me it had a small issue with tonality due to a peak in the 5k region which also caused some fatigue.
If possible, I’d like to ask if you could try it using the EQ made by Oratory1990, I’m curious about your opinion on it and if it helps to bring the 58X more in level with the HD 6 family. The EQ fixes the 5k issue, gives some bite in the treble (like cymbals splash) and elevates the sub-bass a bit. It’s a nice improvement from the stock 58X.
Yeah man my pleasure! the 58X is good but a bit aggressive and slightly overly holographic to me but what’s interesting is that the 560S exposed those flaws. I kind of think it makes them sound more exciting and lively which is kind of what I prefer out of headphones. I think the 500 line makes me annoyed that the signature is so perfect you know? It’s just kind of Debbie Downerish lol. 58X is coming next I think so I will def try that out once I get going on the article!! Probably this week I will be writing it.
I like really want to try a koss with one of those huge grado pads, I keep hearing good things about them.
Same man! The G-Cushions, right? Those definitely are fantastic pads.
This was a great review I read it twice two weeks apart. I recently bought the HD560s. My first entry into Hifi headphones. For years I have been using some $20 JVC over the ear headphones or what ever came with my cell phone. You don’t know what you missing until you go looking. These are great phones especially for the Black Friday price. I have them connected to a Hidizs S3 Pro dongle and the sound is pleasing, full and fun. It’s like you said I find myself looking around for those weird sounds in the night while listening. I won’t go looking around anymore because I’ll end up finding something new. Thanks for you in depth review it is a great read and testament to your craft!
Hey man, thank you so much! You don’t know what those words of encouragement mean. So glad you’re enjoying the headphones! I did enjoy the 560S’ slightly more fun sound but still without getting out of line.
A humble recommendation/note.
I understand that you are mostly aiming these reviews for the American audience. But just something to think about: Sometimes the value (and cons) part might be a little bit skewed for people who live outside US as due to taxes, shipping and custom fees, most if not all of those Drop headphones and amps get really expensive for us. (naturally varies where one lives and the local laws and taxes)
I eventually ended up getting the HD560s over the HD6XX as the 6XX would have ended up costing over $120 more after the shipping and taxes.
By no means am I trying to tell how you should run your channel or site, just giving some food for thought 🙂
Once again, thank you for all the reviews and great content!
Thank you for the constructive feedback and kind words. I will certainly keep that in mind moving forward as you make a great point! I’ve thought about that quite a bit over the last year or so actually. Prices for gear vary wildly and it’s sometimes frustrating when giving recommendations as things change quite often. The problem with guesstimating prices inside an article is that later on down the road those numbers may not be accurate.
What would you suggest as a way to clarify those things inside of a post without using too many concrete #s?
I guess it depends a bit if it’s a list type of thing like “top 10 headphones under xxx usd” or A vs B kinda comparison or purely “best bang4buck”.
I don’t know if this is the easiest way to do it as I don’t do reviews just read them lol, but I guess you could just give a mention or suggestion for a non-Drop equivalent or nearest match? Although now when I think of it, it does get a lil bit more complex as usually the thing that makes drop stuff so good is partly due to the price.
Like is it good to recommend a HD650 as HD6XX alternative if it costs hundred(s) more?
But I still think, if possible and you can think of one, just try to add a recommendation for similar or nearest equivalent non-Drop headphone. Like “If you can’t get the Hifiman X4, get the HE400se” etc.
Yeah! I think the “if you can’t get X, try Y instead” will be something I can utilize more moving forward, paying close attention to prices as well. Thank you again for the suggestions!
Hello, Stu. I want to thank you for comprehensively reviewing and also comparing all of these headphones. You’re helping to clear up an area which needs to be cleared up. Somebody who doesn’t have the money or the time to pick up all of these headphones looks for pieces like yours in order to understand. I see a lot of people (even the bigger reviewers) who’ll just drop thing like “it’s got good clarity” or “impressive soundstage” almost randomly and expect you to understand for whatever reason, even though you have next to no context for what that really means.
Anyway, I’ve been reading your site here end-to-end for the last week and also after doing my own research, I bought a pair of HE-400se’s for the sake of curiosity on planars (they’re a steal on Amazon rn). What I’d like to do soon afterwards is get some sort o dac+amp without breaking the bank, and I set my sights on the Fiio K3. Now, the Fiio K3’s power output is on the modest side, and I’m wondering if it’ll drive Planars well. Have you ever had any problems with bass or clarity on the K3 with planars – especially relative to the K5? Also, what’s the tonality of the K3 like? Is it more warm and smooth, like the K5? Or sharper, more detail-oriented, like the Ifi Zen?
A few months back, I bought a SHP 9500. I really wanted to compare them to my 9-year old HD 598’s, another feat of my curiosity about what seemed to be a quality pair at a surprising price. They’re a solid 8/10 set imo. Nothing to really criticise about them (besides maybe their metallic timbre, although I prefer it greatly over the HD 598’s thick, muddy timbre), but nothing to really praise for, either. What I could do is sell them for a bit less than what I paid for them and that’d get me halfway to a K702. Do you think it’s worth it? How do they compare to a K702 in terms of timbre, imaging and clarity? As and aside, have you ever tried the K702 with K612 pads? Some say the K612 have better imaging and a better tonality. Maybe that combo would be like a best of both worlds.
As for your questions/concerns:
1. Yeah, they’re probably lazy and/or don’t care.
2. I have not had problems with clarity on the K3 with planars.
3. The K3 is snappier and more refined than an E10K, and definitely cooler and more neutral vs. the warmth of the K5 Pro. It’s a fine dac.
4. I do think the K702 is worth it!
5. Timbre and imaging are going to be a bit better on the K702, clarity is about equal as I’ve always loved the 9500 for that and why I recommend it a lot.
6. I have not tried the K702 with K612 pads.
Thank you for answering my questions. I’m definitely gonna look towards the K702 as something for when I want ‘air’, like for classical or for certain games. The HE-400se for more relaxed listening. The K3 just seems like a good deal for it’s price range, and If I so want, it could be used as a dac for more powerful amps.
It’s funny because I always go back to my K702. I just love how it sounds and it’s one of those things that’s really hard to explain sometimes. The punch, the air, the atmosphere. It just sounds right. Perfect 1-2 punch there as both are in my top 5 under $500.
K3 is good, and yes, that’s true! Check out my review though.
Hey stu , Hope you are well and kind enough to listen to my little rant here.back in 2020 I was shopping for a cheap decent headphone that would be an upgrade from using crappy earphones bundled with my phone. I watched your Sr850 Vs k240 review.ended up saving up until I bought the sr850 in black Friday. fell in love with them instantly huge upgrade(thank you btw).But now 2 years down the road .I can barely stand them with some songs .the treble can be so sharp that it feels like needles piercing through my ear., they have alot of bass too,most of the time I enjoy it coz I listen to a wide range of artist from Death Grips,black Sabbath to Frank Zappa. Now they are on their Death bed.Have cut and replaced the jack with auxes like 8 times .I need new headphones. I’m saving up for black Friday again ?, Im caught between the hd559 ,hd599 ,hd560s,M50x and various other akgs around that price (200$budget). Im curious to what you’d recommend me to get, I just want a clean smooth balanced headphone that can handle most genre’s. I don’t have an amp though. Cheers man truly appreciate what you do .From South Africa
Hey man, thank you for the comment and love! If you want clean, smooth, and balanced, that’s definitely the HD560S all the way. If you’re okay with a bit of a boring, dull sound, I’d go for it! It’s truly great, but for me, it can get kind of bland after a while. I personally prefer the K702 as it has a bit of extra zest without going over the top. So yeah, I’d either get a 560S or 702.
Keep me posted!!
I genuinely like that you’re one of the few (if only) headphone reviewer who has the sense to mention the music you’re listening to rather than just depend on throwing meaningless buzzwords around. I wanted to ask what you think the main differences are between the he400se and the 560s currently. I have to work with audio sometimes, so I’d like something with the most natural sound (I guess the closest to a great set of speakers). I’ve had bad experience with budget sennheisers in the past. I found them to really take a lot of the body out of music, and make it sound very distant. Not so much highs and lows, but like flattening everything even if it’s supposed to be pronounced. I now wonder if that’s what people actually mean when they say things like ‘analytical’ and ‘clear’. Those were cheaper ones though, so I might be wrong.
Hey man thank you so much! I put a lot into my reviews (and this one specifically), so your comment is much appreciated.
That’s a great question. You know, I’ve been considering putting the 560S in my best Under $500 list because it’s tuned almost perfectly and has excellent driver matching.
I would say that the 560S does sound more natural than a 400se, but it’s pretty close. I think this has to do in large part with the 400se’s gradual roll-off after 1kHz, which manifests in most HIFIMAN products actually. There are times when it just doesn’t sound quite right, and it’s something I’ve been wrestling with for quite a while now. In other words, I may consider dropping the 400se out of the top spot and replacing it with either the K702 or 6XX. The reason it’s hard is that the 400se’s Timbre does slightly outperform a K702 and 6XX though again, it is very close.
This is in large part why I still tell people all the time in these comment threads, through email, and elsewhere that I absolutely wouldn’t be mad at someone if they preferred one over the other and didn’t quite agree with my ranking. Because in all honesty, you can shuffle them any which way and still be fine. That is to say that I still believe the K702, 6XX, and 400se are the top 3 options to consider in Mid-Fi. The 400se is also dirt cheap which is another reason why it’s hard to dethrone from the top spot.
Regarding the 560S, as you probably gathered from this review, as good as it is tuning-wise I’ve always had an issue with it (and the 500 series in general) sounding a bit too.. and I can never find the right word for it. Boring? Dull? Too perfect? I don’t know. It has this really drab quality and lacks the excitement that I get in spades with a K702. It’s almost too flat or something, similar to my issue with the K612 although I think the 560S is a much better headphone across the board.
So your concern with Sennehiesers is a completely valid one and I wouldn’t fault you for bypassing the 560S if that’s what you experienced; because frankly, that’s a lot of what you’re going to get in the 560S unfortunately.
I think you’d be better off with a K702 or 6XX because as mentioned, the 400se also sometimes suffers from this distant issue in the mid-range specifically and that’s what’s been bothering me lately as I’ve been listening to it almost non-stop while demoing new dacs and stuff.
Hope that helps! Keep me posted with any questions 🙂
I finally had the chance to look through the 560s article plus the video which accompanies the article. Though I can’t say for sure until I hear both headphones based on their own merits; the 560s and 58x are for the moment on equal footing (until i listen to them both). I do currently have a HD 599 SE which if I had to speculate the 560s are a step forward comparatively speaking. Though, I can’t imagine it being a massive upgrade or one which makes the 599 SE or the standard 599 obsolete. If on sale etc, one can find a good deal on both the 599 and 599SE.
Plus, if memory serves me right I did mention previously how the 599s are (compared to the 650s and 6xx) more colored/flavored comparatively speaking. As an entry point in “mid-fi”, it’s more than serviceable though probably not as good as the 560s or 58x. Anyway, I wanted to give my feedback as per usual Stu. By the way, the video review was both (as usual) insightful and amusing.
I think you’ll find the 58X is trying a bit too hard while the 560S is smoother and more fluid. It’s almost like the 58X is overly sheeny and glare-y or something, but it’s something that only becomes super obvious when compared to the perfectly tuned 560S.
If you have a 599 the 560S is a bit better refined (faster transients, less bloomy and grainy) and also has the really well-done bass shelf. All in all though, it still mostly mimics a 500 series headphone and may or may not feel like an upgrade to you.
I think you’re right in that it’s not a massive upgrade by any metric and is still more than serviceable while not being quite on the level of a 560S. Does it matter? Meh. Probably not that much lol.
Thanks for the love, Jesse! Always great to hear from you. Keep me posted on everything.
Great review, Just been researching open back headphones and was wondering about Sennheiser. Heard good things about the 560s’. Was looking at 400se and Phillips x2. Still wondering if higher impedance matters more than vs. over all design,driver size, “planar magnets”, I’ve got an older lg v50 phone with a quad dac and a good number of options. It definitely works? I’ll check out your other reviews.
Hey man thank you for the kind words! 560S is a perfectly tuned headphone that still sounds a bit dull to me. This isn’t exactly breaking news though as you’ll find it kind of mimics the overall sound of most 500-series headphones. That said, it’s still basically a perfect sound signature and the bass shelf is wonderfully handled. You can check out my 400se article here if you haven’t already.
Yeah, I’d say if you have a phone with a good dac you may not even need anything unless your headphones do have a very high impedance/low sensitivity.
With the options you’re considering, the 560S probably won’t need anything separate while I may consider something for the 400se (it’s very inefficient).
Keep me posted!!
Stu, thanks for your comprehensive and still relevant article. I appreciate your insights. Just a quick question. Would your view change at all based upon today’s prices? The HD 560s can be purchased for $149 and the HD 6xx is $279. That seems like great value for both, but definitely for the HD 560s. Does this change things for you?
Hey man my pleasure! Thank you for stopping by. It is kind of a tough call now that you lay those prices out, but I still prefer the 6XX and would pay that price though admittedly it’s veering towards borderline (The 6XX used to be around $200 and oftentimes even less).
My problem with the 500 series has always been that they end up sounding dull and boring after a while, even though the 560S is tuned perfectly and sounds correct in all aspects.
It’s really hard to explain this but I think most people end up experiencing the same sort of thing with 500 headphones. They just lack that certain something that’s a bit hard to put into words.
To sum up, I paid $330 in 2016 for my made-in-Ireland HD600 so I still think the 6XX at $279 is an excellent value. Hope that helps! Let me know what you think and keep me posted.
Another great, insightful, and really interesting review article by Stu! 👌👏🎧😎
Aw thanks man! Much appreciated. How’s everything going?
I’m a bit of a newbie in this, and after using cheap earbuds for years, I decided to invest in some good headphones. After watching a lot of reviews, I decided to buy the 560S due to its performance and price ( and availability, sadly :/ ). They’re great! I’m able to actually hear music as it’s intended, and it allows me to play games on a different level than before.
Now I’m only using the DAC on my motherboard, and (while it still sounds pretty good) I saw that a lot of people recommend using an AMP and DAC to use the full potential of the headphones. I have been considering the Fiio K5 Pro and the iFi ZEN DAC v2 which you have used in your review, and wanted to know what you would recommend, as they are the same price in stores near me.
I use the 560S for both gaming and listening to music, and was wondering which AMP would suit them best for this use. I don’t mind a warmer sound as long as it doesn’t ruin the sound stage and clarity that the 560S has. Is the ZEN DAC too warm to be used for gaming? I have also considered the Fiio K7 as it also has a balanced output and can be used with the 560S (with a new cable of course), and I can connect my speakers to it as well to control everything from one spot for a cleaner setup. Do you think using a balanced cable would be beneficial? Would the K7 be a good investment for any potential new gear? Sorry for the long rant, hope I can get your opinion on this!
NO worries, Bobby! I’m here for you!
I use the K5 Pro for gaming and love it. You may also consider something like a G6. I’d say my top 2 recs for gaming are those (K5/G6), and the Zen V2 is also good but its lack of K5 Pro versatility makes it overpriced in today’s market in my opinion.
The K5 Pro is fantastic. I will tell you that its output impedance is slightly higher than what some may consider “dead neutral” but the difference is very marginal. We’re talking about 1.2 vs. 0.7 for something like an ATOM.
That said, it’s not going to ruin anything, so don’t worry. The Zen, to me, sounds very similar though I’m not recommending it nearly as much anymore because it’s a bit overpriced in comparison to the more versatile K5 Pro. As for your question there, the Zen isn’t too warm and is great for gaming, so again, no worries!! 🙂
The Zen V2 is also much easier to plug and play with your console. I simply plug the USB end in and I’m ready to go. The K5 Pro will need an optical connection and power brick, but again, I like it more because of its flexibility/connection options/gain options at a more affordable price. Plus, you mention you’d like a do-all and there’s no better DAC at this price for that.
I do like the balanced option for the K7, yes. I just think the sound difference isn’t quite enough to blow people away and may end up being somewhat underwhelming if that’s all you bought it for. You can do all that stuff with the K5 Pro, but if you do plan on dabbling a lot with balanced, yes, I recommend it. Balanced is fun! Just still think of it as an all-in-one and don’t get it because you believe balanced is going to be some sort of savior.
Here’s my review btw.
I hope that helped!!
Please keep me posted with questions as I’m always around.
Thanks for the quick reply!
The DAC would be connected to my PC mainly, and I don’t have a console, so I don’t think I would need to worry about that (I don’t mind tinkering either).
As you have mentioned, the practicality of the K5 Pro is great, and is something I’m looking for as well, but I was a little bit torn due to the lack of the balanced headphone output which the Zen DAC v2 has. I think the K7 would be a sort of good mix between them (maybe not including the sound).
I unfortunately don’t have such a wide variety as people in the US do, and everything is a bit more overpriced, so these options seem the best for now. DACs/AMPs such as Soundblaster, Topping and JDS Labs are all not available in stores here. Ordering them online would double or triple the price when we include the shipping and import taxes.
Considering that the price increase from the K5 Pro / Zen v2 to the K7 would only be around $20, and at around $250 in total for the K7, it looks like the best choice for me.
I’ll be picking it up in a few days, and will put my thoughts here.
Thanks again for your input, Stu!
Oh sweet! Looking forward to your impressions. I think you’re going to be thrilled with the investment and versatility the K7 provides.
Thank you for this review, especially for the comparisons to other headphones. Too many reviews lack detailed comparisons. The 560’s are currently $143 on Amazon. In your opinion, is the greater resolution of the 6xx worth the extra $76 (currently $219 on drop.com)?
Thank you so much and you’re welcome! That’s actually quite a tough question.
But I’m leaning towards yes and I say that because while you ultimately may enjoy the 560S, I can almost guarantee at some point the sound signature will start to bore you. Outside of the HD558 I purchased on eBay for cheap (and I sold it) I have actually never felt any desire to purchase a headphone from the 500-series line. By contrast, I’ve had my HD600 since 2016 and don’t plan on ever letting them go.
So if that’s any indication about how I feel regarding the 2, then yeah I’d say you’re way more likely to buy an HD6XX and keep it for the long haul vs. being fairly underwhelmed by the 560S as time goes on. At first, it sounds perfect and the tonality is spot on. But the “perfectness” starts to get dull and drab and you’ll be wondering if you should make the upgrade.
I will say Soundstage on the 560S is better, but the resolution in my opinion is superior on the 6XX. Over the long term? To me, 6XX is hands down the better value.
And, I think $219 is actually pretty fair, especially in the current inflated market.
Hope that helps!
Let me know.
Was looking for informations about HD560s ane came here. Really like how you reviewed and compared it! I never had a open back set myself yet, and I’m looking for one mostly for movies / casual music listening / youtube/ bit of xbox gaming. I’d like in priority the widest soundstage for immersion in movies, a bit of bass impact for action, explosions and stuffs and also electronic music, mids with presence and body for voices, details also for sure, and confort.
Can get the HD560s refurbed at 100€ and K702 arround 130 new, wich would you advice more here for the intended purposes? Wich do you think sound best for piano music also?
Sennheiser H6xx doesn’t seems available where I live. Maybe you know some shops who carries it in EU? Thanks!
Thanks man! My pleasure and glad to help.
Gosh, that’s a tough one! The 560S does have that subtle bass shelf, but I think the 702 has a more immersive Soundstage. At the end of the day, I still take the 702 for my own personal needs. I also think the 702 spaces out instruments and sounds a bit better, and I like it for piano because it provides ample room for it to breathe and tends to have more air which in my opinion makes it sound more natural. Classical music and piano specifically can be a bit tough for headphones to emulate properly, but I think the 702 does the best in its price range for open backs.
As for the 6XX, I don’t know of any shops in EU. Sorry I can’t be of more help there.
Keep me posted for sure on what you think/what you’re going to do.