A friend recently invited me into the studio to record some guitar tracks for an Irish music project he was working on. I grabbed my Larrivee LS-05 acoustic guitar and played three tunes for the project, and then did some over-dubs, playing over guitar and mandolin tracks we'd already put down. The headphones that were plopped on my head for the over-dubbing tracks were Sennheiser HD 280 Pros.
Recommend this product?
The first thing I noticed about the Sennheisers was that they were remarkably comfortable, especially considering that they are over-the-ear 'phones. The second thing I noticed was that the sound of recorded acoustic guitar and mandolin was spot on. The headphones sounded great.
We finished the project and I decided I had to have a pair of these for my own late night listening.
If you want a brand new pair, expect to pay $89 to $99 plus shipping. I crusied eBay for a few days and scored a slightly used pair for $65 plus shipping. The 'phones arrived in good shape and I've been enjoying them ever since.
What you get.
Sennheiser HD 280 Professional headphones are an over-the-ear design, with spongy cups and what feels like a plastic head band. They are designed to fold up into a fairly compact size for storage, and the ear cups swivel over a more than 90 degree radius front-to-back. The head band is adjustable over a considerable range and the fit was fine for me with my normal (7 1/4) head size. An additional spongy pad cushions the phones on the top of your head.
The Sennheisers come with a screw-on type adaptor that allows you to use them with typical stereo receivers and preamplifiers that accept a 1/4" plug. The adaptor fits snugly and works well. The default smaller pin would work with ipods and other portable devices.
The color of my headphones is all black and the look is quite attractive overall; understated and functional. I think they are available in silver as well but I'm happy with black.
I find these headphones to be very comfortable. They are not nearly as heavy as my vintage Koss Pro 4as, and the pads fit comfortably over my ears. Once I adjusted the headband and put the headphones on, I didn't really notice them. They come with a coiled cord, like my older Kosses, but there's about 18" of non-coiled cord adjacent to the left ear cup and about 6" of non-coiled cord near the plug. I'm not sure if the non-coiled cord is the reason, but these 'phones tug at my head substantially less than the Koss headphones do.
I really like the sound of these headphones. As I was playing my guitar, the sound was really natural, and what wound up on the "tape" (actually, we were recording digitally) sounded as I would want it to sound.
Listening to familiar CDs and records via my stereo, the sound is spacious and neutral, with extended highs and good bass response. Cymbals have a lot of air around them but don't sound splashy or overly sibilant, and there's a lot of air around instruments. My hunch is that the high frequencies are quite extended. The midrange sounds smooth and relaxed, with the presentation not erring in the direction of "added presence" or of a mellowness-inducing midrange dip. Instruments and voices just sound like they should.
I read somewhere that these headphones don't have particularly good bass response, but I haven't noticed deficiencies in this area. Compared to my vintage Koss headphones, the overall sound of the Sennheisers is a bit less warm and more neutral, with greater space around instruments. But the bass notes come through just fine. If you want to feel the deep bass, you'll need free-standing speakers (and maybe a subwoofer), but I haven't been disappointed by the sound of upright bass in bluegrass recodings, nor does symphonic music sound "thin" through the Sennheiser HD 280 Pros. I have not done an A-B comparison of these 'phones versus my Koss Pro-4as with Bach organ music or Saint-Saenz's Third Symphony. My hunch is that the Koss headphones would go deeper and with more authority (deep bass was something the Koss Pro-4 series heahphones were known for) but I'm not concerned about it. Bass through the Sennheisers sounds tight and well-controlled.
I'm going to keep my Koss Pro 4as because they're something of a collector's item (and just in case I need to hear 30hz at 2AM some time), but the more modern Sennheisers are at least as good overall sonically and way more comfortable to wear, especially over extended periods of time.
I haven't used these in an airplane or while jogging (actually, I cycle, but without music), but they seem to isolate well. In the studio, I could hear only what was coming through the phones (previous tracks plus the guitar I was playing), and at home, I haven't noticed neighbors or the BART train going by. These phones use no tricks for acoustic isolation (they dont play out of phase sounds corresponding to sounds heard outside the 'phones, or anything like that); they just have ear pads that go around the ear and isolate well. Good enough for me.
I haven't really put these headphones through any kind of durability test. I use my headphones for quiet listening at home and don't take them out of the house. The recording engineeer told me the pairs he uses have held up well, and they seem well-constructed. The heaphone casing and headband appear to be plastic, but it feels high quality and durable. My hunch is that these could last for years if you avoid stepping on them at weird angles or turning on your stereo when the phones are plugged in and your little brother has cranked the volume up to 11 without telling you.
I am really impressed with the Sennheiser HD 280 Professional headphones. I'm sure there are some $300 Grados out there that sound better, and some on-the-ear lightweights that are even more comfortable, but I'm satisfied with my purchase and have no temptation to listen to other headphones to see which I like more. The bass may be shelved down a bit with the Sennheisers, but not enough to detract from the overall listening experience. The mids are accurate, the highs are extendedand spacious, and the comfort is very high. Plus I find these headphones to be really attractive in an NAD-like understated kind of way.
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