SENNHEISER HD 280 PROFESSIONAL HEADPHONES
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With so many headphones on the market today, finding the right pair to satisfy all of your listening needs can be a very daunting task. If everyone's ears were the same, and everyone's musical preferences were the same, choosing the right set of headphones would be very easy, as everyone would readily agree as to which ones sound best. However, everyone's ears do not have the same sensitivity, and everyone likes to listen to different types of music, and so there is a need for different types of headphones to satisfy the needs, tastes, and listening demands of different users.
For example, a friend of mine who is a bass player, and who has a large sized head, prefers open-backed headphones, because they are light and comfortable to wear, and because the bass frequencies in his phones have been emphasized in order to compensate for the escape of low end frequencies due to the open back design of the headphones. Personally, I do not like the headphones that he loves, simply because I feel the bass frequencies are too accentuated.
Simply put, finding the right set of headphones for a specific person, for a specific type of listening situation, is not an easy task. With the goal of simplifying this task a bit, I am today going to review one of my favorite sets of moderately priced headphones, specifically the Sennheiser HD 280 Professional Headphones. Read on and see if these headphones sound like they may have some of the sonic properties that you might be interested in giving an audition to then next time you are ready to consider a purchase of a set of headphones for your particular needs.
Since price, for most of us anyway, is obviously an important consideration in making any purchasing decision, I shall start there. The Sennheiser HD 280 Professional Headphones have a list price of $199.99, but they can easily be found selling for under a $100 Dollars. The large musical instrument store that I frequent on a regular basis sells them for $99.99, but I have recently seen them selling for $79.00 from a reputable large Internet retailer on the web. As such, it clearly pays to do a bit of shopping before making a purchasing decision.
I shall now discuss some of the specifics regarding the Sennheiser HD 280 Professional Headphones. Sennheiser advertises these headphones are being capable of being used for professional monitoring applications. This is something that is music to my ears, as it is very important in a studio situation to have access to a set of headphones that are "flat and unsweetened" for reference and mixing purposes. Because this is such an important point, I would like to elaborate a bit further on this subject. Some headphones are "sweetened," which means that they have been "equalized" or EQ'ed to accentuate certain auditory frequencies in an effort to make the music that you are listening to "sound better." It is this variation in sweetening which in part accounts for the variation in sound from one set of headphones to another. Most headphones for general consumer use are sweetened in some way. Headphones that are used by professionals in the music production industry are usually unsweetened, and have a flat frequency response across the auditory spectrum. This allows for the producer, engineer, or musician to get an idea of how the musical instruments and vocals are balanced, and how they sound in relation to one another, without the assistance of sweetening, such as having the bass frequencies enhanced or the highs more pronounced. This allows for more precise balancing among the musical instruments and vocals during mix down. I would like to be clear however, that no serious producer or engineer would ever attempt to completely EQ and mix a track only using headphones as reference monitors.
Another very important specification for a set of headphones is their frequency response. The Sennheiser HD 280 Professional headphones have a frequency response that ranges from 8 Hz. all the way up to 25,000 Hz. You might be wondering why in the world would a set of headphones have a frequency response that is so large, when most healthy young people can only hear from 20 Hz. to 20,000 Hz.? The answer is not that these phones are made for the family dog to also enjoy music, but rather that these headphones are capable of reproducing sounds that range from 8 Hz. to 25,000 Hz. without distorting. That is a very important feature, as even if you are not capable of hearing sounds above or below 20 Hz. to 20,000 Hz., you may still be able to hear the distortion of the phones resulting from these higher or lower frequencies, and as such that would make accurate listening more challenging and tiresome.
The Sennheiser HD 280 Professional Headphones are "circumaural closed back" headphones. Circumaural headphones have a padding that encircles your ear and forms a seal. Closed back headphones are designed to have backs that are closed. Closed back circumaural headphones, like the Sennheiser HD 280's, are very effective at both keeping sound from coming in, as well as sound leaking out. These are very important features for a set of headphones that are going to be used for studio use. Thus, if a musician is playing live in a studio situation through a loud amp, there is less sound which is likely to leak into the headphones, which minimizes the chances of throwing off the balance of the sound being recording in relation to the other instruments. Also, because little or no sound is leaking out of the headphones, their is much less of a chance for sound to leak into the microphone that is being used during the live recording, thus potentially minimizing the chances of feedback.
Comfort and durability are extremely important features for a set of headphones to have that are going to be worn over extended periods of time, and that are going to be used with a high degree of frequency. The Sennheiser HD 280 Professional Headphones are quite comfortable to wear. They have swiveling ear cups, soft ear pads, they are light in weight, and have a plastic headband that is comfortable. They have a cable or cord that is 9 feet in length, and is curled. Some people like a curled cable, and others prefer a straight cable. Personally I have always preferred a long straight, uncurled cable for both headphones and for any of the musical instruments that I play. Unfortunately, that is not an option. The Sennheiser HD 280's are capable of being folded down to a fairly compact size, and this actually makes them portable. Adding to this, is the fact that the small minijack has a screw on adaptor for a quarter inch jack, which makes the Sennheiser HD 280's capable of being used for just about any purpose, from a portable digital music player, a home stereo system, to a more sophisticated venue as well.
And now a few words regarding the pros and cons of the Sennheiser HD 280 Professional Headphones. I do not think that it is very helpful to start getting into a discussion of which set of headphones sounds best, as no one set of headphones is going to be the best for everyone or for every purpose. For example, everyone has different set of acoustic sensitivities which makes different sounds or music sound different to them. Some people might hear higher notes better than others, and to them, the high frequencies might seem exaggerated. Someone else's ear might be more attuned to hearing lower frequencies, and to them the highs might appear to be muffled. Plus different types of music may sound better through different headphones. These are important points to bear in mind, as every one hears a little differently than the next person. However, keeping these caveats in mind, I shall give my views and opinion on these and other relevant issues regarding the Sennheiser HD 280 Professional Headphones.
To my ears, I found that these headphones gave a very accurate and true reproduction of most musical sounds that I was listening to. The highs seemed accurate, and not to shrill, and the midrange was excellent. The very lowest range notes on the bass guitar and piano did not appear to be as loud in the headphones as they did over the reference monitors (Yamaha HS80M's). That is something that is relatively easy to compensate for when mixing with a little practice. Another interesting point was that things were exceptionally clear and very audible in the headphones, which made some instruments in the song seem to be a little less prominent in the mix that I heard over the speakers, as compared to what I was hearing in the headphones. This could also be a bit problematic at first, especially if one were to attempt to mix using these phones alone, as one might produce a recording that was a little less clear and distinct than it sounds in the headphones. Once again, this is something that a little practice with using these phones could take care of. As noted above, to someone else's ears, these phones might not have these issues, or they might present with others. But to my ears, listening to a classic type of rock musical recording, that is what I found.
The Sennheiser HD 280 Professional Headphones also felt very comfortable to wear. They fit nicely on my head and felt comfortable and just snug enough on my ears. The adjustable and moveable ear cups and the design of the overall headband and related mechanisms, made the headphones feel very comfortable. As regards leakage in, only the loudest of the lowest frequencies appeared to get through from the outside, and very little sound escaped from the ear cups as well. Thus, I was pleased with the acoustic isolation properties of these phones. The Sennheiser HD 280's also reproduced the sound of drums and the percussive attack of a slap bass very accurately as well.
In sum, I must say that I really liked these Sennheiser HD 280 Professional Headphones. They appeared to be very well built, and appeared to be constructed to be quite sturdy, and built to last. I liked the overall sound quality that they delivered, and the good accuracy of the sound that they were able to reproduce. I could feel comfortable in recommending them to any one who is looking for a pair of moderately priced headphones for their home studio, or similar semiprofessional or even professional use.
Well I would like to thank you for taking the time to read my review, but now if you will excuse me, I must get back to my practicing.
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