Stereo headphones designed for monitoring
Overall, these are an incredible value for the price. They are medium weight and comfortable. The frequency response is very well balanced among the highs, mids and lows. They will exceed a users threshold of pain before distorting.
Objectively, there are no negative points with these phones.
Sennheiser HD 280 Pro
Compared with other comparably priced circumaural headphones, these are among the highest quality. They’re clean sounding, durable and comfortable.
I remember the first time I was blown back by headphones. It was two years ago when I first listened to Beds Are Burning by Midnight Oil through the HD 280 Pros. That was the beginning of a very intimate relationship with an inanimate object.
Sennheiser sells a modest package that contains just the headphones and a quarter-inch adaptor. Sennheiser’s adaptors are threaded, so they screw onto the eighth-inch jack. This is good and bad (mostly good). For starters, it ensures the cord will never get ripped from its adaptor, which could easily break or damage the components. Also, threads eliminate friction plates inside the adaptor that would normally hold it in place. However, the adaptor can only be used with threaded eighth-inch jacks. Other jacks’ plastic surrounds get in the way.
The HD 280s are made so the parts that naturally wear down over time and use can be easily replaced. Ear pads, headband padding and even the pigtail cable can be reordered through the website. The headphones come with a two-year warranty, as well.
Squishy foam surrounds are perfect for long listening sessions. These phones are particularly effective at blocking out noise, largely due to their surrounds. They don’t quite measure up to noise canceling headphones, but you can listen to Genesis at a comfortable level and the world quietly passes by.
For those who like to push their threshold of pain, the 280s let you do it with ease. Even when Jay-Z says his headphones are distorting, these remain calm, cool and clean. Turned way up, they get piercingly loud before they start to significantly distort.
The bass response on these phones is phenomenal. Their frequency range runs down to 8Hz, well beyond what humans can actually hear. Running a 55 Hz (the lowest A on a bass) sine wave, these produce a clean, smooth signal. Their total harmonic distortion is less than 0.1%, allowing you to really turn up the sound and focus on the tone without worrying about unwanted noises.
Sennheiser designed these phones for monitoring. There are three applications where they meet their design performance:
1. For live sound engineers, if you want to monitor any specific channel against the house system, these will deliver great tone reference. For instance, if after the band starts playing you realize something doesn’t sound right, you can rule out acoustic anomalies and focus on the signals by using these phones.
2. If you have multiple musicians multi-tracking in one room, these phones can provide additional isolation from drums and acoustic bleed.
3. Studio engineers can use these for mixing and mastering. They have great dynamics, so you can bury something in the mix and truly hear where it falls. The 280’s are cold-hearted. They call it like it is. If your masters are weak, over-processed or just tonally unmatched, these phones give you a great perspective to produce well-balanced masters.
The HD 280 Pros will give you an interesting feeling. The spacial imaging is very large. Sound that is panned hard to either side really does feel far away. But this does not detract from the overall presence. Actually, their presence is tight and balanced across the frequency spectrum.
After mixing and mastering with these phones for two years, when I listen to commercial albums I feel like I’m back behind the console. If you want to hear music the way it sounded the day it left the studio, get the 280s.
Once you have the 280s, break them in with a listen to Beds Are Burning.
Transducer principle: dynamic, closed
Nominal impedance: 64 Ohm
SPL: 102 dB (IEC 268-7)
Load rating: 500 mW
Distortion (THD): <0.1%
Ear coupling: Circumaural
Contact pressure: 6 N
Weight w/o cable: 220 g
Jack plug: 3,5 / 6,3 mm stereo
Connection cable: Coiled cable (min1m/max 3m)
Frequency Response: 8-25,000Hz