Deep Dive into the Sennheiser HD 560S Headphones: Quality, Performance, and Value

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Last updatedLast updated: December 29, 2023
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Welcome to the world of high-fidelity audio. It’s a realm where detail is king, sound quality is paramount, and every nuance is revered. For those beginning their journey into this audibly rich universe or seasoned listeners who seek a more comprehensive understanding, we present to you the Sennheiser HD 560S – an exemplar of audio engineering that combines affordability, design elegance, and impeccable performance. This extensive deep dive will explore the characteristics of this impressive device, its technical specifications, and alternatives that offer comparable quality and experience.

Sennheiser: The Sound Maestro

For over seven decades, Sennheiser has been crafting sound devices par excellence. The German audio giant has mastered the art of amalgamating innovation, design, and precision to create devices that deliver an outstanding auditory experience. The company’s name resonates in the audiophile community as a symbol of trust and quality, and its products, like the HD 560S, continue to push the boundaries of audio technology.

The Sennheiser HD 560S is an extension of the company’s commitment to producing high-end audio devices. It’s a highly capable device that holds its ground impressively among the higher-end HD 6XX line, proving that premium sound doesn’t always come with a premium price tag.

Unboxing the Sennheiser HD 560S: First Impressions

The HD 560S is an aesthetic masterpiece. The device comes in a sleek matte black finish, exuding an air of understated sophistication. Its design leans towards minimalism, with a focus on functionality and comfort. The use of lightweight plastic in its construction reduces the device’s overall weight, ensuring durability without compromising on comfort. This thoughtful choice of material allows for hours of continuous use without causing discomfort.

Ensuring a snug fit, the headband boasts generously padded foam and is adjustable to fit various head sizes. The ear cups, lined with velvety soft fabric, are large and designed to encompass the entire ear, providing a surround sound effect while evenly distributing the device’s weight. The ear cup design also features angled drivers to mimic the position of the ear, enhancing comfort and improving sound projection.

One notable feature is the 2.5mm TRRS plug, carefully housed in the left ear cup. It strengthens the longevity of the headphones and provides an option for easy cable replacement. This feature, though seemingly insignificant, extends the life of your device and assures you of a reliable connection for years to come.

Connecting with the Sennheiser HD 560S: Seamless Sync

The HD 560S is equipped with a 1/4-inch TRS connector, allowing easy connection with your audio source. Audio professionals often prefer this plug type for its superior signal integrity. However, an adapter is provided for devices that use a 3.5mm jack to accommodate more casual use. Be prepared to handle a slightly unwieldy dongle due to Sennheiser’s preference for the larger 1/4-inch plug.

The HD 560S boasts an impedance of 120 ohms and a sensitivity of 110dB (1kHz/1Vrms). These specifications mean you can enjoy your music at normal listening volumes without a dedicated amplifier. The headphone’s compatibility with lower power output devices means you won’t need additional equipment for a satisfying audio experience. But for those who demand absolute perfection and face noise issues or challenges in handling their extensive music library, a digital-to-analog converter (DAC) unit or sound card can further elevate the auditory experience.

Noise Isolation and the Sennheiser HD 560S: An Open Design Philosophy

When it comes to noise isolation, the Sennheiser HD 560S adopts a contrarian stance. Instead of shutting out ambient noise, it chooses an open-back design. The rear of the ear cups has a series of vents, enabling air and sound to pass through. This design approach results in a spacious soundstage and an immersive listening experience that makes you feel the music is coming from around you, not just from the headphones.

However, this design decision does have a trade-off. Open-back headphones don’t offer the best noise isolation. The background chatter will seep into your music if you’re in a noisy environment. Also, if you crank up the volume, those around you can get a taste of your playlist. Therefore, it’s best to enjoy the HD 560S in a quiet, personal space where you can experience the depth and expansiveness that these headphones offer without interruption.

Design and Build Quality of the Sennheiser HD 560S

An in-depth look into the Sennheiser HD 560S would not be complete without considering its design and build quality. The HD 560S sports a sleek, minimalist, unapologetically simple, and practical look. This approach may not appeal to those who crave a more ostentatious display, but this design is a breath of fresh air for the minimalists and purists who value substance over style.

The headphones come in a matte black finish, and the open-back grille pattern adds a touch of sophistication to the overall design. Though primarily made of plastic, the headphones feel durable and robust. This choice of material keeps the weight down, enhancing comfort for extended listening sessions. The headband and ear cups are padded with a plush material that offers an easy, comfortable fit. Furthermore, the velour ear pads can be replaced, thereby increasing the lifespan of the headphones.

The HD 560S uses a detachable cable, allowing for easy replacement in case of damage. This feature is often overlooked but can significantly contribute to the longevity of your headphones. Moreover, the included cable is long, stretching up to 3 meters, which allows for ample movement and flexibility.

Sennheiser HD 560S box

Detailed Analysis of the Sennheiser HD 560S’s Performance

The Sennheiser HD 560S comes equipped with a 120-ohm impedance, which is relatively high compared to many consumer headphones. However, it’s low enough that most portable devices and computer sound cards can adequately drive these headphones. Still, pairing them with a dedicated headphone amplifier can unlock their full potential, providing more volume and control over the sound.

What stands out in the HD 560S is its impressive harmonic distortion values. This specification refers to the headphone’s ability to reproduce the input signal accurately without any alteration. The lower the harmonic distortion, the more accurately the headphones will recreate the sound, which results in more detailed and authentic audio reproduction. The HD 560S offers an incredibly low harmonic distortion figure, which means that even at higher volumes, the sound remains accurate and distortion-free.

Furthermore, the dynamic drivers of the HD 560S contribute to its exemplary sound performance. These drivers are known for their natural, detailed sound and accurate frequency response. The HD 560S makes full use of these characteristics to deliver a balanced and immersive listening experience that puts it on par with higher-priced models.

Exploring the Sound Quality of the Sennheiser HD 560S

Upon first listen, what strikes you is the Sennheiser HD 560S’s impressive balance. It doesn’t have the bass-pounding audacity of some contemporary headphones, but it delivers a soundstage that has been meticulously balanced across the frequency spectrum. From the lows to the highs, each note is given its due attention, culminating in an auditory experience that is simultaneously detailed and balanced.

The Sennheiser HD 560S brings to the table an impressive frequency response range from 6 Hz to 38 kHz. This extended range enables the headphones to reproduce low and high-frequency sounds with clarity, ensuring that no detail is lost in translation. However, human ears are typically capable of hearing in the range of 20 Hz to 20 kHz, so anything beyond this range may not be audibly perceptible, but it certainly adds to the overall quality and richness of the sound produced.

Furthermore, the HD 560S takes a slightly different route from its predecessors in terms of its bass reproduction. This model presents a subtle enhancement in the lower frequencies that injects a bit more warmth and richness into the audio. While it’s not a massive deviation, the bass enhancement is noticeable, especially for those familiar with the older Sennheiser models. However, the bass doesn’t overpower or muddy the mids or highs, maintaining an overall balanced sound.

One praiseworthy feature is the HD 560S’s ability to create a broad and precise soundstage. The breadth of the soundstage gives a good sense of directionality and spatial representation. This capability makes these headphones a good choice for music enthusiasts and those who enjoy watching movies or gaming.

Sennheiser HD 560S: The Verdict

The Sennheiser HD 560S is a phenomenal offering from the renowned audio manufacturer. It is an affordable entry point into the realm of high-fidelity audio that doesn’t skimp on the quality of the listening experience. With its impressive soundstage, refined tuning, and comfortable design, these headphones are an exceptional investment for those looking to explore a world beyond standard audio reproduction.

Moreover, Sennheiser’s legacy of delivering top-notch customer service and its commitment to the longevity of its products ensure that your investment is well protected. Whether it’s a minor issue or something more substantial, you can rely on their after-sales support for assistance.

Alternative Options to the Sennheiser HD 560S

While the Sennheiser HD 560S provides exceptional value, other headphones in the sub-$200 price range may be considered for their distinctive features and offerings.

First, there’s the Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO, a model widely respected in the audiophile community. These headphones come with a broader soundstage, great dynamics, and a slightly emphasized treble, making them an excellent option for users who prefer a bright sound signature. However, they might require an amplifier due to their higher impedance.

Secondly, the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x is another viable alternative. This closed-back model is popular among audio professionals for its excellent sound isolation and more pronounced bass response. These headphones provide a more immersive experience in noisy environments, although the soundstage is not as expansive as that of the open-back HD 560S.

Finally, for those willing to stretch their budget a bit, the HIFIMAN HE400i is a worthy contender. These planar magnetic headphones are celebrated for their low distortion, superb detail retrieval, and broad soundstage. They may not be as comfortable as the HD 560S but offer a unique listening experience that’s hard to match.

Final Thoughts

The Sennheiser HD 560S is an excellent choice for anyone seeking to explore the world of high-quality sound without breaking the bank. Its balanced sound, open-back design, and comfortable fit make it a versatile companion for music lovers. However, its open-back design does limit its usability in noisy environments or public spaces, as it lets in ambient noise and leaks sound to the surroundings.

While the HD 560S faces tough competition from the likes of Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO, Audio-Technica ATH-M50x, and HIFIMAN HE400i, it holds its ground firmly, offering excellent value for its price. The HD 560S doesn’t just rest on the laurels of the Sennheiser brand; it establishes its reputation with its impeccable performance and superior comfort.

In conclusion, the Sennheiser HD 560S headphones represent an outstanding blend of quality, comfort, and affordability. Whether you’re an audiophile looking to add another masterpiece to your collection or a casual listener seeking a superior listening experience, the HD 560S has much to offer. While it may not be the absolute best in every aspect, it certainly presents a compelling case for being one of the most balanced offerings in its price range.

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