Sennheiser is a household name among audiophiles, and lately it’s been on a tear with updates to its higher-end headphones and in-ears. Though the HD 6XXS line of headphones have seen pretty minor changes, what about the Sennheiser HD 560S, the least expensive option? Well, we finally were able to kick the tires and find out.
Editor’s note: this is the first version of the article. Updates will follow as the market changes.
About thisreview: We tested the Sennheiser HD 560S over a period of 1 week. SoundGuys purchased the unit for this review.
What’s it like to use the Sennheiser HD 560S?
Aimed at the music enthusiast looking for a step up from the usual suspects, the Sennheiser HD 560S fits the archetype of what a moderately priced set of open-back headphones should be. The headphones aren’t overly heavy thanks to their mostly plastic construction, but the performant parts of this machine are definitely a cut above the entry level. Comfort is absolutely no issue with plush pad covers and soft foam, and the relatively large cup size means the somewhat low weight is distributed over a large area on your head. I can easily go several hours with them on my noggin without discomfort.
The Sennheiser HD 560S’ ear pads are cloth, and the drivers are angled to accommodate your ears.
The left ear cup features a removable locking 2.5mm TRRS plug, which is a great boon to durability, though the nonstandard connector and weird connection lock limits your choices for cable replacement a bit. I advise you not to take it out unless you really have to, not only because repeated stresses on any joint will add wear to it, but also because it’s possible to miss the jack entirely and just kind of wedge the plug into the gap in the plastic housing. It won’t break anything, but it’s definitely annoying when you can’t always plug something in by feel alone.
Using the TRRS jack in the headphones themselves and then using the TRS connector on the cable tells me that it’s possible this product had the capability for using a balanced connection or XLR interconnect with a different cable. While it won’t be a huge mover for many, it is a nice added feature tucked away for those who care about eliminating as much noise as humanly possible.
Inside the headphones are a pair of transducers angled to meet the natural tilt of your ears, though there’s no guarantee that it will match perfectly. In general, this is a plus because it meets your anatomy where it is, rather than potentially putting too much pressure on your outer ears. Given that these are headphones meant for long listening sessions at the computer or at home, any concessions for comfort are going to be important.
How does the Sennheiser HD 560S connect?
Like many higher-end wired headphones, the Sennheiser HD 560S connects to your source with a 1/4-inch TRS connector. If you have a source with a 3.5mm jack, there is an adapter in the packaging of the product for use with these systems. Weirdly though, Sennheiser opted to use the cumbersome 1/4-inch plug by default, and not some threaded adapter system like Beyerdynamic does. Perhaps this is cheaper to manufacture somehow, but it makes the 3.5mm dongle a bit unwieldy.
At 9.8 feet long without the dongle, the cable of the Sennheiser HD 560S is cumbersome.
With a listed impedance of 120Ohms and a sensitivity of 110dB (1kHz/1Vrms),at normal listening volumes an amp isn’t necessary. Most computer headphone jacks should be more than up to the task. However, if you do notice that your headphones have some audible noise (or you can’t listen to some songs in your library) you may want to look into a DAC unit or soundcard.
How well does the Sennheiser HD 560S block out noise?
As the Sennheiser HD 560S is a set of open-back headphones, it doesn’t really block out any noise around you at all. That’s intended behavior, as keeping the back of the ear cup unsealed prevents the need to design around the challenges of having a closed volume of air around the driver unit.
Open backed headphones don’t block out sound well, so the Sennheiser HD 560S is not a good isolator.
For many high-end headphones, that can mean fewer resonances in the earcups, and more “natural sounding” music. Just don’t be surprised if you can hear your roommates, family, or neighbors during your listening sessions. Additionally, everyone around you will be able to hear your music if you listen loudly enough. Really, the only outside noise the Sennheiser HD 560S is able to attenuate is the high frequency junk that you’d have a hard time hearing anyway. Again, completely normal.
How does the Sennheiser HD 560S sound?
Sennheiser knows how to make headphones, and the Sennheiser HD 560S is no slouch. Holding close to our house curve for legacy studio type cans, the small deviations here and there can be chalked up to minor colorations that don’t really harm the experience in any way that matters. Sure, there’s a falloff in the absolute lowest lows, but that’s something you’ll have to deal with in almost any open-back dynamic drivers. This product performs very well in the sound quality department, but bass-lovers used to emphasis in the lows may disagree.
The Sennheiser HD 560S performs very closely to our Studio Curve, save for a little bump at 5kHz.
As it is with most higher-end headphones (at least the ones in the more entry-level bracket), the goal of the manufacturer is to provide a headphone that is a bit more accurate than consumer-oriented cans. In this light, it’s not surprising that distortion isn’t much of an issue unless there’s a weak link in the signal path somewhere. Additionally, the sound is generally “flat” where most of your music lives. Really, the biggest deviations from this kind of sound are going to show up at 4kHz which will simply make any sounds with harmonics in that range appear “clear” compared to how they’d usually sound. You may not end up liking it, but it’s a pretty straightforward 5dB cut if you wish to equalize it away.
If you’re coming from older Sennheiser headphones in hopes of an incremental upgrade, S-series headphones like the Sennheiser HD 560S may sound a bit “dark” in comparison to what you’re used to. That’s not really the case, it’s more so that the closer competitors lack bass extension and tend to emphasize treble a fair bit—making them more “bright” in comparison. Truth be told the differences are extremely minor, but if you’re bothered by this you can easily just nudge a few sliders in an equalizer program or device to get things back where they “should” be.
Picking up some tunes from Daft Punk’sRandom Access Memories album, there’s not a ton that will jump out and grab you in terms of anythingwrong.Though these are not perfect headphones by any stretch, the Sennheiser HD 560S does offer a bit of a glimpse into howTouch would sound on a decent speaker system. And that’s really the goal here; minus bothering the neighborhood with your music at all hours of the night.
Little details like string attack, drum attack, and imperfections in the performances that add a little character are easier to hear with the Sennheiser HD 560S than it would be a set of cheaper in-ears or over-ears. While that’s not the main draw of having better headphones, it does make the suspension of disbelief necessary for your brain to regard a recording being “real” to you a little easier. For example, the background noise in the café on the track Giorgio by Moroder doesn’t sound thin or fake: it sounds more or less like you’re there.
No. Burn-in is a myth. Just start listening to your headphones and enjoy.
Should you buy the Sennheiser HD 560S?
The band of the Sennheiser HD 560S is largely plastic, which may show early wear if you aren’t gentle.
Looking for a set of headphones that prize sound quality above all other concerns will lead many into strange places, so we feel like any recommendation for high-end headphones comes with a huge pinch of salt. Individual tastes vary greatly, and the story of Sennheiser’s new S-variants reflect this. As most of these headphones are slightly more bass-heavy (and we do mean slightly here) than their predecessors, anyone used to the older models may not be wild about the new sound. However, these differences are so minor you could easily equalize them away with some patience.
In that light, the Sennheiser HD 560S has a lot to offer outside of mere preference. It’s a credible set of higher-end headphones that doesn’t exactly break the bank and offers a fairly accessible entry point to the audiophile world. We don’t have any trouble recommending this to anyone beginning their foray into higher quality audio performance.
Sennheiser HD 560S
Well priced • Clean and accurate audio • Open-backed design
Powerful open-back wired headphones for audiophiles
Designed to deliver a natural and accurate reference sound, the Sennheiser HD 560S are light-weight, open-back wired headphones designed for the audiophile experience.
If you’re wondering about how long replacement parts will exist for any one model, Sennheiser is one of the safe companies to bet on having solid customer service, and sticking around long-term. However, if don’t think the form factor will work for you, due to the plastic or the driver type, there are plenty of alternatives.
What should you get instead of the Sennheiser HD 560S?
The sub-$200 USD price point is a pretty good sweet spot, and a number of other headphones in this range may tickle your fancy. In particular, take a gander at the Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO, AKG K701, or Drop x Sennheiser HD 6XX.
The Beyerdynamic headphones in particular are generally more comfortable, as they have an even wider set of ear cups than the Sennheiser HD 560S do. Additionally they have more metal in their construction, and more plush earpads. Though the DT 990 PRO are definitely a bit old at this point, they do compete nicely with the Sennheiser HD 560S, and no need for a dongle to connect to sources without a 1/4-inch jack.
If you’re looking for a step up from the Sennheiser HD 560S, then you’ll want to snag the Drop x Sennheiser HD 6XX. This is essentially a rebranded version of the older HD 650, but with some choices made in the manufacturing process to keep the price down a little bit. These cans typically go on sale for about the same price the HD 560S, so there’s really no reason to choose one over the other if you find something you like about either model. Having used both, though, I strongly prefer the HD 6XX because of its better comfort, and lack of strange connector. You may find the Y-shaped cable a bit cumbersome though.
Frequently asked questions
Typically you’ll have to sort through Sennheiser’s store to find the correct cable, but we were able to find some options on Amazon. Because of the proprietary connector shape (the locking mechanism) you won’t be able to jam in any TRRS cable, so just be wary that you’ll likely have to spend a couple bucks extra for a cable that works with your headphones.