Finding a pair of high-quality yet affordable headphones can be a challenge. There are so many options available. But many of them fall short. In this review, we check out the aggressively priced HD 280’s from the legendary Sennheiser company.
Sennheiser HD 280 Pro
The Sennheiser HD 280’s promise to give you excellent sound while keeping the price tag low. Let’s check out how these headphones stack up before diving into the details.
The Sennheiser HD 280 Pro is one of the best affordable studio headphones you can buy. But it isn’t without some drawbacks that you need to consider. Let’s take a deep dive into what these headphones have to offer.
When it comes to headphones sound quality is always first and foremost in our reviews. In this area, the Sennheiser HD 280 Pro performs very well but does have some flaws.
The Sennheiser HD 280 Pro offers a neutral response that is great for studio work.
The HD 280 Pro offers a neutral and uncolored response compared to other headphones. The highs are clean and tight. Sharp without introducing unwanted tinniness. With a frequency response that tops out at 25kHz, they maintain neutrality all the way. The mids are also neutral. Plenty of character and harmonic fidelity to satisfy critical listening roles.
The low-end extends to 8Hz which is impressive for headphones. Lows are warm and rich. But these do lean towards the neutral side. As a result, they are not as punchy as some might want. Especially if you are a DJ or like to play bass-heavy music.
The soundstage is also rather roomy for a pair of closed-back headphones. The combination of solid neutrality and good soundstage makes the HD 280 Pro’s a great option for home studios.
This is one area where the Sennheiser HD 280 Pro is both good and bad. On the one hand, the overall comfort level of the pads is good. They envelop your ears and sit comfortably as long as you are not moving vigorously. But the fit is on the tighter side. If you have a large head the clamping force may be a bit excessive. The detachable headband padding is also soft and comfortable.
The HD 280 has thick padding which offers good sound isolation.
Breathability is on the low end compared to some other options. The firm fit does an excellent job of passively blocking out exterior noise. A whole 32dB worth which is excellent for DJs and vocalists. But this does result in rapid heat buildup. If you live in a warm climate you may find your ears sweating sooner than you’d like. However, long extended sessions in a comfortably cool studio shouldn’t be an issue.
These headphones weigh in at 0.49 lbs. (222 grams) which makes them a lightweight option. But the cable is on the heavier side. If you often have your cable free-hanging you’ll likely feel the added pull.
The Sennheiser HD 280 Pro is a little on the bland side in this department. The all-black muted look points to the intended application for these headphones. They look and sound like studio gear. I’m all for quality and function over appearance. But these are a little more ordinary than even I like.
The Sennheiser HD 280 Pro is collapsible but bulky.
Beyond aesthetics, the HD 280 Pro offers a collapsible design and does offer swiveling ear cups. This is great for travel but they are still bulky compared to some other options.
Another drawback is the non-detachable cable. If you have a habit of applying pressure on your cable this will lead to eventual damage. You’ll also have to make do with a coiled cable. The debate between coiled and straight cables is never definitive. Some love them while others prefer a straight cable.
While these headphones won’t win any beauty awards they offer exceptional sound quality at an affordable price.
Cheaper headphones do run the risk of employing poor-quality components. But Sennheiser has struck a solid balance between functionality and durability.
Component quality is good considering the low price point.
The headphones offer a thick and robust hard plastic that can take a bit of a beating. It’s a workhorse that is well suited to frequent use in the studio. For some, the abundance of plastic may be a red flag but you don’t need to worry. If you happen to be a little rough with your headphones these are a good budget choice.
Component quality is good throughout despite the low price point. Drivers, padding, and cable all feel solid and dependable. If you need reliable headphones for mixing and mastering in the studio these are a great option.
There is no denying that the Sennheiser HD 280 Pro is excellent value for money. Here you have what some may consider impossible. High-quality neutral sound in a robust yet affordable package.
Due to the low price point, you can’t expect a lot of added accessories. There is an adapter included but there is no bag or extra earpads. Despite the lack of extras the Sennheiser HD 280 Pro is an excellent set of headphones with a very attractive price.
Sennheiser has an excellent reputation in the audio space so there is plenty of opinions out there. The overwhelming consensus is that the HD 280s are a great set of headphones. Hundreds of 5-star reviews cement it as one of the go-to options for headphones in this price range.
Headphones For Different Purposes
When selecting headphones it is important to first understand what you intend to use them for. There are no headphones out there that can cover all bases. Below is a list of some common uses and what type of headphones you should be looking to pick up.
If your primary intention for headphones is studio work you’ll want a comfortable set of headphones. You’ll also want to ensure you get a pair with a neutral response. This allows for accurate tracking, mixing, and mastering. For recording opt for closed back to avoid leakage into your recordings.
If you are a DJ you’ll want a set of headphones with maximum isolation. Closed-back options are the best choice here. Additionally, you’ll also want a set of headphones with a clean and punchy low-end. This can help make beatmatching easier.
Closed-back headphones are the best choice for DJs.
For runners and people that like to listen to music while working out, you’ll need to look at in-ear options. While some over-ear options are capable there is always the risk of them sliding off your head during vigorous exercise sessions.
For casual listening, there are plenty of choices. Open-back headphones offer a rich and spacious soundscape which is ideal for audiophiles. Just remember that people around you will be able to hear what you are listening to. If you want a quiet experience closed-back is a great option for shutting out the rest of the world. Perfect for commuting.
There are many more potential scenarios but I hope the above helps you define what type of headphones you need.
If you are looking for a quality set of headphones there are a multitude of excellent options available. Here is a small selection of alternatives to the Sennheiser HD 280 Pro.
Shure SRH440A Review
Another popular pair of cans in this price range is the SRH440A. With clean styling and dependable quality, it is an excellent alternative to the HD 280.
- Clear and defined sound with a high level of neutrality.
- High comfort level and good component quality.
- The top-end is a little bright which can be fatiguing over longer sessions.
Mackie MC-250 Review
If you prefer to stick to more affordable choices the Mackie MC-250 is another wallet-friendly option. While not balanced and neutral like the HD 280 Pro they offer a satisfying sound profile.
- An excellent low-end response that will appeal to DJs or lovers of bass-heavy music.
- Thick padding that offers a comfortable fit and good isolation.
- Shares the all-plastic build which may not be to everyone’s liking.
Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro Review
The DT 770 Pro from Beyerdynamic is another dependable pair of headphones. These are a great closed-back option for recording sessions and general studio work.
- The soft ear padding is among the best in the business. Super comfortable.
- A flat and transparent sound profile that delivers an authentic reproduction of the source material.
- The high impedance rating means you’ll need a good headphone amp to get the most out of these.
Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro
Should You Buy?
Sennheiser has managed to exceed my expectations when it comes to the HD 280s. At this price point, I wasn’t expecting much but these deliver on several fronts.
The defined balance makes these an appealing choice for studio work. Especially for the budget-conscious home producer. It’s also great for vocalists thanks to the strong passive isolation.
If you need a reliable and affordable pair of headphones for your studio the Sennheiser HD 280 Pro is among the best at this price point.
Sennheiser HD 280 Pro