Sennheiser HD560S: an accessible audiophile experience

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Today we’re reviewing the Sennheiser HD5060S open-back headphones. Sold for €199, the latest addition to the HD 500 range, known for providing models with great value for money, looks very promising. With an open-back design for a natural distribution of sound waves, these audiophile headphones are meant to be used at home. The Sennheiser HD560S headphones are equipped with brand-new 38mm angled drivers with a high-strength magnet which the brand claims will provide fast, deep and detailed lows as well as vibrant highs for a natural and precise sound. Is this truly the case? Find out in this review.

Sennheiser HD560S: the brand

Founded in 1945 by Professor Fritz Sennheiser under the name “Laboratorium Wennebostel”, Sennheiser is a German company that specializes in producing headphones and microphones. At the time this small company manufactured measuring devices and microphones such as the DM1 and MD2, which very quickly became popular with radio stations. In the late 1950s, the German manufacturer diversified its product range and began to produce geophysical measuring equipment, noise-cancelling microphones, preamplifiers, mixers, and miniature transformers for hearing aids. It wasn’t until 1958 that Laboratorium Wennebostel became Sennheiser Electronic.

In 1968, Sennheiser released its first open-back headphones, now recognized as the world’s best-selling hi-fi headphones: the Sennheiser HD414.

Released in 1968, the Sennheiser HD414 were the world’s first open-back headphones.

Since then, the manufacturer has made hi-fi headphones its spearhead by offering increasingly innovative systems, notably with the world’s first open-back electret model. In 1991, the Orpheus, a pair of electrostatic headphones sold with a tube amplifier, were named the best headphones in the world by the specialized press. Twenty-six years later, the brand announced the release of the excellent Sennheiser HE-1 open-back electrostatic headphones, regarded as the “new Orpheus”.

In 2009, Sennheiser returned to manufacturing open-back headphones with the very high-end and well received Sennheiser HD 800 (read our review of the Sennheiser HD800 and Sennheiser HDVD800).

The Sennheiser HD 800 open-back headphones were lauded by the press when they were released in 2015.

To this day, Sennheiser remains an internationally renowned brand with a catalog that includes a Bluetooth transmitter, a soundbar, an AV transmitter, telephone earphones, Bluetooth headphones, true wireless IEMs, IEMs, headphone amplifiers, a pair of studio headphones, a pair of portable headphones, gaming headphones, TV headphones, wireless headphones, Bluetooth headphones as well as hi-fi headphones such as the Sennheiser HD 660S, Sennheiser HD-800S, Sennheiser HE-1, and the Sennheiser HD560S that we are testing today.

Sennheiser HD560S: packaging & accessories

The Sennheiser HD560S headphones come in a cardboard box featuring a picture of the headphones. Inside, the headphones are wedged inside a cardboard mould, underneath which there is a detachable 3 meter single-sided cable with a 6.35mm jack connector and a 6.35mm jack to 3.5mm mini-jack adapter.

The Sennheiser HD560S open-back headphones come with a detachable 3 meter single-sided cable (mini-jack to jack) and a 6.35mm jack to 3.5mm mini-jack adapter.

Sennheiser HD560S: presentation

The Sennheiser HD560S are open-back circumaural headphones with a very linear and extended frequency response ranging from 6Hz to 38kHz, a high impedance of 120 ohms and a sensitivity of 110dB. These open-back headphones should be able to reproduce the entire frequency spectrum, provided that they are associated with a sufficiently powerful source due to their high impedance.

Sennheiser HD560S: design

The Sennheiser HD560S headphones are surprisingly light (only 240g). To achieve this, Sennheiser opted for an “all-plastic” design. A risk that paid off, as this inexpensive material allowed the brand to significantly lower the price of the HD560S while optimizing audio quality.

The very practical detachable cable can be changed if it gets damaged, which contributes to the longevity of the headphones. It also has the advantage of offering greater freedom of movement.

The Sennheiser HD560S headphones’ practical detachable cable can be easily replaced.

Sennheiser HD560S: paired drivers

In an effort to satisfy its customers, Sennheiser took into account their requests and opted for a new polymer cone with linear excursion and improved clarity over 10kHz. The new 38mm drivers with their high-strength magnet also come with the promise of smooth and deep lows. Finally, the angular alignment of the E.A.R. (Ergonomic Acoustic Refinement) drivers recreates the optimal triangular listening position found when listening to music on speakers in the living room or in a recording studio. This design aims to reproduce a wide and articulate soundstage with a neutral reproduction of the music.

The Sennheiser HD560S headphones’ angled E.A.R. alignment recreates the optimal triangular listening position and consequently improves frequency perception.

Sennheiser HD560S: comfort

Although the Sennheiser HD 560S appeared quite stiff at first, this minor apprehension quickly disappeared once we put them on. Their adjustable (and quiet) headband is well designed and allows the headphones to adapt easily to all body types. The Sennheiser HD 560S headphones are fairly comfortable. Of course, this is mostly due to their padding and velvet covered foam ear pads. We wore them for several listening sessions of 2 to 5 hours without feeling any particular discomfort.

The headband and ear pads of the Sennheiser HD 560 S are made of thick, velvet covered foam, ensuring a comfortable fit.

Key specifications

Design

Type: open-back
Coupling: over-ear
Drivers: 2 x 38mm
Polymer cone
Removable velvet covered memory foam ear pads

Measurements

Frequency response: 6Hz – 38kHz (-10dB at 1kHz)
Impedance: 120 Ω
Total harmonic distortion – THD (1kHz, 100dB): 0.05% (at 1kHz/90dB SPL)
Sound pressure level – SPL: 110dB (1kHz/1 Veff)

Included accessories

Detachable 3 meter single-sided cable with a 6.35mm jack connector 
6.35mm jack to 3.5mm mini-jack adapter
Quick start guide and safety guide

General

Weight: 240g

Sennheiser HD560S: listening conditions

For our review of the Sennheiser HD560S hi-fi headphones, we used the FiiO M11 Pro DAP (our favorite source that we know well and often use at home), first as an audio player then in USB DAC mode. We listened to Qobuz (Sublime+ subscription up to 24-bit/192kHz) as well as FLAC files stored on the computer (Windows 10) and played via the Foobar 2000 application.

Sennheiser HD560S: listening impressions

Overall, the Sennheiser HD 560S impressed us. Thanks to its extended linear response, it perfectly reproduced each register without coloration. The music had room to breathe. The bass was controlled, offered a nice presence and knew how to be punchy when necessary, as we noticed with Phil Collins’ drum solo during In The Air Tonight. The very clear and detailed highs were never tiring, even with songs rich in high frequencies. This is something we noticed during Gary Moore’s famous Parisienne Walkways, where saturated guitars dominate. Finally, the Sennheiser HD 560 S was able to express all its potential with the Eagles’ timeless song Hotel California (Live on MTV, 1994 version). This excellent ballad is great for testing the stereo imaging and texture of a pair of headphones, as well as the width and depth of the soundstage. Here, we enjoyed a coherent and pretty wide image, with nice texture and depth.

Sennheiser HD560S: compared to…

Audio-Technica ATH-AD500x: priced at €119, these open-back headphones have 53mm drivers as opposed to 38mm for the Sennheiser model. Because a bigger cone can move more air, the Audio-Technica headphones offer fuller and more enveloping lows. However, the Sennheiser HD 560S has a wider frequency response in the highs, which are more detailed.

HiFiMAN HE-400i 2020: sold for the same price as the Sennheiser HD560S, the HiFiMAN HE-400i 2020 headphones’ impedance is almost four times lower and their sensitivity is slightly inferior, which should make them easier to power. But the Sennheiser headphones have the advantage when it comes to weight, as the HiFiMAN HE-400i 2020s weigh 130g more.

Sennheiser HD560S: conclusion

The Sennheiser HD560S headphones offer excellent value for money. Although we would have appreciated a wider soundstage, one has to acknowledge that they offer outstanding neutrality. The Sennheiser HD506Ss ability to offer a smooth and detailed reproduction across the entire sound spectrum is a great achievement at this price. These Sennheiser headphones are the ideal choice for anyone looking for genuine hi-fi headphones that won’t break the bank. However, because of their 120 ohm impedance, they have to be paired with a sufficiently powerful headphone amplifier, such as the Taga Harmony THDA-200T, or with a USB audio DAC like the Aune Audio T1S.

What we liked

The absence of coloration
The clear highs
The accurate lows
The excellent value for money

What we would have liked

A slightly wider soundstage


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Traductrice et rédactrice avec des goûts très éclectiques en matière de musique et de cinéma. Lorsque je ne suis pas au travail, vous pouvez me retrouver en train de regarder “Lost in Translation” de Sofia Coppola pour la centième fois, ou d’écouter un disque de David Bowie, Kate Bush, Joy Division ou Daft Punk sur ma platine Rega Planar 1. Étant d’origine britannique, je suis également adepte de séries à l’humour absurde comme Monty Python’s Flying Circus et The Mighty Boosh !

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