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Best Sennheiser headphones
Sennheiser is one of a handful of audio monoliths and picking from its wide array of headsets can be an overwhelming process. Despite not having the sexiest of model names, Sennheiser headphones are reliable and consistently perform above their price bracket when compared. So, let’s dig in and figure out the best Sennheiser headphones for your needs.
Editor’s note: this post was updated on January, 13 2022, to include the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless, Sennheiser HD 450BT, and Sennheiser HD 599 in our Best list. The Sennheiser HD 660S is given a highlight alongside the added Sennheiser SPORT True Wireless. To the Notable mentions the Sennheiser HD 569 and Sennheiser HD 559 were added, alongside updates to FAQ and links.
Why is the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless the best Sennheiser headphones?
Sennheiser upped the ante with the MOMENTUM 4 Wireless, a premium set of active noise cancelling (ANC) headphones. These cans feel comfortable for extended listening sessions, and even for folks with glasses. Good luck draining the very impressive 56 hours and 21 minutes of battery life (with ANC on), but if you do, there’s always an optional wired connection. You even get an airplane adapter for flying.
Through the combination of isolation and ANC, the MOMENTUM 4 Wireless reduces loudness of high pitched sounds by 75-95%. Low pitched sounds see about a 75% reduction in volume. Adding to this premium experience is the suite of high quality Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX HD, or aptX Adaptive.
As is the trend lately with premium headphones, the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless uses touch controls. These work well, and you can adjust them to your taste in the app which has some niceties like an equalizer. Most listeners won’t want to alter the sound much, given that the MOMENTUM 4 Wireless arrives sounding very close to our ideal tuning. That the MOMENTUM 4 Wireless sells for a bit less than the flagship Sony WH-1000XM5 means it’s not only a great headset with better codecs and battery life, but it’s cheaper too. Still, if you need a cheaper headset take a look at our next pick.
Considering the limitations of built in mics on headphones, the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless mic sounds fairly natural. It can struggle with noise rejection. Take a listen for yourself.
Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless microphone demo (Ideal conditions):
Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless microphone demo (Windy conditions):
Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless microphone demo (Street conditions):
How does the microphone sound to you?
The Sennheiser HD 450BT is wireless for less
Usually the name Sennheiser is not associated with “budget” and the sub $150 USD noise cancelling HD 450BT looks pricier than it is. Sure, the ANC won’t outperform premium picks, but in terms of value, the HD 450BT supplies high quality codecs like aptX and aptX Low Latency, alongside standard AAC and SBC. You can also plug it in with the optional headphone jack.
Hold up! Something’s different:
Some of our picks’ frequency response and isolation charts were measured with our old testing system. We have since purchased a Bruel & Kjaer 5128 test fixture (and the appropriate support equipment) to update our testing and data collection. It will take a while to update our backlog of old test results, but we will update this article (and many others!) once we’re able with improved sound quality measurements and isolation performance plots. These will be made obvious with our new chart aesthetic (black background instead of white).
Thank you for bearing with us, and we hope to see you again once we’ve sorted everything out.
At 27 hours and 2 minutes of battery life, the HD 450BT won’t outlast the MOMENTUM 4 Wireless, but it also costs about a third the price. It’s certainly a good enough battery for most people. Caveats here include that this pair of over-ear headphones might feel more like on-ears for some folks with ears larger than average. For a good sounding set of headphones with a dab of ANC, the Sennheiser HD 450BT offers a lot for not a lot of dough. Interestingly, Sennheiser also makes an Alexa enabled version for an added cost of $146.7 at Amazon.
By no means is the mic quality the strength of the Sennheiser HD 450BT. It’s fine, but not the leading reason to pick a pair up.
Sennheiser HD 450BT microphone demo (Non-standardized):
How does the microphone sound to you?
For open-back cans, it’s hard to beat the Sennheiser HD 58X Jubilee
For a long time, the Sennheiser HD 600 and HD 650 were the best headphones you can get from Sennheiser that were actually obtainable (aka not absurdly expensive). Now we can add another one to the mix thanks to the good folks over at Drop (formerly Massdrop). Drop teamed up with Sennheiser to release the HD 58X Jubilee, which is a modern version of a limited edition pair from the past. This also happens to be very similar to the HD 600 and HD 650, with new drivers as well as a lower 150Ω impedance.
While this pair of headphones sounds great, it’s not always readily available since it’s a Drop exclusive. While they currently can be had year-round through the “Drop Studio” program, it may return to being sold in batches. If you miss one of the drops, you can just wait around for the next one.
Still, this is a great set of open-back headphones thanks to the comfortable padding and solid sound quality. Best of all, it only costs about $150 USD which, compared to some of Sennheiser’s other high-end models, is a steal. If you want an upgrade, the Drop x Sennheiser HD 6XX costs $399 at Sennheiser, and offers outstanding sound quality. Both of these headphones are much better than their price would suggest, but the HD 58X offers the better value—and the HD 6XX is the better quality headset.
Stay home with the Sennheiser HD 599
Not every set of headphones needs to follow you on your commute. Sometimes all you need is a comfortable pair of headphones like the Sennheiser HD 599 with which to plug in and relax. Sporting a balanced weight distribution and adjustable fit with velour and foam, the HD 599 has a long cable 3m cable for the times you want to move about, or a shorter, 1.2m cable.
Its sound is characterized by a reasonably good treble reproduction, and some exaggerations in the low end. For casual music and media consumption it’s totally fine, but studio grade it is not. The HD 599 having open backs means you won’t want to use it out of your home due to sound leaks and almost no isolation. However, as a set of headphones for milling about the house and watching shows, or using your computer without bothering to charge batteries, it’s a solid set.
Is the Sennheiser HD 280 Pro good for studio work?
The Sennheiser HD 280 Pro is a studio classic, and it’s the only sub-$100 pick here. This set of dynamic, closed-back cans is ideal for studio use and is comfortable to wear for extended periods of time. Considering studio headphones is a category that can get quite expensive, this budget pair does its job pretty darn well.
The headband cushions may look silly but they promote even weight distribution and the earpads are breathable, preventing your ears from overheating. The 3.3-meter-long coiled cable offers plenty of leeway for navigating a studio environment; it’s also replaceable, which is a nice touch. What’s more, the earcups rotate and lay flat on the chest when not in use.
The Sennheiser HD 660S is a great set of headphones indoors
Were it not for the limited use cases of the Sennheiser HD 660S combined with the midrange to expensive price tag, it would be in our top choices. First off, it sounds great with a frequency response designed for analytical listening. However, the HD 660S is also open backed, meaning you’ll have to listen exclusively in quiet spaces. Sennheiser ships the headset with different cables for optional balanced connections, and the build is good.
For producers it could be just the ticket for mixing and mastering, with excellent natural sounding reproduction of instruments. It might just be a bit steep in price for a niche usability, unless that’s your niche.
What about true wireless earbuds from Sennheiser?
If you’re set on true wireless earbuds, Sennheiser has your back with the Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 3. These gorgeous earbuds have active noise cancelling that’s miles better than their predecessor. It also sounds great and has voice assistant support. The Sennheiser Smart Control app lets you can equalize the sound, update the firmware, enable the transparent hearing function, and remap the earbuds’ touch controls. The buds use aptX Adaptive, aptX, AAC, and SBC. aptX Adaptive is a rare inclusion on even the most premium wireless earbuds and headsets, and it balances connection stability with audio quality.
With the MOMENTUM True Wireless 3, you get a USB-C charging case that supports wireless charging. It can also fast charge the earbuds: 10 minutes in the case yields 60 minutes of playtime. The case provides an additional three charge cycles to the standalone 5-hour, 33-minute battery life.
However, if the price of $199.95 at Amazon for the MOMENTUM True Wireless 3 seems a bit steep, the Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless might be more your speed. These blocky earphones have an IPX4 rating, great isolation and ANC for the price, and sells for $69.95 at Amazon. You’ll get good ANC and isolation, as well, so they’re suitable for commuting or listening to your tunes without distractions.
Athletes may favor the Sennheiser SPORT True Wireless, which does not have ANC, but supplies an IP54 against dust and sweat. Out of the box, it sounds good and has one of the best transparency modes we’ve reviewed for anyone exercising outdoors. It can be had for $99.95 at Amazon.
For the best of the best, get the Sennheiser HD 820
When it comes to high-end headphones, the Sennheiser HD 820 is close to the end all, be all. Unlike the HD 800 model, these are closed-back and feature a glass transducer that mitigates chamber resonances. That transparent design bleeds into the sound quality as things resonate crystal clear through this headset.
Although shifting from an open to closed-back design may seem a curious choice, Sennheiser claims that this is more effective as the same vast soundscape is achieved while simultaneously attenuating external noise. What’s more, the thick ear pads further block out environmental noise and create a comfortable fit. All of this comes at a high cost of $1699.95 at Amazon.
These audiophile headphones require a DAC and amplifier; naturally, Sennheiser has a specialized one available: the HDV 820 as a perfect complement to the HD 820 Sennheiser headphones… for another $2399.99 at Amazon.
We realize that few people will want to dig out nearly $5,000 from their savings, which is why our highlighted top five picks are more down to Earth.
The best Sennheiser headphones: Notable mentions
- Sennheiser HD 559: Similar in style to the Sennheiser HD 599, the HD 559 markets itself as the budget version of the HD 559 (for $79.16 at Amazon) with one less cable.
- Sennheiser HD 569: For the person who likes the idea of the HD 599, but wants a closed back isolating fit, this might be the set for you. It sells for $92.29 at Amazon.
- Sennheiser HD 350BT: For only $69.95 at Amazon, these Bluetooth 5.0 headphones have great sound quality and are very portable, though not the most comfortable headset in the world.
- Sennheiser IE 100 PRO Wireless: Want a pair of earbuds that can go from wired to wireless in just a few seconds? Well, then check out the IE 100 PRO Wireless. With this, Sennheiser includes its Bluetooth neckband adapter and MMCX earbuds for $117 at Amazon.
- Sennheiser IE 300: These wired earbuds will please audiophiles with their 7mm Extra Wide Band Transducers. Its sound profile is similar to the Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 2 earbuds, but it has ear hooks and an easily replaceable cable. By no means cheap selling for $199.95 at Amazon, it’s still nice. If you want the cream of the crop when it comes to enthusiast IEMs, get the Sennheiser IE 900. but expect to pay $1299 at Sennheiser.
Listeners who want to stick to the Sennheiser family should consider any one of the alternatives below. Otherwise, there are great options beyond the Sennheiser brand. We like companies with a good track record like Audio-Technica, Sony, and Bose. with some of our favorite individual headsets being the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2, Sony WH-1000XM5, and Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700.
What you should know about Sennheiser headphones
Most models are more specialized than general consumer cans, so you’ll need to know more info before you buy. While that doesn’t preclude every option from being a worthy consumer headset, it does mean Sennheiser headphones are a bit more niche than something like Beats.
How should the best Sennheiser headphones sound?
It depends on which headphones you’re looking at. If you’re going for a consumer headset like the MOMENTUM 4 Wireless, then you’ll notice the headphones that the treble aligns well with the SoundGuys consumer curve with a hint more bass. Treble notes are typically louder than mids, and Sennheiser seems to under-emphasize a certain treble range (usually from 3-7kHz) as on the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 3 True Wireless earbuds.
Studio headphones from Sennheiser sound different from consumer ones and have a more neutral bass and midrange response. These frequencies will sound equally as loud, or close to it, making it easier to mix audio. There are plenty of reasons why you’d want a studio sound from your headphones, and plenty of reasons why you wouldn’t want this. It all depends on your use case, and with most of Sennheiser’s wireless headsets, you can EQ the sound within the Smart Control app.
Do Sennheiser earbuds and headphones need an amp?
Some headphones like the HD 820 require an amp and DAC combo for optimal functionality. When you’re spending upwards of $2,000, the last thing you want to do is spend more money on external components. Fortunately, the other picks can skate by sans-amp.
How we choose the best Sennheiser headphones
When it comes to Sennheiser headphones, we know that most interested consumers are looking for the best sound quality they can afford, which is what we kept in mind when picking out each awardee per category.
We did our due diligence and researched top Sennheiser products carefully while taking into account the wide variety of listeners who may be drawn to the company’s products. We understand that few people will need or want the HD 820 but felt it worth acknowledging the headset’s technological achievements.
Why you should trust SoundGuys
Each writer at SoundGuys has accumulated years of experience reporting on the consumer audio market, and our staff adheres to a strict ethics policy. We don’t use sponsored content on the website at a time when doing so is the norm. SoundGuys’ survival depends almost exclusively on readers enjoying their purchases. We pride ourselves on transparently outlining objective facts, while accounting for the subjective experience to contextualize an audio product’s performance. When we do misspeak, we correct and own up to it.
Frequently asked questions about the best Sennheiser headphones
Both Sennheiser and Audio-Technica are audio stalwarts with decades-long presences in the industry. Each company has similar, competitive offerings, and you can’t go wrong with either. Though, many of Sennheiser’s more economical offerings tend to have smaller ear cups compared to Audio-Technica, which is something to keep in mind if you have average-sized or larger-than-average ears. The compromise to this is portability; there are certainly travel-friendly Audio-Technica headphones, but Sennheiser generally has an edge. Both companies know how to make a good-sounding product. As far as Bose is concerned, it’s targeted more toward a consumer demographic, and is a household name. We have a complete list of the best Bose headphones for your perusal.
Yes, several actually! Sennheiser makes flagship MOMENTUM 3 True Wireless, CX Plus True Wireless, CX True Wireless, Sport True Wireless, CX400BT, and sometimes you can find the MOMENTUM 2 True Wireless on sale. We’d recommend going with the first two because they have active noise cancellation and are newer. However, all will give you great audio quality.
Open back and closed back refers to the physical build of a set of headphones. Open backs do not block out room noise nearly as much as closed backs, but open backs deliver a purer sound because there are less echos produced by the sound rebounding off of the headphone walls.
When it comes to choosing between the two types, it really depends on the atmosphere in which you plan to use the headphones. If you are using them in a studio with noise isolation, open backs will give you a much more natural sound that is accurate to the recording. On the other hand, if you want headphones for commuting, you’ll want to go with closed back because the enclosed space allows for isolation. However, the closed back barrier can also produce slight echoing or delayed response times because of the high pressure in the chamber behind the drivers.