Links on SoundGuys may earn us a commission. Learn more.
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 June 30, 2022, to include the Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless and Sennheiser CX True Wireless as highlight picks for true wireless earbuds and update links.
Why is the Sennheiser PXC 550-II the best Sennheiser headphones?
This set of active noise cancelling (ANC) headphones is a great option for frequent flyers and daily commuters. The headband folds up and egg-shaped ear cups comfortably cradle the ear while the headband distributes weight evenly across the head.
Listeners get up to 30 hours of playback on a single charge and the microphone effectively isolates your voice from background noises, ensuring clear call quality. Like the Sony WH-1000XM4, these Sennheiser headphones feature touch-sensitive panels on the ear cups. The PXC 550-II has some of the best noise cancelling for its price bracket, and even holds more premium headsets to the fire.
Not only is Sennheiser’s ANC excellent, but it supports Bluetooth multipoint and you can stream over SBC, AAC, aptX, and aptX Low Latency for high-quality wireless audio on any device. Listeners who want to enjoy lossless playback can use the included 2.5mm-to-3.5mm cable too.
Anyone who wants a versatile, portable headset with plenty of features to accommodate a modern lifestyle will grow to love the Sennheiser PXC 550-II.
The Sennheiser MOMENTUM 3 Wireless is for the stylish
Perhaps you view your headphones as more than just a way to listen to music, but also as an accessory to complement your outfit. If that’s the case, the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 3 Wireless is for you: this ANC headset features a timeless design and clean lines that bode well for any style.
The thick memory foam ear pads are supremely comfortable and form a proper seal around the ear, with plenty of wiggle room for any ear shape or size. You can compact the headset, thanks to its folding hinges, and store it in the provided case. While everything about this headset is premium, the case isn’t quite there. It doesn’t do much to protect the Sennheiser MOMENTUM Wireless 3 from anything beyond scuffs.
Commuters and jet setters will get plenty of use out of these noise cancelling headphones. The noise cancelling makes midrange frequencies sound half or one-quarter as loud as they’d sound without the headset. This isn’t the best noise cancelling around; for that, you have to look at Sony and Bose’s flagships, but it’s effective and certainly better than nothing.
(Click the chart to expand.)
Sound quality is bassy, and bass notes sound twice as loud as mids. This may not be an audiophile’s delight, but it isn’t meant to be. Instead, these headphones are for the fashionable audio enthusiasts among us. Plus, you can always EQ the bass down in the Sennheiser app, if it’s too loud.
Unlike most Sennheiser headphones, you’re paying a lot for the aesthetic design of the MOMENTUM Wireless 3, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. This is a gorgeous headset that does everything very well.
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 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 is only $70 USD more, 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.
Game on with the Sennheiser GAME ONE
Now, it may seem odd that a high-end audio company produces gaming headsets, but it actually makes a fair amount of sense. After all, gamers rely heavily on accurate sound reproduction, especially as it applies to the soundstage. Being able to hear where your enemy is approaching from is the difference between digital life and death.
The GAME ONE is compatible with PCs, Macs, and standalone consoles. It includes a noise cancelling boom mic that allows for clear, but quiet, voice transmission. Plus, there’s a mute functionality for when your roommates are being noisy in the background.
Additionally, the open-back design aids in a more realistic perception of 3D sound and keeps the head cool during gameplay. The extra-large ear pads are also breathable which comes in handy during long tournaments.
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.
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 $250 USD price of 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 retail for $129 USD. You’ll get good ANC and isolation, as well, so they’re suitable for commuting or listening to your tunes without distractions.
There’s also the older Sennheiser CX True Wireless. They don’t offer ANC, but they do have decent isolation. They make for good workout earphones if you still want to hear the world around you, and at $79.95 USD, they’re not a bad deal. Overall, they may not do anything particularly outstanding, but they do a bit of everything reasonably well.
For the best of the best, get the Sennheiser HD 820
When it comes to high-end headphones, the Sennheiser HD 820 is 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.
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 $2,399.95.
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 GSP 670: Gamers who want a wireless headset with great sound quality should get the GSP 670. The headset features surround sound using Sennheiser’s Gaming Suite app, but sounds great with it toggled off too.
- Sennheiser HD 350BT: For only $100, these Bluetooth 5.0 headphones have great sound quality and are very portable, though not the most comfortable headset in the world.
- Sennheiser HD 450BT: If you want noise cancelling headphones that are good, portable, and boast excellent battery life, look no further than the fair-priced HD 450BT.
- Sennheiser HD 598 SR: The HD 598 is great for casual and analytical listeners alike. It also includes plush ear pads and a spacious fit for all-day enjoyment. Plus, they cost way less than some other Sennheiser models.
- Sennheiser HD 598 CS: The Sennheiser HD 598 CS is virtually the same as the HD 598 SR in terms of build quality, but these headphones are closed-back.
- 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 $149 USD.
- 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. If you want the cream of the crop when it comes to enthusiast IEMs, get the Sennheiser IE 900.
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.
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.
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 True Wireless 3 wireless earbuds, then you’ll notice the headphones have a pleasant bass bump that aligns with the SoundGuys consumer curve. Treble notes are typically louder than mids, and Sennheiser seems to under-emphasize a certain treble range (usually from 3-7kHz).
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, two actually! Sennheiser makes the Momentum True Wireless, and the Momentum True Wireless 2. We’d recommend going with the newer model because it includes active noise cancellation whereas the original model has somewhat poor isolation. However, the newer model is more expensive than the older, and both 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.