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 February 16, 2021, include more information in the “what you should know” section.
Related: Best Audio-Technica headphones
The Sennheiser PXC 550-II are the best Sennheiser headphones
These noise cancelling headphones are a great option for frequent flyers and daily commuters. The headband folds up and egg-shaped ear cups comfortable cradle the ear while the headband distributes weight evenly across the head.
Sennheiser PXC 550-IIFull Review
Listeners are afforded up to 30 hours of playback on a single charge and the microphone system 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 are some of the best active noise cancelling headphones out there, and they’re more affordable than lots of the other options out there.
Not only is their active noise cancelling excellent, but they support Bluetooth multipoint, AAC, aptX and aptX Low Latency, and they have a great microphone.
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What you should know about Sennheiser headphones
Most models are more specialized than general consumer cans. 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.
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.
Should you get wired or wireless headphones?
The cat’s out of the bag: wireless headphones just can’t compete with wired equivalents. If you’re looking at one of the wireless Sennheiser headphones or wireless headphones in general, watch keenly for aptX compatibility. If you’re an iPhone user, stick to AAC.
Related: Ultimate headphone buying guide
The Sennheiser MOMENTUM Wireless 3 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 Wireless 3 are for you: these headphones feature a timeless design and clean lines that bode well for any style.
Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 3Full Review
The thick memory foam ear pads are supremely comfortable and form a proper seal around the ear, with plenty of wiggle room for even above-average ears. 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 jetsetters will get plenty of use out of these noise cancelling headphones. The noise cancelling is 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’ll have to consider Sony’s offerings, but it’s effective and certainly better than nothing.
Sound quality is very good, and consumer-friendly: bass notes are amplified and 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.
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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 Massdrop. They teamed up with Sennheiser to release the HD 58X Jubilee, which is a modern version of a limited edition pair from the past. They also happen to be very similar to the HD 600 and HD 650 we mentioned earlier, and have new drivers in each earcup as well as 150ohm drivers that don’t require as much power as the previously mentioned headphones.
Sennheiser HD 58X JubileeFull Review
While these headphones sound great, the downside is that they’re not always readily available as they’re exclusive to the website Massdrop. While they currently can be had year-round through the “Drop Studio” program, they may return to being sold in batches. If you miss one of the “drops” you’d then have to wait for the next one.
Still, these are a great pair of open-back headphones as they’re super comfortable thanks to the padding and they sound great. Best of all, they only cost about $150 which, sure isn’t exactly cheap, but compared to some of Sennheiser’s other high-end models these are a steal. If you want an upgrade, the Drop x Sennheiser HD 6XX are only $70 more, and offer 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 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.
Sennheiser Game OneFull Review
The Game One is compatible with PCs, Macs, and standalone consoles. It includes a noise cancelling boom mic that allows for clear voice transmission when it matters most mid-game. Plus, there’s also mute functionality for when your roommates are being noisy in the background.
Additionally, the open-back design aids in a more realistic perception of 3-D sound and keeps the head cool during gameplay. The extra large ear pads are also breathable which comes in handy during long tournaments.
Keep things affordable and accurate in the studio with the Sennheiser HD 280 Pro
The Sennheiser HD 280 Pro is a studio classic, and it’s the only sub-$100 pick here. These dynamic, closed-back cans are ideal for studio use and are comfortable to wear for extended periods of time. Considering studio headphones is a category that can get up to tens of thousands of dollars, this budget pair does its job pretty darn well.
Sennheiser HD 280 Pro
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 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.
How we chose 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.
Best Sennheiser headphones: notable mentions
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 champion the Sony WH-1000XM4 as one of our favorite noise cancelling headsets, which happen to stack up rather well against the premium Shure AONIC 50 and popular Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700.
- 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 amazing 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 HD1 Wireless: This is very similar to the MOMENTUM model, but it also features active noise cancelling. The HD1 is a great option for people who want the ANC from the PXC 550 Wireless but with a more stylish design.
- Sennheiser IE 300 earbuds: These wired earbuds will please audiophiles with their 7mm Extra Wide Band Transducers. Their sound profile is similar to the Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 2 earbuds, but it has ear hooks and an easily replaceable cable.
- Sennheiser MOMENTUM Wireless: True wireless earbuds are a great option for listeners always on the go, and Sennheiser doesn’t compromise audio quality for convenience. The shortcoming of this headsets is how feature-sparse it is.
The best Sennheiser true wireless earbuds are the Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 2
If you’re set on true wireless earbuds, Sennheiser has your back with the Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 2. These gorgeous earbuds have active noise cancelling, and it’s pretty darn good, too. They also have great sound quality, as most Sennheiser products do, voice assistant support, and an IPX4 rating. The MOMENTUM True Wireless 2 compare favorably to other top true wireless noise cancelling earbuds like those from Bose, Sony, and Apple.
The Sennheiser Smart Control app lets you can equalize the sound signature of the earbuds, update the firmware, enable the transparent hearing function, and remap the earbuds’ touch controls. The use Bluetooth 5.1 and are compatible with the SBC, AAC, and aptX codecs. The microphone amplifies sibilant sounds a bit too much, but you can assess that for yourself with this microphone demo:
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.
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Next: Best Bose headphones
Frequently Asked Questions
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.