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September 17, 2020
300 x 111 x 198 mm
Sennheiser is a household name among audiophiles, and lately, it’s been on a tear with updates to its higher-end headphones and in-ears. Though the HD 6XXS line of headphones has seen pretty minor changes, what about the Sennheiser HD 560S, the least expensive option? Well, we finally were able to kick the tires and find out.
What’s it like to use the Sennheiser HD 560S?
Aimed at the music enthusiast looking for a step up from the usual suspects, the Sennheiser HD 560S fits the archetype of what a moderately priced set of open-back headphones should be. The headphones aren’t overly heavy thanks to their mostly plastic construction, but the performant parts of this machine are definitely a cut above the entry-level. Comfort is absolutely no issue with plush pad covers and soft foam, and the relatively large cup size means the somewhat low weight is distributed over a large area on your head. I can easily go several hours with them on my noggin without discomfort.
The left ear cup features a removable locking 2.5mm TRRS plug, which is a great boon to durability, though the nonstandard connector and weird connection lock limit your choices for cable replacement a bit. I advise you not to take it out unless you really have to, not only because repeated stresses on any joint will add wear to it but also because it’s possible to miss the jack entirely and just kind of wedge the plug into the gap in the plastic housing. It won’t break anything, but it’s definitely annoying when you can’t always plug something in by feeling alone.
Using the TRRS jack in the headphones themselves and then using the TRS connector on the cable tells me that it’s possible this product had the capability for using a balanced connection or XLR interconnect with a different cable. While it won’t be a huge mover for many, it is a nice added feature tucked away for those who care about eliminating as much noise as humanly possible.
Inside the headphones are a pair of transducers angled to meet the natural tilt of your ears, though there’s no guarantee that it will match perfectly. In general, this is a plus because it meets your anatomy where it is, rather than potentially putting too much pressure on your outer ears. Given that these are headphones meant for long listening sessions at the computer or at home, any concessions for comfort are going to be important.
How does the Sennheiser HD 560S connect?
Like many higher-end wired headphones, the Sennheiser HD 560S connects to your source with a 1/4-inch TRS connector. If you have a source with a 3.5mm jack, there is an adapter in the packaging of the product for use with these systems. Weirdly, though, Sennheiser opted to use the cumbersome 1/4-inch plug by default, and not some threaded adapter system like Beyerdynamic does. Perhaps this is cheaper to manufacture somehow, but it makes the 3.5mm dongle a bit unwieldy.
With a listed impedance of 120Ohms and a sensitivity of 110dB (1kHz/1Vrms) at normal listening volumes, an amp isn’t necessary. Most computer headphone jacks should be more than up to the task. However, if you do notice that your headphones have some audible noise (or you can’t listen to some songs in your library), you may want to look into a DAC unit or soundcard.
How well does the Sennheiser HD 560S block out noise?
As the Sennheiser HD 560S is a set of open-back headphones, it doesn’t really block out any noise around you at all. That’s intended behavior, as keeping the back of the ear cup unsealed prevents the need to design around the challenges of having a closed volume of air around the driver unit.
For many high-end headphones, that can mean fewer resonances in the earcups and more “natural sounding” music. Just don’t be surprised if you can hear your roommates, family, or neighbors during your listening sessions. Additionally, everyone around you will be able to hear your music if you listen loudly enough. Really, the only outside noise the Sennheiser HD 560S can attenuate is the high-frequency junk that you’d have a hard time hearing anyway. Again, it’s completely normal.
How does the Sennheiser HD 560S sound?
Should you buy the Sennheiser HD 560S?
Looking for a set of headphones that prizes sound quality above all other concerns will lead many into strange places, so we feel like any recommendation for high-end headphones comes with a huge pinch of salt. Individual tastes vary greatly, and the story of Sennheiser’s new S-variants reflects this. As most of these headphones are slightly more bass-heavy (and we do mean slightly here) than their predecessors, anyone used to the older models may not be wild about the new sound. However, these differences are so minor you could easily equalize them away with some patience.
In that light, the Sennheiser HD 560S has a lot to offer outside of mere preference. It’s a credible set of higher-end headphones that doesn’t exactly break the bank and offers a fairly accessible entry point to the audiophile world. We don’t have any trouble recommending this to anyone beginning their foray into higher-quality audio performance.
If you’re wondering about how long replacement parts will exist for any one model, Sennheiser is one of the safe companies to bet on having solid customer service and sticking around long-term. However, if you don’t think the form factor will work for you due to the plastic or the driver type, there are plenty of alternatives.
What should you get instead of the Sennheiser HD 560S?
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The sub-$200 USD price point is a pretty good sweet spot, and a number of other headphones in this range may tickle your fancy. In particular, take a gander at the Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO, AKG K701, or Drop x Sennheiser HD 6XX.
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The Beyerdynamic headphones, in particular, are generally more comfortable, as they have an even wider set of ear cups than the Sennheiser HD 560S do. Additionally, they have more metal in their construction and more plush earpads. Though the DT 990 PRO is definitely a bit old at this point, they do compete nicely with the Sennheiser HD 560S, and no need for a dongle to connect to sources without a 1/4-inch jack.
If you’re looking for a step up from the Sennheiser HD 560S, then you’ll want to snag the Drop x Sennheiser HD 6XX. This is essentially a rebranded version of the older HD 650 but with some choices made in the manufacturing process to keep the price down a little bit. These cans typically go on sale for about the same price as the HD 560S, so there’s really no reason to choose one over the other if you find something you like about either model. Having used both, though, I strongly prefer the HD 6XX because of its better comfort and lack of a strange connector. You may find the Y-shaped cable a bit cumbersome, though.
Frequently asked questions
Typically, you’ll have to sort through Sennheiser’s store to find the correct cable, but we were able to find some options on Amazon. Because of the proprietary connector shape (the locking mechanism), you won’t be able to jam in any TRRS cable, so just be wary that you’ll likely have to spend a couple of bucks extra for a cable that works with your headphones.