Sennheiser HD560S Review: The New Standard - NOT!

Discussion in 'Headphones' started by purr1n, Oct 18, 2020.

  1. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Subjective perception of bass involves not only involves measurements of the lows, but also measurements throughout. Few bass instruments or sounds, even electronic generated ones, exist solely in the low frequencies. It's the higher frequencies, the harmonics which make up the whole. In addition, tools to help us understand the sound include distortion and the attack and decay envelope of bursts (including ones outside of the frequency range being discussed). Note that my distortion measurements are radically different from those of RTings and RTings does not provide transient response type measurements.

    The deeper extension of the HD560 S and flat midbass in respect to HD6xx series was shown by my own measurements (post #2)*. If this is what you mean by accuracy, then the HD 560 S is indeed more accurate. However, frequency response is only one piece of the puzzle that explains sound. If we combine several measurements FR, distortion, transient response, decay - we perhaps get a better picture - but it still does not fully explain the sound. Note that I did not say more accurate. I simply said "didn't sound quite right".

    My guess is higher distortion on the HD560 S in the upper bass, a slight frequency response dip in the lower mids, and a slow attack rise for the 50Hz burst set - maybe the limp dick attack burst at 4kHz and elevated treble FR just past that.

    *Did you look at any of the measurements and related discussion here, or did you gloss over them only to reference results on RTings? Because going off the measurements here, the HD560 does have more accurate frequency response than HD6xx series as well.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2021
  2. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Have you considered EQ? Note that I would not EQ to Harmon curve - it's flat out wrong and if you are truly a sound engineer, you would know this. Apple AirBud Pros are actually more similar to SBAF target and quite far away from Harmon.

    I would avoid Beyer DT990 as much as possible. It has peaks and ringing in the mid-treble which are difficult to correct even with EQ.

    However, the DT880 is an excellent candidate. It's a bit hot in the highs and like the HD6xx has a mild broad mid/high bass bump. However, the DT880 response is smooth, and thus easily corrected with EQ.

    I would avoid HD560S for mixing, even with EQ. It's great for gaming or lower fidelity uses, but the disparity in timbre between the lows and highs is too much, and the transients leave something to be desired.
     
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  3. OkTopic7028

    OkTopic7028 Rando

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    Thanks for the responses.

    I know. But I still need to know what's going on down there. I mostly make house music, so the levels of the sub bass range are pretty important.

    I do, of course, check during the final mixing and mastering stages, on $20 sony earbuds (which are often surprisingly decent), my 2.1 studio monitor setup, the 2.0 stock speakers in the car (which always sounds especially terrible, even good reference tracks, after a few days mixing), mobile phone speakers, etc.

    I might start use the sonarworks plugin, but I'm pretty used to the bumps and notches of the ATm50x anyway.

    I'm maybe leaning towards HD58x, HD6xx, or just the HD600S which is at least in stock. I guess the only benefit of the HD58x or the HD560 is i wouldnt need an amp out of the focusrite.
     
  4. evonimos

    evonimos Rando

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    The problem is that it's quite hard to predict the sound you'd get by just by looking at measurements.
    The best way is to try them, either on loan or a trial period and decide if they do the job.

    This is especially true, since you are mixing mostly electronic music.
    All bets are off with different music genres.
    What sound right with Jazz, might be totally off with Rock or Classical etc. and even more so with House.

    I'm waiting for lockdown to ease a bit so I can go to the store and try the HD560S out against my preferred pair.
     
  5. OkTopic7028

    OkTopic7028 Rando

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    Yeah, if they were in stock at amazon I'd just order and return if necessary.

    Edit- actually my question of how to integrate 300ohm headphones with a scarlett solo connected to 2.1 studio monitors with balanced xlr inputs, is prob more appropriate to gearslutz, than this particular thread. Thanks tho.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2021
  6. robot zombie

    robot zombie Friend

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    I'm glad I got a chance to try these, it was interesting. I wish I had more to say, I think most of it's been covered by other impressions, but I guess I'll toss in my 2c. Appreciate the chance to participate in the loaner! I would never try headphones like these otherwise, or even think to.

    Right off of the bat, DEFINITELY not the new standard. They aren't bad headphones at all, but it's laughable to even suggest that IMO. FWIW I do find both the HD600 and HD650 to be superior in pretty much every area except for soundstage width. But you don't have to go that far. They are completely different headphones. I'm sure there will be plenty who genuinely prefer these, but that is to say they are in no way a replacement for the two classics.

    I didn't like them, not even a little. They sounded very thin and lean to me. Weirdly, they seem to have more extension on the lows and highs, but the overall FR presentation leaves them sounding sort of constrained. The bass was a bit one note. I felt like I could hear the bass just fine, but the texture was so ethereal it's almost like the bass wasn't there. I kept trying to dial in on it only to feel confused, like I could identify the sounds but not place them - as though they're sort of cordoned off from the rest of the higher-register sounds.

    I guess they still have those senny mids, but they're not up to par with what they usually deliver. The presence region sounds very plasticky and false to me and they sound just slightly scooped right down the middle. The treble isn't offensive at all, even though it's the most noticeable part of the sound, but it is not very natural sounding. No matter what I played, from whatever time, it just didn't sound right to me.

    The microdetail also just wasn't there, and it's not like they have any slam to make up for it. These are the sort of headphones that at first sound very clear, but you quickly find yourself turning them up hoping to hear more detail in the voicings and transients of instruments, but it never surfaces and dynamics become even more squashed. I don't know how these things do it, but they manage to sound both open and flat to me. Inoffensive still, but decidedly pretty meh.

    What they do have going for them is a lot of really nice air. It's sort of a fluffy sound, rounded and open. Well-extended compared to the two staples. Probably not likely to fatigue you, either. They manage to get some bite in the upper regions that keeps them from being TOO boring. But these aren't going to grab you by the ears and make you listen to things like you've never heard them before. They are decently well-rounded in their performance. I wouldn't mind them for casual listening around the house - they're very light and not distracting. The openness is nice, too. But for me to sit and do any heavy listening with these was a tall order once I acquired the sound - I had a hard time not going back to my other headphones. The price makes them kind of hard to recommend. For a little more you could have an HD6xx, or if you like width an HE5xx, or you could track down a jubilee if those two are too dark. I'd take any of those over the 560S, easily.
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2021
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  7. OkTopic7028

    OkTopic7028 Rando

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    I did order a pair of DT 990's. Thanks for the DT880 suggestion, but I just needed something fully open back that would arrive w/in a couple days.

    I'm going to order either the massdrop 58x or 6xx as well, and either keep them all, or sell one.

    It is curious how some people hate the DT990's and love the Sennheisers, and some people are the other way around. I know I have to try them both. Last time I was doing this, I used MDR 7506 and HD280's, in the 00's.

    For mixing, the DT990 is def better than the closed back AT m50x I was using. Sounds closer to my JBL monitors & sub, ie more honest (tho yes, with somewhat boosted bass and treble). Not as 'pleasant' as the ATs, but more useful. When finalizing tracks, I will a/b it with them, my cheap sony earbuds, the car, my cell phone speakers, etc, and with the Sonarworks EQ correction plugin.

    The AT m50x are certainly better than the DT990's for fun/casual listening, movies, etc. Just not for extended periods. I'd definitely recommend them for most non-audio-obsessed consumers, over whatever crap beats headphones people walk around with.

    I've ruled out the HD560s, in part because I prefer the pro form factor of the HD58x/6xx/600/650. The consumer-oriented form factor of the HD560S is distracting, and I'm guessing the other open-back studio Sennheisers mostly all share the same HD600 type design because it is tried and true.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2021
  8. Cooper32

    Cooper32 Rando

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    As far as I know the 6XX almost identical to the 650. Only differences are the color and cable, I think. I bought a 6XX instead of a 650 to save some money.
     
  9. tommytakis

    tommytakis Gear Cycler SoCal Edition

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    560S Loaner Impressions

    As always, TY SBAF for this loaner tour! Sadly, 560S has been a big disappointment at least to my ears. I have decided to make this short and sweet:

    Natural timbre?
    What's that? Uhhhhh Don't you mean TIMBER?????!??! lol

    smooth and Cohesive mid to treble transition?
    more like unengaging mids and prickly highs

    benchmark microdynamics?
    No way Jose

    Does it resolve and scale as much as 6x0?
    In your dreams Buckaroo

    I think it's a good entry can for folks starting out in this hobby and I do see some good in this can: Bass extends lower, no 3 blobby imaging, less Sennheiser "veil," and actually stages decently. But... at what cost? It has none of the qualities that makes the classic Senns many people's all time favorite cans. I'll still recommend this can to my gamer friends or those that don't want to invest in a full size rig like most of us here, but man those youtubers seriously need to get their ears checked or actually hear one of the 6x0 out of a resolving, synergistic rigs.
     
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  10. robot zombie

    robot zombie Friend

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    Really interesting that you mention those... I haven't heard them in years, but for some reason the 560S reminded me a bit of the ath m40x. Like a better sounding and better built version of them, but similar presentation and overall technical ability. Maybe a little less warm, and the lower mids are less congested. Obviously much more open, too. I also remember getting pretty fatigued by the ATs. The 560S didn't have that effect on me, and I'd say they're actually a little brighter.

    I think that's part of what turns me off of them, though. I seriously don't care for any of those entry-level Audio Technica's. I've never gotten what people actually like about those things. Not overtly terrible, but basically just upgraded consumer headphones to my ears. Don't do anything particularly exciting or interesting to the sound, but also don't sound neutral.


    I just realized I didn't mention the build. Can I say I actually prefer the headband mechanism on these over my HD6xx's? It's got a bit more feedback. Still easy to adjust, but the threshold for movement makes it feel a bit more solid. Still fits snug, but nowhere near the monkey-paw clamp of a fresh stock pair of HD600's. The cable really sucks, though. It's that gross, thick/squishy, ultralite "chinese spaghetti" wire that never fully loses its packaging bends and grabs onto every protrusion it touches as you pass by, sticks to dust and other crap like nobody's business. Maybe not the absolute worst chinesium wire I've encountered - MD may have taken that spot already, but still the devil's spaghetti. Not into that twist connector, either. It just feels cheap, it's a bit awkward to line up, and not that much more secure over the plain 3.5mm SE connectors you get on some hifimans. One sided is probably nice for some, though I'm indifferent. I dunno, it's really chintzy and basic. But I guess it all serves its purpose.


    I'm sure if I gave these to my mom, she'd love them. Not an audiophile, but a music lover till the end. I think someone like her would enjoy the openness and upticks in overall performance compared to cheapo stuff, not to mention the lightness, convenience, and better compatibility over the hi z senns we tend to prefer more here.

    I mean, this line has always kind of struck me as being off in a completely different space. These are sort of an improvement, and almost reach towards getting over on a few limited traits of the HD line, but it's still of the same breed.

    We compare it to headphones that cost just a little more, some of them also made by Sennheiser, but I don't think the people who are meant to buy these are seeing or even looking for that stuff. They're not interested in comparing those options. They probably don't shop for headphones like we do. Like, maybe they don't care much about headphones, but want to throw a little cash at a good, reputable pair that generally sounds better than they're used to with no fuss and the ability to plug into anything. They're not the sort to read around or peruse Massdrop. They'd sooner buy some Bose on Amazon and call it a day. Not knockin it, just sayin Sennheiser isn't expecting us to necessarily be the ones jumping up to buy it. It strikes me more as something they can sell to more discerning consumers on name, visibility, and access.

    And I think it's probably a decent value for them. It's just that for people in the audiophile space, we're spoiled for entry-level options that surpass these in most of the ways that count for headphone people.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2021
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  11. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    The reason for the hate is that the DT990 put several people in the hospital during the changstar days. Symptoms were earache, nausea, vomiting. dizziness, and temporary hearing loss. Some folks were more affected than others.

    DT990-250
    [​IMG]
     
  12. EmDub

    EmDub Rando

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    I have the ATH M40x and 560s on my desk now and have been comparing them for a few weeks. I definitely don't have the depth of knowledge that you all have in terms of evaluating headphones, but these two sound pretty different to me (even to my uneducated ears).

    I've been using an iMac (with iTunes, Tidal, Spotify, and FLAC and AIFF files) --> Modi 3+ --> Vali 2 with both headphones. The 560s is just a much better sounding, well-rounded headphone. Comparing the two, the M40x has a brighter, sharper, more fatiguing treble response (I agreed with robot zombie), and also has much boomier bass. The M40x definitely hits harder and I guess you could say that it's a fun headphone for rap/hip hop, but after listening to the 560s the bass from the M40x is almost overwhelming (and I don't mind bass). The 560s also has a broader soundstage than the M40x, and instrument separation is much better with the 560s. The M40x has a muddier sound and is far less clear and articulate compared to the 560s.

    Just some basic impressions from a Noob, so please take that into account!
     
  13. robot zombie

    robot zombie Friend

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    Well there you have it. Thanks for chiming in. Been too long since I heard them.
     
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