Sennheiser HD 280 Pro Headphones

Comfortable sound

By

Ralph Graves

Ralph Graves is one of Crutchfield's blog editors, and part of the company's social media team. He writes about home audio/video gear, specializing in Apple-related and wireless technologies. Ralph holds a master's degree in music composition, and his works have been released on various labels. He's served as product manager for an independent classical and world music label, produced several recordings, and worked extensively in public broadcasting. Since 1984 he's hosted a weekly classical music program on WTJU, and is also active as a blogger and podcaster.

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I had a chance recently to try out the Sennheiser HD 280 Pro headphones. I'm always looking for basic, no-nonsense sets of headphones for use in the office. And after my audition period with the HD 280 Pros, I added them to my list of headphones that I could (literally) work with.

Sound quality

I used the HD 280 Pros for several weeks, getting a feel for the overall sound. It’s difficult to describe precisely, of course. But the phrase that kept returning to my mind was this: with the HD 280 Pros, the sound was in the pocket.

Music seemed solid and centered in a comfortable and natural-sounding way. The highs and lows were a little soft, but that’s not to say detail was missing. Just that my music had a warm rather than a crisp sound.

Start with the headphone amp

I first tried the HD 280s in my traditional headphone-auditions setup: Apple Lossless files from my laptop, played through a NuForce Icon HDP. This bypassed the PC’s digital-to-analog converter (DAC) and processed the audio data itself.

The Icon HDP is also a headphone amp, so the cans had plenty of power. The NuForce requires a quarter-inch plug. Fortunately, the HD 280s come with a quarter-inch plug adapter that screws on over the minijack for a secure fit..

I listened to my standard range of musical genres, from classical and jazz, through rock, hip hop and electronica. Overall, my music sounded good. Acoustic genres such as classical and bluegrass  especially benefited from the warm sound of the headphones. But even with the additional processing power of the NuForce, the sound seemed a little lacking, somehow. Electronic sounds such as guitars and synths sounded clean, but with a little softening at the edges.

Move to the portable

On the other hand, when I removed the adapter and just plugged the HD 280s straight into my iPod classic, the results were different. I was still playing the same Apple Losses files, but they seemed better somehow. The sound field was clearly defined, and I didn’t notice the soft edges of the sound as I did with the NuForce. Coming straight from my portable player, all my musical selections seemed to come alive.

Portability plus

The HD 280 Pros are headphones made for action. They have a long coiled cord, so you can move around if they’re plugged into a receiver or a turntable. Speaking of which, the earcups swivel 90 degrees, so you can monitor holding one to your ear, DJ style.

At first, I thought the headphones were a little too tight, but as the week wore on, the headband seemed to loosen up somewhat. By the end of the week, I felt they fit comfortably.

The earcups’ generous padding effectively sealed out a lot of the noise around me. That was great for my office listening, where the rumble of conversation can sometimes be distracting. And they also worked well out in the wild, such as taking a walk.

Bottom line – an easier way to experience better sound

The HD 280 Pros are a good, basic set of headphones that can be a marked improvement over the earbuds that come with most portable audio devices. Even if you’re not a DJ in a club, the tight seal of the earcups and the solid sound reproduction of the headphones make a winning combination. Whether you’re looking for a good set of headphones for work, or just want better-than-average headphones for on-the-go listening, consider the Senneheiser HD 280 Pro headphones.

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