Sennheiser HD560S Review: The New Standard - NOT!

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

  1. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

    Staff Member Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    83,395
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Padre Island CC TX
    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 Desire for betterer is endless.

    Staff Member Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    83,395
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Padre Island CC TX
    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.
     
  3. OkTopic7028

    OkTopic7028 Rando

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2021
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Location:
    New York
    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

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2020
    Likes Received:
    12
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location:
    Athens
    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

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2021
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Location:
    New York
    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

    Friend
    Joined:
    May 11, 2016
    Likes Received:
    1,402
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Ennui, FL
    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
  7. OkTopic7028

    OkTopic7028 Rando

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2021
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Location:
    New York
    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 Facebook Friend

    Contributor
    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2020
    Likes Received:
    146
    Trophy Points:
    33
    Location:
    Wisconsin, USA
    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 MOT: E.T.A Headphones

    Friend
    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2018
    Likes Received:
    5,320
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    Home Page:
    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.
     
  10. robot zombie

    robot zombie Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    May 11, 2016
    Likes Received:
    1,402
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Ennui, FL
    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
  11. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

    Staff Member Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    83,395
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Padre Island CC TX
    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

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2021
    Likes Received:
    9
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location:
    California
    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

    Friend
    Joined:
    May 11, 2016
    Likes Received:
    1,402
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Ennui, FL
    Well there you have it. Thanks for chiming in. Been too long since I heard them.
     
  14. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

    Staff Member Friend MZR
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    12,243
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Colorado
    Home Page:
    Yes they are. They're bright as fuck above 3KHz.

    I usually give new stuff a chance to settle before I start poking around with EQ, gear synergy, blah blah...But on these, I was hitting up my EQ in under 10 seconds.
     
  15. robot zombie

    robot zombie Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    May 11, 2016
    Likes Received:
    1,402
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Ennui, FL
    Haha, I'm not really out to contest that they're bright. I don't know why, but it doesn't hurt me too much, even though treble is by far the most prominent part. It seems like it's only certain kinds of bright that actually start to affect me physically. The rest of the bright cans just sound too lean to me. 560s goes more towards lean. And because it doesn't have that upper mid refinement, prickly. But they're not as bright as your average Beyer, which are so bright they make my eyes hurt.

    I still don't find them to be terrible for what they are, though I did also say I had a hard time using them enough to get a feel for it. Wasn't enjoying it. I had to push through.

    It's just that to me, they aren't really audiophile headphones and probably aren't meant to be. That's how I've always seen this line. Wading into something good, but there are always dealbreakers and the pricing is never competitive enough. I think the type of people who would see these and just buy them would probably still like them.

    I feel like my prediction about them a few pages back was about right, at least as far as what I heard. If you've never cared much for sound and this is your first exposure to a step-up, that treble will probably rock your world. And then a month later it'll start to set in. Some may like them, but very few here. I've already taken that ride with bright headphones. Never again.

    It's still a total mystery to me why anybody would ever claim these to be a 6-- killer. But then some of those same people probably consider DT1990's good and I can't fuckin stand them for more than minute or two.
     
  16. Cooper32

    Cooper32 Facebook Friend

    Contributor
    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2020
    Likes Received:
    146
    Trophy Points:
    33
    Location:
    Wisconsin, USA
    Funny you mention the DT1990. Almost all of the Youtubers praising the 560S as a 600/650 killer, also praise the DT1990 to high heavens.
    I know we don't hold Youtubers' opinions with any weight here on SBAF but I'm not ashamed to admit that I started my headphone journey watching said Youtubers. Luckily for me I'm one of those who researches and reads a lot before buying stuff so that's how I found SBAF.
    I now know I don't find particularly bright headphones enjoyable for longer listening. Glad I didn't listen to Youtubers or I would have ended up with the DT1990 or 560S instead of the HD6XX.
     
  17. robot zombie

    robot zombie Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    May 11, 2016
    Likes Received:
    1,402
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Ennui, FL
    That's really a can o' worms. Personally I think youtubers generally do care and generally WANT to get things right. But the number one thing you need to be successful in youtube is to consistently make good videos. A good video isn't necessarily an informative one. It's more important that you seem like you know what you're talking about, and mostly what that entails is being up on the same trends as the audience, or ones you predict will be. That's always going to be a major factor in how they present information. And it's going to entail making content about subjects you may not actually know much about, but need to know about right then. And then on top of that, they have to read the room. Talk about stuff they don't actually care about - or they will withhold parts of their opinion that they either don't think will benefit the video/be of interest or will negatively impact their hold on their audiences. Audiophiles are the worst about this sometimes, too. The reactions you can get for trashing someone's favorite headphone is absolutely crushing when you're propped up on a social media platform.

    So yeah, seeing youtubers prop this one up as the next thing just kinda makes sense to me. They're just doing what is most prudent for them to do in that arena. People are often watching them for those takes. And then they'll engage further in the comments. The whole machine keeps churning along.

    The presentation and following a prominent one has also gives an air of authority. Even if they aren't about that, they have to carry that weight. And I think they have trouble managing that pretty often. It's not like the big ones are even low-effort. I respect the hustle, but with the way things are done on youtube in general, they tend not to be the most reliable for info. Too many times, I have caught them not doing their research - I think time is an issue. Unless there is a decent-sized team involved, something has to give, somewhere between the production quality, presentation, and information quality. But then sometimes a team causes the focus to get totally lost and you just get consistently superficial, but 'good' videos that people will predictably watch.

    I remember a few of them surprising me with how little they knew about how headphones worked... on non-controversial aspects, even. Honestly, many audiophiles don't, which is fine if that part isn't as interesting. But... you'd think these people live and breath headphones, so they would know things. Just watching their videos it is obvious they like headphones a lot and a lot of them actually seem sort of humble about having followings (as in: they recognize the pressure to do right by them.) But the actual work they do, the thing that takes up the most time, is the task of making videos in itself. Producing content. Between the whole endeavor of making it, keeping up with a community, and all of this incoming stuff you need to work on, quantity over quality is borderline unavoidable in the nitty gritty areas.

    I tend to see them more as regular audiophiles who happen to have an audience. Not even diggin in. I am a regular audiophile. Some people are just on another level and I kinda gotta defer to and respect it. But that's because I'm not that. And I don't get the feeling that many of these youtubers are, either. They come off more like regular audiophiles with regular audiophile opinions.

    I think what rubs a lot of people the wrong way is seeing that they're often no different from the typical audiophiles they encounter already, while also seeing that they're presented/seen as being more than that. You really might as well be reading different forums at that point - at least you're getting a higher volume of information with more nuance and variety to it.

    No shame in starting there. You still realized it wasn't enough and worked it out for yourself. I think that's a lot of people's wading pool and that might even be a good thing for the hobby, if there are people like you who progress beyond that, it basically amounts to more visibility and interest, which means we all get stuff that otherwise wouldn't be possible. Just gotta keep what those youtubers are and what being one means in consideration.

    And yeah... I've noticed a lot of them seem to love the DT1990. But my question is really how many of them actually had a chance to live with them for an extended period.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2021
  18. Cooper32

    Cooper32 Facebook Friend

    Contributor
    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2020
    Likes Received:
    146
    Trophy Points:
    33
    Location:
    Wisconsin, USA
    Wise words. At the very least, Youtubers do serve a purpose in attracting more people into audio, specially the younger audience. Even if we don't always agree with their "recommended" gear, the hope is that some of the people they cater to will eventually look for other sources of information and opinions (i.e. SBAF).
     
  19. evonimos

    evonimos Rando

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2020
    Likes Received:
    12
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location:
    Athens
    Interesting points.

    But, I'm still hoping these cans might be an upgrade to my modded HD599. They have many long hours on them.
    My HD600 is not cutting it for the kinds of music i listen (a bit on the lean side and weak in their soundstage).
    A classic nontheless.

    So, if they can be a more refined HD599 without ruining its strong points, i'd consider them a success.
    This is a fairer point of reference for these cans, since they are basically part to the HD5xx series.
    And hopefully an improved iteration.

    I don't get it why everyone tries to put these against the HD600/650.
    Please, if anyone has both the HD599 and HD560S, chime in.
     
  20. ChaChaRealSmooth

    ChaChaRealSmooth 2000% biased Planar Hater

    Staff Member Friend Gearmaster
    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2018
    Likes Received:
    9,328
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Avalon
    I had a HD599 (which I gave to my grandmother due to a complete lack of use from me). I liked my HD599 and for what it was, it was reasonably good. I could not stand the HD560S; the tonality is a mess. I absolutely consider them much worse than the HD599.

    In fact, since you have a HD600 already, my advice would be to get a warm-ish sounding tube amp instead of looking at headphones.
     

Share This Page