Sennheiser HD 560S, Studio Headphones

Sennheiser HD 560S, Studio Headphones

Headphones for beginners and intermediates

With the HD series, Sennheiser has repeatedly proven that they can develop and manufacture good to very good studio headphones at a reasonable price. So far, we have mainly focused on the headphones from the HD 600 series, but with the Sennheiser HD 560S, Sennheiser has had another headphone in its range since the end of 2020 that appears to be suitable for home recording and semi-professionals. Therefore, we have taken a closer look at the advertising message “linear acoustics and high precision at an affordable price.”

PROS:

  • Highly refined sound
  • Very comfortable
  • Solid build and finish

CONS:

  • Neutral sound won’t appeal to everyone
  • Beaten for verve and energy

Overview – Sennheiser HD 560S

With its open design, the Sennheiser HD 560S is suitable for mixing and mastering. For the recording area, it will probably emit too much sound to the outside, so that microphones positioned nearby and armed would record the playback given to the ear. However, before we get to the sound, here are a few words about the construction, materials used, and quality.

The HD 560S is modern and, in contrast to the 600 series, has significantly more curved shapes. Compared to many other studio headphones, the construction of the headband is no longer or less straight into the ear cups but instead makes two opposing 45-degree curves beforehand. Directly at the transition between the headband and the suspension of the auricle, it can be tilted forwards and backward. The auricle itself can also be easily adjusted vertically so that the headphones adapt well to the shape of your head. With a lot of pressure, it sits on the head. The moderate weight of 240 g is almost negligible.

For me, however, the headphones don’t fit. My head is not designed for the Sennheiser HD 560S. The lateral size adjustment, with which the outer sides can be extended by 5.5 cm each, does not change anything. With my studio colleagues, however, it looks different. Nevertheless, they certify that the HD 560S is very comfortable to wear. In this case, personal experimentation seems to be essential.

The HD 560S is mainly made of plastic; metal is only used in a few places. Overall, the headphones seem to be built robustly, so nothing stands in the way of use in the studio and at home. A clear haptic difference to the HD 600S or HD 660S is there. The inside of the ear cups is lined with velour, which sits comfortably and softly on the ears—no problem, even for longer listening sessions.

Scope of delivery and technical data

The cable of the HD 560S is interchangeable, which underlines the professional approach of the headphones. However, the supplied 3 m long cable, locked to the headphones with a screw cap, does not seem to be the best quality. The cable ends on a 6.3 mm jack plug. A short adapter cable to 3.5 mm jack is a good alternative to the otherwise typical adapter plug.

Otherwise, there is only a leaflet with the safety instructions in the packaging of the HD 560S. A bag for transport or even a storage box is not included, which is a shame.

The technical data I took over from the Sennheiser website looks like this: The manufacturer specifies the frequency range as 6 Hz to 38 kHz, with the maximum sound pressure as 110 dB. The distortion factor is <0.05% (1 kHz / 90 dB SPL), the impedance is comparatively high at 120 ohms. With the Sennheiser HD 560S, Sennheiser is resisting the trend of giving headphones the lowest possible impedance. They also play louder on mobile devices because the impedance is specified as 120 ohms. The HD 560S is designed as open, dynamic over-ear headphones.

Difference closed, half-open, open

Since the HD 560S, is primarily intended for ambitious beginners, here is a basic classification of the various headphone types by my colleague Sigi Schöbel, which came from his comparison test of studio headphones :

OPEN headphones have no sound wave isolation on the outside, so everything penetrates to the outside without being attenuated. The advantage is that the sound is extremely airy and free, and an excellent spatiality can be conveyed. However, these headphones are only suitable for mixing or mastering at the mixer. They are not suitable as monitor listeners for musicians, as the emerging sound is picked up all too clearly by the microphones.

On the other hand, in the control room, it is advantageous that you can still chat with the listener. Still, on the other hand, unwanted external noises penetrate the listener again (when the musicians are talking to each other, etc.). Acoustically speaking, open headphones are easier to control than closed ones, as you have to struggle with fewer reflections from the shells. In addition, the bass range tends to be rather slim with open types, and you do not sweat so much around your ears when wearing them for long periods, as the warm air can escape unhindered.

The CLOSED headphones are excellently suited for the studio, as the sound only escapes to the outside very moderately and is therefore not a major problem for recordings with microphones. You can make them relatively loud in recording situations, which musicians in rock appreciate. The bass range is usually powerful, with cheap headphones of this type that often leads to mud and mud.

For monitoring in the live and DJ area, this type is the only sensible choice because a closed listener not only allows the noises to penetrate little from the inside to the outside, it also isolates sensibly in the opposite direction. The disadvantage is the build-up of heat around the ears (at least with circumaural types), and some do not like the “full-on-the-ears” effect because closed headphones generally sound very direct and not very reserved.

The SEMI-OPEN headphones try to combine both construction methods to their advantage: More bass than the open type, but a more convincing panoramic structure compared to the closed system. Moreover, due to the more restrained isolation, you can still talk to a certain extent with the listener. Still, they are only suitable to a limited extent as monitor listeners for the musicians (at least with open microphones), as many sounds still penetrate outside.

Sound

During the test, the Sennheiser HD 560S had to get used to different signal sources, including the headphone output of an RME HDSP card and a Mackie 1604 console, an SPL Phonitor Mini, and an iPhone SE.

The first impression gives hope because the Sennheiser headphones play relaxed and loose from the front and leave a very spatial impression. Just as you would expect from open headphones. The bass range is nicely taut and with a suitable foundation, very good for headphones in the mid price range. In a direct comparison to the AKG K812 Pro, crisp bass runs are not accurate enough, but the price is not surprising.

The mid-range is displayed nicely differentiated, but with instruments close to the frequency, it is sometimes difficult for the HD 560S to separate them nicely and display them appropriately. However, the necessary richness of detail is available so that you can hear a lot of acoustic background information in classic productions, for example, which some other headphones cannot display so well.

The HD 560S can shine in the higher frequency ranges. However, S-sounds that are too sharp are relentlessly uncovered, so the Sennheiser does not mince words (or in front of the auricles).

I find the depth gradation good, the stereo field very good. So if you position instruments and vocals on a wide stereo stage, the HD 560S does it very well, and you can follow the individual positions acoustically.

As expected, the radiation of sound to the outside of the perception of external sound events is quite large, i.e., the headphones are not suitable for recording.

CONCLUSION

With the Sennheiser HD 560S, Sennheiser has developed good headphones for studio use and music enjoyment at home. The sound is good to very good, the quality is good. As open headphones, the HD 560S is recommended for mixing and mastering, but it emits too much sound to the outside for recording purposes.

In conclusion, it can be said that due to the almost linear frequency response, beginners and intermediates can use the HD 560S to bring good headphones into the studio, which are very good at uncovering incorrect mixing edits. Moreover, the price-performance ratio is very good.

Sennheiser HD 560S, Studio Headphones
Sennheiser HD 560S, Studio Headphones

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