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Get to know the Sennheiser HD 280 Professionals.

HATS-Front Image
HATS-Side Image

Gaze upon the speaker element, and see a rather uninteresting black mesh that guards the driver. Few advances in the thin absorbent cloth industry mean that earwax and dead skin can still build up on it, but thankfully, you can wipe that all away.

Aesthetics Image

Here too there is very little to note, as the backs of the s are rather featureless and unexciting.

Back Image

The plastic and pleather band of the extends to fit varying sizes of skull, but it does have a considerable clamping force.

Band Image

Coiled loosely and hanging from the left ear cup, the cable of the s is anywhere from 3.28 or 6.6 feet long, depending on how hard you yank on it. There are no in-line accessories like a remote or microphone.

At the end of that coiled cord is a 1/8th inch plug, threaded to allow the similarly threaded 1/4th inch adapter to fasten to the end.

Cable Connectivity Image

The cableguards to the are fairly thick, made of rubber, and are unlikely to break or snap unless a violent force is brought upon the. It looks like they should be able to withstand most casual abuse, so don't lose any sleep over stuffing them in your bag.

Cord Guards Image

Along with your headphones, the packaging to the s includes assorted documentation, and a 1/4th inch adapter.

In the Box Image

Despite the lack of durability features, the s can actually withstand a decent amount of abuse before they stop working. The thick plastic housing, and overall well-built headphones can survive getting tossed around in a backpack or the occasional short drop and still work fine.

Well, these are definitely not the prettiest headphones at the party. With a very noticeable heft, relatively featureless back and a lot of cluttery and ugly text, these are not attractive headphones.

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Aside from the rather prominent differences in channel preference along the range of audible frequencies, the response isn't all that bad: it's mostly flat, with only a few areas of minor emphasis or underemphasis. Still, you will notice severe swings in each channel, which could be exacerbated if you have any sort of hearing loss.

Frequency Response Graph

The points where the lines diverge are the consequence of bad tracking.

[Click here for more information on our frequency response test.](/content/How-We-Test-149.htm#Frequency_Response) Not too shabby here, there is a little bit of distortion in the low end, but nothing that should be audible.
Distortion Graph

A small bit of distortion, but it shouldn't be audible.

[Click here for more information on our frequency response test.](/content/How-We-Test-149.htm#Distortion) Oof. With wild channel preference swings, the tracking response of the s derail the whole experience. We tested these cans several times, looking for some error on our end, but it turns out that these particular headphones just have bad tracking. You'll definitely notice that some instruments will come in louder in the left ear than the right, and vice-versa.
Tracking Graph

You will definitely notice how bad the tracking is.

[Click here for more information on our frequency response test.](/content/How-We-Test-149.htm#Tracking) With their giant ear cups, the s do a great job at sealing your ears from the outside world, and block out a bunch of mid to high-end noise. Unfortunately, as is the case with most over-ear headphones, they really don't block the low end much at all, letting in engine noise and rumbles almost unimpeded.
Isolation Graph

To their credit, the HD 280s block out quite a bit of high-frequency noise.

[Click here for more information on our isolation test.](/content/How-We-Test-149.htm#Isolation) While they do block out a fair bit of outside noise, the s leak a tiny bit, but not enough to be extremely noticeable to anyone around you, especially if you control your volume. Keep it at a respectable level and you should be good to go. [Click here for more information on our leakage test.](/content/How-We-Test-149.htm#Leakage) If you like to listen loud, the can blast tunes at 114.41dB without hitting a 3% level of distortion. Still, we advise all of our readers not to listen to music turned to 11, as you could [permanently damage your hearing by doing so](https://headphones.reviewed.com/News/Noise-Induced-Hearing-Loss-and-You.htm#dbexpl). [Click here for more on our maximum usable volume test](/content/How-We-Test-149.htm#Maximum Usable Volume) Maybe it was our Quasimodo-like heads, or maybe it was a problem with the band, but the s have a good amount of clamping force, and are liable to make those with larger skulls recoil. Because they have relatively soft leather and large ear cups, we believe they could be quite comfortable for those of you out there with smaller noggins.
Short-Term Use Image

Over time, the fit doesn't really change a whole lot, so the s net about the same score here, save for a teeny tiny demerit for compounded discomfort over 6 hours. Yes, it hurt, but we do it all for you.

Aside from the ability to screw in a 1/4th inch adapter to the end of the existing plug, there's really nothing one could do to customize the s. Though you could void the warranty, we strongly recommend against it.

Leading out of the ear cup at the left channel, the coiled cable of the is 3.28 feet long if no force is applied to stretching the cable, and up to 6.56 feet when yanked on. It ends in a threaded 1/8th inch plug to allow a threaded 1/4th inch adapter to be fastened to the end.

Due to their cumbersome cable, lack of a carrying case, general heft and bulkiness, these are not very portable cans. We recommend leaving them at the computer, taking them with a gig kit, or just not using them with an iPod or smartphone.

Aside from removing the ear pads to wipe them down, there really isn't a lot you can do to maintain these headphones. This is very common amongst entry-level cans.

By design these are very similar headphones, but they have a few minor differences, namely in the band. For example, the MDR-V6's band is made of metal and pleather, while that of the s clamp down hard on your head, and is made of thick plastic.

While both frequency responses are relatively flat, the tracking problems of the s are readily apparent, causing areas of underemphasis in the left and right speakers.

Both have some issues in the low end, but overall not a ton of distortion.

The Sonys may not be perfect, but they're a heck of a lot better than s in this regard. You will hear the shifts in channel preference, and it will be annoying.

Both attenuate a decent amount of outside noise, so they'll do fine in a somewhat noisy room.

Due to their being lighter, and their ability to accommodate larger noggins, the Sony MDR-V6s will allow a greater range of people more comfort for their money. Still, the only way to be sure is to go out and try headphones on for yourself, but we'd wager that you'll stick with the Sonys.

The Sony MDR-V6s have been on the market for many years now, and it's no mystery why: they're fantastic for the sub-$100 price point. Unfortunately, the s just don't come close to stacking up from an audio performance standpoint, and don't really give many reasons to get picked up over the Sony cans.

By design, the ATH-M50s are quite a bit more durable, as they use a metal skeleton for the band, much heavier plastic, and beefier cable guards that would take a bolt cutter to break. They also do not grip skulls as tightly as the s do.

Neither set of cans are perfect here, but the ATH-M50s tend to emphasize bass a bit, and have a somewhat flat response. The s are erratic in each channel.

While the s have a bit of distortion in the low end, the ATH-M50s have an impressively miniscule amount.

The Audio-Technica cans have a decent tracking response, while the s have wild channel shifts all over the place.

s offer about 5dB better attenuation of outside noise overall.

Because the ATH-M50s don't have the same high clamping force with their band, they are more likely to fit bigger heads than the s are. Still, if your noggin is on the smaller end of the spectrum, you may find the s aren't so bad.

The Audio-Technica cans certainly have the s beat in terms of audio performance, and throw in the fact that they're a bit more comfortable and durable and you've got a convincing argument to grab the ATH-M50s. However, if you're really hurting for cash, the s do come in at anywhere from $20-60 less than the Audio-Technica headphones, so there are a few decisions you have to make before plunking down the coin for a set of cans.

While the s are heavy and clunky, the Creative cans are light and comfortable. Neither set of headphones is particularly notable for their extreme durability, but the s are more likely to withstand daily abuse.

While they do keep a tighter and relatively flat frequency response, the Aurvana Live! cans do have a range of de-emphasis about where you'd find sibilant instruments. The s are erratic in each channel.

The Creatives definitely have an issue in the low end, while the problems for the s are far less noticeable.

Barely even a contest here, the Creative Aurvana Live! headphones have a much better tracking response.

If you're out on a busy street, the s will block out much more of the outside world than the Creative headphones.

Due to their much lighter frame and soft padding, the Aurvana Live! headphones are far more comfortable for most people, although those of your with smaller heads may prefer the s, as they grip more firmly, and have a much bigger ear cup.

This one really comes down to what you want in headphones. If you're looking for a set of cans that is very durable, you're going to want the s more than the Creative headphones. If you're looking for better audio performance for the price, however, the Creative cans are the way to go.

Despite their acclaim on other websites, the s just don't seem to cut the mustard, even at the sub-$100 price point. With tracking issues egregious enough to derail the frequency response, and a fit that will definitely frustrate a good number of people, the s are definitely not for everyone.

While it's true that headphones typically don't light the world on fire if they're less expensive than $100, there are several options out there for a similar price that just leave the s in the dust. Normally this would be mitigated by a cool design, gimmick, or otherwise notable feature, but the s have none.

Still, in the absence of other options, the s could easily fit the role of computer headphones if you can find them online at a discount. They're a bit awkward to take around with you because of the heavy cable, and they themselves are quite bulky, but they work well enough for novice users. Still, their performance is not at the level that will be desired by bargain-hunting audiophiles.

Meet the tester

Chris Thomas

Chris Thomas

Staff Writer, Imaging


A seasoned writer and professional photographer, Chris reviews cameras, headphones, smartphones, laptops, and lenses. Educated in Political Science and Linguistics, Chris can often be found building a robot army, snowboarding, or getting ink.

See all of Chris Thomas's reviews

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