Sennheiser HD 280 Professional Over-ear Headphones Review
There are some diamonds in the rough of the sub-$100 price point; the HD 280 Pros are not one of them.
While there are some diamonds in the rough of the sub-$100 price point, the HD 280 Pros are not one of them. With significant issues in audio performance, the Sennheiser HD 280 Pros are a strange outlier in the Sennheiser lineup. Despite their acclaim on other websites, the Sennheiser HD 280 Pros just don’t seem to cut the mustard, even at the sub-$100 price point. With tracking issues egregious enough to derail the audio quality, and a fit that will definitely frustrate a good number of people, the Sennheiser HD 280 Pros are definitely not for everyone.
Comfort Design & Features
Ill fitting headphones that aren't easy on the eyes.
Few advances in the thin absorbent cloth industry mean that earwax and dead skin can still build up on the speaker mesh, but thankfully, you can wipe that all away. The plastic and pleather band of the Sennheiser HD 280 Pro extends to fit varying sizes of skull, but it does have a considerable clamping force. Coiled loosely and hanging from the left ear cup, the cable of the Sennheiser HD 280 Pros 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, but 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 it.
Maybe it was our Quasimodo-like heads, or maybe it was a problem with the band, but the Sennheiser HD 280 Pros 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.
Bad tracking derails the sound quality.
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 volume depending on the note, which could be exacerbated if you have any sort of hearing loss.
With wild channel preference swings as well, the tracking response of the Sennheiser HD 280 Pros 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.
While playing your music, with their giant ear cups, the Sennheiser HD 280 Pros 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.
Entry-level headphones, disappointing performance
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 Sennheiser HD 280 Pros in the dust. Normally this would be mitigated by a cool design, gimmick, or otherwise notable feature, but the Sennheiser HD 280 Pros have none.
Still, in the absence of other options, the Sennheiser HD 280 Pros 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.
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