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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.

The Sennheiser HD 280 Pros have a good amount of clamping force, and are liable to make those with larger skulls recoil.

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.

You’ll definitely notice that some instruments will come in louder in the left ear than the right, and vice-versa.

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.

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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 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.

A disappointing entry for Sennheiser. Its tracking response is poor enough that it offsets the boon from its low price point.

The 's right and left channels can't seem to agree on anything.

Tracking response is a measurement of difference in volume between the right and left channels. Any difference above 2dB is enough to be audible. Both channels showed discrepancies more than four times this. This means tones will come in at different volumes in each ear. The situation makes for a distracting listening experience.

Differences in channels increases frequency issue

The frequency response graph demonstrates what tones and pitches the emphasizes. In an ideal world, a frequency response graph would be flat, meaning every pitch and tone is represented equally. These Sennheisers had a fairly flat response curve, but the tracking issue rears its ugly head again: the differences between the right and left channels makes the 's imperfections all the more apparent. Like most other headphones, there was a large drop off towards the higher end of the sound spectrum.

Distortion, Isolation

The s showed only little distortion towards the lower end of the spectrum but this blip was too small to be audible. You'd have to push the s to output 114.41 dB in order for that. At that point, you'll suffer hearing damage anyways so please be careful with your volume.

In headphone terms, isolation is the ability to corral wanted sounds in ear and unwanted ones out. While they do block out a fair bit of high-frequency outside noise, the Sennheiser HD 280 Pros 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.

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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