Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Sennheiser HD 380 Pro–The Best Headphones I Have Ever Used.



   A few months ago, I was given an opportunity to rescue some headphones that had been used as part of an audio display at a big box electronics store.  I was surprised to find a pair of Sennheiser’s in the box.  They were a bit dusty, and the cord was a tangled mess, but I knew they at least deserved a chance.   The offer on the table was to pick one of the sets of headphones in the box, and let the others go on so somebody else could have a pair as well.  I immediately untangled the Sennheiser HD 380 Pro and gave them a shot.

    To be fair, I have never owned a pair of headphones in this performance class.  So I had no idea what to expect.  Simply put, I was blown away.  The sound is crisp and detailed, while still having plenty of bass.    The sound isolation from the environment is near complete.  These are not noise cancelling, yet they insulate to the sides of your head to an extent that you may not need noise cancelling technology anyway.

     They do require more power than the el-cheapo cans I have used before, and anyone looking at going to this type of headphones should also consider grabbing a small headphone amp to go with it.  I am currently watching the market to find such an amplifier that I can afford.  A point of caution about this,  closed in earphones are more likely to cause hearing damage when cranked way up because all the energy from the driver is pointed right down your ear.  If you power something like this with too much juice, or crank the volume all the time, then expect to invest in hearing aids in the near future.  Instead, you should view the isolation from outside sound as an opportunity to enjoy the fine detail in your music without the need for eardrum shattering volume.  Adding more power should not be done simply to get the noise levels up, but should be done to improve the quality of the signal being rendered.

  The earcups are slightly angled and frankly, gigantic.  That is one of the best parts of the design.  They completely surround my ears, and hold in the sound quite well.  I can listen to whatever I want, and my wife seated at her computer next to mine cannot hear a thing.  They are circumaural, closed back headphones, and the cord (attached to the left ear) measures at 56” lying on my table.  The 380’s are not heavy, and only slightly bulky when wearing them.  Sitting at the computer, riding my bicycle, or outside working in the garage, I have not yet found an environment unsuited for these headphones.  I have been told I look silly, with big cans on my head.  I don’t care!  The sound quality is plenty to make up for any perception of silliness……

                          hd380 hingehd380 folded

These headphones also fold down fairly small, and Sennheiser sells a nice little flat zipper case you could store them in.  I have found that simply folding the earcups up against the headband allows them to sit in the corner of my desk and be totally out of the way.

The Final word is simply “Excellent”.  These headphones are a bit pricey, listed on Amazon for $135.00 as I write this review.  However, the next time I am looking to buy headphones, this is my starting point.  I never would have expected to own headphones worth more than $50 or $60, but now I understand.  I still do not believe that I would ever agree that headphones could be worth thousands, but with the HD 380 Pro at it’s price range, Sennheiser has made a believer.  And if the pair I got sound so good, and came to me as a used display model, how much better is a new set?

     That box of headphones rescued from the store display had two pair of Sony and one set of “Beats by Dr. Dre” cans.  I did give each of them a brief listen, but there was no contest.  If you are looking for headphones, these should be on your short list.  Near the top of that list.

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