The Sennheiser HD 280 Pro are above-average critical listening headphones, with a durable build quality but a tight somewhat uncomfortable fit. They have a good audio reproduction that packs a lot of bass, and although they are mostly made out of plastic, they feel durable enough to handle multiple drops without damage. Unfortunately, they rather tight on the head and make your ears very warm after a couple of hours of listening. They also won't be the most versatile headphones to use outdoors.
- Decent build quality.
- Moderately comfortable.
- Poor isolation.
- Mid-range heavy audio reproduction
- Bulky, unstable design.
Update 8/10/2017: Converted to Test Bench 1.1. Learn more about our new versioned test bench system here.
The Sennheiser HD 280 Pro have a bland studio design that's solid but also is a little bit bulky. The dense plastic used for their build can withstand a couple of drops without damage, and the large ear cups are moderately comfortable. Unfortunately, these headphones easily fall off your head during any physical activity and offer no control options for your audio. They're also uncomfortably tight which might not be for everyone especially for listeners with larger heads.
The HD 280 Pro are moderately comfortable. They have large, well-padded ear cups that easily fit around most ears. However, the detachable padding on the headband is relatively thin. The headband is also quite tight on the head. The pads do help to somewhat mitigate the clamping force, but they will be uncomfortable for some listeners especially during long listening sessions.
These headphones do not have any controls.
The HD280 Pro are one of the tightest headphones on the head. That combined with their earcups that create a good seal around your ears obstructs a lot of airflow which makes your ears very warm even after a relatively short listening session. They will make you sweat more than average when compared to other closed back over-ears, and overall they are not suitable for physical activity or to use in hot environments unless you take multiple breaks.
The Sennheiser HD280 Pro are somewhat portable but a little bulky. They are on the larger side of over-ear headphones. Fortunately, they fold up into a more compact design which makes them easier to carry around. They will fit comfortably in a backpack but are a too cumbersome for pockets even larger jacket pockets.
Decent build quality. The HD 280 Pro feel sturdy and won't get damaged by a couple of drops. The headband and ear cups are made out of dense plastic and can handle a fair amount of physical stress. However, the ear cup joints are the weak points where these headphones are most likely to get damaged. The swivel hinges are also a little thin.
These headphones are not very stable. They easily slide off your ears, during high-intensity activities like running or jumping. They maintain a stable fit during casual use but will slightly move around if you tilt your head. They also do not have a detachable cable, which causes the headphones to be pulled off your head if something hooks the cord.
The Sennheiser HD 280 Pro are a good sounding pair of closed-back over-ear headphones. They have a thumpy and deep bass, a very good and even mid-range, and a well-balanced treble. This makes them a pretty versatile pair of headphones, suitable for most genres, including bass-heavy music. However, the bass delivery is rather inconsistent and sensitive to seal and positioning, their mid-range sounds a bit muddy and cluttered especially on vocals, and their treble lacks a little bit of detail. Also, like most other headphones, they don't have a speaker-like soundstage.
The HD280 Pro have a very good bass. LFE (low-frequency extension) is at 10Hz, which is excellent. Low-bass, responsible for the thump and rumble common to bass-heavy music is hyped by almost 3dB. Fans of bass-heavy music may like the extra thump. Mid-bass, responsible for the body of bass guitars and punch of the kick drums is within 0.5dB of our neutral target. However, high-bass, responsible for warmth, is lacking by almost 2dB.
The HD 280 Pro have a very good mid-range. The response throughout the range is quite even and flat. However, it is consistently over our neutral target. Low-mid is overemphasized by more than 3dB, and mid-mid is over our target by more than 2dB. This tends to thicken the vocals and lead instruments, and makes the overall sound a bit cluttered and mid-rangy.
The treble performance of the HD 280 Pro is great. The overall response is even and well-balanced. However, low-treble is lacking by about 2dB, which will have a small but negative effect on the detail of vocals and lead instruments. The narrow 5dB peak around 9KHz, could also make these headphones a tad sharp on S and T sounds, but it will be quite subtle.
The frequency response consistency of the HD 280 Pro is below-average. In the bass range, the deviation across our five human subjects is relatively broad and deep, exceeding more than 6dB. This will be noticeable. The treble delivery however, is much more consistent and less sensitive to positioning and seal.
The imaging of the HD280 Pro is good. Weighted group delay is at 0.31, which is good. The GD graph also shows that the group delay response is almost entirely below the audibility threshold. This ensures a tight bass and a transparent treble reproduction. Additionally, the L/R drivers of our test unit were well-matched in frequency and phase response, but we measured about 2dB of amplitude mismatch. This could skew the stereo image to one side a little bit.
However, it should be noted that this mismatch could be unique only to our test unit and they one you buy, may or may not have this mismatch.
They have a sub-par soundstage. The PRTF graph shows a decent amount of activation and accuracy in the response, however, there's not a 10KHz notch present. This, and the closed-back design, results in a soundstage that is perceived as relatively small and located inside the listener's head.
The harmonic distortion performance of the HD 280 Pro is very good. The overall amount of THD produced throughout the range is within good limits, especially in the treble range.
The HD 280 Pro only offer passive isolation. The ear cups' seal stops a little bit of high-frequency noise, but unfortunately, it's not enough for the loud environments involved in commuting. They are not ideal for use in noisy conditions like traveling by plane or train. On the upside, they don't leak much, since they create a fairly good seal around your ears, but they may be audible to the people around you at higher volumes.
The isolation performance of the HD 280 Pro is below-average. These headphones don't have active noise cancellation and don't achieve any isolation in the bass range. This means they will let in all the low-frequency noise and rumble of the airplane and bus engines. In the mid-range, important for blocking out speech, they isolate by more than 11dB, which is decent. In the treble range, occupied by sharp sounds like S and Ts, they achieve 30dB of isolation, which is good.
The HD 280 Pro have a decent leakage. The significant portion of their leakage is between 900Hz and 3KHz, which is a narrow range. The overall level of the leakage is not very loud either. With the music at 100dB SPL, the leakage at 1 foot away averages at 39dB SPL and peaks at 53dB SPL, which is just above the noise floor of most offices.
The HD 280 Pro do not have a microphone so the recording quality has not been tested.
- 100% SpNR
These headphones do not have a microphone so the noise handling has not been tested.
These headphones are passive and do not require a battery. They also do not have any app support.
They do not have any active components and do not require a battery.
The HD 280 Pro do not come with an app or software for added customization options.
- 10% Bluetooth
- 32% Wired
- 10% Base/Dock
- 22% Wireless Range
- 25% Latency
The HD280 Pro have a simple 1/8"TRS audio cable with no in-line remote. They will only provide audio when connected to your console or PC and have practically no latency since they are wired. However, this also means that they will not have the range and convenience of wireless headphones.
- 79% Multi-Device Pairing
- 20% NFC
- 0% PS4 Compatible
- 0% Xbox One Compatible
These headphones are wired and do not have a Bluetooth connection. If you want a good-sounding wireless headset, then consider the Bose QuietComfort 35 II.
- 13% Analog
- 9% USB
- 26% PS4 Compatible
- 26% Xbox One Compatible
- 26% PC Compatible
These headphones have a simple 1/8TRS audio cable with no in-line remote/microphone, so they will only provide audio when connected to your PS4, Xbox One or PC.
- 4% Optical Input
- 22% Line In
- 4% Line Out
- 22% USB Input
- 4% RCA Input
- 9% PS4 Compatible
- 9% Xbox One Compatible
- 9% PC Compatible
- 2% Power Supply
- 13% Dock Charging
They do not have a dock. If you need a headset with a dock that also has a wired connection for gaming or watching movies, then consider the SteelSeries Arctis 7.
The HD280 Pro do not have a wireless range since they only connect via a regular audio cable with an in-line remote.
The wired connection of these headphones has negligible latency which is suitable for gaming and home-theater use.
In the box
- Sennheiser HD 280 Pro Headphones
- 1/8" to 1/4" Adapter
Compared to other Headphones
The Sennheiser HD 280 Pro are decent studio headphones with a couple of flaws that disappoint. They sound above-average with most music genres and audio. They also have a durable design despite being mostly out of plastic. Unfortunately, they are very tight on the head and do not have a breathable design so they will get more uncomfortable during long listening compared some of the other critical listening closed-back headphones below
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x are above-average closed-back critical listening headphones. They have an excellent, and well-balanced audio reproduction and feel sturdier than the HD280 Pro. They're also a lot more comfortable and not as tight on the head. However like the Sennheiser HD 280 Pro, they're simple and straightforward headphones for enjoying your music, so they won't be the most versatile choice for outdoor use. If you have the budget, get the Audio-Technica since they're a bit more durable, sound better and have more accessories. However, the Sennheisers are a bit cheaper.
The Audio-Technica ATH-M70x are the highest tier of the ATH-M series that we've tested so far. They do not sound quite as balanced as the M50x and lack a bit of bass when compared to the 280 Pro. However, their design is a lot more polished and they're more comfortable. Unfortunately, the price difference may not be worth getting the ATH-M70x over the HD280 Pro, in this case, get the ATH-M50X instead.
The Sony MDR-7506 are also straightforward, closed-back, critical listening headphones like the Sennheiser HD 280 Pro. They have a good sound that is a bit more balanced than the Sennheisers in the bass and mid-range, but they have a sharp spike in the treble range that could sound a little harsh with already bright tracks. They're not as durable as the HD280s. However, the padding on the ear cups are more comfortable. They're also not as tight on the head. Performance and price-wise, they are fairly similar so comfort will be the deciding factor. In this case, get the Sonys, but if you want a slightly more durable design, then the Sennheiser are a decent alternative.
The Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro are a better-built critical listening option than the HD280 Pro. They have a more comfortable ear cups, but they're also fairly tight on th head which won't be ideal for longer listening sessions. On the upside, their headband has a metal frame so you can bend it a bit to give a bit more leeway compared to the 280s. They also have a better-balanced sound than the Sennheiser although they sound much sharper at higher frequencies. Overall the Beyerdynamic are the better option for critical listening, but they're also pricier than the Sennheisers.