Get insider access
Preferred store
Your browser is not supported or outdated so some features of the site might not be available.
We've recently released our Test Bench 1.7 update for Headphones! Read the Noise isolation R&D Article to learn more.

Sennheiser HD 490 PRO Headphones Review

Tested using Methodology v1.6
Reviewed Mar 29, 2024 at 09:55 am
Sennheiser HD 490 PRO Picture
8.3
Neutral Sound
4.0
Commute/Travel
5.5
Sports/Fitness
4.9
Office
4.6
Wireless Gaming
6.7
Wired Gaming
1.6
Phone Calls

The Sennheiser HD 490 PRO are open-back, over-ear headphones. While Sonova acquired Sennheiser's consumer audio division in 2022, Sennheiser have remained in charge of their pro audio division, releasing products designed for professional applications. These headphones are emblematic of this shift; they're designed as an analytical listening tool that can aid you in all manner of audio-related work. As a result, they come with two sets of earpads: one for 'Producing' and another for 'Mixing,' with the aim of making these over-ears as versatile as possible. Other useful features include a dual-jack, detachable cable design that allows for greater freedom of movement while wearing them.

Our Verdict

8.3 Neutral Sound

The Sennheiser HD 490 PRO are impressive for neutral sound. With their 'Producing' pads, they boast an impressive bass extension for open-back headphones, with only a small amount of low-bass roll-off, so basslines and kicks have plenty of punch and slam. Their mids and highs are also quite balanced, though they lack detail in the upper-mid. Their somewhat inconsistent treble response can render sibilants both dull and piercing, depending on their tonality. However, they excel at delivering audio consistently, even if you have thick hair or wear glasses. Their decent passive soundstage performance adds depth and openness to their sound, though it's not quite on par with higher-end audiophile headphones. Overall, factoring in the added versatility of their swappable pad design, they're a great studio Swiss army knife.

Pros
  • Two sets of earpads to tailor the sound.
  • Excellent frequency response consistency.
  • Very comfortable fit.
Cons
  • Terrible noise isolation.
4.0 Commute/Travel

The Sennheiser HD490 PRO are poor for commuting and travel as they're not designed for this purpose. Their bulky design and plasticky build quality make it challenging to sling them in a backpack while ensuring they're not damaged in transit. Their open-back design also means they have a terrible noise isolation performance that won't provide any attenuation against engine rumble or passenger conversations while on your commute. Plus, they leak a decent amount of audio, so you run the risk of bothering others in transit.

Pros
  • Very comfortable fit.
Cons
  • Leak a good amount of audio.
  • Terrible noise isolation.
5.5 Sports/Fitness

The Sennheiser HD490 PRO are disappointing for sports and fitness use, though they're not designed for this use. While they're lighter on the head than some open-backs and are very comfortable, they're still quite bulky and will easily fall off your head if you decide to take them on a run. Their plasticky build quality and open-back design also mean their components are more susceptible to damage from sweat or moisture.

Pros
  • Very comfortable fit.
Cons
  • Leak a good amount of audio.
  • Terrible noise isolation.
4.9 Office

The Sennheiser HD 490 PRO are poor for office use. While they're very comfortable, they're bulky, and their open-back design provides minimal isolation against background noise in the office. They also leak a good amount of audio, so if you work in a quiet office setting, others around you will likely hear your audio, even at regular listening volumes.

Pros
  • Very comfortable fit.
Cons
  • Leak a good amount of audio.
  • Terrible noise isolation.
4.6 Wireless Gaming

The Sennheiser HD 490 PRO are wired-only headphones; you can't use them wirelessly.

6.7 Wired Gaming

The Sennheiser HD 490 PRO are okay for wired gaming. While the slight low-bass roll-off will rob explosions of some of their intensity, the bass range is neutral enough that footsteps are rendered clearly. Their detailed mid-range helps bring out dialogue-driven cut scenes, too. However, their inconsistent treble response can cause sibilants to sound dull or harsh depending on their tonality. They have a decent passive soundstage performance that can help create an immersive gaming experience, and they're comfortable enough to wear for long gaming marathons. However, you'll need a standalone mic to communicate with your teammates.

Pros
  • Two sets of earpads to tailor the sound.
  • Very comfortable fit.
Cons
  • Leak a good amount of audio.
  • Terrible noise isolation.
1.6 Phone Calls

The Sennheiser HD490 PRO don't have an integrated microphone, so you can't use them to take phone calls.

  • 8.3 Neutral Sound
  • 4.0 Commute/Travel
  • 5.5 Sports/Fitness
  • 4.9 Office
  • 4.6 Wireless Gaming
  • 6.7 Wired Gaming
  • 1.6 Phone Calls
  1. Updated Mar 29, 2024: Review published.
  2. Updated Mar 20, 2024: Early access published.
  3. Updated Mar 13, 2024: Our testers have started testing this product.
  4. Updated Feb 22, 2024: The product has arrived in our lab, and our testers will start evaluating it soon.
  5. Updated Feb 01, 2024: We've purchased the product and are waiting for it to arrive in our lab.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The Sennheiser HD 490 PRO come in one color variant: Black. However, you can also purchase the Sennheiser HD 490 PRO Plus. This isn't a variant per se but rather an option to purchase the same headphones with an extra 9.8 ft (3 m) cable, extra padding for the headband, and a case for an additional price. You can see our unit's label here.

If you encounter another variant of these headphones, let us know in the forums, and we'll update our review.

Compared To Other Headphones

The Sennheiser HD 490 PRO are wired open-back headphones designed for a range of pro audio applications. They have a unique swappable pad design that helps them stand out from other similarly-priced audiophile headphones, as it lets you tailor the sound profile and pad material to suit different stages of the audio creation process or to accommodate different listening preferences. Their bulky frame means they're not a natural choice to soundtrack a commute or run, but if you're using them in the studio or for at-home listening, you'll appreciate their comfortable fit with the velour 'Producing ' pads.

They're more comfortable and have better bass accuracy than the Sennheiser HD 660S2, a similarly-priced pair of open-backs from the same manufacturer. However, their build quality isn't as good, and they don't come with a carrying case as standard. Their build quality isn't quite up to the same standard as other headphones marketed towards sound mixers and engineers, like the Audeze MM-100. The Audeze headphones use planar magnetic drivers, which create a more immersive soundstage but add extra weight to the frame, resulting in a less comfortable fit than the Sennheiser.

If you're looking for more headphones, check out our recommendations for the best studio headphones, the best headphones for music, and the best open-back headphones.

Sennheiser HD 560S

The Sennheiser HD 490 Pro and the Sennheiser HD 560S are both open-back, over-ear headphones that perform similarly. Both headphones have balanced sound profiles; the HD 490 Pro have a better bass response, but the HD 560S have more detail in the mid and treble ranges. However, the HD 490 Pro have swappable pads that subtly alter the sound profile depending on what you're working on. Both are comfortable enough to wear for long periods and have great soundstage performances. However, the HD 560S sound a touch more open and more immersive.

Sennheiser HD 600

While the Sennheiser HD 600 are open-back audiophile headphones, the Sennheiser HD 490 PRO, while also having an open-back design, are more suited to professional use in the studio. The HD 490 PRO are more comfortable, deliver audio more consistently, and have better bass accuracy. They also come with two different sets of earpads that you can switch between depending on the task at hand. That said, the HD 600 have a more balanced mid and treble response, bringing out more detail in vocals and lead instruments. They're also built more solidly and have a slightly more open-sounding soundstage.

Sennheiser HD 660S2

While the Sennheiser HD 660S2 and the Sennheiser HD 490 PRO share the same manufacturer name, the latter is a product of Sennheiser's pro audio division, which translates to a better performance for analytical listening. The HD 490 PRO are more comfortable and have a more balanced sound profile overall with their 'Producing' pads. They also have better low-frequency extension, which injects some rumble and boom into your mixes. You can even swap out their pads to change the sound profile somewhat. However, the HD 660S2 are better built and have a more detailed mid-range response. They also come with a case that can help you transport them on the go.

Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO

The Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO and the Sennheiser HD 490 Pro are both open-back over-ears designed for analytical listening in the studio. For this purpose, the Sennheiser perform better overall. While both headphones have a similarly open-sounding soundstage and inconsistent treble accuracy, the Sennheiser have a better bass response and can deliver audio more consistently. They're also more comfortable, and you can choose between the two sets of pads provided to alter the sound profile, depending on the task at hand. The Beyerdynamic are better built and have a more detailed mid-range response.

Audeze MM-100

The Audeze MM-100 and the Sennheiser HD 490 PRO are both open-back, over-headphones designed for studio use. They have some differences in design that might cause you to prefer one over the other. The Audeze use planar magnetic drivers, and the Sennheiser use dynamic neodymium magnets and, as a result, the Audeze have a wider, more immersive soundstage. They're also much heavier, though, and less comfortable on the head. Regarding the sound profile, the Sennheiser have a more accurate bass response and are less inconsistent in the treble range. They also come with two sets of pads, so you can swap them out to alter the sound profile slightly. However, the Audeze have a higher build quality that will translate to better durability in the studio.

+ Show more

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style
Type Over-ear
Enclosure Open-Back
Wireless No
Transducer Dynamic

The Sennheiser HD 490 PRO have a sleek look reminiscent of headphones in Sennheiser's consumer audio line. They have perforated metal grilles similar to those of the Sennheiser HD660S2, with glossy, black plastic yokes, ear cups that resemble the MOMENTUM series, and an adjustable padded headband. They come with two different sets of earpads. The 'Producing' pads are made of a black velvet-like material, while the 'Mixing' pads are made from a rougher, gray, cloth-like material. Their design also means you can plug in the audio cable on either ear cup, allowing greater flexibility and range of motion. They come in one color variant: 'Black'. It's also possible to pick up the 'Pro Plus' variant, which comes with additional headband padding.

8.0
Design
Comfort
Weight 0.58 lbs
Clamping Force
0.8 lbs

These open-backs have a very comfortable fit when using the 'Producing' pads, even if you wear glasses. The pads have a supple, velvet-like padding that feels great on the skin. While these headphones feel light on the head, they also feature soft, comfortable padding on the headband that minimizes pressure on the top of your head. The 'Mixing' pads are less comfortable but will still allow you to achieve a solid fit if you wear glasses.

0
Design
Controls
OS Compatibility
No Controls
Ease Of Use No Controls
Feedback No Controls
Call/Music Control No
Volume Control No
Microphone Control No
Channel Mixing
No
Noise Cancelling Control No
Talk-Through
No
Additional Controls No
6.1
Design
Portability
L 7.5" (19.1 cm)
W 7.4" (18.9 cm)
H 1.7" (4.4 cm)
Volume 97.50 inยณ (1,597.70 cmยณ)
Transmitter Required No

These headphones aren't particularly portable, which is normal given that the manufacturer markets them as studio headphones that aren't designed for on-the-go use. While their ear cups swivel so they can lay flat, they're still very bulky and will take up a lot of space in a bag or backpack. They also lack a case to protect them from damage while they're being transported.

0
Design
Case
Type Pouch
L N/A
W N/A
H N/A
Volume N/A
7.0
Design
Build Quality

These headphones have a decent build quality. While they're light on the head, this is partially a result of their cheap, plasticky build. The ear cups have a nice depth, and the two sets of washable pads seem durable enough. The 'Producing' pads are made of a soft, velvety material, while the 'Mixing' pads are constructed from a coarser, cloth-like material. The headband is also easily adjustable, with replaceable padding that provides a good amount of cushion. However, the construction is let down by flimsy plastic yokes that feel less solid than the other components. Our unit also had two screws fall out of the left hinge.

7.0
Design
Stability

These headphones have decent stability, which will be sufficient for most studio applications. They'll easily stay on your head while you sit at the mixing console but will likely fall off and need re-adjustment if you find yourself headbanging aggressively to your latest mix.

Design
Headshots 1
Design
Headshots 2
Design
Top
Design
In The Box

  • Sennheiser HD 490 PRO headphones
  • 1/8" audio cable (1.8m or 5'9")
  • 1/4"to 1/8" adapter
  • 'Producing' pads (attached to the headphones)
  • 'Mixing' pads
  • Quick start guide and warranty information

Sound
Sound
Sound Profile
Bass Amount
-0.43 dB
Treble Amount
-1.16 dB

The Sennheiser HD490 come with two sets of pads designed to facilitate different professional audio applications. As a result, switching between the two sets of pads results in a different sound profile. We tested these headphones with both sets of pads, but we derived our scores from the tests carried out with the 'Producing' pads, which scored better according to our methodology. Overall, these pads have a more pronounced bass response, while the 'Mixing' pads feature a slightly boosted mid-range that can be useful if you're trying to listen analytically. It's great to have this versatility, as the increased comfort and more exciting sound profile can be useful when arranging and building a track up from the ground. You can then turn to the 'Mixing' pads, with their underemphasized bass and boosted mids, to fine-tune your mix. You can see how the different pads affect the sound profile of these headphones here.

With the 'Producing' pads equipped, these headphones have a balanced sound profile across the entire frequency spectrum. They have a surprisingly good bass response for open-back headphones, though the low-bass frequencies are slightly underemphasized. While the low and mid-mids are very flat, the high-mid response is a little veiled. This carries over to the low-treble range, meaning the upper harmonics of vocals and lead instruments sound a little dull. The rest of the treble range is a little slanted, so there's plenty of air and high-end brilliance, but sibilants, like S and T sounds, are lispy and lack sizzle.

8.6
Sound
Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
0.29 dB

The frequency response consistency is amazing. Once you find a good fit, you can achieve consistent bass and treble delivery. Both sets of pads perform similarly in this regard, too, so even if you wear glasses or have thick hair, audio delivery consistency won't change if you switch out the pads. You can see a graph of the frequency response consistency with the 'Mixing' pads here.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response

You can see a graph of the raw frequency response with the 'Mixing' pads here.

8.9
Sound
Bass Accuracy
Std. Err.
1.41 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
30.84 Hz
Low-Bass
-2.53 dB
Mid-Bass
-0.77 dB
High-Bass
1.04 dB

The bass accuracy is excellent, especially for open-back headphones with dynamic drivers. While the low bass is slightly underemphasized, meaning your mixes lack low-end rumble, the rest of the range is flat and balanced. Kicks and basslines still have plenty of punch and slam without introducing any muddiness into the mix. On songs like Massive Attack's Teardrop, the kick sounds punchy and has a fast attack while still allowing the bassline to sound clear and present. You can see a graph for bass accuracy with the 'Mixing' pads here.

8.6
Sound
Mid Accuracy
Std. Err.
1.87 dB
Low-Mid
0.19 dB
Mid-Mid
-0.96 dB
High-Mid
-2.62 dB

The mid accuracy is amazing. The response is virtually flat across the low-mid range and there's only a very slight dip in a narrow band within the mid-mid. The top of the high-mid range is slightly recessed, though, which can dull the upper harmonics of vocals and lead instruments. You can see a graph of the mid accuracy with the 'Mixing' pads here.

8.0
Sound
Treble Accuracy
Std. Err.
3.09 dB
Low-Treble
-2.29 dB
Mid-Treble
0.76 dB
High-Treble
-7.21 dB

These headphones have impressive treble accuracy. While the response never deviates greatly from our target curve, there are some inconsistencies across the entire range. There's some roll-off in the low-treble range that robs vocals and lead instruments of some detail and nuance. The mid-treble response is also quite slanted, so the bottom part of the range is recessed, resulting in lispy-sounding sibilants. However, the top part of this range is overemphasized, adding some zing and attack to acoustic guitar picking and the bells of ride cymbals. You can see a graph of the treble response with the 'Mixing' pads here.

7.7
Sound
Peaks/Dips
Peaks
1.62 dB
Dips
0.76 dB

The peaks and dips performance is good, and these headphones can mostly control their own sound profile. A slight bump in the high bass adds warmth to your mixes. A small drip in the mid-mid causes lead instruments to lose presence, and a large dip between the high-mid and low-treble robs their upper harmonics of detail. A peak in the low treble is followed by a smaller dip, resulting in sibilants that alternate between sounding dull and bright, depending on their pitch. Finally, a sharp peak at the top of the mid-treble adds a harsh, piercing quality to higher-pitched sibilants.

8.4
Sound
Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
0.11
Weighted Phase Mismatch
1.31
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
1.96
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
1.39

The Sennheiser HD 490 Pro have great imaging. Imaging performance generally indicates good ergonomics and quality control, which we expect from Sennheiser's professional line. Our unit's left and right drivers are well-matched in group delay, ensuring that bass response is tight and treble reproduction is transparent. They're also well-matched in phase and frequency, although there were some slight mismatches in their amplitude. This kind of imaging performance ensures that objects are well localized within the stereo field. However, imaging tends to vary between units.

7.0
Sound
Passive Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
2.01 dB
PRTF Size (Avg.)
4.48 dB
PRTF Distance
7.05 dB
Openness
9.5
Acoustic Space Excitation
5.4

The Sennheiser HD 490 Pro have a decent passive soundstage performance. Their open-back design helps create a soundstage that sounds open and spacious, especially compared to closed-back headphones. However, they still sound a little unnatural. They aren't as immersive as top-of-the-line audiophile headphones like the Sennheiser HD 800 S, as their design doesn't facilitate audio interaction with the outer ear in quite the same way. You can see a graph of the soundstage with the 'Mixing' pads here.

0
Sound
Virtual Soundstage
Head Modeling
No
Speaker Modeling
No
Room Ambience
No
Head Tracking
No
Virtual Surround
No App
8.1
Sound
Weighted Harmonic Distortion
WHD @ 90
0.255
WHD @ 100
0.082

The weighted harmonic distortion performance is great. There's a sharp high-treble peak in the right driver when listening at regular volumes, but this will be difficult to notice with regular audio content as we lose sensitivity to this range over time. Otherwise, all frequencies fall within good limits, producing clean and pure audio at moderate and high volumes.

Sound
Test Settings
Firmware
No Firmware
Power
Passive
Connection
Wired
Codec
PCM, 24-bit, 48kHz
EQ
No EQ
ANC
No ANC
Tip/Pad
Default
Microphone
No Microphone

These are the settings used to test the Sennheiser HD490. We used the 'Producing' pads for all tests. Our results are only valid when used in this configuration.

Isolation
1.3
Isolation
Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
Overall Attenuation
-3.66 dB
Noise Cancelling No
Bass
0.31 dB
Mid
0.19 dB
Treble
-11.31 dB

The Sennheiser HD 490 Pro's noise isolation performance is terrible, which is normal for open-back studio headphones. As a result, they block almost no bass or mid-range noise by virtue of their design. So if a drummer is rehearsing in the studio next door, lower-pitched elements of the kit, like the kick and snare, will make their way into your audio. They provide a slight amount of passive isolation against higher-frequency noises, like fridge hum, but it's minimal.

5.3
Isolation
Leakage
Leakage Audio
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
48.21 dB

The leakage performance is poor. While these headphones don't leak as much audio as other open-back models, like the Sennheiser HD 660S2, their design still means that others can easily hear audio near you. Escaping audio is primarily concentrated in the high-mid and treble ranges, so it sounds quite tinny. If you plan to use these exclusively in a quiet studio environment, this will be fine, but if you take them on the bus or train, others around you will hear your audio at regular listening volumes.

Microphone
Microphone
Microphone Style
Integrated
No
In-Line
No
Boom
No
Detachable Boom
No
Mic No
0
Microphone
Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
N/A
LFE
N/A
FR Std. Dev.
N/A
HFE
N/A
Weighted THD
N/A
Gain
N/A
0
Microphone
Noise Handling
SpNR
N/A
Noise Gate
No
Speech + Pink Noise Handling
N/A
Speech + Pink Noise Audio Sample N/A
Speech + Subway Noise Handling
N/A
Speech + Subway Noise Audio Sample N/A
Active Features
0
Active Features
Battery
Battery Type
No Battery
Continuous Battery Life
N/A
Additional Charges
N/A
Total Battery Life
N/A
Charge Time
N/A
Power-Saving Feature
No
Audio While Charging
No
Passive Playback
Passive Headphone
Charging Port None
0
Active Features
App Support
App Name No App
iOS No
Android No
macOS No
Windows No
Equalizer
No
ANC Control
No
Mic Control No
Room Effects
No
Playback Control
No
Button Mapping No
Surround Support
No
Connectivity
9.9
Connectivity
Wired Connection
Analog Audio
Yes
USB Audio
No
Detachable
Yes
Length
5.91 ft (1.80 m)
Connector
1/8" TRS
Latency - Analog
0.2 ms
Latency - USB
N/A
Recorded Latency
Recorded Latency Connection Analog

The Sennheiser HD 490 PRO come with a 1.8m (5"9') audio cable, with a 1/8" audio jack on one side and a proprietary connection type on the other that plugs into the headphones. They also come with a 1/4" adapter, so you can use them with professional-end devices, like soundcards and headphone amps. Latency via analog connection is virtually non-existent; this is great if you ever need to use them for tracking instruments like synthesizers, as you won't experience any delay between your keystrokes and the audio signal.

0
Connectivity
Bluetooth Connection
Bluetooth Version
No Bluetooth
Multi-Device Pairing
No
Quick Pair (Android)
No
Quick Pair (iOS)
No
Line Of Sight Range
N/A
Latency - SBC
N/A
Latency - aptX
N/A
Latency - aptX Adaptive (High Quality)
N/A
Latency - aptX Adaptive (Low Latency)
N/A
Latency - LDAC
N/A
Recorded Latency
N/A
Recorded Latency Codec No Bluetooth Audio
AAC Support
No
0
Connectivity
Wireless Connection (Dongle)
Line Of Sight Range
N/A
Latency - Dongle
N/A
Recorded Latency
N/A
Connectivity
PC Compatibility
Analog
Audio Only
Wired USB
No
Non-BT Wireless
No

You can connect these open-backs to your PC via their audio cable. However, you can't send audio to your PC without purchasing a standalone mic.

Connectivity
PlayStation Compatibility
PS4 Analog
Audio Only
PS4 Wired USB
No
PS4 Non-BT Wireless
No
PS5 Analog
Audio Only
PS5 Wired USB
No
PS5 Non-BT Wireless
No

These headphones are compatible with PlayStation-family consoles; you can plug their cable directly into your controller. However, they don't have a mic, so you can't send audio.

Connectivity
Xbox Compatibility
Xbox One Analog
Audio Only
Xbox One Wired USB
No
Xbox One Non-BT Wireless
No
Xbox Series X|S Analog
Audio Only
Xbox Series X|S Wired USB
No
Xbox Series X|S Non-BT Wireless
No

These open-backs are compatible with Xbox-family consoles if you connect them to the controller's AUX port. However, you'll need a standalone mic to communicate with your teammates.

0
Connectivity
Base/Dock
Type
No Base/Dock
USB Input
No
Line In
No
Line Out
No
Optical Input
No
RCA Input
No
Dock Charging
No
Power Supply
No Base/Dock