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Reviewed on Oct 03, 2016

Sennheiser HD 518 HEADPHONES REVIEW

Usage Ratings - Version 1.2
5.7
Mixed Usage
7.5
Critical Listening
4.5
Commute/Travel
5.4
Sports/Fitness
5.2
Office
5.8
TV
5.7
Gaming
Type : Over-ear
Enclosure : Open-Back
Wireless : No
Noise-Cancelling : No
Mic : No
Transducer : Dynamic

The Sennheiser HD 518 are a good, low-budget pair of critical listening headphones. They deliver a decently balanced and open sound quality. They're comfortable and somewhat sturdy but are a bit bulky and tight on the head. However, they're not casual headphones and are only meant to be used in quiet, isolated environments.

Test Results
Design 6.2
Sound 7.6
Isolation 2.8
Microphone 0
Active Features 0
Connectivity 5.1
Pros
  • Good and open audio reproduction.
  • Comfortable fit.
Cons
  • Sensitive to ambient noise, by design.
  • High leakage by design, can be distracting to others.
  • Slightly bulky and cumbersome design.
  1. Update 2/16/2018: Converted to Test Bench 1.2.
  2. Update 8/10/2017: Converted to Test Bench 1.1. Learn more about our new versioned test bench system here.

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6.2

Design

The Sennheiser HD 518 have a similar design to the HD 598 but look less high-end and also feel tighter on the head. They're well padded, decently comfortable headphones, and the additional tension in the headband also makes them a bit more stable. However, they do not feel as comfortable as the HD 598. Also, like many of other open back headphones, they're not intended for use outdoors and are too bulky and cumbersome, to comfortably carry around on your person.

Style

The Sennheiser HD 518 are not the most eye-catching or stylish open over-ear headphones. They have a similar aesthetic to the HD 598 but lack a few of the premium touches that the more expensive models of Sennheiser HD series provide. This makes them look a bit cheap at a glance, especially with the thick and plastic ear cup grills. On the other hand, the headband and ear cup padding do look and feel high-end for their price.

7.5 Comfort
Weight : 0.54 lbs
Clamping Force
:
0.97 lbs

The Sennheiser HD 518, like the HD 598 and the Audio Technica ATH-M50x, are well padded comfortable headphones. The large oval ear cups fully encompass the ears and the cushioned fabric is soft and feels good on the skin. Unfortunately, they're a bit tight on the head. It's not as noticeable as some other over-ear headphones but it does make them a bit less comfortable than the HD 598.

0 Controls
Ease of use : N/A
Feedback : N/A
Call/Music Control : No
Volume Control : No
Microphone Control : N/A
Channel Mixing
:
N/A
Noise Canceling Control : N/A
Talk-Through
:
N/A
Additional Buttons : N/A
6.7 Breathability
Avg.Temp.Difference : 4.7 C
5.4 Portability
L : 8.38 "
W : 6.88 "
H : 3.50 "
Volume : 201.8 Cu. Inches
Transmitter required : N/A

Like the Beyerdynamic DT 770, the HD 518 are on the larger side for over-ear headphones. They're not designed to be very portable. They're bulky, and the ear cups do not lay flat to take less space. They also don't fold into a more compact format. They will fit into a backpack and some larger bags but are too cumbersome to carry around on your person. Sadly, they don't come with a case or pouch either.

0 Case
Type : No case
L : N/A
W : N/A
H : N/A
Volume : N/A
7.0 Build Quality

Decent build quality. The Sennheiser HD 518 feel sturdy enough to withstand a few falls without damage. The ear cups are comparatively dense, and the headband has a thin metal frame that gives a bit more durability to the design. However, like the HD 598 the metal frame connects to the ear cups by a relatively thin swivel hinge that seems susceptible to heavy physical stress.

6.5 Stability

The Sennheiser HD 518 are decently stable headphones. However, they're not designed to be used while doing any physical activities. They will sway and quickly fall off your head but do maintain a stable and comfortable fit during casual listening sessions. Unfortunately, the cable is not detachable and will yank the headphones of your head if it gets hooked on something.

Cable
Detachable : No
Length : 9.97 ft
Connection : 1/8" TRS

Comes with a 1/8" to 1/4" TRS audio cable.

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Headshots 1
Headshots 2
7.6

Sound

7.4 Bass
Std. Err.
:
3.48 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
:
44.26 Hz
Low-Bass
:
-4.44 dB
Mid-Bass
:
1.8 dB
High-Bass
:
4.55 dB
7.8 Mid
Std. Err.
:
2.87 dB
Low-Mid
:
4.01 dB
Mid-Mid
:
2.38 dB
High-Mid
:
-0.79 dB
8.6 Treble
Std. Err.
:
2.81 dB
Low-Treble
:
0.13 dB
Mid-Treble
:
-1.98 dB
High-Treble
:
-3.21 dB
7.3 Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
:
0.55 dB
8.5 Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
:
0.24
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
:
0.94
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
:
1.7
Weighted Phase Mismatch
:
4.77
6.5 Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
:
2.6 dB
PRTF Size (Avg.)
:
2.8 dB
PRTF Distance
:
9.0 dB
Openness
:
8.1
Acoustic Space Excitation
:
8.0
Correlated Crosstalk
:
-0.03 dB
6.9 Total Harmonic Distortion
Weighted THD @ 90
:
1.641
Weighted THD @ 100
:
17.609
2.8

Isolation

These headphones like all open-back models are not meant to isolate the listener from ambient noise. They're designed specifically to leak and have an open sound that immerses you in your environment. Therefore, they won't be usable in loud settings or if you want to keep what you're listening to private. 

2.9 Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
:
Overall Attenuation
:
-3.7 dB
Bass
:
0.1 dB
Mid
:
1.37 dB
Treble
:
-12.2 dB
Self-Noise
:
0 dB

Poor isolation. These headphones have an open-back design and therefore don't isolate any sound below 2KHz. Above 2KHz, they perform poorly, achieving only 13dB of overall attenuation in the Treble Range.

2.7 Leakage
Leakage Audio
:
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
:
59.36 dB

Poor leakage. Due to their open-back design, the Sennheiser HD 518 leak a lot of sound throughout a broad range of frequencies. The significant portion of the leakage is spread between 300Hz and 20KHz which makes the leaked sound quite audible to the people around you.

0

Microphone

Integrated
:
N/A
In-line
:
N/A
Boom
:
N/A
Detachable Boom
:
N/A
0 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 Noise Handling
Speech + Pink Noise : N/A
Speech + Subway Noise : N/A
SpNR
:
N/A
0

Active Features

No active features.

N/A Battery
Battery Type
:
N/A
Battery Life
:
N/A
Charge Time
:
N/A
Power Saving Feature
:
N/A
Audio while charging
:
N/A
Passive Playback
:
N/A
0 App Support
App Name : N/A
iOS : N/A
Android : N/A
Mac OS : N/A
Windows : N/A
Equalizer
:
N/A
ANC control
:
N/A
Mic Control : N/A
Room effects
:
N/A
Playback control
:
N/A
Button Mapping : N/A
Surround Sound : N/A

No compatible app.

5.1

Connectivity

0 Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
:
N/A
Multi-Device Pairing
:
N/A
NFC Pairing
:
N/A
8.0 Wired
OS Compatibility
:
Not OS specific
Analog Audio
:
Yes
USB Audio
:
Yes
PS4 Compatible
:
Audio Only
Xbox One Compatible
:
Audio Only
PC Compatible
:
Audio Only
0 Base/Dock
Type
:
N/A
Optical Input
:
N/A
Line In
:
N/A
Line Out
:
N/A
USB Input
:
N/A
RCA Input
:
N/A
PS4 Compatible
:
N/A
Xbox One Compatible
:
N/A
PC Compatible
:
N/A
Power Supply
:
N/A
Dock Charging
:
N/A
0 Wireless Range
Obstructed Range
:
N/A
Line of Sight Range
:
N/A
10 Latency
Default Latency
:
0 ms
aptX Latency
:
N/A
aptX(LL) Latency
:
N/A

In the box

  • Sennheiser HD 518 Headphones
  • 1/4" to 1/8" Adapter
  • Audio cable

5.7 Mixed Usage

Not designed for casual, everyday use. The HD 518 are critical listening headphones best enjoyed in an isolated and quiet environment.

7.5 Critical Listening

The Sennheiser HD 518 deliver a good audio reproduction and open sound quality. They have a crisp representation of instruments and vocals and a spacious and immersive soundstage thanks to the open back ear cups. They sound a bit boomier and less evenly balanced than the HD 598 but still offer a good enough sound for most critical listeners.

4.5 Commute/Travel

Not meant for commuting or traveling. Their open design does not prevent noise from seeping into your audio.

5.4 Sports/Fitness

Not sports headphones. They're big, bulky and a bit cumbersome. They're not designed to be used while doing any physical activity.

5.2 Office

Not suitable for office use except if you work in an isolated environment.

5.8 TV

Average for home theater use. The open-back design and balanced sound quality are suitable for watching movies. However, since they're wired headphones, they won't have the best range. On the upside, the audio cable is longer than most so you may not need an extension cord depending on your home theater set-up.

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