The Sennheiser HD 560S are a great choice of headphones for those looking to push as much detail as they can from their listening sessions, whether amp-armed audiophiles or studio workers. Offering a comfortable design, wide soundstage and neutral sound profile, they're impressively balanced despite being a niche product. However, with some inevitable sound leakage and a relative lack of bite in the bass, they won't be for everyone.
- Wide soundstage
- Comfortable design
- Detailed listen
- Sound bleed
- Not so powerful bass
- Can reveal the flaws in recordings
- Review Price: £169
- 6.3 to 3.5mm adapter
- Weight: 240g
- Velour ear pads
It seems that with every passing day, a new set of TWS earbuds is released into the wild. The market for Bluetooth audio options has certainly exploded in the past few years, so much so that it can be easy to forget that wired headsets are still going strong.
The Sennheiser HD 560S are an open-back over-ear set of cans sporting a ¼-inch jack (for use with amps) and a 3.5mm converter in the box. In their design, intended audience and execution, they’re the antithesis of the Jabra Elite 85t, for example – these definitely aren’t for the commute.
You won’t find a mic, audio pass-through mode and noise cancellation here; in fact, there’s none of the bells and whistles typically touted by marketing. The HD 560s’s emphasis is on sound quality and comfort, all at a price that won’t break the bank. But does Sennheiser deliver the goods?
Sennheiser HD 560S price and availability
The Sennheiser HD 560S were announced and released September 2020 for £169/$199/€199/CAD$259/AUD$320.
Sennheiser HD 560S design – Good fit but leaky sound not the most ‘sociable’
- Good comfort levels
- Comes with a 3m ¼-inch jack cable
- Open-backed design
Getting the fit of a headphone right will always be subjective, given that there are so many variables (differing skull sizes, for one) at play. Even with this in mind, the Sennheiser HD 560S are a very comfortable set of cans.
The headband offers a tight and firm grip without applying too much pressure, and with a light weight overall, there isn’t much of a “presence” on the head to contend with over long sessions of listening.
Comfort is further aided by the velour covering over the cups, which never gets too hot – although it may become a little grubby with extensive, extended usage. Having an open back means that there’s less heat build-up over time, too.
By default, a 3m ¼-inch jack cable is included, which plugs into the left cup. This should be of ample length for most, certainly within the space of an average living room. A 3.5mm jack adapter also accompanies these headphones, which conveniently allows for compatibility for those smartphones still offering this port, along with hi-res audio players, and so on.
The headset itself is constructed from plastic, for reasons of both build weight and budget, but feels solid nonetheless. Not that the Sennheiser HD 560S will be exposed to many bumps and dangers with their intended use case and target market.
These are cans made for an amp and an armchair on a warm evening, or for the studio – and they should be perfect in both scenarios.
An unfortunate but unavoidable consequence of the open-back design is some sound bleed when listening, particularly at higher volumes. These will not be the most sociable listen if you’re sharing the room while having a “session”.
As might be expected, the HD 560S come in any colour you like as long as it’s black; despite sporting a certain executive chic, there are no more exciting options available.
Sennheiser HD 560S sound quality – More for ‘reference’ listening than using on the commute
- Intended for reference use
- Open sound
- Not made for low-res tracks
With such an unassuming design and package, all of the big claims as to the proficiency of the Sennheiser HD 560S lie in audio performance. And while they might not completely live up to the promises made, I was pleasantly surprised with the audio capabilities on display.
The key emphasis of these cans is two-fold, soundstage and detail, and on both counts the HD 560S delivered. To begin, although the soundstage won’t trouble the top end of the market, for the price and certainly compared to much of the Bluetooth competition, these are excellent performers.
From complex orchestral tracks to more pared back acoustic arrangements, there’s a pleasant sense of direction, with each frequency given impressive space to breathe. At 120 ohms, there’s also plenty of room for an amplifier to add some extra oomph to the delivery, although the standard arrangement and volume options will likely be enough for most.
The level of detail on display is decent for the most part; however, it can be a little unsparing. Those tracks with the right arrangements (file type, recording venue for instance) will benefit from the extra space in the soundstage. But the ugly results of over-compression can be felt at times – the right expression might be “warts and all”.
Beyond pleasing those looking for an entertaining listen, these cans are meant for another purpose: reference audio for musicians and audio engineers. For this crowd, in addition to the detail, there’s a generally balanced sound profile. Although the bass is tweaked for a little more punch than it might have had otherwise, the Sennheiser HD 560S don’t especially favour the lows, the highs, nor the mids – all are represented mostly equally.
This does mean that those looking for the most bass for their buck will be better served elsewhere. There are other cans definitely capable of delivering a more powerful kick.
So while the HD 560S won’t “auto-magically'” improve the quality of your Spotify listen, with the right tracks they’re more than capable of performing well and providing a very enjoyable listen.
You should buy the Sennheiser HD 560S if…
You’re going to use them for reference listening
The Sennheiser HD 560S are a pair of cans unapologetically aimed at a certain kind of consumer.
You’re after affordable open-backed headphones
If you’re in the market for a budget pair of open-back over-ear headphones that can pack in the detail, there aren’t a lot of better options for the price.
You should buy the Sennheiser HD 560S if…
You’re after a more exciting pair of headphones
However, if you have a passion for deep and driving bass, are looking for something to power your commute, or intend to listen in a communal or quiet setting, then there are better options available across the market.
You want a wireless headphone
The Sennheisers are as basic as you can get in terms of features, so no wireless or ANC etc.