Sennheiser HD-428 Headphones
(3.5 star rating)
If you have ever searched for a new set of headphones and sought recommendations, you have no doubt heard of Sennheiser and been recommended a set of their headphones. Sennheiser is a well recognized name in the audio industry and has been making headphones, microphones, headsets and other consumer and professional audio equipment for more than 60 years.
While the high-end series Sennheiser cans will still run you a minimum of a few hundred dollars, in the past few years Sennheiser has tried to reach more consumers by offering lower priced headphones in the sub-$100 range. The newly released Sennheiser HD-428 is their latest such offering in a mid-level series that includes the HD 418, HD 438 and HD 448. It promises a comfortable fit, stylish looks and powerful bass-driven stereo sound --- all for $79.99. After dozens of hours of listening, we break down the performance and tell you how well it delivers.
The HD 428 headphones fall into the middle of the overall line of Sennheiser headphones, fitting between less expensive offerings (such as the HD-228 and HD-212) and more expensive offerings (such as the HD-600 and HD-650).
They are closed-back, circumaural headphones that are designed to block out external noise. The circumaural design means that the earcups fit around your ears, rather than sitting on top of your ears while you wear them. They are rated by Sennheiser to reduce up to 32 dB of external noise.
They have a thin cable, with length of 1.4m (4.59 feet) that attaches to the base of the left-side ear cup. They are rated up to 110 dB sound pressure level.
Without a flashy design, these cans stick with the tried and true black color scheme. Adorned on each side are padded ear cups and a pad on the top of the band goes across the top of your head. The total weight of the headphones, including the cable, is 208g (0.46 lbs.) – which is quite light for a full-sized set of headphones.
- Frequency response: (headphones) 18 - 22000 Hz
- Impedance: 32 Ω
- Sound pressure level (SPL): 110 dB
- THD, total harmonic distortion: <0.1% (1kHz/100dB)
- Ear coupling: Circumaural
- Transducer principle (Headphones): Dynamic, closed
- Cable length: 1.4 m single-sided OFC cable with 3.5 mm gold straight plug / 6.3 mm gold adaptor plug
- Weight incl. cable: 208 g (0.46 lbs.)
|Sennheiser HD 428 Box||Overhead view with Cable||Top View|
In the Box
The test unit came in black (the only color combination available) and included the following:
- HD 428 Headphones
- 6.3mm adaptor plug (for plugging into your stereo or other non-mini jacks)
Initial Listening Impressions
In my opinion, sound quality is the most important characteristic of any set of headphones. Regardless of how comfortable they are or how nice they look, I am only willing to pay the price of admission for the headphones if they sound great with all types of music. With that in mind, I performed the sound quality performance evaluation of the Sennheiser HD 428 headphones by listening to MP3s and FLAC music stored on my Sansa Fuze MP3 player. I listened to a number MP3s with bit rates of 128kbps and 320kbps, as well as lossless audio tracks in FLAC format. A wide selection of classical, rock, alternative and hip-hop music was used in the evaluation.
Initial listening impressions revealed that the HD 428 produces what I would describe as a very “analytical” sound signature. No amount of nuances and minor details of the music are lost when listening with these headphones. A balanced amount of lows and highs does a good job complementing the vocals and mid-frequencies. The bass is punchy, but not overly powerful. They dig low without losing authority, but don’t have a huge amount of low-end authority to begin with. The highs are particularly clear and blend well with vocals --- even at high volume levels.
After coming from listening to other brands of headphones, it is clear that this set of Sennheiser cans is designed to exactly reproduce the source sound with a balanced approach. No artificial boomy bass or overstated highs can be found with the HD 428s.
Further Listening Impressions
After putting the HD 428s through a burn-in period of about 30 hours where I kept the volume turned up to nearly ¾ power, I did feel that they opened up a bit in the bass department and delivered a more expansive soundstage. The bass is very tight, punchy and focused, but is not what I would describe as a ‘blow your socks off’ level of impact.
I think my initial listening was more focused on the lows and highs, and I did not get a chance to appreciate how wide-open the soundstage is with these HD 428 headphones. This is as impressive as any other pair of headphones that I have tested and is definitely a strong point of these cans.
My main gripe after the initial listening session was that the sound is not very warm, and it did not improve after the burn-in period. These headphones are very straight-forward sounding and don’t give a fiery performance for any type of music, especially at low volumes. What they do offer is a very neutral, detailed presentation that isn’t focused on blasting huge amounts of bass or overreaching highs.
With soft earcups and a lightweight design, I have found the HD 428s to be extremely comfortable. They remain nearly unnoticeable sitting on your head and around your ears, especially for long listening sessions of 1+ hours of use. The pressure from the earcups against your head pressure is evenly distributed around your ears, so there are no “pressure points” that cause discomfort during long sessions of use.
The single-sided cable is a welcome feature, as it greatly reduces tangling of the cord. I just wish the cable were longer, as 1.4m is simply not long enough to use with a PC, laptop or 2-channel stereo system. In practical terms the cable is only long enough to use with an MP3 player, which greatly limits the usefulness of these headphones.
|View of Headband||Ear Cup||Side View|
Portability and Other Considerations
These headphones do a great job of blocking out external sound. Putting them on, with no sound being played through them, requires a person next to you to talk quite loudly in order to hear and understand them. If you start playing music, almost all household sounds become inaudible. This is nice for really focusing on the music or the sounds coming through the headphones, and it really allows you to become engrossed in whatever game, music or movie you are experiencing through the headphones.
At high volume levels there is a small amount of sound leakage. Keep this in mind if you plan to listen at high volumes with other people in the room, as they may be annoying by the sound escaping from the headphones.
The plastic design of the headband and the earcups is not terribly “high-end” feeling, but it does do a good job of resisting scratches. I carried these with me to and from work, plopped them down on tables and desks, and generally gave them a rough amount of treatment without ever getting a scratch on them.
Finally, the HD 428s cannot be folded and are not travel friendly. They don’t fit easily into a laptop bag or a small tote bag. If you plan to bring your headphones with you wherever you go, you’ll be best served with choosing a more portable model.
Sennheiser HD-428 Headphones
Overall, these headphones are an outstanding sounding set of cans at the $79.99 price point. After a sufficient burn-in period, they offer an expansive soundstage that rivals more expensive counterparts. Tight bass and balanced mids and vocals round out the package. Suffice it to say that their accurate reproduction of details will not be lost on those who love to listen to music as it was meant to be heard.
The few weak points of the HD 428s keep it from getting a higher rating. A short cord is my biggest complaint, with no easy way to transport them being a close second.
After dozens of hours of listening, though, I think anyone who purchases them will be pleased by the sound quality that a good pair of headphones such as the HD 428 can provide.
Pros: Tight bass, balanced mids and vocals, transparent soundstage, very comfortable, scratch resistant build and reasonable $80 price tag.
Cons: Short cable limits their versatility, not travel friendly.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
UPDATE: The folks at Sennheiser have clarified that the version I reviewed is the HD 428 S with a 1.4m cable. The standard HD 428 version, with no 'S' in the model name, has a 10 ft. cable.