The Sennheiser HD 280 Pro 2016 are decent critical listening headphones, with durable build quality but a somewhat uncomfortable fit. They have a good audio reproduction that packs a lot of bass, and although they're mostly made out of plastic, they feel durable enough to handle multiple drops without damage. Unfortunately, they're 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.
The Sennheiser HD 280 Pro are decent for neutral listening. They have a well-balanced sound with a good bass, mid, and treble range. Instruments and vocals sounded sufficiently forward if a little lacking in detail and clarity compared to some other neutral listening models like the DT 770 and the ATH-M50x. Unfortunately, they have a poor soundstage that won't be ideal for more neutral listeners, but overall their sound quality is good enough for most.
The Sennheiser HD 280 Pro are poor for commuting. Their passive isolation is not enough for loud environments. A lot of noise will seep into your audio on a busy commute. They're also bulky, somewhat uncomfortable, and have no control scheme to use with your mobile phone.
The Sennheiser HD 280 Pro are poor for sports. These headphones are not stable enough to exercise or jog with. They also have a bulky design that will hinder your movements during more strenuous physical activity.
The headphones are below-average for office use. The passive noise isolation will not block the chatter of a busy office. They don't leak as much as some of the other closed-back over-ears, but you may distract your colleagues at higher volumes. Unfortunately, they're very tight on the head and not breathable, which is not ideal if you're looking for a good pair of headphones to wear during your entire shift.
The Sennheiser HD 280 Pro are not suitable for wireless gaming.
The Sennheiser HD 280 Pro are decent for gaming. They have a good sound and a low latency wired connection but are not as convenient or as customizable as most wireless gaming headsets. Also, they don't have a microphone, but on the upside, if you don't need voice chat, then they could be a decent option for consoles and PCs since they will provide audio for both the PS4 and Xbox One.
These headphones aren't suitable for phone calls.
The Sennheiser HD 280 Pro have an all-black, utilitarian aesthetic that may work for some but will look bland for most. They're a little bulky and have a studio appeal. They're thickly padded ear cups with a detachable headband padding. They look well made even with their all-plastic build.
The Sennheiser 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 don't have any controls.
The Sennheiser HD 280 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're 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're 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 too cumbersome for pockets even larger jacket pockets.
These heapdhones don't come with case or pouch.
The Sennheiser 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 don't have a detachable cable, which causes the headphones to be pulled off your head if something hooks the cord.
The frequency response consistency is below-average for these headphones. 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 Sennheiser HD 280 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.
Also, their bass delivery varies noticeably across users, and is sensitive to the quality of fit, seal, and whether you wear glasses. The response here represents the average bass response and your experience may vary.
The Sennheiser HD 280 Pro have a very good mid-range. The response throughout the range is quite even and flat. However, it's 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 for these headphones 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 imaging with the Sennheiser HD 280 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 the one you buy, may or may not have this mismatch.
The Sennheiser HD 280 Pro 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 isolation performance of the Sennheiser 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 Sennheiser 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 Sennheiser HD 280 Pro don't have a microphone so the recording quality has not been tested.
These headphones don't have a microphone so the noise handling has not been tested.
The Sennheiser HD 280 Pro don't have any active components and don't require a battery.
The Sennheiser HD 280 Pro don't come with an app or software for added customization options.
These headphones are wired and don't have a Bluetooth connection. If you want a good-sounding wireless headset, then consider the Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018.
The wired connection of these headphones has negligible latency which is suitable for gaming and home-theater use.
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.
The Sennheiser HD 280 Pro don't 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 Wireless 2017.
The Sennheiser HD 280 Pro 2016 come in one color variant: 'Black'. There is also a newer variant of this model available, but we haven't currently tested it and don't know how it performs compared to our model.
If you come across another variant of these headphones, please let us know in the discussion section below and we'll update our review.
The Sennheiser HD 280 Pro 2016 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're very tight on the head and don't have a breathable design, so they will get more uncomfortable during long listening sessions compared to some of the other critical listening closed-back headphones below.
The Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO are better neutral listening headphones than the Sennheiser HD 280 Pro 2016. The Beyerdynamic have an overall more accurate sound profile, although some people find them to be a bit overly sharp. They're also tremendously more comfortable than the Sennheiser and their build quality is noticeably superior as well. On the other hand, the Sennheiser are less leaky, but that's about it.
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x are better headphones than the Sennheiser HD 280 Pro 2016 in pretty much every category. They are better-built, noticeably more comfortable, and have better sound quality. The Sennheiser also get very hot and aren’t breathable. Overall, the Audio-Technica offer better value and are one of the best critical listening headphones we’ve reviewed so far.
The Sony MDR-7506 are slightly better headphones than the Sennheiser HD 280 Pro 2016. While the Sennheiser show a more neutral sound profile, they perform more inconsistently with different people. The Sony have a more V-shaped sound profile, but this is more consistent with different users. They're also more comfortable and more portable.
The Audio-Technica ATH-M40x and the Sennheiser HD 280 Pro 2016 are both decently neutral-sounding closed-back headphones. The Audio-Technica are more comfortable, which makes them better-suited for long critical listening sessions, but they can sound quite boomy and even piercing at times. The Sennheiser have a much more neutral bass and smoother overall sound but aren’t very comfortable.