10 Best Sennheiser Headphones for Artists, Gamers and Audiophiles
Sennheiser is no doubt one of the biggest names in headphones, though the company also makes cable adapters to speakers and beyond. The German brand has long propagated far outside of Europe, which comes naturally with product quality.
10 Best Sennheiser Headphones for the Money
The best Sennheiser headphones can be too many to list and dependent on the fields of work. My top picks cover the most common needs of the average consumer and up to amateur and even professional music producers. Dive right in and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
Table of Contents
- 10 Best Sennheiser Headphones for the Money
- Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Impedance
- What Are You Listening To?
- Range, Comfort, and Other Considerations
The redesigned HD280 Pro simply delivers on so many levels. Starting with the comfort, the lightweight earcups are nicely complemented with thick plush padding.
I particularly enjoy the two different pads on the headband instead of the traditional one-piece design. It does a good job of reducing head pressure even better than the original model.
The closed-ear design gives decent noise cancellation properties. In addition, the big earcups allow for extra padding to ease the ear pressure. This is very important if you need to use the headphones for long sessions.
The frequency response is between 8 and 25,000Hz. That’s good enough for any consumer-grade headphones and professional studio headphones. That’s far beyond the generally accepted human hearing range. In general, I’d advice throwing out this specification altogether. It’s done in a laboratory environment and never a good indicator of real-world performance.
All in all, I consider these among the most versatile headphones to come out of a Sennheiser factory. That’s the important part.
Now let’s discuss the sound. Obviously, some things will sound better than others. The frequency response is even and neutral throughout. For a pair of budget headphones (by Sennheiser’s standard), these are surprisingly faithful to the music.
The sound should appeal even to some bassheads. Nothing is overpowering and there’s enough definition that high-pitched instruments are heard clearly in jazz, blues, rock, pop, and other genres.
Maybe these aren’t the best for classical music auditions. But that’s mostly because of the extra noise cancellation. The higher frequencies are well-represented as demonstrated by the good performance with songs and movies.
I can also appreciate high quality plastic construction when I see one. The HD280 Pro headphones may be plastic but it’s a very robust frame. The collapsible design is a nice perk if you want to take the headphones with you to go places.
Last but not least, consider that all of the above come at a very accessible price point. Whether you’re a gamer, musician, producer, or a casual music listener, these headphones deliver way above their price range. They’re a versatile tool in anyone’s arsenal regardless of the work you’re doing.
Can you really put a price on comfort? – Yes you can. But then again, for some people comfort trumps audio quality when it comes to headphones. Most gamers and people that use headphones for music at home aren’t discerning audiophiles and don’t nitpick on the intricacies as much as they do the fit and comfort of a headset for continuous use.
I tend to agree with that. Unless we’re talking about professional headphones for live gigs, podcasts, recordings, and mixing, comfort is very important and there’s no reason to compromise on it. That’s why these older Sennheiser headphones, the HD598 SR, are still very dear to me.
They come in both open-back and closed-back formats. This means you can enjoy the same comfort as everyone else while also picking the pair that’s best suited for your taste in music. Both designs are wired and feature the same set of cables (9.8’ and 3.9’ long). Yes, the cables are detachable so there’s no need to worry about clutter, storage, or range.
Obviously the sound will differ somewhat depending on the design. On the one hand, you can have a more wide-open sound if you opt for the open-back model. On the other hand, the closed-back format gives you more noise cancellation and promotes a deeper sound projection. The latter will work well for mixing tasks too.
But it’s the level of comfort that seems to take center stage. The leatherette headband has tons of padding, even though it may look a bit scarce. The quality of the foam does a good job of reducing the pressure on your head. The same goes for the padding on the earcups.
There’s a small price difference between the two models. The closed-back version has the lowest impedance at 23ohm. The open-back HD598 Pro headphones are rated at 50ohm impedance which might be slightly less friendly to the driving device. But with most Sennheiser headphones, you can definitely benefit from a dedicated headphone amp.
As you might expect, both have the same frequency response range of 10 to 28,000Hz and the ability to take and make calls. It rarely gets more convenient than this at this price range.
Some people can afford some amazing headphones. Are they always needed? It’s more of a case of want than need, and especially if you’re an audiophile then the HD650 certainly demands some attention.
These headphones have an amazing frequency response of 10 to 41,000Hz, designed for lots of sparkle in the high frequencies. But at the same time, it’s a dream to have access to if you’re a music producer or even a part-time DJ. What’s also very impressive is the total harmonic distortion of less than the usual 1%. The HD650s are rated at 0.05% THD or less.
The cable is long at 9.8’ and quite rugged. This might add a bit of weight but it is detachable. So if you want to make things easier, you can swap it for something else. Although I still recommend using the stock cable for the most faithful reproduction. Believe it or not, cable design can make an audible difference.
The voice coils are made from very lightweight aluminum which seems to improve the response time and acoustic clarity even further. They are also virtually indestructible – these headphones play loud (as long as you have the right amplifier).
I’ve already mentioned that these are professional headphones. The 300ohm nominal impedance means that they’re harder to drive – and you’ll get lower loudness at the same volume level compared to lower-impedance and easier-to-drive headphones.
In terms of style, they’re ok and not over the top. The titanium-silver finish looks well-polished and it still maintains that unique Sennheiser appeal. Simple, elegant, and efficient.
Comfort is a big deal for everyone. At this price range, you should expect to get your money’s worth. And lo and behold - the padding is soft on the skin yet thick enough to reduce almost all the pressure. The headband padding is heavy on the sides which is something that I personally like and find most comfortable.
There are many headsets that can easily double as gaming headsets. But if you’re an avid gamer or full-time streamer, you can tell the difference between what’s made for you and what’s made to cover all bases.
The Sennheiser Game One headphones can give you unparalleled sound clarity and accuracy compared to other gaming headphones in its class. If you’re looking for an immersive gaming experience and a way to take in the amazing cut scenes offered by triple-A games these days, the Game One headphones are hard to beat in my book.
These headphones accomplish two things: sound quality coming in and going out. The microphone is easily as high-end as the drivers and acoustic setup of the headphones. It has built-in noise-canceling features that should eliminate the need for additional software and the need to purchase a dedicated microphone.
The Game One is good enough for recording and streaming VODs, podcasts, and even discussing strategies with team members on apps like TeamSpeak. The 50ohm impedance puts the headphones in a nice position to be used by console gamers, mobile gamers, and PC gamers.
The cable is detachable as you’d expect from Sennheiser. You can also store the headphones easier this way.
The headphones feature an open-back design. Not only does this promote that natural sound but it also helps regulate head temperature. If you have issues with overheating during testing gaming sessions, you might want to give the Game One headphones a closer look.
The level of comfort is further enhanced by the quality padding on the headband and earcups. The padding has a nice feel to it too so it shouldn’t cause you to sweat.
If you’ve had enough of wired headphones, take a look at the Sennheiser PXC 550. This headset has built-in Bluetooth 4.2 technology and boasts a battery life of up to 30 hours. It’s also carefully designed for frequent travelers, which means that the noise cancellation (active) is worth every penny.
The PXC 550 uses NoiseGard. This is an adaptive noise cancellation (ANC) technology which can adapt to and cancel out various outside noises. As you might know, active noise cancellation means to generate the same sound as the outside noises at the same amplitude but in inverse phase so that everything will add up to zero amplitude.
The design is sleek but may look a bit flimsy. In reality, the frame is quite durable and more than capable to handle life on the road.
As with most Sennheiser wireless headphones, the PXC 550s are also compatible with CapTune. For those of you that only know YouTube and Spotify and think that that’s the best audio out there, CapTune is a well-calibrated app developed by Sennheiser which offers endless tuning possibilities.
The passive impedance is 46ohm while the active impedance is listed at 490ohm. Like all wireless headphones, the Sennheiser PXC series features a built-in amplifier (this will remain the case until wireless charging/amplification becomes a reality). Therefore, active means that the amp is engaged, which significantly increases the amount of power required to drive the headphones – that’s why the large jump in impedance (lower impedance means easier to drive).
Last but not least, the frequency response range is between 17 and 23,000Hz. Again, this is way outside of the human hearing range. Most music doesn’t have any info under 40Hz anyway.
I’ll say it again. Forget about frequency response ratings, especially with headphones. Experts and audiophiles know to only pay attention to frequency response with outboard speakers. You will enjoy the vocal and instrument clarity of these headphones.
This is advertised by Sennheiser as a professional gaming headset, which is not hard to see. It clearly has a futuristic design that looks nothing like Sennheiser but everything like what gamers and streamers crave. It’s flashy, pointy, and as rugged as they come.
The GSP 600 also has a very thick microphone that not only sounds good but also looks like it can inflict some damage. So, don’t try to yell at your screen from close proximity when you’re not hitting your target.
Noise cancellation (passive) is featured for both the drivers and the microphone. The main difference between the GSP 600 and other gaming headsets from Sennheiser or other manufacturers is the closed-back design. It helps you tune out distractions and focus on the task at hand and the conversations with your teammates or Twitch followers.
Another interesting feature is the enhanced bass definition and wide frequency response range. Bass definition is not always needed nor is it offered in many gaming headsets. But in this case, Sennheiser focuses as much on the bass as it does the vocal clarity.
This creates a balanced but much clearer sound that’s built around triple-A game sound effects and soundtracks.
The headband is highly adjustable and the padding does a good job of minimizing pressure and reducing heat. This is very important since the GSP 600 is a closed-back design, which might occasionally cause sweating by overheating the top of the head and the back of the ears.
I am not particularly fond of futuristic-looking headsets. But then again, I’m a musician and not a pro gamer. Although I have to admit that my passion for F1 definitely makes the GSP 600 headset look quite special.
I’ve always liked Sennheiser for its history of delivering high quality even at the lowest of prices. Case in point, the HD 202 II. These are professional headphones yet they cost almost nothing even for the average consumer.
The Sennheiser HD 202 II headphones have their place at home or in amateur studios. The noise isolation is perhaps the main highlight, which is almost unmatched in this price range. The level of comfort is far better than expected though you may notice some pressure after a couple of hours.
The versatility of the headphones can’t be overstated. The frequency response range is 18 to 18,000Hz. It may not seem particularly wide but Sennheiser does not exaggerate ratings like lesser manufacturers. Also, the frequency response is rated at plus minus 3dB, so it doesn’t mean that you don’t get any sound above 18kHz, just at slightly lower decibels (and most adults have problems hearing above 18kHz in the first place).
The 32ohm impedance means that these headphones are fairly easy to drive to the loudest volume for the typical smartphones, tablets, and laptops.
The design is simple and characteristic of Sennheiser. The headphones are mostly made of plastic which seems strong enough to handle a few drops. The materials used for the padding are cheap but effective. The fake leather padding really starts working its magic after a short breaking-in period and you will be able to extend your listening time with these headphones.
The HD 4.50 comes in two models: original and 4.50SE (special edition). There’s a bit of a price difference as the 4.50SE is the retail version while the base model is OEM and comes in a plain box. Besides some minor cosmetic differences, they both have the same specs at 18 to 22,000Hz frequency response and 18ohm impedance.
Some of you may be wary of buying Bluetooth headphones. Understandably so, as many models over the years have struggled to reduce the total harmonic distortion. The HD 4.50 does a good job at this and cuts the distortion down to below 0.05%. That puts these headphones on par with most premium wired models.
The headphones are also equipped with NoiseGard ANC which has become a Sennheiser staple. The active noise cancellation technology cancels out excessive ambient noise so you don’t have to turn up the volume and risk ruining your hearing.
The battery life is pretty good too. 19 hours is more than enough for the casual listener and it’s not bad for travelers either. Since the headphones are active, you can drive them with anything.
There’s also an integrated microphone which offers decent clarity during calls. There’s no virtual assistant support but the controls are conveniently located and spaced on the right earcup. You can even use them to change tracks and place calls.
You can find the HD25 in three different models. There’s the HD25 original, the HD25 Lite, and the HD25 Plus. The original model occupies the middle ground in both performance and pricing, which is why it’s my top pick out of the three in the series.
The design is lightweight and leaves room for plenty of adjustability to fit different head sizes, ear sizes, and so on. Comfort is not an issue with most Sennheiser headphones.
The 10ft cable is one of the most reliable I’ve seen in a long time. Although the sound seems quite fairly balanced on the midrange and high frequencies, the bass definition isn’t bad either.
And, since the earcups rotate, you can try your hand at one-ear mixing too. The headphones may not be the most durable but they are built for indoor and outdoor use. The passive noise cancellation is enough for loud environments and audio equipment testing purposes.
Judging by the contact pressure rating, maximum sound pressure, weight, frequency response range (16 to 22,000Hz), and THD rating, the HD25, the middle child, is the most reliable and affordable solution out of the three.
10. Sennheiser HD201
Here’s another pair of budget-friendly German-made headphones that appeals to a wide range of users and fits various activities. The bargain basement pricing makes the HD201 one of the most popular Sennheiser headphones.
It should come as no surprise that these headphones are on the smaller side and very lightweight. Still, they come with a 9.8ft cable which may be perfect or a bit too much depending on the user. Luckily the padding is solid and solves any added pressure issues.
What also surprised me was that these were bass-centered headphones. For budget-constrained bassheads, these may be perfect. The bass-driven sound makes sense in this price range as it’s one of the most common tricks employed by audio gear manufacturers to gloss over the shortcomings of their most economical products.
The mids and highs are balanced enough. Therefore, you can get that deep resonating sound that can pump you up while you’re doing your workout. They can also offer a unique gaming experience in some cases, where action takes center stage and dialogue is less important.
Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Impedance
Not all manufacturers bother to list a full list of specs. Sometimes this causes things like impedance to slip through the cracks. This is a very important feature in headphones as it has to do with the level of amplification needed to drive the sound and how much you can squeeze out of them.
As a general rule of thumb, low impedance headphones are preferred for smartphones and tablets. Impedance is equivalent to resistance, so when it’s high, you put less current demand on the upstream component. The drawback is that you’ll be generating lower volume at the same power level, so you may have to turn up the volume control.
Medium impedance headphones should work well with laptops, consoles, and PCs. High impedance headphones may need dedicated amplification to function at optimum capacity.
What Are You Listening To?
What are you listening to, really? What’s the most common thing you use your headphones for? – Depending on your answer, your headphones may need to emphasize certain frequencies.
Emphasized mids and highs can put the instruments on the center stage. They can also help clear the dialogues in movies and the vocals in most pop, rock, and metal tracks.
Range, Comfort, and Other Considerations
If style and overall aesthetics are important to you, by all means prioritize that. But I should mention that Sennheiser usually only deals in traditional, simple designs. The exceptions are the brand’s premium professional headphones, for studio work, or gaming headsets.
Comfort is almost never an issue with Sennheiser. The manufacturer knows where to put padding, how much to put, and how to balance weight and pressure for your comfort.
You might also want to pay some attention to the cable length and quality. I’m a fan of detachable cables but you don’t have to follow my lead if you’re not a clutter nut.
Why I Think Sennheiser is a Top-Rated Brand
As you've no doubt figured out by now, Sennheiser prioritizes quality no matter the price range. Just look at how good even some of the cheaper headsets sound and you’ll get the picture. All the headphones on my list enjoy the support of many users far beyond Sennheiser loyalists.
And, I also think Sennheiser’s decision to branch out and deliver both professional and consumer-grade headphones is a recipe for success. This allows them to get more feedback on new technologies used and design innovations, which will ultimately set them up for continued success.
If you want to switch brands or just give Sennheiser a try, you can hardly go wrong with any pair of Sennheiser headphones discussed above.