Getting wired headphones feels a bit quaint these days. There’s very few mobile devices that you can plug them into without a dongle, and that all seems like too much hassle. But for those who care about listening to their music with the best possible quality, wires, and preferably physical media (or at least lossless audio files), are a must. And the Sennheiser 560S might have just made that cheaper.
But being an audiophile is expensive. True audiophile headphones can cost thousands of dollars, and that’s before you get to the systems that actually play the music, which range from a few thousand to a few hundred thousand. Can your ears actually notice that much difference? Probably not, but the placebo effect is strong.
The Sennheiser 560S headphones are for the audiophile on a budget. At $319.95 they’re the second cheapest pair of Sennheiser audiophile headphones available at the moment.
WHAT IS IT?
Sennheiser's headphones from audiophiles on a budget
Incredible sound at a good price
Sennheiser 560S Design
Looking at the Sennheiser 560S, you can definitely see that they’re on the cheap side.
To my eye they look like some of the very cheap headphones I bought in the early 2000s. They have a classic plastic aesthetic with a relatively inflexible headband, thin velvet ear cushions, and grilles on the side.
If I didn’t know the price, I’d assume they cost around the $100 mark and wouldn’t sound great.
The cable is pretty long, and ends in a 6.3mm jack, with a converter to change that to a 3.5mm jack.
Fit-wise, they’re far from perfect. The headband is light and comfortable, but its lack of movement means I can fit a finger in between the bottom of the cup and my ear, while the top of the ear has a much tighter seal. That’s not ideal, however it isn’t a deal breaker
Sennheiser 560S Sound
What does it matter if it looks cheap and doesn’t fit too well as long as it sounds amazing? That seems to be Sennheiser’s philosophy here, and I kinda have to agree.
Although these certainly aren’t the best audiophile headphones I’ve ever tried, they’re definitely pretty high up there with the best of the sub $400 category.
Listening to Lossless audio tracks is a revelation. They have a pretty, balanced sound with no range standing out much over the others (except perhaps for a little bass), letting everything sound crisp, clear without losing emotion or details.
The Con by Tegan and Sara is one of my favourite songs of all time. The detail on these headphones is so clear that I can really tell the difference between the voices on the verses.
On some headphones it just sounds like there’s two voices singing the same lines, and Tegan’s is obviously the clearest on top. But with these I can hear the unique qualities of Sara’s on the backups, which is impressive.
The fills on the ‘encircle me I need to be taken down’ part sound a little less sharp than I would expect, though. On higher end headphones that drum fill sounds like a disaster crashing down, whereas on these it has the sharp edges shaved off.
Like O, Like H, also by Tegan and Sara, is a song that never really grabbed me on CD, but the anguish in Sara’s voice ripped my heart open live. For the first time I got some of that power in these headphones.
I’d never really been able to pick the way her voice tears on some of the layered parts. In fact, going over this whole album with these headphones brought tears to my eyes. I listen to this album all the time, but admittedly it’s been a while since I’ve heard it on such good headphones.
The Betrayer by Kaki King is a song that can be a bit of a challenge for some speakers and headphones because there’s so many effects on it, and, because it’s a whole spy thriller in a song, the words need to be clear and emotional.
Yet the Sennheiser 560S handled it like a champ. The bridge sounded perfectly menacing, the rolls on the ride were crisp, the guitar picking was clean, and I felt like I was in the room with the band.
Lights Up by Harry Styles is another complicated song for headphones because it has such deep tones that shouldn’t be distorted, while needing to keep his falsetto clear.
Once again, the 560S nailed all of it. They kept it as a weird, transformative journey. Emotions were there, if not intensified, and the spacing of the sounds sounded like they were coming from everywhere when I closed my eyes.
The big consistent thing was that I kept forgetting I was supposed to be evaluating the headphones, and just got lost in the music. I stopped noticing the headphones were there at all a lot of the time because the music just felt so effortlessly everywhere.
That’s the best possible thing a pair of headphones can do – just let you get lost in the emotions and stories and forget how you’re listening to it.
The Sennheiser 560S sounds fantastic. Way better than they should at this price. What they lack in looks and fit, they more than make up for in audio quality and price.
These should tide you over while you continue to dream of that audiophile setup that costs the same as a new car. They’re certainly not as versatile as Bluetooth headphones, but for listening to an album the whole way through on a Sunday afternoon, or listening to music at your desk, these are a solid choice.