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Sennheiser HD560S Review (Headphone)

Rate this headphone:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 2 0.6%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 25 7.2%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 149 43.1%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 170 49.1%

  • Total voters
    346

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Sennheiser HD560S. It is on kind loan from a member and costs US $170.
Sennheiser HD560S Review and Measurements Open Back Headphone.jpg

I was taken aback by how light these headphones are. You can see it in this table relative to most of the others I have tested:

lighest headphone review.png

This doesn't give them feeling of luxury but sure are comfortable to wear given the large cups that are 73mm x 45mm. Drivers are mounted at an angle and have a maximum depth of 28 mm.

Note: The measurements you are about to see are made using a standardized Gras 45C. Headphone measurements by definition are approximate and variable so don't be surprised if other measurements even if performed with the same fixtures as mine, differ in end results. Protocols vary such as headband pressure and averaging (which I don't do). As you will see, I confirm the approximate accuracy of the measurements using Equalization and listening tests. Ultimately headphone measurements are less exact than speakers mostly in bass and above a few kilohertz so keep that in mind as you read these tests. If you think you have an exact idea of a headphone performance, you are likely wrong!

The cups fit my fixture's artificial ears easily.

Sennheiser HD560S Measurements
Let's start with our usual frequency response measurements:

Sennheiser HD560S Measurement Frequency Response Open Back Headphone.png


This is very close compliance with our target response across a broad region which means it should not need to have equalization to sound good. That said, it does lack deep bass energy although not as much as some of the other Sennheiser headphones. And there is a bit of excess energy above 4 kHz. Combined, there may be a tad extra brightness to the sound.

Here is the relative response for purpose of developing EQ filters:

Sennheiser HD560S Measurement Relative Frequency Response Open Back Headphone.png


High frequency distortion is extremely low but bass distortion rapidly rises with level:

Sennheiser HD560S Measurement Distortion Response Open Back Headphone.png

As noted, we are deficient in bass amplitude so when we boost it, you are looking at curves above the blue one. How much will be determined in listening tests.

Here is the absolute distortion level:
Sennheiser HD560S Measurement THD Distortion Response Open Back Headphone.png


Group delay shows the typical messiness in many headphones in lower treble and some spikes that serve as warning sign as far as trying to equalize the response at those frequencies:

Sennheiser HD560S Measurement Group Delay Response Open Back Headphone.png


Impedance is on the medium side and variable:


Sennheiser HD560S Measurement Impedance Response Open Back Headphone.png


That should let you drive them better than the higher impedance Sennheisers like HD650 as the amplifier doesn't need as much output voltage. Still, some power is good as sensitivity is below average:

Best Open Back Headphone Review 2022.png


Sennheiser HD560S Listening Tests and Equalization
What you see (in measurements) is what you get. The HD560S is immanently usable without equalization. Yes, they are a bit bright but not annoyingly so at all. But we can improve on that with equalization by simply following our frequency response deviation graph:


Sennheiser HD560S Equalization Parametric EQ Open Back Headphone.png


Working from right, the two filters there are small but are enough to take the edge away from the highs. But then the sound can be a bit dull so I boosted the range with broad filter at 2580 Hz which improved spatial qualities. On female vocal, the voices now stood out more instead of being a bit sharp.

We then get to the pair of filters I use for bass to give a ramped increase to match the frequency response. This added some nice warmness and of course, a lot more bass. Alas, it is only usable at low to medium levels. Above that I could hear the left headphone clicking and eventually both drivers distorting. For everyday listening though, there was plenty of volume so I would go with these filters if you are not liable to crank up content with sub-bass response.

I did a final AB between EQ and no EQ and difference is small, once again proving the statement I made at the outset that EQ is not mandatory.

Conclusions
It is great to see another Sennheiser headphone nearly matching our target response and be easy to EQ. Combined with the light weight and low price, the HD560S made me happier after I tested it. :) Its only weakness is high distortion in low frequencies which limits how much you can EQ that region and at what volume level.

I am going to recommend the HD560S as is and more so with EQ.

-----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

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  • Sennheiser HD560S Frequency Response ASR.zip
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respice finem

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Very interesting in its price class. Even more interesting for me, it measures differently to the rest of "middle class" Sennheisers, though it probably has the same drivers. I guess the different "listening rooms" = earcups are the cause.
 

sweetchaos

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To import this PEQ profile into 'Equalizer APO', use:
Preamp: -7.5 dB
Filter 1: ON PK Fc 20 Hz Gain 7.0 dB Q 1.0
Filter 2: ON PK Fc 40 Hz Gain 1.7 dB Q 1.0
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 2580 Hz Gain 2.0 dB Q 1.5
Filter 4: ON PK Fc 5710 Hz Gain -2.6 dB Q 6.0
Filter 5: ON PK Fc 8400 Hz Gain -4.0 dB Q 6.0

Otherwise, see my PEQ guide.
..................................................................................................................
For those who don't have PEQ-capable app, and want to use GEQs instead:
See my GEQ guide for 10-band, 31-band, and 127-band GEQ profiles.
 
Last edited:
OP
amirm

amirm

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Very interesting in its price class. Even more interesting for me, it measures differently to the rest of "midle class" Sennheisers, though it probably has the same drivers. I guess the different "listening rooms" = earcups are the cause.
I compared the measurements and differences are small enough to also be due to sample variations, mounting, etc.
 

Jimbob54

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Seems to reconcile with the subjective chatter we hear.

Typo in the conclusion @amirm, you refer to the 650S
 

solderdude

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Good to finally see someone confirm the elevated area above 4kHz and peaking around 7kHz and not just at 5.5kHz.
This is exactly the area my filter lowers in the needed amount.
For the DIYers:
hd560s-filter-schematic-c.png


and what it does.
hd560s-filtered.png


and some additional info about seal:
seal.png

It hardly reacts to a broken seal so good news for people with glasses. In fact you can even slightly lift the pads and still get good bass.

Some people might ask themselves how the about similar priced HD58X measures in comparison:
hd560s-vs-hd58x.png

What isn't directly obvious is the difference in stereo imaging. This is better in HD560S.
Driver family resemblance is clearly visible as well but the drivers are definitely not the same.
HD58X is less bright and slightly 'warmer' in the mids.

Below the square-wave and pulse response which is actually quite good for a headphone.
sqr-hd560s.png


I agree, one of the few cheaper good sounding headphones that can be used with very little EQ (needs treble filtering otherwise a tad to bright)
 
Last edited:

Walter

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@amirm, how would you subjectively compare these to the HD58X and PC38X--and maybe even the Hifiman HE400SE? I realize acoustic memory is unreliable and I'm not sure which if any you have on hand to compare to, but I'd be interested in your opinion. These are right in the price range I'm considering.
 

Count Arthur

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I've had a pair of 560s for a while and sung their praises in a few threads and it's nice to see that Amir's impressions broadly agree with my own. And, due to the light weight, these are the most comfortable over-ear headphones I've ever tried; although that isn't really very many in my case.

I've tried several EQ settings that I've found on various sites, but I've never found EQ to be essential for me to enjoy the sound and I'm happy with them as they are "out of the box".
 

Maiky76

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Sennheiser HD560S. It is on kind loan from a member and costs US $170.
View attachment 176556
I was taken aback by how light these headphones are. You can see it in this table relative to most of the others I have tested:

View attachment 176558
This doesn't give them feeling of luxury but sure are comfortable to wear given the large cups that are 73mm x 45mm. Drivers are mounted at an angle and have a maximum depth of 28 mm.

Note: The measurements you are about to see are made using a standardized Gras 45C. Headphone measurements by definition are approximate and variable so don't be surprised if other measurements even if performed with the same fixtures as mine, differ in end results. Protocols vary such as headband pressure and averaging (which I don't do). As you will see, I confirm the approximate accuracy of the measurements using Equalization and listening tests. Ultimately headphone measurements are less exact than speakers mostly in bass and above a few kilohertz so keep that in mind as you read these tests. If you think you have an exact idea of a headphone performance, you are likely wrong!

The cups fit my fixture's artificial ears easily.

Sennheiser HD560S Measurements
Let's start with our usual frequency response measurements:

View attachment 176559

This is very close compliance with our target response across a broad region which means it should not need to have equalization to sound good. That said, it does lack deep bass energy although not as much as some of the other Sennheiser headphones. And there is a bit of excess energy above 4 kHz. Combined, there may be a tad extra brightness to the sound.

Here is the relative response for purpose of developing EQ filters:

View attachment 176560

High frequency distortion is extremely low but bass distortion rapidly rises with level:

View attachment 176561
As noted, we are deficient in bass amplitude so when we boost it, you are looking at curves above the blue one. How much will be determined in listening tests.

Here is the absolute distortion level:
View attachment 176562

Group delay shows the typical messiness in many headphones in lower treble and some spikes that serve as warning sign as far as trying to equalize the response at those frequencies:

View attachment 176563

Impedance is on the medium side and variable:


View attachment 176564

That should let you drive them better than the higher impedance Sennheisers like HD650 as the amplifier doesn't need as much output voltage. Still, some power is good as sensitivity is below average:

View attachment 176565

Sennheiser HD560S Listening Tests and Equalization
What you see (in measurements) is what you get. The HD560S is immanently usable without equalization. Yes, they are a bit bright but not annoyingly so at all. But we can improve on that with equalization by simply following our frequency response deviation graph:


View attachment 176567

Working from right, the two filters there are small but are enough to take the edge away from the highs. But then the sound can be a bit dull so I boosted the range with broad filter at 2580 Hz which improved spatial qualities. On female vocal, the voices now stood out more instead of being a bit sharp.

We then get to the pair of filters I use for bass to give a ramped increase to match the frequency response. This added some nice warmness and of course, a lot more bass. Alas, it is only usable at low to medium levels. Above that I could hear the left headphone clicking and eventually both drivers distorting. For everyday listening though, there was plenty of volume so I would go with these filters if you are not liable to crank up content with sub-bass response.

I did a final AB between EQ and no EQ and difference is small, once again proving the statement I made at the outset that EQ is not mandatory.

Conclusions
It is great to see another Sennheiser headphone nearly matching our target response and be easy to EQ. Combined with the light weight and low price, the HD560S made me happier after I tested it. :) Its only weakness is high distortion in low frequencies which limits how much you can EQ that region and at what volume level.

I am going to recommend the HD560S as is and more so with EQ.

-----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/

Here are some thoughts about the EQ.

Notes about the EQ design:
  • The average L/R is used to calculate the score.
  • The resolution is 12 points per octave interpolated from the raw data (provided by @amirm)
  • A Genetic Algorithm is used to optimize the EQ.
  • The EQ Score is designed to MAXIMIZE the Score WHILE fitting the Harman target curve (and other constrains) with a fixed complexity.
    This will avoid weird results if one only optimizes for the Score.
    It will probably flatten the Error regression doing so, the tonal balance should be therefore more neutral.
  • The EQs are starting point and may require tuning (certainly at LF and maybe at HF).
  • The range around and above 10kHz is usually not EQed unless smooth enough to do so.
  • I am using PEQ (PK) as from my experience the definition is more consistent across different DSP/platform implementations than shelves.
  • With some HP/amp combo, the boosts and preamp gain (loss of Dynamic range) need to be carefully considered to avoid issues with, amongst other things, too low a Max SPL or damaging your device. You have beed warned.
  • Not all units of the same product are made equal. The EQ is based on the measurements of a single unit. YMMV with regards to the very unit you are trying this EQ on.
  • I sometimes use variations of the Harman curve for some reasons. See rational here: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...pro-review-headphone.28244/page-5#post-989169 NOTE: the score then calculated is not comparable to the scores derived from the default Harman target curve if not otherwise noted.


Great L/R match.


I have generated two EQ, the APO config files are attached.
The full version is really for fun as it may not translate well on other units...

Score no EQ: 85.6
Score Amirm: 85.3
Score with EQ Score: 90.1
Score with EQ Full: 95.7

Code:
Sennheiser HD560S  APO Score EQ [email protected] 96000Hz
January042022-153356

Preamp: -6.1 dB

Filter 1: ON PK Fc 17.92 Hz Gain 6.33 dB Q 0.75
Filter 2: ON PK Fc 199.96 Hz Gain -3.21 dB Q 0.64
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 1129.66 Hz Gain -3.52 dB Q 1.55
Filter 4: ON PK Fc 4332.12 Hz Gain -2.73 dB Q 5.92
Filter 5: ON PK Fc 5649.49 Hz Gain -4.16 dB Q 5.95
Filter 6: ON PK Fc 8373.34 Hz Gain -6.84 dB Q 5.96

Sennheiser HD560S  APO Score Full EQ [email protected] 96000Hz
January042022-153544

Preamp: -6.1 dB

Filter 1: ON PK Fc 18.23 Hz Gain 6.21 dB Q 0.75
Filter 2: ON PK Fc 197.96 Hz Gain -3.21 dB Q 0.64
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 1150.07 Hz Gain -3.52 dB Q 1.29
Filter 4: ON PK Fc 2093.06 Hz Gain 1.10 dB Q 2.33
Filter 5: ON PK Fc 4303.60 Hz Gain -2.73 dB Q 5.92
Filter 6: ON PK Fc 5684.87 Hz Gain -4.41 dB Q 4.95
Filter 7: ON PK Fc 6750.35 Hz Gain 1.91 dB Q 5.95
Filter 8: ON PK Fc 8342.47 Hz Gain -7.32 dB Q 5.96
Filter 9: ON PK Fc 10153.05 Hz Gain 2.50 dB Q 4.92

Sennheiser HD560S  APO Score EQ Flat@HF 96000Hz.png


Full: the last Biquad is just there to no touch the FR below 10000Hz (boost less than 1.3dB)
Sennheiser HD560S  APO Score Full EQ Flat@HF 96000Hz.png
 

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phoenixsong

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Very interesting in its price class. Even more interesting for me, it measures differently to the rest of "middle class" Sennheisers, though it probably has the same drivers. I guess the different "listening rooms" = earcups are the cause.
Not the same drivers, no. Definitely different from the HD6-- series drivers *(38mm vs 40mm), and given its different impedance rating + measurements from the HD58X drivers, while being aligned in an angled configuration, that should make it different enough in its own right
 

solderdude

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Not the same drivers, no. Definitely different from the HD6-- series drivers *(38mm vs 40mm), and given its different impedance rating + measurements from the HD58X drivers, while being aligned in an angled configuration, that should make it different enough in its own right

The membrane of the HD560S is different. (Got this info from the guy responsible for the development)
Angling the drivers is mostly affecting the 1kHz to 4kHz range. The most obvious changes are above 5kHz.
 

Count Arthur

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Are there any Sennheiser headphones that aren't bass deficient?
I don't think this is necessarily a Sennheiser thing, I think it has more to do with them being open backed. If you look at Amir's headphone measurements closed backs pretty much always outperform open backs in the low bass region.
 

tdockweiler

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This sounds like a headphone I might like.
An old favorite of mine was the HD-598 (non SE), but it lacked low bass and even more so than the HD-650.
Has anyone compared this to the HD-598?
I imagine it's a side-grade most likely.

I do have the newest HD-650, but i've always found it very slightly muffled sounding and closed in (more so than the HD-598).
Current favorites are the bass modded AKG Q701 and DT-990 Pro.

Some weird mix of the HD-650 and Q701 is like my perfect headphone.
 

phoenixsong

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The HE-1, I doubt that they are worth that price tag though. :)
(There is also the closed back HD-820, but that one has the wonkiest tonality you can find)
Many more from their closed back lines- too many to name actually (Urbanites, Momentums, PXC etc.)
 
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