sennheiser hd 490 pro
sennheiser hd 490 pro
sennheiser hd 490 pro

Sennheiser HD 490 Pro: Open-back perfection

sennheiser hd 490 pro
9

Continuing my exploration of Sennheiser headphones, I’ve now turned my attention to the HD 490 Pro studio model. There’s likely no need for a lengthy introduction to Sennheiser, given its well-known reputation and extensive product line which you’re probably familiar with.

It’s important to note that the Sennheiser HD 490 Pro and HD 490 Pro Plus are technically the same. Their differences lie solely in the accessories provided: the Plus variant includes an extra 3-meter cable, an additional headband, and a sturdy case for transport. While these headphones are designed primarily for monitoring, mixing, and mastering purposes, nothing stops you from using them to enjoy music leisurely. In this review, we’ll delve into all the aspects and discover just how impressive this new offering is.

Unpacking and packaging

The packaging is a sleek, compact rectangle featuring the headphones set against a black and gray backdrop, accented with the characteristic blue highlights typical of Sennheiser designs. The company’s logo and name grace the top of the box. The model name of the headphones is elegantly presented in gold lettering against the dark background, adding a touch of sophistication. The bottom of the box clearly states that these are open-back headphones, designed for professional producers involved in mixing and mastering tasks.

The equipment here is really great (but I remind you that I have the Plus version) :

  • Sennheiser HD 490 Pro headphones themselves
  • cables 1.8 m / 3 m (the second only in the Plus version)
  • 2 x adapters from 3.5 to 6.3 mm
  • producer ear cushions (velor) and recording ear cushions (fabric)
  • changeable Velcro headband, also velor and fabric
  • trunk/case for transportation (only in Plus version)

Design

Kicking things off with the design aspect, the headphones sport an open-back style. This is ideal for mixing and mastering because it allows for a natural sound experience, though it’s not suited for recording due to sound leakage into the microphone. For recording purposes, closed-back headphones are the go-to option.

The Sennheiser HD 490 Pro showcases a fresh design, setting it apart from both the 600 and 500 series. The cup shape slightly echoes the Sennheiser Accentum model, albeit belonging to a distinctly different category. The build comprises a mix of premium plastic and metal, with metal grilles on the cups and the rest of the construction using plastic to keep them light for extended periods of use.

Comfort is a standout feature here. The ear cushions are generously sized, plush, and feature memory foam that snugly fits without pressing too hard or feeling loose—striking the perfect balance. The headband too provides gentle pressure with its soft padding, ensuring the headphones stay in place without the need for excessive adjustment. Their lightweight nature means wearing them for long sessions won’t wear you down, making them perhaps the most comfortable full-size headphones I’ve ever used.

Comparatively, the HD 560S, which I’ve also tested extensively, don’t match up in comfort. Despite the open-back design and non-leather ear pads that promote air circulation, there’s no issue with overheating or sweat. The build quality is top-notch, with no squeaking or creaking plastic parts, and everything fits together seamlessly. Inside the ear cushions, you’ll find the right and left markings clearly indicated, not just for orientation but also as a part of the acoustic fabric, which is conveniently replaceable along with the ear cushions and headband, allowing for easy cleaning or replacement over time.

Upon removing the acoustic fabric, the inner workings of the headphones, including the speaker, its protective shading, and the acoustic lens, become visible. The speaker measures 38 mm in diameter, a size that is quite standard for Sennheiser. However, size can be a deceptive measure, and there’s more to these speakers than meets the eye, which I’ll delve into under the features section. Interestingly, when the acoustic fabric is off, the headphones exhibit a level of transparency that’s not just aural but also visual, especially noticeable under light.

The design allows for the headphone cable to be connected on either side via a mini XLR connector, offering flexibility in how you wear them. You can plug the side you’re not using with a provided rubber cap to keep things tidy. The package includes two cables of differing lengths to suit various needs: a 1.8-meter cable for home use and a 3-meter cable for the studio. Near the point where the cables attach to the cups, there’s a short spiral section on each cable, about 3 cm long, designed to prevent the headphones from unintentionally disconnecting from your audio source during quick head movements. This feature also helps to minimize any potential microphonic effects. Both cables terminate in a 3.5 mm jack, onto which a 6.3 mm adapter can be screwed; two adapters are provided, one for each cable.

Features:

  • Sennheiser HD 490 Pro headphones  are created on the basis of the company’s extensive knowledge, including in the professional audio segment
  • open acoustic design for the widest possible stage and accurate localization
  • uncolored, flat frequency response that will reproduce the recording as it is
  • the latest system with a low-frequency cylinder reproduces the full low-frequency spectrum, which is accurately and clearly reproduced
  • ultra-light coils of dynamic drivers, give a true sound without delays
  • powerful neodymium magnets provide high sensitivity with minimal distortion, and generate sound without tonal coloration
  • the headphone drivers are at a slight angle to the ear canals, simulating the placement of studio monitors
  • precisely calculated ergonomics, eliminates strong pressure points for long sessions
  • the kit includes the activation code for Dear Reality’s dearVR Mix-SE plugin and DAW spatial audio creation technology, for optimal mixing with the ideal sweet spot location
  • 2 pairs of interchangeable ear pads with optimal acoustic properties for mixing and production are included
  • the proprietary spiral protects the headphones from the microphone effect and accidental shutdown during sudden movements
  • the cable can be connected from both sides for ease of use
  • for users with visual impairments, there is additional marking in Braille, 3 dots on the left cup
  • open design promotes natural ventilation
  • the headphones are made of high-quality components and are handcrafted in Romania
  • replaceable pads on the head, they can be washed and changed
  • the packaging of the headphones is made of ecological materials

 

Sound

Before diving deep into the sound quality of the Sennheiser HD 490 Pro, let’s set the stage with my listening setup and initial impressions. I predominantly used the velour producer ear pads, which, according to frequency response charts, enhance the low frequencies a bit more, making them a preferred choice for casual listening. On the other hand, the fabric ear pads provide a flatter sound profile, ideal for the precision required in mastering and mixing tasks. My go-to setup for this listening experience was my DAC and the Shanling H5 amplifier, with the volume set to 50% on high gain, which proved to be ample. It’s worth noting that these headphones don’t come with a balanced cable; you’ll need to acquire one separately for potentially improved performance.

Now, onto the sound presentation itself. Even with the warmer, music-focused Shanling H5 and the production ear pads, the output was remarkably smooth and monitor-like, with a subtle lift in the high frequencies—though this boost is modest.

Bass (Low frequencies): The bass is both quick and smooth, characteristic of studio headphones. It’s balanced and controlled, without veering into overly deep or heavy territory.

Mid frequencies: These are well-balanced too, with vocals coming through clear and undiminished. The timbres are accurate, almost concert-like in their realism. This is likely thanks to the open-back design, which can replicate the vibrancy of live performances. The detail is not overly sharp, avoiding excessive emphasis on reverberation, yet it maintains an authentic fidelity.

Treble (High frequencies): The highs are understated yet clear, aiding in the distinction between instruments without being harsh. This makes them suitable for those sensitive to high frequencies, offering a smooth and detailed listening experience. The clarity ensures that no critical details are lost, underlining why these headphones are a studio favorite.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it’s fair to say that the Sennheiser HD 490 Pro stands out as one of the best choices in the market, likely to remain a top pick for years to come. Given the slow pace of innovation in full-size headphones, investing in a high-quality pair is essentially investing in your creative future. Beyond their technical specifications, the HD 490 Pro excels in comfort, featuring large, plush ear pads, a soft headband, and a lightweight design, all contributing to an exceptionally comfortable fit.

When it comes to sound, these headphones truly shine. They deliver a wonderfully balanced audio experience that is as suited to long hours of studio work as it is to purely enjoying music. For anyone who values a balanced sound signature, where neither the highs nor the lows overwhelm the midrange, the HD 490 Pro will undoubtedly impress.

 

Specifications

Weight and size:

  • weight 260 grams

Acoustic parameters:

  • driver: dynamic 38 mm
  • design: open
  • sensitivity: 105 dB SPL(1 kHz/1 V RMS)
  • frequency response: 5 Hz – 36 kHz
  • resistance – 130 ohms
  • maximum power: 300 mW
  • coefficient of nonlinear distortion: <0.2% (1 kHz, 100 dB SPL)
  • maximum sound pressure level: 128 dB (1 kHz/ @ 5% THD)

Features:

  • 2 interchangeable cables 1.8 m/3 m
  • 2 pairs of replaceable ear pads and a pair of replaceable headband pads

sennheiser hd 490 pro
Sennheiser HD 490 Pro
9
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