Sennheiser HD 560S Review

Sennheiser HD 560S

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The Sennheiser HD 560S doesn’t really care if you’re using it from a desktop amplifier, your laptop, a phone or a DAP. You can get it to sound loud easily, though with some devices your volume dial will go up quite a bit. It’s not only about loudness though, and I do feel the HD 560S is transparent enough to show you what your source or amp bring to the party.

At my office I tend to use the HD 560S straight from my laptop or from the Flux Lab Acoustics Atlas DAC/AMP because it’s closest to my desk, but that surely is overkill for the HD 560S. The headphone does scale up nicely to a certain degree, but it doesn’t need a $6K unit to make it perform its best.

The 3m cable also allows you to use the HD 560S at home in your couch when listening to music or when watching TV. In my case I have it hooked up to a 1991 Kenwood receiver and it’s a perfect companion when Netflixing. You can use the HD560 S straight from a DAP if you would want that, the 3M cable could be a bit annoying in this case however. I just to see how the HD 560S would perform have also used it with portable players such as the new HiBy R8, the Lotoo PAW 6000 and the Cayin N3PRO.

With the HiBy R8 you get a very mature sound. Bass is somewhat elevated but the depth, layering and spaciousness are very impressive with this DAP. With the PAW 6000 you can hear some added smoothness in the mids as well as a softer overall delivery. For me personal it’s missing a bit of energy and clarity, but that’s because of the PAW’s characteristics.

The DAP I liked most using the HD 560S most with is Cayin’s newest N3 Pro. With its solid state and double tube option, you can have 3 different HD 560S sound signatures. The solid state one makes it’s cleanest, accurate and most neutral while both of the tube options give the HD560 more bass, weight and warmth. For me personally that’s not really needed as this is not what the HD 560S tuning is about, but some might like it this way.

Comparisons

The two first headphones that come into mind for comparisons are the HD 650 and of course the HD 660S, as Sennheiser looks at the HD 560S as the latter’s little brother. Comparison is done with the Earmen TR-AMP, connected to my laptop with ROON.

The classic HD 650 is more colourful than the HD 560S and it isn’t as analytic. Bass here is elevated more than in the HD 560S and you overall get a smoother, warmer and fuller/thicker presentation. Technically the HD 650 to me still is the superior headphone and especially the depth and layering here are at a higher level. The timbre is also better, more pronounced and notes have better extension and decay. The HD 650’s treble is less energetic, which is very noticeable coming from its little brother. The HD650 also sounds even more spacious and open, and the positioning of instruments and 3-dimensionality is quite a bit better.

The HD 660S to me still is a nice blend of the HD 600 and HD 650, taking the best of both headphones. This means that it’s more precise and more neutral than the HD650. Bass in the HD 660S is fuller, and I find the vocals and upper mids to be more forward. The HD 560S seems more linear and balanced from top to bottom. Technically the HD 660S performs at a higher level, but you don’t get the balance and neutral signature of the HD 560S. Bass and mid body in the 660S is also bigger.

I partly see why Sennheiser calls the HD 560S, the little brother of the HD 660S but it at the same time is sufficiently different sounding. In this regard I see both of these more as complimentary headphones, even though there is a clear technical step up with the 6-series.

I at the moment unfortunately don’t have any of the Sennheiser 5-series headphones here to compare the HD 560S to, but if they ever show up here again, I’ll be adding their comparisons to this review.

At this price point, I don’t really have many other (dynamic) headphones to compare the HD 560S to and the Hifiman Sundara is half as expensive ($349) and a different technology. I went through my collection of headphones but there just isn’t anything I feel it should be compared to. So if you have something specific in mind, head over to the comments section and let us know. Then we will see what we can do about it.

Conclusion

Many audiophiles were expecting Sennheiser to release a brand new TOTL headphone for their 75Th anniversary, but instead Sennheiser with the HD 560S chose to design a new entry level high end headphone.

Looking at how it performs sonically, I’m pleasantly surprised to see it selling for only $199. With the HD 560S you get a simple, yet good sounding headphone with an accurate and more neutral reference tuning. The HD 560S’ balance is impressive and the longer you listen to this headphone, the better it gets.

I don’t have anything else in my collection at this price point and with this performance. As a result I can only add the Sennheiser HD 560S to our recommended buy list, especially if you’re looking for a neutral and accurate, yet musical tuning at a lower budget.

 

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Lieven is living in Europe and he's the leader of the gang. He's running Headfonia as a side project next to his full time day job in Digital Marketing & Consultancy. He's a big fan of tube amps and custom inear monitors and has published hundreds of product reviews over the years.

21 Comments

  • Reply September 29, 2020

    InvisibleInk

    [From the article] “Technically the HD 650 to me still is the superior headphone and especially the sound stage, depth and layering here are at a higher level.”

    I never found the soundstage of the HD650 very impressive. Instead of giving the impression of a big room or theater, it was more like listening in a narrow hallway. Sennheiser claims the 560s has a much wider soundstage, and I read your quote above suggesting the HD650 is better.

    • Reply September 29, 2020

      Aaron

      I for one also think HD650 performs rather mediocre in soundstage. They sound very shut-in for an open back headphone.

      • Reply October 2, 2020

        drno

        I have phillips x2hr’s for movies n gaming, senns hd25s for general listening to music (great sound in my book) and ath-m50x for mixing audio. Happy with them but……….would the hd-560s be a good upgrade from the hd-25s for general listening to music?

    • Reply September 29, 2020

      Lieven

      I mean the depth of the 650 vs the 560S, not the width. Sorry if that wasn’t clear

      • Reply October 22, 2020

        JS

        I agree with Lieven. I have heard HD650 on various setups and its staging, especially depth depends on thr setup. It can be in your head or it can project a convincimg image in front of you.

  • Reply September 29, 2020

    EG

    You mentioned the Sundara in closing. I’m assuming you feel the Sundara is superior even if it’s not a direct competitor?

    • Reply September 29, 2020

      Lieven

      The Sundara has a different technology and sound, and is more expensive. So I didn’t want to compare them. I have heard good Sundara’s and bad ones, but the sound signature is different from the HD 560S. Both are great headphones.

      • Reply September 29, 2020

        EG

        Okay, thanks for confirming!

  • Reply September 30, 2020

    Michael Walton

    Many thanks for a great review. I currently have IBasso dx150 ( amp 6) and enjoy it with Hifman Re 600 earbuds but looking for a fuller sound with headphones. Would Hd560 add extra warmth to the mix which I am trying to avoid ? . I was hoping for a bit brighter sounding signature headphone and which the Dx150 could easily power. ?
    I really enjoy your reviews

    • Reply October 7, 2020

      Lieven

      There will be no extra warmth with the 560S

  • Reply September 30, 2020

    Paul

    How do these headphones compare to the HD 599? I own these and look at the HD 560s as a potential upgrade. Are they an upgrade, or should I go for a more expensive headphone like the Sundara?

  • Reply October 1, 2020

    Jason

    How would it compare with the DT 880 Premium 250 ohm? On DIY Audio Heaven they compare very similarly in the graphs except the 560s showing better bass extension and the DT 880 showing more elevated treble.

    Curious how the two compare in person.

    • Reply October 7, 2020

      Lieven

      Don’t have the DT880 250, sorry

  • Reply October 5, 2020

    Paul B.

    How would you rate the HD 560S against the HD 600? I own a pair of HD 600s and love them but sometimes crave for a bit more “meat” and bass weight without sacrificing the 600s numerous strengths and overall character. Do the HD 560Ss tick those boxes or would you steer me straight towards the HD 650 instead?

    • Reply October 5, 2020

      Lieven

      Actually sounds like you need the HD 660s 🙂

  • Reply October 5, 2020

    Paul B.

    Thanks for the prompt reply. Interesting – I was kind of put off by InnerFidelity’s (RIP) Tyll Hertsens’ less than complimentary review of the HD 600S and, for some reason, I’d got the impression that the 660S is actually leaner than the 600, but in your opinion that’s not the case? Not sure my pockets are deep enough to run to the 600S at this time…

    Cheers
    Paul B.

    • Reply October 7, 2020

      Lieven

      To me the 660s doesn’t sound leaner, no.

  • Reply October 6, 2020

    Adam

    For me this headphone is a bigger deal, than the HD58x Jubilee was at launch.
    It sounds EVEN closer to the HD660s, actually It might infact be EVEN BETTER than the HD 660S. And personally I find my HD560S to have a very deep, and very well defined bass. Sort of like a vibrating thick and deep left-to-right type of bass. Lots of bass in the sub bass region too. These are definitely more neutral than the HD660s which were morr on the bright side (but in a good way ofc), I just find neutral headphones to be overall superior than colored phones’. Highly recommend it. It’s that BIG of a sweet deal yes, for such a little price it rivals the hd58x and hd 660s, and its almost the same price as the hd58x. So definitely a sweet deal. Suggest you all go out and buy it now! You wont get more price-to-performance than this. I own this and the Fidelio X3, and while the X3 are a better sounding ‘Fun’-headphone over all, I think HD560S will give you more natural, neutral enjoyment.

    And while it has no way as much bass as the X3, it more than delivers on the imaging, stereo seperation, low-end, mids, clarity, etc And i still think the HD560S has more bass than any other ‘sennheiser’-headphone on the market now. I’d say the HD560S is like a cross between the HD580 and a HD660S. It doesn’t feel or sound like a 500-series phone. This phone might as well be above the 700 series in drivers alone. And for that price! Wow

  • Reply October 18, 2020

    Shaun Moss

    Great review. Totally through a wrench in what I was thinking to get next. How do you think they would compare to the meze 99 classic? Or the hd6XX? So you think a dragonfly cobalt would be able to drive these from a phone? Thanks again

    • Reply December 2, 2020

      Major Diablo

      Shaun,

      Can’t comment about the Meze or the HD6XX but I’m driving my HD560S with the Cobalt and the match is great. Plenty of power, if that’s your concern.

      I find the soundstage not-so-great, not an improvement respect to my SR80e; apparently the Fidelio X2HR should be better in that field. But I’m happy with the performance overall for $199, just a few hours into them. Hope this helps.

  • Reply January 12, 2021

    Frank

    According to the frequency charts this one could be a contender to the DT 1990 (somewhere between A- and B-Pads minus the 8k peak)? Of course the build quality of the Beyer is way above the HD 560s. But aside from that? Any opinions?

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