What sets these headphones apart from the competition? Is it their extremely budget-friendly price and professional performance? Why are they loved by both audio professionals and casual listeners?
Without giving too much away all at once, it’s no accident that these are so highly-rated and reviewed! Throughout this review, we’ll do our best to help you understand the best and worst features they have to offer, as well as hopefully answering any questions you have!
If you’re anything like us, you probably agree with the importance of having all the facts before you make your decision! Keep reading our Sennheiser HD 280 Pro Review to see if they’re the best studio monitor under $100!
Sennheiser HD 280 Pro Review – Best Studio Monitor Under $100?
Basic Features & Technical Specs:
- Circumaural (over-ear) closed back wearing design
- Features a compact folding design (available with or without carrying case)
- Driver Type: Neodymium dynamic
- Cable Length: 9.8 ft. (coiled)
- Frequency Response: 8 Hz – 25,000 Hz
- Impedance: 64 Ohms
- Sensitivity: 113 dB
- Includes: 1/4″ adapter
- Weight: 7.84 ounces
Before you move on, take a quick look at the links below that you can use to navigate our review. Each section will provide an in-depth analysis for each individual performance aspect.
Here are the 5 most important features you’ll want to consider before making your decision:
- Build Quality & Coiled Cable Design
- Comfort & Passive Noise Isolation
- Sonic Performance – How Do They Sound?
- Are They Better For Studio or Casual Use?
- Who Are They Perfect For?
Now that you’ve taken a quick look at the technical specs, let’s start by examining two of the most important features – their build quality and the coiled cable!
Build Quality & Coiled Cable Design
These are usually only available in the black color scheme pictured above. There is minimal logo branding on the back of both ear cups, plus left and right indicators in white. They have an all plastic build with a sturdy-looking matte finish.
The ear cups fold inward, towards the bottom of the headband. Once you’ve folded them at the hinges, just above the plastic piece holding both ear cups, they’ll look like an upside down ‘u’. (An upside down ‘u’ that’s more shallow than it is wide… hopefully that makes sense.)
If you’re a fan of customizing your cans, both ear cushions are fully removable. You can also replace the headband once it wears down over time, although the padding should hold up for quite a while. When that time comes (if ever), all you have to do is unzip the headband covering and replace the padding.
Keep reading below if you’re wondering whether or not the headphone cable is also replaceable!
9.8 Ft. Coiled Cable Design
Unfortunately, the 9.8 foot coiled cable is non-removable. Then again, it’s thicker, heavier, and more durable than many other removable cables. The only minor downside is that as it starts to wear down (after years of regular use), it will be harder to replace.
If it does start to wear out faster than usual, you can open the right ear cup and rewire the new cable. So, it is replaceable, in a sense, but not in the traditional way. You can’t just buy a replacement and plug it into the ear cup.
As far as its actual build quality, here are a few positive features worth noting:
- Extra length allows for much more freedom of movement
- More durable than many standard detachable cables, which will ensure it lasts much longer
Although it’s a very sturdy cable, the extra length also adds more weight to the overall package. Also, as you’d expect, the coiled cable does tend to tangle more easily. Even if you try wrapping it around the headphones, it will still turn into a tangled mess.
Before we go into more detail on how that affects where you’ll probably want to use them, let’s take a look at how comfy they are!
Comfort & Passive Noise Isolation
Both oval-shaped ear cups have plush padding and a deeper design that will easily fit most ear sizes. The actual ear cups should cover your entire ear (including your ear lobes). This also contributes to their passive noise isolation.
Since they are circumaural (over-ear) headphones, they will naturally form a seal that blocks some outside noise. The seal that’s formed does have a slight downside. The material covering the ear cushions only provides minimal ventilation.
On the other hand, if you plan on using these indoors, the minimal ventilation won’t be as big of an issue. (If you were planning on taking these for a walk in the middle of a hot and humid summer, you’ll want to read the section below to see where they perform at their best.)
As we mentioned above, you can replace the headband padding if you find that it’s not as comfortable as you’d like it to be. For the most part, it has adequate cushion and doesn’t cause any major discomfort after wearing them for an hour or two.
What Does “32 dB Attenuation of Outside Noise” Mean?
‘Attenuation’ is basically another word for describing the ‘reduction of current or signal strength (or amplitude)’. It’s just a fancy word that’s almost interchangeable with describing how well your headphones can lower the volume of outside noise (at least, in this example anyways).
These studio monitors can block up to 32 dB of outside noise. Although 32 dB attenuation doesn’t exactly compete with noise cancelling ‘phones like the Sony WH100XM2, it’s good enough for staying focused on the audio you’re mixing or listening to. (At least they gave us a general idea of how much noise they can block.)
That being said, you can wear them on the plane or anywhere else you want to isolate yourself from the chaos around you. Once again, they will not completely eliminate all ambient noise. Instead, they will muffle things like the hum of an engine, passing traffic, or the sound of someone yelling your name.
Now that you know what to expect in terms of comfort and passive noise isolation, let’s take a look at how they actually sound!
Sonic Performance – How Do They Sound?
Before you skip ahead to the detailed explanation, it’s important to note that these are very easy to drive. They have a fairly low impedance of only 64 Ohms. If you’re not exactly sure what that means, here’s a brief explanation:
Most cans with an impedance under around 80 Ohms can be powered by your smartphone, laptop, or DAP’s headphone jack.
In other words, you won’t need to pair these with an expensive DAC/amp to experience everything described below! (You can still pair them with an amp, it’s just not absolutely necessary.) Now that that’s out of the way, you’re probably wondering what they sound like!
Sound Profile – Neutral or V-Shaped?
Since these cans were designed with a specific purpose in mind, they have a noticeably flat and neutral response. Keep in mind that ‘flat’ or ‘neutral’ don’t mean ‘boring’ or ‘dead’. All it means is that the bass, mid range, and treble are even-keeled and well-balanced.
Here’s what you can expect to hear when you plug them in and press play!
- Bass Response: sounds very clear and smooth.
- Mid Range: everything sounds flat and fairly-detailed.
- Treble: also sounds very neutral, in fact, maybe even the most neutral out of all 3 frequencies.
Unlike some “budget-friendly” cans, you won’t hear that sharp or tinny effect we all hate in the treble. The bass isn’t bloated either which means these are the exact opposite of ‘v-shaped’. They sound somewhat similar to the Status Audio CB 1, but have a totally different build design. If you’re used to wearing v-shaped cans, this next section is especially important for you!
Adjusting Your Ears
These cans are especially useful for things like getting an accurate mix in the studio or other critical listening. (Basically any time you want to hear a more accurate representation of the music you’re listening to.) That being said, you may have to adjust to their sound profile at first if you’re used to mixing with cans like the Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro, which aren’t as flat or neutral-sounding.
If that describes you, you may have to wear them for a bit until you get used to the different approach. If you’re looking for skull-shattering bass – you’ll be severely disappointed. This brings us to the last section before you see our final rating out of 10. Are they better for studio or casual use?
Are They Better For Studio or Casual Use?
There are a few key features that make these more ideal for studio use. (Then again, they’re not so bad for at-home listening either.) To start off, their neutral sonic performance is one of the main reasons they’re better for studio use.
Their flat and neutral response is perfect for making sure other people hear exactly what you hear – whether you’re mixing/recording audio or editing videos. If you mix with headphones that over-emphasize the lows, mids, or highs – it won’t sound the same on other speakers or headphones.
Is An ‘Accurate’ Representation Better or Worse?
The more technical term for that would be playback that’s describes as ‘accurate’ or ‘true-to-the-mix’. Many audio professionals prefer an accurate representation over an artificially-enhanced response. Why is it important?
Well, your song or other audio will sound (more or less) the same in your studio or car as it will in your friend’s headphones. Although it will slightly vary depending on what medium you use to show off your creation – the idea is that there will be fewer inconsistencies.
When you’re actually mixing or recording, their neutral response will allow you to hear (and adjust) each element on a track. If the hi-hats, 808s, or synth needs to be louder – you’ll be able to hear it right away and make the adjustment.
For the same reason, they’re also great for recording podcasts or vocals. Aside from their neutral playback, the extended 9.8 foot coiled cable is another reason they’re built for the studio! Keep reading below to see a few practical benefits of their cable design!
Practical Benefits Of The Extended Coiled Cable
We mentioned a few downsides to the cable design above, but here are a few real life benefits to help even them out. If you’re recording music or a podcast, the extended cable allows you to move around more than usual. (Some musicians prefer standing up when they record since they want to practice how they’ll perform at a live show.)
For example, if you have a home studio, the vocalist won’t have to stand right next to the computer where all of your equipment is plugged in. Instead, they can stand almost 10 feet away and really stretch out those vocal cords.
Also, if you have a podcast, (or are thinking about starting one) the extended cable gives you more options. You can arrange and spread out the furniture so you won’t have to literally sit on top of one another, especially if you have any guests or a co-host sitting next to you.
Drawbacks For Portable Use
Why aren’t they ideal for portable use? Well, many of the reasons they’re perfect for the studio also make them less ideal as a compact walk-around pair. For one, the extra long cable would be hard to tuck away under your shirt (like you would with a pair of in-ear headphones).
Two, you might not prefer absolutely neutral playback for everyday listening. Unless you’re an audiophile, many of us prefer a more engaging response when we want to relax and listen to a new album.
Overall, those 2 features are the main reasons why they thrive in the studio environment more than anywhere else! If you made it this far, you’re probably wondering if they’re the perfect fit for you… and why!
Who Are They Perfect For?
If you’re someone who enjoys recording music as a hobby or career, these are definitely worth considering! If you consider yourself a ‘bass-head’, you would be better off looking elsewhere. Chances are, you know how hard it is to find an affordable pair of cans that can compete with some of the higher-end models.
It’s no accident that these have found their way into many professional recording studios, music schools, and home studio setups. Although they do lack some versatility (since you can’t easily replace the coiled cable) – their plush comfort and sonic performance makes up for much of the difference.
If you’re still on the fence and aren’t quite sure whether or not these are the best choice for you – we suggest you take a look at the review table below. There, you will see the main pros/cons as well as how we calculated their final rating out of 10.
Now that you’ve read our entire Sennheiser HD 280 Pro review, what do you think? Should you add these to your studio/podcasting setup? Do they deserve to be called the best studio monitors under $100?
If you’d like to see more information before you decide, click one of the links below!
Let us know what you think by leaving a question or comment below! We always do our best to respond as quickly as we can! Thanks for stopping by to take a look at our overview, we hope you enjoyed!
Sonic Elevation: Ride The Waves.
Sennheiser HD 280 Pro (New Model)
Build Quality & Durability8.5/10
Coiled Cable Design8.0/10
Comfort & Passive Noise Isolation8.0/10
Sonic Performance (At This Price Point)8.5/10
For Studio Use9.5/10
- Fairly Accurate & Neutral Sound Profile
- Coiled Cable Is Ideal For Studio Use
- Plush Ear Cushions & Larger Ear Cup Openings
- Folding Design & Optional Carrying Case
- One Of The Best Studio Monitors (At This Price Point)
- Non-Removable Headphone Cable
- Ear Cups Don't Swivel
- Not Ideal For Portable Use