Sennheiser has an extensive range of headphones for the studio, but few tick as many boxes as the new HD 400 PRO. They’re precise, comfortable, and won’t break the bank.
Few brands have the studio pedigree of German stalwarts Sennheiser. They’ve delivered their fair share of classic microphones and headphones, but are still pushing the envelope when it comes to innovation. The latest example: the HD 400 PRO headphones.
The company’s HD range will be pretty familiar to those who’ve done some hours in the studio. The HD 280 PRO, for example, is ubiquitous in the live room and have offered rock-solid monitoring for musicians for years. But this latest addition to the HD range is built for a more analytical purpose and has the potential to cater for a new generation of producers and engineers.
Headphones can get eye-wateringly expensive and come with various accoutrements that are intended to signify class and justify the price tag. The HD 400 PRO doesn’t arrive with such bells and whistles, but rather a stock standard cardboard box, with a coiled cable, straight cable, and the obligatory quick guide and safety guide.
The target is not the well-heeled hi-fi enthusiast. Instead, the HD 400 PRO speaks directly to the working musician, engineer, or producer, i.e., someone who needs to get the job done.
This is also reflected in its light weight. Some of the materials that make up high-end hi-fi cans add to its weight and feeling of luxury. The HD 400 PRO is an almost all-plastic affair but this means you can leave them on for long mixing sessions. Couple that with the velour cups and it’s a refreshingly sweat-free experience.
And although it’s made from cheap materials, the design pedigree of Sennheiser has been brought to bear on these headphones. They clamp to the head quite snugly, but owing to its lightness, never feels oppressive. They cut a similar silhouette to the recently released HD 560S; it’s very sleek and stealthy — the opposite of ostentatious.
Sennheiser has always been at the forefront of headphone mixing and as such, has established quite a distinctive tonal signature over the years. Having listened to a variety of models from this company, they share a distinct openness, with no ridiculous hype in the bottom end, slightly soft in the top end, none of the lower-mid lumpiness that plagues lesser headphones. In other words: neutral, without being too pleasant. Perfect for analysis.
Interestingly, Sennheiser has altered the angle of the drivers, slightly tilting them in order to create a more natural soundstage (though within the housing of headphones, there’s only so much room to play with). And while it’s difficult to recreate the stereo field provided by monitors (unless you have the help of software), the imaging is precise.
On a range of reference material, the HD 400 PRO performed as expected for Sennheiser headphones: revealing the important and subtle aspects of a mix — reverb tails, stereo movement, the extremities of the frequency spectrum (as well as the details of the mid-range) — with ease. The impedance is 120 ohms, so you’d get improved headroom with the use of a dedicated amp. That said, there are no issues at all with driving these cans straight from the laptop.
With a price that puts it within the range of working engineers and producers, the HD 400 PRO punches well above its weight. What it lacks in luxury materials is more than made up for in performance — which always the first priority in the studio.
Find out more at Sennheiser.