Sennheiser HD 560S Review — New Benchmark in Headphone Neutrality

Jake Cheriff
3 min readFeb 4, 2021


An audio engineer’s perspective on the latest headphones from Sennheiser


Build, Design, and Comfort

Grade: B+

The 560S feels cheap but looks sleek and ergonomic. The entirely plastic construction doesn’t scream luxury and that’s fine by me because they aren’t expensive headphones. It seems like Sennheiser set out to produce the cheapest possible headphones with the flattest possible frequency response in order to edge out the competition.

The clamp force is a little tighter than that of any other headphones I’ve used. I’ve read that the clamp force reduces over time. I remember my Sennheiser HD6XX felt tight when I first got them and now they are extremely comfortable.

The sound changes drastically depending on where my ears are relative to the drivers. They seem to sound their ~best~ when my ears are centered. If my ears are sitting towards the front of the ear cups, the sound is much brighter. Conversely, if my ears are sitting towards the back, the sound is much darker and less focused. I don’t know that this is a design flaw necessarily, but it does make me wonder if ear shape/size will influence one’s perception of the 560S’ frequency response.

Eyeglasses seem to have a small but noticeable effect on sub bass reproduction. With glasses on, the sub frequencies sound slightly less full. I avoid this issue by resting my eyeglass temples on top of headphone ear-pads like a complete maniac.

Note: These are open-back headphones. This means there is no isolation between you and your surroundings. These are useful for listening critically at home in a quiet room. They would be totally inappropriate for use in public spaces because 1. everyone would be able to hear what you’re listening to and 2. the noise of your surroundings would make it difficult for you to hear what you’re listening to.

Measurements above are conducted by Crinacle and can be found via their amazing and generous free headphone comparison tool.

Reference Tracks | Jake Cheriff

pictured: my reference tracks for evaluating speakers, headphones, and room acoustics

Frequency Response / Sound

Grade: A

These are being marketed as “reference” headphones and I think that that’s a fairly accurate label (for once). The frequency response sounds very “correct”… and unforgiving. For music production this is fantastic. If you’re an audio producer, these are going to be your friend because they will do your tracks no favors. There is no extra warmth (mid bass hump) or sparkly highs (elevated 10kHz region). Everything about the frequency response sounds, to me, flat, apart from a slight elevation around 4kHz. For everyone else from casual music listeners to ~seasoned audiophiles~… this might be cause for concern.