Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Sennheiser HD428 Headphones - Much Better Than HD202 or HD201

Sennheiser HD428 Headphones Reviewed by Dmiko on .

Until you try better headphones, you might remain unaware of your current headphones’ shortcomings. And once you try better headphones, you won’t be able to go back to inferior ones, at least for most of your listening. This is what happened recently when I got the Sennheiser HD428. 

Although I had a lot of headphones at home in the past, I ordered the Sennheiser HD 428 and now use it instead of my previous headphone of choice: Panasoinc RP-HTX7 in red color. Examples of the headphones I already used extensively include Sennheiser HD201, Sennheiser HD202, Koss KSC75, Koss SparkPlug, Philips HS500, Creative EP-640, Koss KTX-Pro and others. The headphones I used most frequently were the Sennheiser HD202, Koss KSC75, Microsoft Zune Premium, and Creative EP-640. I was happy with the retro-styled Panasoinc RP-HTX7, both in style and sound, but the HD428 sound noticeably better. 
About the Sennheiser HD428

The Sennheiser HD428 are enclosed circumaural headphones with dynamic high-output neodymium magnets, rubber finishing on the outside of the earcups and a single-sided 10-foot (3m) OFC cable with a 3.5-mm straight plug. A gold 6.3mm adapter is included. The headphones have nominal impedance of 32 Ohm and advertised to produce 18-22,000 Hz frequency response and less than 0.1 percent THD (total harmonic distortion) at 1kHz/100dB.

The HD428 is optimized for iPod, iPhone, MP3 and CD players. In other words, the targeted market is mostly portable gear. 

The HD428 are made of black plastic are very comfortable, more so than the Panasonic of Sennheier’s own HD202 or HD201. The HD428 also seem to be durable, albeit aside from the thin cable. The oxygen-free copper cable terminates with a compact 3.5-mm headphone plug that works well with portable devices. The headphones came with an adaptor for conversion of the headphones' 3.5 mm plug to 6.3 mm for use with home gear (my Panasonic SA-XR57 receiver has a 6.3-mm headphone plug). 

The appearance is stylish without being “loud”. The headphones look comfortable and the feel matches the styling in this regard. Not only the earcups are padded but so is the headband. The padding is soft. The areas where cups are attached to the headband both expand lengthwise and rotate in both directions.


The headphones are relatively light and do not create much pressure on my ears or the areas around my ears. Subjectively they feel somewhat heavier than the Sennheiser HD 202 and about the same as the Panasonic. But the padded areas around the drivers are more soft and cushy than Panasonic’s. 

The cable is long enough to reach pretty far. I use the headphones with my receiver as well as with my Sony NWZ-S639F (NWZS639F) 16 GB Digital Media Player at home and in both cases the length of the cable is more than sufficient. I just wish the cable were less flimsy/thin.

The HD428 take up a bit of space on the coffee table where I keep them, but not as much as some larger headphones I have seen and not more than Panasoinc RP-HTX7.

Sound Quality 

The most important quality of the headphones is the sound quality (provided comfort is there too). Even out of the box the HD428 produces noticeably more detailed sound with better instrument separation than the Panasoinc RP-HTX7 (which in turn was better-sounding than the Sennheiser HD202 and HD201). Since the HD428 sounded slightly harsh and fatiguing out of the box, I waited for them to burn in by playing music through them at moderate volumes for close to 40 hours first. 

Not everyone believes in speaker/headphone break-in. What it is: you have to play music through the headphones at moderate volume for certain amount of hours before they start performing their best. 

The HD428 produce excellent sound and I immediately discovered shortcomings in my previous headphones after using the HD428. Turns out my Panasonic headphones miss some frequencies, exaggerate others and don’t provide as good of instrument separation as these. 

The Sennheiser HD428 feature detailed sound with very good dynamics, excellent instrument separation, well-defined mids and treble. The bass is less pronounced than in Panasonic and the lowest bass is less well-defined than could have been. The sound is somewhat dark overall. It is more accurate and less entertaining than the Panasonic. It is as if they are targeted to someone who needs to monitor/analyze the sound as opposed to simply enjoying it. 

I definitely get the feeling of being able to hear instruments that I have not heard with the lesser headphones, even good ones. 

The HD428 can play pretty loud with portable gear. Tip: if your gear has a graphic equalizer, try bumpig the bass (below 200 Hz) up a notch or two for sound with better lower-end. This headphone model has recessed sub-bass and (to a lesser extent) treble. But the overall quality of bass, mids and treble are excellent.

If you are thinking about buing the replacement headphones for your portable, make sure that your player can produce loud sound with your stock headphones first and expect the volume to drop a little with the HD428. But with better sound insulation than the majority of stock earbuds, the HD428 can compensate for some volume loss by reducing the amount of noise that enters your ear. And the benefits in sound quality are going to be great.


These headphones have impedance of 32 Ohms, which should suit most portable as well as home gear. 

Sound Insulation 

The HD428 provide little sound insulation; you can hear what is happening around you pretty well. They leak very little sound though , which is important in public transport. Of course, they are not noise-canceling.


I have dropped these headphones on the carpeted floor a couple of times and also accidentally pulled on the cord a few times with no ill effects. These hadphones are well made and durable, despite their thin cord.

Pros: Excellent, detailed sound, instrument separation, clear mids and treble, good comfort.
Cons: Thin cord, recessed and slightly muddy lower bass.

Bottom Line 

The Sennheiser HD428 are excellent comfortable headphones with detailed sound and a good way to get better sound from your portable MP3 or CD player or get good sound from your home gear without disturbing your family members or neighbors. I highly recommend it and will be using it for most of my listening at home.

 See my review of the Creative Aurvana Live! which I now prefer for most of my music. Also, the Panasonic RP-HTF600 is more engaging, albeit less accurate.

Rating: 5 stars out of 5.

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