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A longer term review of Sennheiser HD555

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
There are a lot of negative reviews of these headphones on the web. I think Sennheisers get this bad rap because a lot of reviewers did not let them break in. I personally had the following reservations about them:

1. Headband clams too hard, causing some fatigue.
2. Bass is definitely on weak side and somewhat muddy.
3. The highs are less detailed than some other cans.

These headphones felt less engaging for listening music.

Fast forward 2 months later after they had time to break in and after I have done the famous foam mod, these headphones feel quite different.

1. Bass is stronger and more robust, more detailed, more deep. However, even after the break in, these are not a bass head's headphones. You're not going to feel the kind of bass impact you can get from some of closed back cans. (e.g. try something like Beats by Dr Dre at Best Buy stores for a different perspective. Audiophiles don't like these Dr Dre's, but they certainly do pound like crazy). However, I'd argue that for most kinds of music the bass impact of HD555 is on the right side of more than adequate. I listen a lot of alternative rock music with these and also in my car with a terrific subwoofer and component speaker setup, and these headphones can hold their ground in bass area for most types of music.

2. The highs have cleared up a little bit. The highs now feel more engaging. Nonetheless, they're not as detailed or strong as some other cans. For comparison, my quarter-modded KSC75, which are considered to be somewhat brighter headphones still have richer highs than the HD555. I can barely note that in rock music. For example, in some parts of rock music I can often hear richer resonances of cymbals more easily with KSC75 than with HD555 or even Koss PortaPros. Before break-in, HD555 would produce only the "tssss" kind of sound in those parts of music, but it got richer now. Yet it's still not as rich as KSC75s (and I assume not as rich as most Grado headphones).

3. The headband doesn't clamp as hard any more.

All in all, HD555s have become more engaging headphones for listening most kinds of music, but they're still definitely somewhat on the mellow side. It appears Sennheiser has not attempted to create make these into either bright or warm headphones. The goal was probably to say as true as possible to the original recording. However, while HD555 may be less engaging than headphones like Grados for say listening rock music, they also will definitely cause you less listening fatigue. I can wear my HD555 and listen music comfortable for longer periods than with other headphones. Finally, these headphones provide a more natural listening experiences due to fairly rich sound stage. Still I found that some recording benefit from applying a filter like Dolby Headphone or Andrew Labs for richer sound stage/surround effects.

For gaming, of course, HD555 are superb, specially after applying the foam mod. This kind of application is definitely more supple to test. No matter how good HD555's sound staging is, it will take you some time to train your ears to discern the supple differences between sounds coming from front and back in the game for example, or from different distances but coming from the same direction. In this application, HD555 are far better than all other headphones I have tried. However, I have never used their main gaming competitors, the Audio Technicas. Given that you can find Sennheiser HD555 headphones for under $100 shipped, they're a very good value IMO.
Edited by ZAKOH - 2/6/11 at 4:50pm
post #2 of 9
The problem with the 555's isn't that they can't sound good. The problem with the 555's is that the majority of people on OCN seem to think they're the answer to every headphone question. Headphones for $50? Save up and get the 555's. Headphones for $300? Buy 555's for the family. I listen mostly to , what should I get? Definitely the 555's, no doubt, best headphones in every price range for every genre!

If you listen primarily to classical music (and we've seen that in what, maybe three headphone threads in OCN's existence?) then the 555's are in fact a great choice. The issue is, they get suggested for everything else when there are headphones, both open or closed, that would probably suit the person's needs better.

But wait InsideTheCinema, you dirty blasphemer you! I don't listen to mostly classical music and I'm entirely satisfied with my 555's!

Well good for you my imaginary naysayer, but you probably didn't take the time to research other 'phones before falling into the corral of sheep that will scream 555's at the top of their little sheep lungs to compensate for buyer's remorse.

/rant.
Edited by InsideTheCinema - 2/6/11 at 7:03pm
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post #3 of 9
My main gripe is that the foam is a cheap POS, not that Sennheiser is well known for padding quality.
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post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 
The thing is that a lot of OCNers want one-size-fits-all headphones that are also good for gaming, and these fit the bill despite their shortcomings. And while they're not the best for a lot of music, they're good enough, and as I said less fatiguing compared to some. At the current price point, they've kind of hit a sweet spot. But anyways, my biggest point here is that they change a lot with burn-in.
post #5 of 9
Solution:
[ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PvQ8PzBrHXE[/ame]

I've been using them for at least a year and they do sound different after the mod and burn in.
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post #6 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by ZAKOH;12293861 
The thing is that a lot of OCNers want one-size-fits-all headphones that are also good for gaming, and these fit the bill despite their shortcomings. And while they're not the best for a lot of music, they're good enough, and as I said less fatiguing compared to some. At the current price point, they've kind of hit a sweet spot. But anyways, my biggest point here is that they change a lot with burn-in.

Burn in is 99% mental, its your mind and ears adjusting to the sound. I killed one of the drivers in my last headphones(AKG k601) in a tragic re-cabling accident. Once everything was repaired I ended up with a driver in one ear with atleast 2000 hours on it, and a brand new driver in the other. I couldn't hear any definitive difference between either driver really.
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post #7 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by InsideTheCinema;12289777 
The problem with the 555's isn't that they can't sound good. The problem with the 555's is that the majority of people on OCN seem to think they're the answer to every headphone question. Headphones for $50? Save up and get the 555's. Headphones for $300? Buy 555's for the family. I listen mostly to , what should I get? Definitely the 555's, no doubt, best headphones in every price range for every genre!

If you listen primarily to classical music (and we've seen that in what, maybe three headphone threads in OCN's existence?) then the 555's are in fact a great choice. The issue is, they get suggested for everything else when there are headphones, both open or closed, that would probably suit the person's needs better.

But wait InsideTheCinema, you dirty blasphemer you! I don't listen to mostly classical music and I'm entirely satisfied with my 555's!

Well good for you my imaginary naysayer, but you probably didn't take the time to research other 'phones before falling into the corral of sheep that will scream 555's at the top of their little sheep lungs to compensate for buyer's remorse.

/rant.

I agree 100% with this post.
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post #8 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by thecheeseofmanynames;12297532 
Burn in is 99% mental, its your mind and ears adjusting to the sound. I killed one of the drivers in my last headphones(AKG k601) in a tragic re-cabling accident. Once everything was repaired I ended up with a driver in one ear with atleast 2000 hours on it, and a brand new driver in the other. I couldn't hear any definitive difference between either driver really.
I don't really believe in burn-in either. The drivers are already likely burned in from the factory. If there is an audible/perceivable variation in the drivers, it may be high manufacturing defects.
post #9 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by james_ant;12293878 
Solution:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PvQ8PzBrHXE

I've been using them for at least a year and they do sound different after the mod and burn in.

Wow, that's a pretty easy mod to do. You're basically just peeling off some tape!
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