I recently got my hands on the new Sennheiser HD 560s and have been listening to them through different amps and DACs for the past few days. It shares a likeness to its previous iteration, the HD569, which is just fifty dollars less than its perceived upgrade. Although they might feature different principles, it’s hard not to compare the two based on their appearance alone. Is the 560s worth the additional fifty bucks?
What You Get
Both headphones come with a limited amount of accessories, but they each feature a few notable differences in what they come with. The biggest difference is in the cables provided. The 560s only come with one 3m cable with a 6.3mm jack, while the 569 provides two cables. One 1.2m cable with a 3.5mm jack, and an additional 3m cable with a 6.3mm jack. The 560s only provides one cable, but still provides a 3.5mm adapter.
Look and Feel
The build of both headphones is a close match. Neither have the most eye-catching aesthetic, or high-grade materials, but each headphone administers a decent level of comfort. However, they aren’t exactly the same, and the open-back nature of the 560s gives it a key distinction. The open black grill that makes up the housing of the 560s gives the headphone a much sleeker appearance. It changes the design from the 569 to give it the presentation that it’s all one piece. The 569 is made up of a few different materials, like the rubber padding that lines the housing. It’s definitely unique, but I feel like it gives the 569 a cheaper look. In terms of fit, I found no issue with both models. I think the velour pads on the 560s felt a bit softer, but it’s a small margin of difference.
You’ll find that both headphones support the same 38mm driver, but the 560s utilizes it a bit differently. Aside from being a completely different principle, the 560s uses Sennheiser’s E.A.R.(Ergonomic Acoustic Refinement) system. This tilts the driver arrangement, mimicking the angle at which you’d listen to studio monitors or loudspeakers. The 569 is a bit more standard of a system, but each headphone aims for a different response that works for their own style. The 560s wants to reflect a listening experience while the 569 aims for the authentic sound of a closed-back headphone.
There’s a key difference in the signal flow of both the 560s and 569. While the low impedance of the 569 leaves it accessible for most outputs, the 560s has a much higher resistance. The 120 Ohms of the 560s should require some kind of amp to drive, but nothing too excessive. If you’re using the 560s for production and already own an audio interface, then that should drive the 560s just fine. Even though they require some upkeep, it shouldn’t be that much more expensive to get a comfortable, nominal signal from.
On one hand, it’s really not fair to compare an open-back to a closed-back when analyzing soundstage, but on the other hand, the 560s does feature a tighter width compared to most like it. In reality, the 560s and 569 are very similar in terms of depth, despite being two completely different principles. The range of depth definitely appears a lot deeper on the 560s, but the 569 comes across with just a little bit more headroom. The 560s has some particularly big-sounding imaging, which fills the space nicely. However, I felt the 569 had a more concise placement when it came to the stereo field, which is odd for a closed vs open-back comparison. At the end of the day though, the 560s does sound like it can articulate a more accurate sense of dynamic range, even with its more focused space. It’s like the feeling of being directly in front of your speakers. Great depth, but you’re not hearing the mix move around as much as it should. The 569 accomplishes this somewhat, but can’t get the derail retrieval that the 560s can, so it’s an interesting dichotomy.
Both headphones feature a strong bass impact, but the 560s just delve deeper into this gripping sub-bass. The vibrations are buttery smooth and have just the right amount of rumble to give music and effects an extra lift. In comparison, the lows on the 569 don’t have that same textural quality, but it still has great definition while still adhering to a more natural timbre.
The mid-range on the 560s is very full and articulate, showcasing a large body of musical elements. While there are some qualities in the 569’s response, I found it to have a few notches in the low and high mids that miss out on some accents that the 560s has. Some vocal ranges have some pristine clarity, which makes those notches in other areas of the spectrum all the more noticeable. The 560s balances that clarity with a more detailed response, as well as coloration.
The starkest difference remains in the highs, where treble might play a make or break role in which sound signature you might gravitate toward. The 560s has some sharp edges to it, but it beats the recession of the highs on the 569. There’s brightness on the 560s but it uses it to showcase some sweet sizzling details on some instruments which I appreciated a lot more. The 569 doesn’t completely lose its top end, and you might even be a bigger fan of the smoother response. It’s all up to what application you decide to use your headphones for, and how analytical you like your sound.
The HD series is a major highlight for the over-ear headphone world, and the 569 and 560s from Sennheiser have a lot of value for what they can do. In terms of which model I’d recommend over the other, I just think the 560s sounds a lot cleaner, even with some sharp highs and sibilance. However, the 569 still has some unique qualities that are worth looking into, especially if you do prefer a closed-back headphone. I’d say the 560s is definitely investing that little extra cash for, and a worthy, still affordable edition to Sennheisers exciting HD series, especially if you’re a detail-oriented listener.
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