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Build Quality – 6.5
The 449’s look great but their looks don’t match their feel. The 449’s are made completely of plastic and not a heavy, brawny feeling plastic. Rather, they have the cheap almost toyish feel. The ones I had for a month held up well but then again I’m pretty easy on headphones. I don’t know how well these would hold up to wear and tear – they might be more resilient than they feel, but only time would tell – and my time was up!
Comfort – 8.5
Honestly, I’d give these a higher score on the comfort if it weren’t for the fact that a few of the people I let try them out didn’t have a problem with the smallish ear cups. The headphones are extremely light weight – so much so that you’ll almost forget they’re even on your head. The ear pads are elongated and fairly narrow and might be a deal breaker for those with wider ears.
Isolation – 8
The 449’s do a pretty decent job for headphones that have no built in noise-canceling technology. Music was kept in very well and external conversations and noise were muffled very nicely. With even lower levels of volume, you could basically block out the world around you (unless you’re at a construction job!) and that’s a huge plus for those who work in office type environments.
Volume – 7
I was actually a little surprised that the 449’s didn’t fair better in this department. These are 32 ohm headphones and usually anything in that range can be easily driven by an iPod/iPhone. I found that my iPhone could just barely drive these to moderate listening levels and trying to go past that would introduce noticeable amp strain from the phone itself. If you pick these up, you’ll want to invest in at least a portable amplifier such as the Fiio E11 or the PA2V2 – both of which worked very well with the HD 449’s.
Bass – 7
The bass is neutral, balanced, and mostly detailed. It doesn’t have the complete resolution of other sets I’ve tried at this price point, but it does sound pretty good. One thing you won’t get with the bass on these is any level of thump. If you’re in love with rap, hip/hop, R&B or the like, these won’t be your cup o’ tea.
Midrange – 8
The midrange is also neutral and again does a nice job producing a natural sound, but they are missing some detail in the upper midrange that gives you that involvement you look for when listening to great vocalists or skilled instrumentalists. Saxophones and wind instruments just don’t have that pizazz I want and that feeling that someone is singing to you is missing. All the sounds are tonally accurate and overall sound nice, but just won’t give you that extra something that would have put these in a special class of headphones.
Treble – 8
You guessed it – neutral. I appreciate a treble that doesn’t become fatiguing or harsh, and that is definitely the case with the 449’s. While these also lack a bit of detail and resolution that will allow you to experience the pulling of a bow across the strings of a violin, or the picking of the strings on a guitar, the treble does have an ease to it that allows you to listen for hours on end without ever feeling abused. Not recessed, and not too forward, the treble mixes very well with the bass and the mids.
Soundstage – 7.5
I was actually pretty impressed with the soundstage on the HD 449’s. Usually at this price point and a sealed set of headphones, you can’t expect much, but these actually had a decent sense of space and placement. If the details in the mids and treble had been greater, I would imagine this would have been better still.
Overall – 7
Overall, I liked these headphones but I felt there were too many areas where they needed to be improved for me to be super enthusiastic about them. The biggest problem for me is that these headphones don’t get me involved in the music like I want to be. What exactly do I mean by that? They don’t get my head bobbing or my foot tapping like other sets of headphones out there (both in this price range and obviously much higher). The frustrating thing is they sound good, but they just don’t put me “that place” I want to be when listening to a higher end set of headphones. Granted, at $120 you can’t be asking for the moon, but I’ve definitely heard headphones that cost less such as the PX-100 II’s that I felt were more involving than the HD 449’s. Now that’s not to say that the 449’s are bad – rather they’re decent. For people who are sensitive to heavier headphones but they still need a sealed/closed design, these might be a good option. Also, these do a decent job with lower quality bit-rate recordings as they’re a little more forgiving than more detailed sets. So if you’re a Pandora listener or have a lot of 128 bit encoded songs, then these might work out well for you.
Best for these genres:
- Big band
- Rock (if you’re not craving crazy amounts of bass)
Would avoid these:
Hopefully you’ll see that I’m basically targeting those that love pounding bass. The bass in the HD 449’s is accurate but it’s not going to feel like subwoofers jumping in your ears. These don’t take all that well to bass EQ’ing so you can boost it slightly, but anything more than a gradual bump will distort the bass and make the listening experience not all that enjoyable. That’s not to say the bass isn’t adequate for most listening experiences, as it is, but it’s best for people that want to listen to things in their natural sound and not the boosted thump that most enjoy with the “avoid” genres above.
Hey Allen, I really liked your review of Sennheiser HD 449. Could you also review the Sennheiser HD 215? I am kind of stuck choosing between 215 and 449! I know that the 215 is a DJ style headphone and 449 is for home audio but since both are in the same price range I am considering both. I listen to a wide genre of music at home and elsewhere on my iPod. I just want a headphone to truly enjoy the music I listen to. I you wish to suggest any other headphone in this price range, please do so! Thanks!
I will check with Sennheiser to see if they have any available. Thanks.
thanks for the reviews, they’re helpful cause no store in the world has all of the different types of headphones available to prelisten to!
ok, i bought the HD 449 (90€) but i also got myself the beyerdynamic dt 770 pro 80 ohm (150€) to check if the difference is worth an extra 60€.
First of all my field of use: for 90% (at least) of the time i use them at home listening to music (mostly rock (e.g. volbeat, metallica, johnny cash, misfits,…), sometimes also a bit electro, but i’m not a big fan of the bass in some rap/hip hop or pop) but also for watching movies. the rest of the time they’d be used in train/plane.
i’m just not a sure if i shall keep the sennheiser because they appear a bit cheap, eventhough they’re superlight (whats a huge plus for me as i will be wearing the headphones for lots of hours sometimes), and keep the dt 770 instead…
i read that they’ll develop a better sound (or that my ears get used to them more) and what would you recommend? Are the 60€ price difference worth it? will i (someone with no experience in over ear headphones) even notice a difference or shall i rather take the price-difference-money and get myself a good pair of in ears for mobile use?
thanks a lot
I guess my first question should be, which sounds the best to you? I wasn’t a huge fan of the Sennheiser 449’s. They just didn’t have that sound that brings music to life. I’ve not yet heard the DT 770’s although they have gotten stellar writeups from many people, and having used a number of Beyerdynamic products, I would lean towards them sounding much better. I can tell you, my time with the 449’s weren’t bad, but I just never loved them. Even after extensive burn-in, they just weren’t the headphones I wanted them to be. And, I agree – they feel cheap, they are lightweight which was a positive, but in the end I would have a hard time fully recommending them to anyone simply because the sound fell flat to me. The idea of getting a set of in ear’s isn’t a bad idea, because there are likely a number of good sets that can be had for 60€. Also, are the DT770’s too heavy? At the end of the day, I personally would decide based off what’s most important to you…if the 449’s sound is pleasing enough to you and you like the lightweight, then maybe they’re for you. If you’re not happy with the sound, I wouldn’t bank on them getting that much better over time.
The beyerdynamic aren’t THAt heavy, at the end of the day one doesn’t really notice a huge difference in weight, but the 449 are just extremely light. I got to a point where one has to admit that the DT770 are one class higher than the 449 if one considers the sound. you should do a review about them :D. the DT770 sound is way more neutral/linear thats what i can say!
but thanks for the quick response, cleared up my decision a bit more…
Yeah, from what I’ve heard about the DT770′s they should pretty much destroy the HD449 in terms of pure audio quality. Best of luck and thanks for stopping by!
It’s a great review I am stuck between choosing hd 449 or hd 215 II. Which one do you suggest in terms of great sound quality with good bass at this price point
I’ve not had a chance to listen to the 215’s so I can’t say. When it comes to the 449’s they left me feeling a bit let down – they didn’t have the involvement that other Sennheisers have. Also, if you’re looking for bass, I would definitely not go towards the 449’s – they’re very neutral and can’t really be pushed much past that.