Sennheiser HD 565 Ovation Headphones Review

Sennheiser HD 565 Ovation
Sennheiser HD 565 Ovation

Sennheiser manufactures a comprehensive line of headphones and microphones, ranging from inexpensive consumer products to the finest professional components. One of the company's latest consumer stereo headphones is the HD565 Ovation, a high-quality design that boasts a number of advanced features.

There are two major classes of headphones: those whose transducers are in sealed earcups that exclude ambient sound from the wearer's ears, and the open-air variety, whose transducer diaphragms radiate sound from the backs of the earcups as well as into the wearer's ears. Open-air phones are usually lighter and more comfortable to wear and are widely used for home hi-fi listening.

Although the HD565 is of the open-air type, it looks somewhat bulky, with large earcups that fully enclose the ears. Instead of the usual rubber or plastic ear cushions, the HD565's cushions are made of a velvet-like cloth, and its spring-type headband is padded with a foam strip.

Unlike most other headphones we have used, the HD565 is designed for easy user replacement of all parts that are likely to wear out or could be damaged in normal use. These include the 3-meter (about 10-foot) connecting cord and phone-plug assembly, which is fitted with polarized connectors, and the ear cushions, whose plastic rims snap into the earcups.

The warranty booklet supplied with the phones also contains informative material (in five languages) on the meaning of the various applicable specifications and on the significance of the phones' design features. The specs are based on the German DIN 45500 standard, however, and are not easily interpreted in terms familiar here. The frequency response is given as 16 Hz to 30 kHz, and the distortion as less than 0.15 percent, without further elaboration.

The HD565 is an exceptionally comfortable headset to wear. The earpieces cover the ears without imparting a sense of pressure. And despite their massive appearance, they are light in weight and essentially transparent to sound. The slender connecting cable is light and unobtrusive.

We measured the HD565's frequency response on an ASA-standard headphone coupler. From a maximum output at 100 Hz, the response sloped downward smoothly to a minimum at 10 kHz and rose about 2 dB from 10 to 20 kHz. The overall response of +4 dB from 20 Hz to 20 kHz was excellent (we have yet to find a loudspeaker that could match it).

Distortion at 1 kHz (measured by spectrum analysis to exclude noise) was in the neighborhood of 0.1 percent (-57 to -62 dB) at inputs of 1 and 5 volts. It was almost all third-harmonic, with the fourth and fifth harmonics being in the vicinity of 0.01 percent. The impedance of each channel measured between 140 and 210 ohms over the audio frequency range.

Listening to the Sennheiser HD565 headphones confirmed the validity of the measurements. (It is also worth noting that the specifications mentioned earlier were completely consistent with our measurements, which were made under very different conditions.) In particular, the low-bass reproduction we heard from the HD565 would do almost any speaker system proud. As we have pointed out on other occasions, however, headphones cannot provide the tactile effect on the skin of very-low-frequency sound (30 Hz and below). On the other hand, you are unlikely to find any speaker at anywhere close to the HD565's price that can deliver such smooth, extended response and low distortion - and it is completely free from the acoustical interactions with the listening environment unavoidable with loudspeakers.