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Sennheiser audio question? Answered

So I've owned a pair of Sennheiser HD555's for about 4 years now and while they haven't broken in any way, I'm looking to buy another pair of Sennheisers that are more portable than the HD555's (10 ft. cable and bulky 1/4 inch jack + open design -_-)  
I've been considering 2 choices in the Sennheiser 400 series.  The HD439's and the HD449's
While I know they are both very similar, there are big differences in my opinion.  

HD 439's: I really like the detachable cable on these, and I've always been in love with the cloth ear pads from my 555's, so i know these would be super comfortable.  Also these present a bit more bass than the others in the 400 series, which i don't know if I'll enjoy, because I really only have the HD 555's to compare audio quality to.

HD449's: These headphones are apparently a bit more powerful than the 439's because of stronger magnets in their monitors, which is a plus because I mostly listen to music on my laptop, phone, or zune (YES I SAID IT AND I SAID IT PROUD--ZUNE).  Also I'v e heard that they have a better range of sound quality not just regarding the bass and treble.  The one thing that scares me to death about these cans is the pleather or "leatherette" material for the ear pads.  While i know that these are better at blocking outside noise, I can't help but feel like they'd be very uncomfortable.  The only other cans i've used with the pleather are the Bose AE2's, so one question is how do they compare? also to beats leather pads?

In general, I listen to a broad range of music from classical to rap to indie rock.  Pretty much anything but country.  I like to have a bit more bass and high tones than mid, but not too much.  For this reason, I think the HD439's would be better in regards to sound quality and better design/comfort.  The only thing that keeps me looking back at the 449's is the offer of more powerful magnets and better sound when playing from a mobile device or something with a low power output.  I also really like the fact that even if i do like lows and highs better, I can always put an equalizer on the HD'449's to tailor their more balanced sound to my wants.  But I'm still afraid of the comfort the 449's offer compared to the cloth pads of the 439's.  

Again I own a pair of Sennheiser HD55's and love their sound quality and comfort.  I also own a pair of AKG K181DJ series, but those are mostly for listening to house, dubstep, and drub&bass.  I've owned the Bose AE2 (second edition) and have used beats studio for a time.  These are really all of my reference points for sound quality and comfort.

Anyways, I digress.  I'm very torn between the two and I've given all of the info I can.  Any suggestions/ratings/opinions would be greatly appreciated.


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6 years ago

Thanks for this awesome response! I can see you really care about headphones like i do and i appreciate that! I think I'll let a few more responses roll in before making a decision though.


6 years ago

Hey, good questions. I'm going to answer some as good as I can. I hope that this might help with your opinions to make a good choise. I used some of my friends exprience and my own, he has a supprising amount of headphones just because he can. And if he is realy in the mood he uses a different headphone for every single kind of genre. That is a bit too much for my opinion, but had great moments exprimenting with them anyway. Hehehe!

For one, the HD400 series (all of them) need breaking in time. So be prepared to use it as much as you can for the first week or so. Some say that you need a month, but that is sheer bullocks. About 50 to 60 hours should be enough to get it stabalized. After that, just go with the flow.

My advise is taking the HD439. Why?
1) With both headphones they start the same. But after a while (after breaking in time) the 449 takes controle over the high (trebble). Mostly in digital music the bass and mid get more to the background. It is a small amount, but just enough to make us start to wonder. The 439 however keeps more steady and full in all sections. Even if you think mid is not your range, you need it, trust me. It is more of a subconscious thing you pick up. Like, when you put up the bass in the equalizer it might seems louder though it is realy not.
2) For comfort the 439 disappears after a few minutes. The only reason you remember that you are wearing it is that you don't understand other people when they talk to you. The 449 keeps asking for attention like a small child. You get sweaty behind the ears for no good reason and it sucks itself tightly to your skin. They are quieter then a toddler though. You still don't understand anybody who randomly starts talking to you in the subways. It's got that going for him, wich is nice.
3) I don't know how big your ears are, but the cups of the 439 are a bit bigger. Wich means your ears neatly disappear in the cups. The 449 cups are a bit smaller than usual, so after an hour you start feeling like something is poking your auricle. That little fact can drive me mad to be honest, so it is realy a 439 I would go for.
4) Swapping the cables is easy as pie. Just don't be afraid that you will pull something off the first few times you use it. It has an angle and the plugs need to get used to it. Also, don't swap to often, it keeps the cables in better condition. (Had to type that, he realy loves his cables)
5) If you have an IPhone or an mp3 player without an internal amplifier you need to get one extra for the 449. Most will do. You get hardly any sound from the outside, but the music can't realy go that loud either. This is the consequence of the bigger drivers unfortunately. They don't advertise that, ofcourse!
6) The deep base you sometimes get when you wear the 555s, forget them with these two. The 439 has some better resonance on the low, but they don't have enough for genres like R&B, Hip Hop, Dubstep, etc. You won't get the nice thumping sound. So keep your AKGs for that.

But to speak for the HD449:
- Sound isolation is way better (you just start feeling them after a while).
- You feel more that the drivers are stabilised. I don't realy know how else to discribe it. It feels more stabilised.
- It doesn't has built in noise-canceling technology. Big words for not hearing anything else than your music. The sound leaking through is minimal, better than the 439. Just don't use the headphones to obscure annoying sounds in the middle of a building site and you are fine. (though they won't be your 555s)
- In most cases you don't realy need the amplifiers (even with IPhone), and that is because nobody wants to blow up their ears. Soft music can be as beautiful (in any genre) as loud. So please, please, don't use these speakers to loud! I know they can, just don't. Thank you.

My friend refuses to buy Beats for now, so I can't compare it to those. Just know that the leather stuf they use is better for sound isolation, but not always for comfort. You need to pick one of those I'm afraid.
Hope I helped a bit. Good Luck.