When I first saw a picture of the Sennheiser HD630VB in a press release, I laughed out loud. A five hundred dollar headphone with variable bass boost and a switch for iOS or Android operating systems? There was no way. Skip forward to Present Day and I’m sitting here with the same headphones on my head and feeling genuinely impressed. It’s almost my lunch break, but before I sit down to eat a steaming plate of crow, let’s take a look at this unique headphone that’s packing some audiophile-grade sound under the hood.
The Sennheiser HD630VB looks like no other headphone I’ve seen. It’s packaged just like any other Sennheiser headphone, but once you break it out of the box and hold it, you realize just how wild this headphone is.
For one thing, it looks loud. With a dark grey headband, and bright red cloth inside the silverish earcups, it’s anything but discreet. It’s a closed back design with a flat, featureless left earcup. On the right earcup, a dark grey multifunction button as well as two directional buttons – one pointing up and one pointing down – that don’t seem to do much of anything. Around the dark grey control pad is a silver ring with little tick-marks and the words min and max at either end, controlling the variable bass boost.
Underneath the right cup is a fixed 1.2 meter (about 4 feet) cable, with a tiny switch that allows the user to switch the controls between iOS and Android devices. Nifty!
There’s also a 1/4” stereo adapter included in the box – something that made me a little uneasy about what appeared to be such an obviously consumer-oriented headphone. But once I put these on, and cued up some decent music, it all became clear.
The Sennheiser HD630VB isn’t so much a consumer piece of junk masquerading as an audiophile headphone with a corresponding price, but a quality set of cans that curiously includes some features audiophiles may find useful if not completely necessary.
For one thing, the sound is surprisingly open. There’s some excellent detail in there, courtesy, no doubt, of the 10-42,000 hertz frequency range. Highs are decent, not piercing like I was expecting. Even with the variable bass dial set to minimum, there’s still a luscious low end to it that is refreshingly clean. The mids, to my own ears, don’t sound as compressed as on some other Sennheiser models, but I can still tell it’s a Sennheiser model.
During my listening sessions, I paired it with my iPhone 4s, a FiiO X5 II player, and the crappy workstation Dell I use to write these reviews. Thanks to a low nominal impedance of just 23 ohms, it worked fine on everything – to the point where I won’t even bother telling you whether it sounds better with or without an amp. It just sounds good period.
If bass is your thing, that sound only gets sweeter when you turn the dial. The bass boost is +/- 5dB at 50 Hz, but for my own listening sessions, I didn’t enjoy it on the maximum setting. Most of the increases at the lower end of the dial may be difficult to notice, but as you increase the bass, you become suddenly aware when it’s too much. Then you just turn back a little and enjoy.
For many audiophiles, it won’t be the headphone to go with. Hell, the HD650 is the same price and affords the user an open-back design. But for those who seek a closed back headphone with a decent sound, the HD630VB should merit a listen. The smartphone control switch and the bass boost can be considered extra features.
Or, if you just love bass, and want to ramp it up on some particular tracks, opt for this headphone. The fact that you can dial it in at increments you find most acceptable puts it in a different class than other models that rely on switches for the same effect.
Curious? Stop by our Manhattan showroom for a full demo, or…