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Sennheiser HD 630VB review – hands on

Sennheiser HD 630VB

We went hands on with the Sennheiser HD 630 VB headphones with variable bass at CanJam London 2015

There’s always quite a debate around closed driver headphones versus open headphones. Closed driver headphones certainly have their advantages in certain areas over open drivers, which coincidentally Sennheiser pioneered. There’s less sound leakage, meaning you won’t irritate people around you with your music and, likewise, they also seal out the outside world, too. This makes them by far a better choice for portable use. However, when it comes to sound stage and lower frequency response, open driver headphones have held the advantage.

Sennheiser was aware of this, so for its HD 630VB it attempted to bring a premium listening experience to a closed driver pair of headphones. I was told by a Sennheiser engineer that one of the biggest problems with closed driver headphones is accounting for differences in people’s heads and the way the earcups sit. The different levels of seal experienced by different people makes it difficult to create a suitable lower frequency response that appeases everyone, as the level of seal has the biggest impact on bass. With open driver headphones, this isn’t an issue as there’s no seal to speak of so everyone very nearly has the same listening experience regardless of their head size or shape. There’s also the problem of the closed back increasing reverberation inside the earcups. Most audiophile-level headphones, certainly those from Sennheiser, are therefore open driver.

Sennheiser wanted to create an audiophile-friendly closed driver headphone that was also portable, so to account for these variations, the HD 630VB has an innovative variable bass dial on the back of one of the earcups (the VB in the name). The same way that a car stereo needs to adjust its bass to account for ambient sound, such as that of the car engine, the HD 630VB can be adjusted to account for ambient sound around the listener. Users can also more freely adjust the bass level to receive a more neutral sound.

Sennheiser HD 630VB close up cup

Sennheiser’s engineer said it’s not all about just turning the bass up, with the HD 630VB you have the ability to take it down a notch, too. This is possibly something not every considers, it’s easy to think that variable bass just means turning up the lower frequencies to appease bass-heads, but the HD 630VB still wants to provide that distinctive Sennheiser sound. Besides, for those who want a more ‘street’-style headphones with more bass presence, there are the Sennheiser Urbanite.

Sennheiser has put in acoustic dampening inside the ear cups, too, to help cut down on reverberations due to the closed design and the company has attempted to make them sound as open as possible, while obviously still dealing with the physical limitations of a closed design. The HD 630VB has a frequency response of 10-42,000Hz so will happily cover high resolution audio files. 

Sennheiser HD 630VB collapsed

The blue and silver design is attractive and there is contrast red on the inner lining of the ear cups. Alongside the rotary bass dial there are remote control functions built-in, including a microphone so you can use the headphones for hands-free. The headphones also collapse down for portability and a 3.5mm to 6.5mm adaptor is included to use them with your home hi-fi.

In terms of fit, I found the headphones provided a great seal around my ears, with plenty of padding on the ear cups and the headband that is height adjustable along rails. The headphones managed to seal out a decent amount of hustle and bustle of the CanJam show floor. It wasn’t the ideal location for critical listening, but from what I heard the HD 630VB sounded not too dissimilar to the Sennheiser Momentum, with delicate detail in the mids and treble. The adjustment of bass was surprisingly subtle based on my demo, so don’t expect to be able to crank the bass up to extreme levels – that’s not really the aim. The HD 630VB will be reaching Europe in September for around £400, so they certainly come with an audiophile-level price. I’m looking forward to taking them for a more thorough listen. There’s also the small matter of Sennheiser revealing its “next big thing” in November.

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