I'm still surprised the Sennheiser HD300 Pro wasn't a bigger deal
I went on a curvy road with Sennheiser’s HD 300 Pro.
And now, I’m kind of surprised it isn’t/wasn’t a bigger deal in the audio community.
But maybe a solid un-flashy headphone is no longer enough to impress. That’s a shame.
When the 300 Pro was announced about a year ago, I was excited at everything except the price tag. Here it was at last…a true update of the Sennheiser HD 280 Pro that wasn’t the entirely new design of the 380 Pro, but instead an improvement of the classic with driver technology sharing a lineage to both the HD600 series and the old HD250 linear.
(Sennheiser uses a proprietary 38mm driver across several of their headphones, and tweaks the sound with different housings, damping schemes, and build materials).
Paying a $100 price premium over a 280 pro for what a cynic might describe as a beefier housing with a different driver shoved into it was a little hard for me to do…so I didn’t do it.
I came very close. I went out and reviewed the “new” Sennheiser 280 Pro last summer in preparation for a headphone showdown that never came.
But once the 300’s went on limited sale for $99 recently, I took the plunge, and I’m so glad I did.
I ended up loving them and I’m still using them to this day, even though the few reviews on audiophile communities thought the headphones were too bassy and a disappointment compared to the 280’s.
The HD300 Pro is one of the best wired studio closed-backs you can buy, and it lives up to everything Sennheiser claims about them. They’re comfy over long sessions. They sound great. They’re perfect for working in a louder environment.
The only standout weird thing is that you need a special screwdriver to remove the removeable cable, and they don’t include a cheap bit in the box. Or for that matter any kind of simple carrying bag, which I’d start to expect at this price.
Are they worth the $199 standard price? That’s the real rub.
I think Sennheiser’s marketing department really blew it by not pricing these a little lower, even at $150.
I’m disappointed that Sennheiser didn’t have the guts to wipe the slate clean and make the 300 Pros the new 280 Pros.
As a closed-back professional monitoring headphone, when you compare them to the 280’s they’re great. They’re more comfy, a little more accurate, and the removable cable system makes them more easily repairable.
They’re better in many little ways than their predecessor, and I think they’re just as deserving of hype and attention.
I keep thinking about this because the HD 280 Pro used to show up on nearly every “Closed back recommendation list,” and I’d still probably put it on mine as well. It’s reasonably affordable for what it offers, and still sounds great many many years after launch.
I think the 300 Pro is just as deserving of accolades as any other well-regarded Sennheiser product, particularly if it ever drops in price…but I guess wired closed-backs are no longer exciting.
I’ve been noticing that $99 is still the sweet spot for headphone pricing in the consumer market, both for the quality you’re getting and for what consumers are the most interested in. My reviews of products around that price point tend to get the most attention.
But 2019 is firmly the era of wireless and potentially-gimmicky technologies like vibration and different hi-res output modes, so maybe making a solid wired closed-back pair doesn’t matter any more beyond a certain small crowd.
I hope that the 300 Pro doesn’t fade into obscurity, or at the very least that Sennheiser will some day consider going the Audio-Technica route and re-engineer it as a great Bluetooth headphone.
Its high-isolation design, solid build, and wonderful acoustics are all exactly what I personally look for when assessing a closed-back headphone, whether it’s for portable use, field monitoring, studio work, or home critical listening.