This was originally a review for the Sundara compared to the 560S. I felt I should post it here too. I''ll be comparing the 560S to the Sundara throughout. Here’s how things will be weighted. Please keep in mind these scores are relative to the Sundara’s price,...
This was originally a review for the Sundara compared to the 560S. I felt I should post it here too.
I''ll be comparing the 560S to the Sundara throughout. Here’s how things will be weighted. Please keep in mind these scores are relative to the Sundara’s price, not to the 560S’s price. Also, please keep in mind that this is my opinion.
Box, Presentation, and accessories: 5%
Build and Comfort: 20%
Technical Performance: 20%
Box, Presentation, and accessories:
The Sundara comes in a very nice box that has a fake velvet-like material lining the inside. The pads come a bit squashed, but even out quickly. Comparatively, the 560S’ box is basic, but works. Neither should be damaged in shipping.
Sundara comes with a short 3.5mm to dual 3.5mm cable, which is of ok quality. It coils a bit, but isn’t terrible. It ends in a 90 degree plug, which shouldn’t be a thing. They are trying to market this as a “mobile friendly” headphone, which it isn’t, so that 90 degree plug is useless and gets in the way. It also includes a 3.5mm to quarter inch adapter.
The cable that the 560S comes with is terrible. Like the worst cable I have ever had kind of bad. Even worse than the X2HR’s cable. It’s way too long and terminates in a quarter inch. They do this because the 5XX series of Senns were bought alot by people with home stereos. Because of the long length and termination, it is a pain to use with a desktop amp and a nightmare to use with my portable DAC/amp. You have to use an included \~5 inch adapter to convert to 3.5mm. Why not just terminate in 3.5 to begin with? Awful cable.
Comfort and Build:
My first experience with Sundara in the comfort department was not good. The 2018 version clamped too much, jabbed my ears, and caused jaw pressure issues. I am happy to report that the 2020 version has fixed all of those issues. The only other remaining issue is that the ear cups are a bit small, and my ears can get crowded at times, but it''s not bad. I have a larger than average head, and my ears are very sensitive on the outside. Guys, I am very picky about comfort, and I think Sundara is fine. For context, I sent back the SHP9500 because they were uncomfy to me. The 560S would have been great if not for two things. They have plenty of space for my ears on the inside, but there is a protrusion at the back that pokes them and hurts very quickly. They also have an uneven strong clamp on my face, which doesn’t help. I could make them work, but the Sundara are better. Of course, after a while, both become uncomfy, but that happens to almost anything.
For the build, it''s interesting. Usually Hifiman has the worse build and Sennhieser the better, but it''s the opposite this time. The Sundara are built very well, almost completely out of metal. The only issue is the adjustment mechanism scratches the metal and leaves a silver tone. Not a huge deal, but odd that it happens and they haven’t fixed it yet. I guess it’s a sure fire way to check if they have been used yet or not! The 560S are comparatively made out of mostly plastic, and feel somewhat cheap. They are a lot lighter though, and I would actually expect them to last longer than the Sundara due to the 5XX series’ reputation for longevity.
Overall, the Sundara have better bass. I feel that it is more present over the anemic 560S’ bass response, and it is faster and quicker. The Sundara feels like it has a more impactful bass due to it’s excellent punch and slam qualities. You also can EQ the Sundara’s bass to your heart’s extent, not so much on the 560S. Obviously, the Sundara still has fairly neutral bass, but it’s right in line to where I prefer it.
Both headphones have good mids, but the 560S has more present mids, almost to its detriment sometimes. The 560S can get shouty in comparison to the Sundara, while not gaining any resolution from the heightened mids response. The Sundara may even have better resolution here even while not being as forward in the mids. The Sundara’s mids are just, really good. Nothing really to say about them because they are so transparent and neutral. Right where they should be. The 560S is a bit more shouty and present, and you may like that. I can describe the shout as like the flare of the sun’s rays through glasses. It physically hurts, and prevents you from seeing what you want to. The 560S does the same thing to music very occasionally, and the Sundara does it much, much, less.
This is interesting. The 560S and Sundara both have excellent treble for the price, and are somewhat similar to one another, but the Sundara is much more refined. It has better resolution and a more controlled and smoother response. Both have peaks, and both have sibilance, just at different spots. The 560S sounds a bit more “grainy” here and isn’t the resolution king at $200. The Sundara *IS* the resolution king at $350 though. Don’t fall into the hype, the 560S is not creating detail on the level of HD 6X0. The Sundara exceeds HD 6X0 handily. I feel that the 560S is a on the side of bright neutral, while the Sundara is more close to neutral in the treble response. The Sundara is definitely where I would like it to be more, it doesn’t sound as harsh or overbearing as the 560S.
Soundstage and Imaging:
I’m not the best here, but I can definitely tell that the Sundara has a much larger stage than the 560S. The 560S is much larger than HD 6X0, but the Sundara destroys it. The 560S would be described as more “flat” as not as vertical, and more “accurate” to the original recording, but the Sundara just gives a more surrounding and deep soundstage. The Sundara is more layered and more encompassing. The Sundara still isn’t the best at the price though, about average in width. For imaging, both are amazing for the price, but the Sundara is better.
This is where Sundara shines. The overall sense of clarity and resolution is excellent here, and the distinction between individual sounds is some of the best that I have heard. Sundara also has an excellent punch and slam. The 560S is not slouch for $200 though, but it cannot compare to the Sundara. It is lower resolution, can’t show sounds as distinctly, and is very shy on punch and slam. Clarity is very good for the price though, but this could be due to the slight tilt toward brightness.
Side Note: Power Requirements
I would recommend an amp with both, but you can probably get away without one with the 560S. I feel that Sundara really needs an amp. On most devices I tried, I either could not get enough volume or had to crank it to get to an ok listening level.
Overall Score and Value Conclusion:
So, if it isn’t obvious, Sundara is better. It should be better, because it costs $150 more. The 560S isn’t bad at all though. In a price-relative rating close to $200, it would have scored at least and 8 I would predict.
If you can pay the extra, I would for Sundara. It is just the superior headphone in most every aspect. If you want a transparent, accurate, and detailed jack of most trades then look no further than the Sundara.