Sennheiser HD 518 review

Want audiophile-quality sound for your Mac, iPad or iPod?

Sennheiser HD 518
Sennheiser's HD 518s are big, beautifully made and deliver great sound quality for the money

TechRadar Verdict

Pros

  • +

    Comfortable, lightweight design

  • +

    Excellent sound quality

Cons

  • -

    No inline mic for iPhone users

  • -

    Not great with low bit rate MP3s

Why you can trust TechRadar Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

To hear music at its best you really need a decent pair of headphones. And this is where the Sennheiser HD 518 comes in.

Ostensibly designed for hi-fi use, the 518s bring audiophile-sound quality to your Mac, iPad or iPhone in a lightweight, open-backed design.

What strikes you first is the HD 518's sheer bulk: large, extravagantly padded, oval ear cups, a wide headband and a 3m cable with 6.3mm headphone jack and 3.5mm adapter.

It's fair to say that the Sennheiser HD 518 is built for comfort rather than stealth: those huge ear cups are circumaural – that is, designed to fit around the ears rather than on or in them, making them super-comfy.

The headphones are also open-backed to give your music a light, airy feel, although this can also result in sound leaking in or out – great if you want to be aware of what's going on around you, but annoying for anyone who has to listen to a tinny rendition of your tunes.

Out of the box, these headphones initially disappoint with a muffled sound that's thin on high-frequency sounds such as cymbals. Luckily, that quickly gives way to a more balanced sound that's breathtakingly clear with well-recorded rock, pop and classical.

Ironically the Sennheiser's transparency could make some songs in your library sound worse: it's not very forgiving of low bit-rate MP3s or tunes that were badly recorded or mastered in the first place.

Follow TechRadar Reviews on Twitter: http://twitter.com/techradarreview