Sennheiser HD490 Pro Plus review

For the professional audiophile

₹ 34,500

Garnering more attention for its soundbars than headphones lately, Sennheiser may have diversified its portfolio, but the HD490 Pro is a solid reminder of its roots. Designed to straddle the increasingly emulsifying consumer and pro workflows, Sennheiser has made an audiophile-grade headphone that can be used by professionals and the HD490 Pro is equipped with some ingenious tricks up its sleeve to achieve this. Essentially the same headphone with a couple of extra bundled accessories, the Plus model gets an extra, longer 3mt cable and a moulded travel case over the Pro.


Leaving no doubt about its serious intent, the HD490 Pro looks the business. Its open-back design shows off the 38mm neodymium drivers from the outside and there are “pro” details everywhere. The patented coiled cable reduces noise from scraping against consoles or clothes, the ability to plug in the detachable cable on either left or right earcup, the inclusion of both 3.5mm and 6.3mm connector pins and a large, over-ear design that is designed for all-day wearability.

But more than the pro features, it’s the pro design that is the real masterstroke here. Starting with the construction itself, even though it’s predominantly plastic, the HD490 Pro is built to a very high degree of fit and finish with no apparent compromise in quality. It manages to be lightweight and extremely luxurious in its feel with just the right amount of clamp force, breathability and  Even the headband design is such that no matter how you adjust the size to fit your head, the pressure is always distributed evenly. And here’s the real genius idea - Sennheiser bundles in two different sets of earcups that based on their material and profiling, can alter the frequency response. So the Production earpads made of velour are more cossetting and plush, enabling a warmer sound with a slight boost in the bass region. On the other hand, the Mixing earpads are much thinner in profile and made of fabric, giving it a flatter and more neutral response curve, giving the engineer a more authentic presentation of the final delivery. 

The emphasis is on all-day comfort and to achieve that goal, Sennheiser has crafted the headband from light aluminium with soft foam supporting the top of the head. Even spectacled users have been considered and the earpads are designed to accommodate the stalks without digging into your head.


Starting with the already-fitted Production earpads on the HD490 Pro, playing a selection of tracks from our audiophile playlist put an instant smile on our faces. Good Morning Little Schoolgirl by Muddy Waters is a phenomenal test for airiness and soundstage and the HD490 Pro delivers in spades, demonstrating the obvious advantages of having an open-back architecture. The light footedness of the guitar and the drum is perfectly juxtaposed with the weight of the stand-up bass and makes for lightning-quick transients. Switch modes to electronic music like Sohn’s Veto and the expansive soundscape is rendered with the correct size and scale, retaining the ethereal quality with which the vocals have been recorded. Swapping around for the Mixing ear pads there is an instant change in the midbass, most obvious while playing electronic or dance music. On Envision by Stan Kolev, the beats have a sharper attack without sacrificing on the accuracy or the fullness. 

Looking at the frequency response curves of both the earpads, the Mixing pads stay flat from 50Hz-1.5kHz with a slight dip at 3kHz and then tapers off naturally. The Production pads on the other hand have a gradual rise from 700Hz down to 30Hz, peaking at 100Hz, emphasizing the ever-so-important midbass just to the point of a satisfying roundness. They also dip at 2kHz, giving them a warmer and more laid-back sound compared to the Mixing pads, which have more presence and directness. To be able to do all this with a simple swap of earpads is a fantastic idea that is cost-effective. But the earpads should’ve been magnetic for a stress-free swap as opposed to the snap-on connectors. You have to yank them out using the fabric or velour for grip and it isn’t the prettiest sight (or feeling). At least they’re washable so you don’t have to worry about whose hands have been on them or on whose ears they’ve been on!

With a 130ohm impedance, they’re fairly easy to drive even with a smartphone, but of course, the quality of the DAC and amplification will determine how much detail and resolution you can extract from these devices. We used our reference Chord Hugo TT2 desktop DAC/Amp to drive the HD490 Pro and the result was always stunning, regardless of music genre. It’s a clean sonic presentation that leaves no doubt about its “reference” grade claims.


Sennheiser has smartly chosen to target these headphones at audiophiles and music professionals alike because it’s a sound that either community can savour. Between the two sets of earpads, the sonic signature changes subtly but perceptibly and can be the game changer in deciding whether you want something for work or entertainment. For the professionals, Sennheiser also includes a license to dearVR Mix SE plug-in from Dear Reality that allows mixing engineers to simulate different rooms and how it would sound on monitor speakers. It’s a value add, regardless of its actual value but even besides the freebie, the Sennheiser HD490 Pro is one of the most comfortable and dynamic-sounding headphones we have heard at anywhere near its price.

Stuff Says

Superb sound along with supreme comfort and the ability to adjust the tonal balance by swapping earpads is genius!
Good stuff
Bad stuff
  1. Transparency and clarity are faultless

  1. Fast bass with superb attack

  1. Comfortable for all-day wear

  1. Swappable earpads should’ve been magnetic

  1. Will need DAC/amp for best results

  1. Nothing else

Drivers: 38mm neodymium
Design: Open back circumaural
Impedance: 130ohms
Max SPL: 128dB
Connector: 3.5mm/6.3mm
Weight: 260g