Sennheiser HD 630VB – Expert Review – Pump Out The Bass!
Sennheiser may now be a septuagenarian, but is keen to be ‘down’ with the kids without resorting to giving out Werther’s Originals. Hence the new HD 630VB, which has the facility to alter volume, answer calls and alter bass levels using controls on the right earcup; as hinted at by the ‘VB’ bit of the name. But does the Sennheiser HD 630VB have the panache of an elderly David Niven, or does it come across as a flare-clad grandad at a rave?
Design and appearance:
At first glances, the HD 630VB appears to be something which executives are pictured enjoying whilst looking out of aeroplane windows. Much like executives, they are very smart looking with their metallic veneer and slightly hard-edged styling, but they feature generously upholstered earpads and headband padding to offer a more yielding and comfortable experience.
The unique selling point is the variable bass feature; this works on its own (without relying on software in your digital audio player) so can be used with any device or full size amp with a headphone socket, although an extension cable will likely be required. The only thing is that the earcups are very large for a portable, but hey, let’s smash those preconceptions!
Unusually, the cable is worn on the right side of the headphones; this is due to the controls being on the right side for the majority of us who are right-handed.
Durability & build quality:
Weight is an issue with a lot of headphones designed for portable use and the HD 630VB is no exception. It’s a lot lighter than it looks but the stress points, such as the bit where the headband extends and the pivot points for the yokes have a good solid feel to them, so there should be plenty of life in the HD 630VB.
The cable is non-removable but has a very solid feel and is quite supple. The jack is straight and the housing is only 5mm wide so not a problem for anyone with a recessed socket in their player or DAC.
As is typical of portables, the Sennheiser HD 630VB does have quite a grip on the head, but the comfy earpads mitigate against this very well. Also they are good with glasses with reasonably chunky frames/arms. After a couple of hours, it may get a bit warm and moist under these earpads however.
Suitability for intended application:
These headphones are an obvious choice for portable applications, but are large and comfortable enough to be a good choice for relaxing at home too.
Isolation is pretty good, as the ears are swallowed up within the luxurious earpads and a fair bit of outside noise is taken care of. Obviously this melts away with music playing so you’re alone with your music. Others nearby will not twig that some particularly loud music is being enjoyed; the HD 630VB will keep your more questionable music preferences hidden.
The headphones can be taken anywhere with the use of the supplied semi-rigid case; they fold up quite nicely to save space when not in use too.
The HD 630VB has that classic Sennheiser tuning; ignoring the variable bass feature for a moment. Warm yet detailed, with clear mids and impactful bass.
Bass (e.g. punch, low extension):
The variable bass part of the design alters the bass level by 5dB up or down at 50 Hz, so there’s a good amount of control here. They can be made mean and lean, or can lend some serious welly to proceedings with a twist of the wrist. The trouble is, the temptation is to keep playing with the bass levels rather than just enjoying the music; to a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
Naturally, some sub bass-heavy genres such as drum&bass have been tried and with the bass turned way up, the rumble factor is extreme; though not to the detriment of the midrange. Things are still well controlled, it’s just that there’s a particularly heavy foot beneath it all. Great news for bassheads.
With more midrange-centric genres however, the bass can be a little too much and appear boomy, perhaps as expectations and tastes change depending on what’s expected. You might enjoy salt on your chips, but not so much with cornflakes. The obvious answer is to tame the bass again using the control.
Mids (e.g. vocals, acoustic instruments):
Midrange is clear and crisp with good harmonics coming through; vocals are prominent without giving too much in the way of sibilance, and reverbs/space get a good treatment too. It’s smooth yet detailed too, a good balance.
Treble (e.g. high hats):
Treble is an extension of midrange you might say; crisp and clean but allowing for the high-frequency sensitivities most of us have. Hi-hats and other percussive sounds cut through the mix, while synths scintillate energetically.
Soundstage & Separation:
For a closed-back model, soundstage is excellent on the HD 630VB. You might argue that the earcups are big enough to offer enough room for this, but that’s just mean. Separation is very well preserved too; the HD 630VB is faithful to classical genres and gives a decent sense of an orchestral performance.
Music genres good for and why:
With the variable bass feature, the obvious recommendation is for dance music genres and anything which benefits from a good solid kick. Jazz and classical are very well served too, with bass adjusted to suit, of course.
Variable bass feature
Volume and call answer buttons mounted on earcup
Earcups are large for a portable model
The variable bass control gives a good range of possibilities for those who like a variety of genres and styles, and bass can even be adjusted to mask exterior noise like aeroplane engines or the rumble of a train. The Sennheiser HD 630VB is an excellent gift idea for those who wish to take no chances!