Sennheiser HD 471 Affordable Sealed Over Ear Headphones Measurements

Click on graphs image to download .pdf for closer inspection.

Raw frequency response plots show a fairly stable headphone with changes of position on the head...oddy, with most variation through the midrange. Response is close to flat from 10Hz to 1000Hz but for the pad bounce feature at about 150Hz, and a wide, shallow hump below 100Hz. While I'd personally like to see about 2-3dB of emphasis below 150Hz, many headphone enthusiasts will be perfectly satisfied with the 471s flat, relatively even response below 1kHz.

Above 1kHz the rise to the peak at 3.5kHz is a bit slow resulting in the 3.5kHz peak being about 5dB below ideal. Though the slope is a little low, the shape of the midrange and treble response is similar to the ideal and is free from unevenness allowing vocal overtones to have close to natural proportion. I heard this headphone as surprisingly truthful.

Above the 3.5kHz peak a very deep notch can be seen at 4.5kHz. Keep an eye out for this notch in other current Sennheiser seems to be a recurring theme. I've sent questions about it to Sennheiser, I'll let you know when I get an answer.

30Hz square wave has a little wobble in the waveform top, likely due to the pad bounce and modest bass hump below 100Hz, but it remains strongly above zero to the very end demonstrating good bass extension into the lowest octave.

300Hz square wave should have a higher initial transient spike, and has a gentle upward tilt, bot indicating a modest lack of treble response. The ring after the initial transient is a little too large relative to the initial spike, and the cycles are a little pointy, which usually indicates a tendency towards harshness. Similarly, the impulse response has some marked noise relative to the magnitude of the initial spike. I did not hear these cans as harsh at all, but I did hear them as not as liquid and coherent as a reference level can.

THD+noise at 90dBspl is very good for an inexpensive headphone but for the modestly rising bass distortion below 60Hz. At 100dBspl the entire curve is tilted. I don't often see this in measurements. I tend to think this is Sennheiser exerting their mastery over a cheap driver. They know it's not going to behave well, so they allow it to fail in a well controlled manner. I did not hear the bass as distorted, it was tight and clean, but I did hear it as lacking in the kind of textural beauty of a really great can.

Impedance plot shows a nominally 40 Ohm headphone with a primary driver resonance at 100Hz.

Broadband isolation is -16dB. Isolation is a little below average for an over-ear sealed headphone.

Needing 80mVrms to achieve 90dBspl at the ear, the HD 471 will play to solid levels from portable devices, but won't achieve the ear-bleed levels that some (unwisely) desire.

At $69? A solid set of measurements!

Sennheiser USA
1 Enterprise Dr.
Old Lyme, CT 06371

metal571's picture

Sennheiser is killing it lately - so many new models that we need reviews like this to prove that they are still competitive in the market. Thanks. I wonder how this compares to the extremely similar looking HD 200 Pro and HD 461, both of which are even cheaper.

IgorC's picture

Interesting and economic stuff from Sennheiser.
I wonder whether there will very-baby version of their electrostatic headphones

Something around of ~ 1500-2000$ for "poor" people.

Argyris's picture

Sennheiser's on fire lately. These are the kind of products I like to see: inexpensive, well built and good value. Sure they have flaws (in the HD 471's case, it's probably a bit too shelved down for my taste), but for the price Sennheiser is offering these models, it's entirely forgivable. In fact, leaving out the treble shelf on the HD 471, just the smoothness of that response line and the tight channel matching would be an exemplary result for any headphone, regardless of the price.

Just as an aside, I like the direction IF has been going lately. More frequent content, and more coverage of lower cost headphones. The uber flagships might be fun to look at, but they're out of most people's price range. I would imagine most are looking in the sub-$200 range. There's a lot of choices there, including entries by well known makers, but there's surprisingly little information and few in-depth professional reviews for most of these models. I know that this is because companies are eager to send out samples of their latest and greatest, rather than sending lesser models which by design aren't as impressive--it's probably difficult to get hold of samples of lower end models. Still, it's nice to see coverage in this space, and hopefully other makers will follow suit in sending along big boxes of their not-flagship models for review.

Argyris's picture

Looking at the full-sized version of the measurements, the channel matching isn't quite as good as I initially thought. Still probably better than most $70 and below headphones.

brause's picture

Sure, it will have its shortcomings, but it will also work well with a phone or dap.

drm870's picture concur with the others that it's exciting to have a major headphone company making good products with real consistency from the top to the bottom of their product line. (Though I can't say I'm surprised it ended up Sennheiser.)

Magick Man's picture

I don't think these are quite as good as the OG CALs, sonically, but they are a lot more solid and comfortable, so I'd recommend people try both, if they can.

brause's picture

Since this headphone has control buttons, it should be easily driven by a phone. I ordered it from at 41.05 CAD (32.74 US Dollar). The item has small cosmetic imperfections. But the leaves me cash in pocket for more Hawaii shirt (silk).

GNagus's picture

This feature was not mentioned in the review. Can I hear myself in the headphones?

donunus's picture

The only bad thing about these inexpensive senns is that they distort at pretty low volumes. Based on my last few purchases anyway... like the hd461i, HD598SE, and the smaller on ear models. The hd600 and 650 doesn't really have that problem.

brause's picture

I eventually paid $20.55 CDN for the Senns HD box with adapter and pouch missing...bargained down on the phone.

This left me with cash in hand for new top-of-the-lineHawaii shirts...Tyll, you must be blushing when watching the following...where Dr. Schweinsgruber takes on a real Sennheiser clone:

GiovanniZ's picture

I've written a couple of articles about headsets, and I have included a Sennheiser models in one of them. They make amazing headphones for gaming and listening to music.

Good job with the article, very informative.

Smartseoworld's picture

I have similar one like this, but I think this is better and I will definitely want to check it out

ksx4system's picture

Thanks for this amazingly insightful review. You've helped me to choose the best headphones within its price range the most :-)

I can happily confirm that it doesn't clamp over head too hard (actually clamping force is VERY light even out of the box - I've only stretched them as shown on video once, then it's just perfect even for multiple hours of listening).

ad meritum: Sennheiser sold one more pair of HD471i to a happy customer and Inner Fidelity got new VERY happy and regular reader :)

alex costa's picture

The only bad thing about these inexpensive senns is that they distort at pretty low volumes. Based on my last few purchases anyway... like the hd461i, HD598SE, and the smaller on ear models. The hd600 and 650 doesn't really have that problem.Teer results today

youreye's picture

Hi Tyll, all! Just wondering, got the 471i now. They sound really good I think. I've used some aftermarket ear pad from Brainwavz on my Monoprice headphones and they felt very good. The question is what kind of pads ca I use with the 471s? Will de 569 pads fit? Thanks!

HeadPhoneFAN's picture

Hi Tyll,
Great review as always. I appreciate that.
We are waiting for your HD 461 review.

chezib's picture

it got ruined and i'm using the long long cable which is not very comfortable....

Daryn Plasticmask's picture

An open letter to anyone who might know enough about HEADPHONES to help me:
I’m profoundly deaf, which is to say that I can hear above 126 decibels. Barely.
What I’m needing, what I’m looking for, is a set of headphones that will handle at least 130 decibels.
I have a little 40 watt amp that I use with my PC’s soundcard, and a headphone booster. But the closest I can get it to manage, is around 126 decibels, and the headphones blow out EVERY TIME. Some sooner than later, but without fail, they will eventually fail.
So I asked the manufacturer of the amp if I needed a bigger amp (more watts) or what… in order to achieve that 130 decibel goal. He responded that even with FOUR watts, there’s no reason why I can’t get 130 decibels out of “the right set of headphones”.
When pressed regarding what he meant, I’ve gotten no response. So I do not know what to look for.
I have learned that the size of the driver isn’t the issue, the kHz isn’t the issue, and the only thing I’ve noticed about the ohms that they list on the box is that the higher the ohms the less I can hear; the quieter the headphones are, when the ohms are higher.
So, can YOU help me? If you know what you’re talking about when when it comes to headphones… what do I need to look for to get 130 decibels out of a set of headphones??
Thanks very much