Sennheiser HD 490 Pro Plus Review: Open and Shut Case For Audiophiles


People who call themselves ‘audiophiles’ generally fall into two categories. The first set wish to listen to the music as it was intended to be heard. The other lot ‘monitors’ sound to create content – the people who create or master music and videos. The Sennheiser HD 490 Pro Plus aims to offer a blend of features that appeal to both music enthusiasts and audio engineers. This review delves deep into the sound quality, comfort, build, and unique aspects of the HD 490 Pro Plus, helping you decide if they fit your needs.

Sennheiser HD 490 Pro Plus

Rs 32,990











What Is Good?

  • Two types of ear cups offer two different ways to consume music
  • Wide and defined soundstage
  • Balanced sound
  • Medium impedance yields them high volume output
  • Great build quality
  • DearVR MIX software is a good deal

What Is Bad?

  • Expensive
  • Requires high-quality amplifier to unlock full volume potential

Sennheiser HD 490 Pro Plus Review: Why Go ‘Plus’?

If you’ve already decided to buy the HD 490 Pro Plus, you’ll be curious about the differences between it and its sibling, the HD 490 Pro. For the extra five grand or so, the Plus variant offers you:

Carrying Case: A convenient carrying case protects your headphones and keeps them organised during transport.

Extra Headband Pad: While both versions have a padded headband, the Plus version includes an additional headband pad.

Longer Cable: The Plus version comes with an additional 3-metre cable, which provides more flexibility in movement while using the headphones.

That’s right. Everything else, including the audio drivers, the dearVR MIX SE spatial audio subscription, and two types of ear pads (Mixing and Producer), is the same in both versions.

It may feel like Sennheiser is nickel-and-diming you—you’re paying a pretty penny anyway, so why have a Pro Plus variant? But if you look at it the other way, for just five grand more, you are getting such high-quality accessories. Glass half empty or half full—we leave it up to you.

Sennheiser HD 490 Pro Plus Review: Design and build

Sennheiser has changed its design silhouette after a really long time with the HD 490 Pro series. The open-back concept is nothing new for Sennheiser, but they’ve tried to merge their conventional Momentum design with their more pro-grade 6-series. So, while they look familiar, they also assert that audiophile look. That said, this is a handsome-looking pair of headphones with high-quality construction.

The open-back design eliminates the feeling of sound trapped inside the ear cups, resulting in a wider and more natural soundstage. It allows you to pinpoint the location of instruments within the mix and hear subtle details in recordings, given you’re in a quiet room, like a soundproof studio.

One of the most distinctive features of the HD 490 Pro is the inclusion of two sets of ear pads. These interchangeable pads significantly alter the sonic profile, catering to different listening preferences and applications.

Velour “Producer” Pads: These plush pads deliver a warmer, more bass-forward sound. Basslines become more prominent, while guitars and other instruments gain a touch of fullness. This signature is ideal for casual listening, genres like hip-hop and electronic music, or situations where you want a more engaging listening experience.

Pleather (faux leather) “Mixing” Pads: Constructed from a denser material, these pads offer a flatter frequency response. The bass is tighter and more controlled, while the overall sound becomes brighter and more analytical. This characteristic is perfect for critical listening, mixing and mastering sessions, or situations where you need a transparent and accurate audio representation.

The ability to switch between these pads grants the HD 490 Pro Plus remarkable versatility. You can transform them from a laid-back listening companion to a precise monitoring tool in just seconds.

These pads, the lightweight overall construction, and the headband make the HD 490 Pro Plus comfortable to wear over long periods. This is important, given that the target demographic buying these headphones will wear them for a full workday. I also love that you can plug an audio cable into both ear cups; a seemingly tiny little attention to detail makes a huge difference.

Sennheiser HD 490 Pro Plus Review: Hardware, sound and bundled software

Sennheiser has been hush-hush about the specificities of the driver and hardware. They’ve only mentioned the following on their website:

Total harmonic distortion (THD) <0.2% (1kHz at 100dB sound pressure level)
Driver type Dynamic, open back
Max sound pressure level 128dB (1kHz at 5%THD)
Impedance 130ohms (1kHz)

While the HD 490 Pro Plus can be driven with a laptop or a smartphone alone, you’ll need an amp to unlock its full volume potential. I mainly used this with a TASCAM 2×2 interface with built-in DAC and a basic pre-amp to get a better output than my MacBook Pro’s built-in card.

My first impression of the HD 490 Pro Plus’ sound signature was clarity and detail. The instruments were well-separated, the vocals shone through clearly, and the overall presentation was crisp and clean.

Compared to the similarly priced Sony MDR-MV1 reference-grade monitors, it has slightly less warmth, particularly noticeable in the lower midrange.

The bundled DearVR MIX software is a pretty sweet deal, considering it also comes with the Pro variant. If you try to subscribe to it, it will cost you around $99 (or around Rs 8,200). It essentially tries to simulate the acoustics of professional mixing rooms within your headphones. You can choose from three different virtual rooms, each offering a slightly different sonic character:

Mix Room A: A general-purpose mixing room with a balanced sound.

Mix Room B: A slightly more spacious and ambient room.

Analytic Dry: A dry and uncoloured acoustic environment ideal for critical listening and monitoring.

It’s great for users relying primarily on headphones for mixing, mastering, or content creation. It provides a natural and room-like listening environment compared to the dry sound of headphones.

In terms of bundled software, the HD 490 Pro Plus offers a similar experience to the Sony MDR-MV1.

Sennheiser HD 490 Pro Plus: Verdict

As a reviewer, the Sennheiser HD 490 Pro Plus is a curious case for me. I mostly come across products that have a well-thought-out USP. But Sennheiser believes this product can’t really have a specific use case, as it is intended to be used by a consumer as well as a creator. And that’s what makes it such an interesting product.

While the Sennheiser HD 490 Pro Plus’s high pricing may make you believe it’s a statement and exercise in conspicuous consumption, it actually isn’t. Instead, it delivers exceptional audio quality and performance that professionals will appreciate. Its neutral sound signature, detailed yet wide soundstage, and comfortable design make it a great choice for critical listening, mixing, and mastering.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the Sony MDR-MV1 recently had a massive price drop. It’s down to Rs 24,999 on Amazon from its original price of Rs 39,990. Its sound is mildly warmer than the HD 490 Pro Plus, but that’s a matter of personal preference.

However, for me, the HD 490 Pro Plus takes a tiny lead as it comes with velour and pleather ear pads, which offer significantly different listening experiences.