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Anybody remember the Sennheiser HD414 headphones?
Old 7th September 2017
  #1
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jnorman's Avatar
Anybody remember the Sennheiser HD414 headphones?

When I was apprenticing at Deep South back in the early 70s, we had maybe 20 pairs of Sennheiser hd414 headphones, and I remember the first time I tried a pair of those weird little guys - at the time all I had ever heard were big bulky closed back phones like the koss 4a, and I was immediately in love with the "new" open air concept.

Of course they no longer make the 414, and I haven't heard any for over 35 years, though I have had many senn phones since then and still have hd600s which are pretty great.

I wonder how the 414 might compare to what I have now, since I remember a certain type of magic that the 414 seemed to have.

Does anyone remember these headphones? Anybody still have a set? I saw a cool looking pair on eBay for $140, and am tempted to just get them...
Old 7th September 2017
  #2
We used them, for a brief period of time, in the listening facilities of the Conservatory Library at the local college. Sounded good but students are rough on equipment and broke them pretty regularly. Also the foam ear cushions seemed to be very susceptible to "ear oil and sweat" and disintegrated rather rapidly. The connections were also very "fragile". Not a really good choice for student use in a listening facility.

They seem to be available at https://www.hifishark.com/model/sennheiser-hd-414 from various users. Also the pads are still available.

FWIW
Old 7th September 2017
  #3
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I'm pretty sure they were my first 'serious' headphones, if I'm recalling the same model ? Light as a feather, flexible plastic head strap, bright yellow foam earpads with a small button in the centre to hold them in place.

Next to no side pressure on the ears, which was the strangest impresssion for someone used to regular, heavy closed ear-cups...you'd easily forget you were wearing them. Nice 'musical' phones, but pretty bass light by any standards, even back then.

Yes I'd like to try a pair today, for nostalgia's sake. I wonder how they'd sound with today's crop of headphone amps to drive them. Within a narrow volume range they were very pleasant, but could sound a bit 'shouty' if pushed too hard

Edit...sorry, wrong model..I was thinking of the mid 70's HD 424, similar open aire design: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikiped...iser_HD424.jpg
Old 7th September 2017
  #4
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First hifi cans I ever heard about the late 60s
We had used AKG K50s but the 414s were far better, but open backed
I put some in Peltor ear defenders, much better than Koss pro4a s!
I remember the capsule were from dictation microphone
Sennheiser have been doing proper cans for a long time
Beware manufacturers jumping on the band wagon with no history, they are OEM sino products.
Old 7th September 2017
  #5
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

There's another recent thread here about them. I'm pretty sure I still have a pair somewhere. Probably in the same box with my Rockman and my can of Finger-Eze.
Old 7th September 2017
  #6
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jnorman's Avatar
Brent - I also still have my rockman. Awesome little box!
Old 8th September 2017
  #7
Chris Kimsey turned me on to those back in the early 1980's. Ugly as heck but a great sound. Mic modder Klaus H still uses a set to evaluate mics.
Old 8th September 2017
  #8
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hbphotoav's Avatar
 

We had some 414s during my stint (early '80s) in a small jingle studio in Texas. Everybody loved them... but they tended to bleed out into the U87 with certain singers who wanted a bit of "level". It was worse on threes and fours. Then it was back to the Pioneers (IIRC) and lots of grousing about the weight. I made do with the Stantons I bought in high school until Sony MDR-V6 came along. I still have a couple of pairs... I used them a lot in video world... although most current use is a nice pair of Ultrasones I've learned. I rarely have opportunity to use anything open-back.
Old 1 week ago
  #9
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In response to jnorman's wondering whether he should buy a set of HD414's off eBay for 140 dollars. Thats a tough one. I have two sets of HD414's and a set of HD580's. It depends on how much 140 dollars is worth to you. I bought my first hd414 in 1973 for 50 bucks new. One listen and I was hooked. Nothing I had heard sounded like them. I bought my second set years later at a garage sale for 3 dollars. The foam was shot and the jack need fixing, which I replaced with a 1/8 inch jack so I could use it portable devises. New foam is readily available on eBay for around 12 bucks and works great. I have bought about 5 pairs over the years. The hd414s still sound great. When compared to my hd580s' they dont have the bass or midrange smoothness, but have a delicacy that the hd580s' don't. They work better on low power portable devices like phones or tablets than do th hd580s' but do sound better with good amplification. I would recommend them. They will always be worth the money you paid for them, and will just increase in value.
Old 1 week ago
  #10
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I remember those being in wide-spread use at Record Plant in NYC. I never worked in the studios, per se. I worked on the remote trucks (where I can't imagine there weren't a few pair floating around).

But I can't guess how engineers dealt with the bleed out. Yikes, it musta been bad.

Can't remember what my first set of cans were. They got stolen in a breakin weeks after I moved in my first apartment. I fixed that problem with some window bars, police locks on the door, and changing the locks after every time I was forced by the landlord to give keys to the junkie super.

I frequently went on tour for months at a time and would come home to an apartment that was dusty but otherwise, exactly as I had left it. This was two blocks off of Times Square in the 1970s and 1980s.

Oh, and home was less than a block from work. I was at 403 W. 44th and Record Plant was 321 W. 44th. Easy commute. One street to cross; 9th Avenue.

D.
Old 1 week ago
  #11
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Sennheiser HD 435 have v similar sq and are more malleable
Found a pair on the Bay, great for phone and laptop.
Old 1 week ago
  #12
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tourtelot View Post
... I can't guess how engineers dealt with the bleed out. Yikes, it musta been bad.
One of the studios I interned at in Boston (mostly janitorial) had them. The bleed was very bad and hair products dissolved the earpads.

Quote:
... and home was less than a block from work. I was at 403 W. 44th and Record Plant was 321 W. 44th.
I worked at National, 460 W 42, from '80 to '84. Used to hike over to RP to make slave tapes. One or the other of the trucks was often out front. RP had a very cool front door.
Old 1 week ago
  #13
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A man name Jim Falconer was the carpenter at RPS NY. Brilliant guy. I wonder where he went to? All the rooms were beautiful.

D.
Old 1 week ago
  #14
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tourtelot's Avatar
Oh and totally forgot about hair products turning the pads into goo. So funny!

D.
Old 1 week ago
  #15
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Looking back on that family of ultra light headphones (and specifically the 424 model), and comparing them to everything else before or since...it was a revelation in allowing so much leakage in of ambient conversations etc, you could safely wear them when walking the streets (with your Sony Walkman WMD6 cassette recorder) and still be aware of traffic etc.

Also one of the few where the cable felt almost as heavy as the entire headphone assembly ! Also one of the lightest 'side pressure on ears' cans you could ever find, probably still unsurpassed ?

Unlike the pictured example, I'm pretty sure my headband was just a single non-padded piece of very lightweight flexible plastic..identical to the 414 pictured in this review (or maybe my memory is gone walkabout...?) :

https://www.tonepublications.com/old...d-414-and-424/
Attached Thumbnails
Anybody remember the Sennheiser HD414 headphones?-sennheiser_hd_424_deluxe_open-aire_headphones.jpg  
Old 1 week ago
  #16
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tourtelot's Avatar
Raise your hand. How many had one of these?

It was my bus-bunk music (what phones?) for many a rock and roll tour. Kept me sane. Joni Mitchell Hissing Of Sumer Lawns.

Memories.

D.
Attached Thumbnails
Anybody remember the Sennheiser HD414 headphones?-walkman.jpeg  
Old 1 week ago
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tourtelot View Post
Raise your hand. How many had one of these?

It was my bus-bunk music (what phones?) for many a rock and roll tour. Kept me sane. Joni Mitchell Hissing Of Sumer Lawns.

Memories.

D.
No but I still have a working sample of this one...amazing what passed for 'portable' back in 1976, quite a shoulder strainer !
The shoulder carry strap was actually made of auto seat belt.

https://www.cassettedeck.org/nakamichi/550

In 2020 it's my 'tape saturation plugin'...while many a 70's/80's famous concert bootlegs were made with this model of recorder
Attached Thumbnails
Anybody remember the Sennheiser HD414 headphones?-nakamichi-550-cassette-deck.jpg  
Old 1 week ago
  #18
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All the "white glove" FOH guys had those. The whole system with the amp and the speakers in the suitcase?

D.
Old 1 week ago
  #19
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James Lehmann's Avatar
 

I think I had the old HD420s that sat on your ears throughout my teenage years.

I hate to think how far my ears would stick out now if I hadn't endured years of agonising pain wearing HD420s flattening them permanently to the sides of my head.

I guess I should be grateful as it must have helped my modelling career no end, so thank-you Sennheiser!
Old 1 week ago
  #20
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I thought those old Koss Pro4A cans had brutally high side pressure on the skull, although plenty of space inside the cups for ears.

As a teenager's listening device I think that's where a lot of my friends' tinnitus and hearing problems probably began... those sorts of punishing sound pressure levels weren't possible with the open aire Sennheisers we're discussing here ?
Old 1 week ago
  #21
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hbphotoav's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tourtelot View Post
Raise your hand. How many had one of these?

It was my bus-bunk music (what phones?) for many a rock and roll tour. Kept me sane. Joni Mitchell Hissing Of Sumer Lawns.

Memories.

D.
My touring years were a bit later... CD Walkman and Sony MDR-V6 in my berth, late '90s. Was also a Joni fan... got my evening attitude adjustment from "Miles of Aisles" and "Shadows and Light", along with Chick's RTF, Aja, Ronstadt and some Willie... and they're still in regular rotation on my iPhone 7+ via UE buds.

I haven't berthed in a tour bus since.

HB

Last edited by hbphotoav; 1 week ago at 06:22 PM.. Reason: Clarity...
Old 1 week ago
  #22
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Some doco recordists liked the 414s for their light weight and that they could hear what was going on around them while shooting, in contrast to the over-ear cans available then (1970s). I got used to them, and even made some home-brew "high noise BG" headphones for myself out of some aircraft hearing protectors with 414 drivers inside. The modular cable was a great idea, re being able to quickly plug in a spare if you broke one. By today's standards the sound of the 414s would probably be considered inferior, but they were very popular in their day.
Old 1 week ago
  #23
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You could never monitor' off tape' with them in the field, but they sounded way better than closed back.
Even today closed back cannot replicate the ease of open back performance.
Its always a joy to hear a mix on HD 800.
But never as thrilling as a proper 3 way active monitor.
Roger.
Old 6 days ago
  #24
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John Willett's Avatar
 

Exclamation

The HD 414 were the very first open back headphones and Sennheiser patented the design.

Sony were the first to take a licence as they could not bring out the "Walkman" without small and light headphones.

The design was an accident - an engineer working on the design for a dictation microphone that could also be used for playback listening - but he discovered that it was surprisingly good at reproduction - so the HD 414 came from that.

I still have a pair - but nowhere as good as the HD 600 etc... (and I have those as well).
Old 1 day ago
  #25
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illynoise's Avatar
 

Still have mine. bought new foam for them. work as good as they ever have.

I bought them at a air force BX in 1995.
Old 1 day ago
  #26
Here for the gear
I still have a 50th anniversary edition. It's been said that these are nowhere near as good as the originals, but I like them nevertheless. I change the earpads every couple of years, and just replaced the cable with one from an HD600. They sound, and feel light and airy, like I'm not wearing anything. My wife's favorite for listening to her Calm app.
Old 17 hours ago
  #27
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The 414 was my go to back when I was a DJ in San Diego and Los Angeles.
I had a few pair as backups for when I needed to swap out the cables or change the foam pads.
That way I could keep trucking while waiting on parts to arrive.
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