Tom's Holiday Buyer's Guide 2008, Part 1

Sennheiser HD515 G4ME Headphones
By: Chris Angelini

You spend big money on processors and even bigger money on graphics, so why would you go cheap when it comes to audio? Well, it’d be easy if you didn’t know any better—once upon a time I was perfectly content with AC’97 and bundled 2.1-channel speakers. But then I was introduced to Sennheiser. First, I owned the company’s HD580s. Then, I upgraded to the HD600s. Both audiophile-quality cans, I was talked into picking up a headphone amplifier from HeadRoom and was quickly sold for life.

The HD600s cost more than $300 though, and they’re arguably more headphone than what the average PCs audio subsystem really needs. Hoping to find something a little more apropos to computing, we revisited Sennheiser’s headphone lineup and came across the HD 515 G4MEs. Most obviously, these are over-the-ear headphones designed for comfort. I’ve yet to find a set of earbuds that’d last for more than 15 minutes without extreme discomfort, and supra-aural on-ear headphones can be fatiguing as well. The HD515s fit around the ear, distributing 255 grams of total weight across a well-padded headband and the velvety ear pads.

Sennheiser’s quality carries over from the comfort-enhancing padding to the 1.8” (3.5 mm) stereo jack especially suited to sound cards (many high-end headphones employ 1.4” plugs). And whereas you’d likely expect multimedia headphones to tether you down with a few feet of cord, the Sennheiser setup includes a nine-foot detachable single-sided OFC (oxygen-free, which lasts longer without becoming brittle) copper cable.

The HD515’s open ear cups aren’t meant to save everyone else from hearing whatever you’re playing. Rather, they’re designed with sound quality in mind, letting sound waves propagate freely away from the transducer. A frequency range between 14 Hz and 26 kHz straddles both ends of the spectrum for what a human can hear. And while we’ve fielded ambitious claims from speaker vendors before that just didn’t sound plausible after a lengthy audition, Sennheiser’s audio reproduction is truly impressive.

Although the HD515 G4MEs are marketed toward the gaming enthusiast, these things work well for any audio application on the PC, from gaming to music creation to video playback. There is a price to pay for Sennheiser’s premium headphones, but when you compare them to the price of a multi-channel speaker system, the difference shouldn’t be as jarring.

Chris Angelini
Chris Angelini is an Editor Emeritus at Tom's Hardware US. He edits hardware reviews and covers high-profile CPU and GPU launches.
  • ravenware
    Dell 3008WFP Ultrasharp 30"

    , we can’t think of any computer user who wouldn’t be thrilled to get one.

    Gamers. The 8ms response time is a little on the slow side.
  • Portall
    Nope. You won't see difference between 8 and 4ms :)
  • V3NOM
    well you can... CRT vs LCD is quite clear.
  • cangelini
    I play on the prior year's model (3007) all the time without any problems. Don't pass up gaming on a 30" display without at least trying it for yourself!
  • Dual-link DVI does NOT need two seperate cables. HDMI's video component IS DVI. I'm amazed this slipped through and into the article:
  • radnor
    Well, you will actually. If you ever seen them side by side you will notice the difference. 5ms seems to be the sweet spot.
  • LazyGarfield
    Interesting article! I´m still looking for the two beautiful women but cant find them :P
  • Just a word of warning to anyone purchasing this monitor and wanting to watch Blu-Ray titles on it. If you use DVI as your input it can not display Blu-Ray titles above 1920 x 1080. Now I know this is the native res on the monitor. But HDCP will fail if the monitor's resolution is set any higher than this. This is due to a design flaw in the monitor's chipset. This wouldn't be a problem if all it meant was you had to reset the resolution when you want to watch a movie, but the problem is, 1920 x 1080 is not the same aspect ratio as 2560 x 1600. So your picture is vertically stretched. I know this because I bought one and spent hours in forums and on the phone with Dell before finding this out. I returned the monitor, because at $2000, there's no excuse for buggy HDCP support over DVI.
  • what happened to the really cute girl you guys had last year ?
  • xsamitt
    I think I'd take the 30 inch dell if it was free......Guess I won't be having one now for
    8 mills is just to slow.And Leigon thanks for the heads up.

    I do hope the new items to come are more interesting than this first round.