Sennheiser HD 201 Consumer Headphones - Good Insulation and Comfort

Dec 4, 2006 (Updated May 1, 2012)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Price, comfort level, sound insulation, sensitivity, looks

Cons:Size, overall sound quality

The Bottom Line: The Sennheiser HD201 is a good inexpensive way to get better sound from your portable MP3 or CD player or get decent sound from your home...

Recently, had Sennheiser HD201 on sale for $10. Obviously, this is a ridiculously low price for decent enclosed headphones from a reputable brand. So I bought the HD201 to compare them to my Sennheiser HD202 as well as other headphones I had (e.g. Koss KSC75). As a point of comparison, my HD202 cost me $20 and the KSC75, I believe, around $15. This review is about the Sennheiser HD 201. 

About the Sennheiser HD201

The Sennheiser HD201 are enclosed headphones with smooth silver design and leatherette ear pads. The HD201 feature 10-foot (3m) Y-style cable. The headphones have nominal impedance of 24 Ohm and advertised to produce 21-18,000 Hz frequency response (at -3 db per the description on the product box) and less than 0.7 percent THD (total harmonic distortion).

The 3-meter Y-type cable terminates with a compact 3.5-mm headphone plug that works well with portable devices. The headphones came in a carton box, which I like much more than the blister pack my HD202 came in. Also included was the adaptor for conversion of the headphones' 3.5 mm plug to 6.3 mm for use with home gear (my received has a 6.3-mm headphone plug). The headphones carry 2-year warranty.

My headphones are made of black and silver plastic and fit me perfectly. They also seem to be durable. The leatherette pads around the years and on the part of the band that touches my head provide excellent comfort level. The former tilt/rotate around their vertical axis and also extend from the band.


The headphones are rather light and do not create much pressure on my ears or the areas around my ears. The padded areas around the drivers are soft and cushy, but in warm weather may get moist. Since I mostly use enclosed headphones indoors, this is not a problem.

The cable is long enough to reach pretty far. I have used the headphones with my receiver as well as with my iPod at home and in both cases the length of the cable is more than sufficient.

The HD201 take up a bit of space on the shelf where I keep them, but not as much as some larger headphones I have seen.

Sound Insulation

The HD201 provide good sound insulation. They leak very little sound as well, which is important in public transport. Of course, they do not provide as much sound insulation as some other, more expensive headphones and they are not noise-canceling, but I found the insulation enough for use on the train.

The sound insulation of the HD201 is definitely better than over-the-ear Koss KSC75 headphones I also use occasionally and, of course, better than the earbuds that ship with MP3 players.

Sound Quality

The most important quality of the headphones is the sound quality. It is difficult to expect good sound as such a low price. The HD201 produce good sound, but the HD202 are better and the KSC75 (not enclosed) are better too.

I have tested the HD201 after burn-in using various types of music and was not impressed. The HD201 are rated at 21-18,000 Hz (-3db). The fact that they do not reach 20,000 Hz does not bother me by itself, but it indicates that they reach -3 db floor at 18,000 Hz already, which is not very good.

The headphones have quite an uneven frequency response. The horns in classical music sound louder than the string instruments and the drums sound lower and lack parts of the spectrum. The treble quality is OK, but the sound overall is rather flat/hollow. There is a certain lack of upper bass/lower midrange.

The instrument separation and placement is excellent and I could even hear one flaw in Ernest Bloch’s recording Andante by Daniel Raiskin and Lisa Smirnova that have not heard before (somebody dropped something in the middle of the recording).

But as I mention before, some instruments sound muted, particularly drums and parts of viola spectrum. The headphones in general seem to have the "Sennheiser" sound, which is not as warm and pleasant as Koss'.

The HD201 can play pretty loud with portable gear like iPod Nano. But with some portable players that do not produce much volume and are designed for sensitive headphones (e.g. Philips HDD077), the volume might be insufficient for some songs and/or environments.

If you are thinking about buying the replacement headphones for your portable, make sure that your player can produce loud sound with your stock headphones first and expect the volume to drop a little with the HD201. But with better sound insulation than the majority of stock earbuds, the HD201 can compensate for some volume loss by reducing the amount of noise that enters your ear.


The HD201 have impedance of 24 Ohms, which should suit most portable as well as home gear.

Bottom Line

The Sennheiser HD201 is a good inexpensive way to get better sound from your portable MP3 or CD player or get decent sound from your home gear without disturbing your family members or neighbors. If your budget is small, that is. I feel that other headphones for slightly more money will provide better sound. E.g. Koss KSC75 sounds much better for not much more (but is a portable non-enclosed design). And Sennheiser HD202 model sound better too, for $5-10 more.

Update 05/2012: I got better headphones: Sennheiser HD428.

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