Clean and crisp sound for a good price

Feb 11, 2009
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Good isolation, minimal EQ adjustments needed, accurate bass

Cons:Uncomfortable after an hour or two, cord tangles easily, highs not as crisp (subjective)

The Bottom Line: Sennheiser HD205 is an acceptable choice for $50, though they get uncomfortable after extended use.

Let me just begin by reminding you that sound quality is very subjective -- everyone's ears are different. If you can, listen to these IN PERSON with the music YOU REGULARLY LISTEN TO. This will help you decide if these are really the cans for you.

The HD205 is my first foray into the immensely-popular Sennheiser brand studio headphones. I was skeptical that it was just another bandwagon-brand with good marketing (a la Bose) that wouldn't really deliver. After an hour or so with the HD205, I understand why Sennheisers are popular -- they're good!

Construction of the HD205 is average. They certainly don't feel cheap, but I didn't immediately think "wow this feels expensive" when I took it out of the blister pack. The plastics are ho-hum and don't look pricey, and the styling is blah too. The cans themselves are outlined in silver and the Sennheiser logo is silver too. They look rather unremarkable, and feel unremarkable in your hand. The cord felt nice at first -- it has a rubberized finish, but I later discovered this caused lots of weird tangles and unwanted kinks. Very annoying.

An interesting feature that was added for DJs is the ability to rotate one earcup at a 45 degree angle. I suppose this is so you can keep both hands free while exposing one ear to the outside world. I've never needed to use this feature.

Comfort is a mixed-bag. The padding on the headband is decent. It's not huge, but was definitely enough for me. For the first few hours of use, they were very tight on my ears. Some remedy this by placing the headphones on a basketball for a day to stretch things out a bit. The headband adjusts on both sides to move the cans up and down as needed. It seems to hold that setting pretty well and doesn't need a whole lot of effort to adjust.

What matters most in terms of comfort is how they fit on your ears. This is my biggest complaint -- after about an hour or two, the pressure starts hurting my earlobes. It turns them bright red and really gives a nasty pinching sensation. Everyone's ears are a bit different in terms of size and shape, but from what I read, this is a common complaint on these headphones. It's probably because of the small size of the cans themselves. The padding is obviously not enough, despite looking thick and soft. Nevertheless, I rarely wear them for more than an hour so it's not a big deal to me anymore.

Sound quality is what you care most about, right? I can say that the HD205 delivers in this area. I liked the clean and controlled bass -- sufficiently accurate and not overboosted. I hate the cheap boomy sounds that you get in less expensive headphones. Sure, some people want that, but I find it just washes out everything else and sounds unnatural. Sennheiser opted to take the un-equalized route and just pump out the sound correctly.

Mids and highs sound nice too. The highs are not as sharp as I'd like, but I think that they're still really good. It really brought some music to life -- lyrics were much improved across the board. Midrange performance was astonishingly good too, something I picked up on right away with guitar-heavy tracks. Rock & alternative is an absolute pleasure to listen to now, and I rarely need to adjust my EQ settings to enjoy anything.

Isolation from the outside world is acceptable as well. The HD205s block out most airplane hum, but some of the higher pitched background sounds still squeak through. But not bad for non-noise cancelling/isolating headphones. There's almost no leakage into the environment, so the guy next to you on the train probably won't hear your stupid Cindy Lauper music.

Sennheiser kind of blew it on comfort in my book. This is probably because of the smaller cans, something done for looks more than performance. Fortunately, the drivers are pretty good given the price and most people will be very happy with the sound quality for music and movies.

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