Thanks to @PhillyD, I was told of a pair of Sennheiser headphones was available on Massdrop. They just came in and I thought I’d give my initial thoughts.
Now, if you want the fancy technical specs, then please see Head-Fi’s forums for more details. I’m going to be giving a light overview.
First off, let’s look at appearance. These have a very “studio monitor” type look to them and certainly look more professional than say a pair of Beats by Dre. They have velvet cups which feel amazing on the ear. This is in comparison to leatherette on a lot of other earphones. That said, I expect them to get dirty quickly as a result of wear and use. If you’ve ever owned velvet anything, then you know that getting a stain in it is pretty much game over. The cans completely cover my ear and the top band isn’t that tight (helpful if you have a widehead or just don’t like your ears being squeezed). The top foam is in two parts, which is what it is.
How about feel? They feel like plastic. No way around that. These aren’t Meze’s. I feel like I could easily snap the plastic on the can near the cup, which might cause issues if you toss them in a backpack. It doesn’t feel fragile per se, but I think if I drop it a few times, then it’ll crack. The straps are steel. The edges could be smoother, but they aren’t sharp by any means. The included cable is heavy! I don’t see this as a bad thing as I’m sure we all have cheap earbuds where the speakers are good, but the cable breaks apart. The left and right lines have a diameter of 3mm (compared to the 1mm thickness on a pair of skullcandy ink’d). The headband feels sturdier, but I didn’t feel comfortable flexing it that much.
Finally, sound! Now I first have to admit my bias. I am not a fan of head massages (heavy bass). I feel like bass is easy to do and I look down on Beats by Dre for being glorified head massagers. I want to hear my vocalists and high range. Depending on who you ask, you might want to “burn in” your headphones (i.e. let them run with music playing for so many hours), but since I just got them, I haven’t gotten a chance to do that. I am listening to flac and wav files going through my desktops onboard soundcard (Audio device: Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. [AMD/ATI] SBx00 Azalia (Intel HDA) (rev 40)) without an amp or anything special:
How does Classical sound?
- CPE Bach’s Flue Concertos. It is a little heavy in the bass. I can hear the flutes, but they don’t stand out as much as I’d like.
- Likewise on Vivaldi’s The Storm Movement II.
- Verdi’s Requiem — Libre Me. Angela Gheorghiu’s vocals don’t stand out in Verdi’s Requiem and the midranges on sound muddled.
- Gregorio Allegri – Miserere mei, Deus. Quiet and that falsetto doesn’t ring like it should.
- Sarah Brightman — Pie Jesu. My last test is for the living angel Sarah Brightman’s Pie Jesu and I just don’t like the sound.
What about Jazz? Well, I don’t own too many Jazz albums, but I feel it’s important to test.
- De-Phazz — Cut the Jazz. Sounds good, but a little too bass-y for me. Vocals sound like they should.
- Gotan Project — Celos. This is a beautiful song and really shows how good of a genre this can be. Again, heavy on bass, but warm vocals
- Lorenzo Trujillo & The Soul Circus. Could be brighter. Period.
Metal is a lovely genre because of how technical pieces can get. It tends to incorporate elements of classical which is always nice.
- Muse — Reapers. Snare and high hat sound like they are in a different room in the beginning. Vocals are fine.
- Deftones — Adrenaline Album. It’s okay. Nothing to write home about.
- Dream Theater — The Glass Prision. It’s okay.
- Dream Theater — The Dance of Eternity. I had to do this, because I’d get raked across the coals for not doing this Dream Theater classic. I was mostly interested in Ruddess’s Keyboard Solo. It didn’t pop like I wanted it to.
- Dan Mumm — Toccata and Fuge in D Minor. Guitar is muted by background instruments.
Punk is one of the genres that I listen to the most, so I better get some enjoyment out of here. 🙂
- Armor for Sleep — Car Underwater. Sounds right. Can’t complain.
- Chidos — Hey Zeus! The Dungeon. Everything is covered by the drums.
- Forgive Durden — Il Tango Della Signora Francesco di Bartolommeo di Zanobi Del Giocondo. Need more vocals.
- Fall Out Boy — West Coast Smoker. Patrick Stump’s voice seems to be in the sweet spot of these earphones.
- Paramore — crushcrushcrush. Haley sounds good, but the bass needs to drop.
- The Cab — One of THOSE Nights. The guitar stands out in an annoying way with it’s simple riff. This is something that I’ve never noticed in the song before.
- The Dear Hunter — The Color Spectrum Black EP. I heard some parts of the song that I’ve never heard before, so that’s neat!
- Jonny Craig — What I Would Give To Be An Australian. Someone who is in my vocal range. Good mixing by the studio and it is replicated here
Any other music that I thought might be worth a listening to.
- Campo — Tuve Sol. Guitar strums sound very nice.
- The Reign of Kindo — Out of Sight Out of Mind. This is always awkward as you have a better sound quality on their YouTube Channel, so I decided to go with that instead of my own copy. A lot of the instrumentation can easily be heard and what I call a “Wall of Sound” isn’t as strong on a pair of modified headphones. Note, what I call “Wall of Sound” is different than the traditional definition, so sorry Beatles fans.
- Sergei Tumas — Libertango. The trumpet sounds nice and so does the synth.
- Josh Ritter — Another New World. The French Horns sound amazing! He voice stands out (like it should..)
At $150, this is a good pair of earphones; however, I’ll certainly be getting some polyester filling to dampen the bass a lot. This is hands down my biggest complaint about it. They are a steal at sub $100, so check on eBay for second hand. They are leagues above what most people use, so my criticisms are not from the sub $50 range (most of what you find at WalMart or Target), so keep that in mind when reflecting on this review.
You can purchase them here (AFFILIATE LINK!)