Pros: Rhythm and pacing, overall musicality
Cons: Sennheiser "veiling" fairly prominent; cable broke at one year
This is a review of the Sennheirser HD 202 headphone. At the time of the review, the cans were at eleven months of near-continuous use. Bear with me, as this is only my second review on Head-Fi. With that, let's proceed.
The HD 202 is a circumaural, closed design with pleather pads. The primary construction material is some sort of plastic. The cans are very lightweight, which makes them quite comfortable, as the pads are very soft. Clamp pressure is moderate, in my view as is depth. That said, they are not very large in absolute terms and my ears touch the pads at times, rather than being totally enclosed by them. In this sense, the headphones are, for me, almost on-the-ear at times. Adjusting the cans is simple with a plastic slide that moves easily. Overall, for this price point, design is about as good as can be imagined. Just a note, too, that my cable broke recently and had to be fixed.
As I've said, comfort is quite good with these cans due to the light weight and the soft ear pads. No complaints here after nearly a year of use.
These cans are, first of all, burned in for nearly a year of constant use. I listen to rock, country, jazz, bluegrass, and edm. In general, I would characterize the sound of these cans as very musical. Are they the final word in transparency and detail? No, definitely not. Still, they manage to communicate the emotion of music in a fairly profound way. A good example of this is Britney Spears' Everytime, in which the vocals are, indeed, haunting, delicate, and beautiful. The emotion in her voice is perfectly communicated. Still, there are issues. For one, the treble is markedly rolled off on many recordings. Often, this manifests as difficulty hearing ride and hi-hat cymbals, while still being able to hear the crashes. On The Eagles' Heartache Tonight, this is particularly evident. Ditto on Judas Priest's Electric Eye, in which the hi-hat is severely recessed. That said, on some recordings, in which the ride and hi-hat are cranked up, they can be heard just fine. Sugarland's From the Beginning is one of these. This recording was mastered with hot ride and hi-hat, and they are therefore easy to hear on the HD 202. On most recordings, however, I would say that the treble roll-off on the 202 means ride and hi-hat are going to be difficult to hear. I don't like this, personally, but keeping price in mind, I am willing to live with it. Bass, in the main, is quite solid on the 202, if not the last word in detail, harmonically. On LZ's Immigrant Song, the bass is solid and present as a foundation for the tune, but it lacks the richness that is present with my 681 Evo's. Vibe 2's, or Crossfade m100's. Still, this song shows the 202's remarkable knack for rhythm and pacing and just plain musicality. I find myself tapping my foot constantly when listening to these cans. Ozzy's Devil's Daughter is another example of this foot-tappingness. I guess what I am saying is that these headphones just seem to rock. They convey the emotion of music very, very well, especially for their ridiculous price. Do they deliver on the nth degree of detail and soundstaging? Of course not. The soundstage is quite small here. Still, I am tapping my foot. They don't sound like headphones, they sound like music being played. And that is quite an accomplishment. Lastly, there is very much present in these cans the Sennheiser veiling, in which it sounds a bit like there is a veil or scrim or something similar between me and the music. There is an absolute reduction in transparency. This is quite noticeable when switching to my Evo's or the v-moda's, where this veiling just isn't present. Still, for the money, it is hard to complain. They are very musical and enjoyable cans with limitations one would expect at their price. They are just plain fun to listen to.
Overall, these are very enjoyable cans on which to listen to music. Their rhythm and pacing are excellent, even while there is some veiling present. It doesn't seem to get in the way of enjoying music on these cans. They are a remarkable achievement at this price and I recommend them highly. You may find more detailed cans in this price range, but I doubt you will find more musical headphones. These cans have music all over them.