Sennheiser HD 25-1 II

A Review On: Sennheiser HD 25-1 II Professional Headphone

Sennheiser HD 25-1 II Professional Headphone

Rated # 2 in On-Ear
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Review Details:
Audio Quality
Comfort
Design
Value
Purchased on:
Price paid: $175.00
Tilpo
Posted · 1800 Views · 10 Comments

Pros: Relatively cheap, indestructible, good comfort, nice bass impact, good isolation

Cons: Bad soundstage, spikey treble, annoying cable

Sennheiser HD 25-1 II Review


Introduction
I bought these headphones about a year ago to enjoy my music with decent isolation, comfort and sound quality on my portable rig. I was very satisfied with them, and have been up until I got my IE80's. The IE80's are simply better in terms of sound quality and portability. However, these cans are still absolutely awesome in other aspects.

Before I'm going to do away with my trustworthy HD 25-1 II's, I thought it'd be worth the effort to write a review about them. I tried to keep this review short and clear, without leaving anything out. I'd like to think I succeeded, but like always I kindly ask for your input.


Listening setup
I wrote the sound quality impressions collectively from several setups:
Galaxy Note -> HD 25-1 II
Galaxy Note -> AMB Mini3 -> HD 25-1 II
Audio-GD NFB-12 -> HD 25-1 II
Audio-GD NFB-12 -> AMB Mini3 -> HD 25-1 II

If there is one thing I noticed from these comparisons, it'd be that this can is the furthest from picky; whatever you drive it from it'll be very near it's full potential. It has crazy high sensitivity as well, and I found myself listening to it one an airplane directly out of my phone or iPod with no need for extra volume.

I compared it to my IE80 primarily, but also did detailed comparisons with my HD650 and SR-202. I won't list the comparisons themselves, but rather what I found out through comparing them. If you're looking for the comparisons shoot me a PM.


Pictures




Build quality
The build quality of this can is legendary -- and rightfully so. There is simply no way you're going to break them, even if you tried. And if you're particularly vandalistic, you can still replace every single part of this headphone. They feel light in your hands, and are relatively small too. This makes them perfect for chucking them in your backpack.
These are labelled as professional DJ headphones, and are in fact used a lot by (famous) DJ's all over the world. And from a durability point of view I can definitely see why.


Cable & accessories
The cable is extremely good in terms of durability. The plug is very good in this regard as well, since it's right angled and very stiff. The included screw-on 6.3mm adapter is also very nifty.
However, there are a couple things which I don't like about this cable. For instance, while the cable never ties itself in knots, it does not stay straight either. It curls up awkwardly, which is not very pretty nor practical. Secondly the plug is too well-built; it is so stiff that it has destroyed multiple jacks of mobile devices, since it put too much stress on them. Eventually I started using this can with a 3.5mm extension cord just to relieve stress from my phone's jack, but this was a far from practical solution.

I personally bought the basic version, which only came with a 6.3mm adapter, and nothing else in terms of accessories. The complete version includes a pair of velour pads and a bag as well, but I doubt these are worth the extra price.

Not really an accessory, but I should also mention the swiveling ear cup. This is a feature meant of DJ's where they can swivel back one of the ear cups to hear the music from the headphones and speakers at the same time. I personally don't think this has much added value, since tilting the headphone works just as well. It also takes a bit of effort to get the fit perfect once you're swiveling it back to its original position.


Comfort
Comfort is surprisingly good. While the clamping force is still relatively high, I can comfortable wear them for several hours. They only start getting uncomfortable after the 3 hour mark, and more quickly if it's hot. They come with a split head band, and adjustable cups. There is a relatively comfortable cushion on the head band and the pads are quite comfortable too. Make no mistake -- these are far from as comfortable as a pair of full size cans like my HD650 or SR-202, but they are definitely not bad considering they're portable cans.

One annoying thing that should be noted is that it usually takes several seconds before I've found a comfortable fit. And putting the headphones on with only one hand is difficult, especially without practice. Though that's true for most headphones.


Sound quality
Overall I find this to be the most lacking area of the HD 25-1 II. For the price I'd like the sound quality to be a bit better, although all round they are decent enough for regular use by any audiophile.

Frequency response These cans have a recessed sub-bass, probably thanks to the small driver size. They are fairly flat in the mid-bass and mids, but have a recessed upper-mids/lower-treble with a massive spike at 10kHz. Overall I would describe these headphones as having a bit loose bass with a harsh treble, but with an overall feeling of neutrality.

Bass The bass packs quite a punch in terms of volume. More so than my HD650, but less than my IE80. The bass does sound a bit loose and uncontrolled, perhaps caused by the mediocre soundstage. In my experience these are well suited for electronic music, but aren't the best for things like conveying the energy of rumbling bass guitars with heavy distortion.
They do feel fairly neutral in terms of frequency response in the bass region. And for most smooth bass guitars used in rock they perform adequately.

Mids I find the mids to be decent with male and female vocals, and in general acceptable with piano, reed instruments and horns. Not too much to say about the mids since they sound fairly normal and neutral.

Treble One of the worst factors of the HD 25-1 II. Female vocals can sound a bit harsh when high pitched, cymbals sound tinny and just weird in general, they have noticeable sibilance, and are sonically fatiguing due to their harshness. The huge 10kHz thump in the FR can probably account for all of this, and I have found that EQ'ing helps to tame this beast. It's performing sub par in this area in my experience, although I may be making it sound a lot worse than it is. It should also be noted that these do not sound bright, but rather just harsh.

Soundstage The second bad factor. The soundstage is fairly small. Instruments sound like large sound sources, and are poorly separated. In the more chaotic passages all the sound is clumped up into one big ball. There is hardly any sense of distance either.
This is probably the same for most portable cans, and perhaps I'm spoiled by comparing to my IE80 and SR-202, but I do feel that this is the can's weakest area along with the harsh treble.


Conclusion
Overall these cans are pretty neutral. They do lack in energy, soundstage and treble. For the money they are pretty decent. But I wouldn't get them just for the sound quality; I'm sure there are better alternatives at this price. The fact that it's indestructible, portable and isolating are its main selling points.
They are pretty good value, but not if you go by sound alone.

10 Comments:

I would'n call them "neutral", personally I think they are aggressive. However, I totally agree with you on their soundstage and, specially, the highs.
i find the spike in the highs to not be an issue..and sometimes it can be fun. main reason i don't find it an issue is because it seems (in the music i listen to, which ranges from hip-hop to coldplay to the beatles) that the spike is very selective, and that not very many percussive sounds fit into the spike. i have found that very few tracks (no i don't use crappy quality files) have a note that fits into that spike...so i rarely notice it. personal experience though...also i find most of the other high frequencies to actually be laid back..and i have found that most frequency response graphs reflect that statement...other than the peak which is very noticeable.
Try washing the pads if you wan't them more comfortable.
I agree with this review except applying it to the Amperior. I haven't A/B-ed them in person, but from what a lot of people say and from the charts at Innerfidelity.com, they are pretty darn similar in sound. I found the upper mids lacking, making female vocals and the "hit" of a cymbal hollow-sounding. That ~10 kHz spike really annoyed me when I was listening to rock and some electronic music tracks. The mid bass was thumping awesome though.
@PalidaMors
Define 'aggressive'. I have no idea what you mean by that, since the term is used rather ambiguously.
Compared to both my HD650 and SR-202 they do sound fairly neutral.

@mattkat0410
Have you tried more high-end headphones? Listening to the HD 25-1 II without comparison to other headphones it didn't bother me all that much either, except for the sibilance. However, if I compare it to my beloved full-sizers, I notice that the cymbals are seriously lacking quite a bit on pretty much all tracks.

@Sweden
I never said they were uncomfortable
@Tilpo
By 'aggressive' i refer to a can with a forward presentation and bright sound, which is how they sound to me.
I wouldn't really call them bright. But I do agree on the forward presentation.

(I'm sure I posted this comment a couple hours ago, but it doesn't show for some reason)
Is it that borin?
This was definitely one of the best reviews here. A good critical but fair review that is accurate. This headphone has a legion of loyal followers...and should, but it is no longer the best sounding headphone out there, not that it ever was. Nor is it bad. Its just that people must bear in mind this is an old headphone. I agree the build is the number one feature. It is rare today to get a well made and durable headphone at any price unfortunately this is the state of todays electronics. Frankly, I think its ridiculous how fragile things are made today and I swear this is intentional. At least if you buy the HD25 you will have it working 3 years from now. Good luck with any other product. Actually, if reviewed based on what its intended use, I would give the sound better marks as its made for noisy environments on DJs to field techs. You need a forwrd sound and dont need soundstage.
I cannot believe what Amazon wants for it now.