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Sennheiser HD201 Impressions

post #1 of 41
Thread Starter 
These are my impressions on the Sennheiser HD201 headphone.

My listening has been done using a Mhdt labs Paradisea+ NOS dac with WE396A fed into a WooAudio WA6 headphone amp with 274B. These headphones belong to my dad and we have had them for about a year now. A quick check on bhphoto.com shows that these sell for a whooping 20$us.

Sound
The first thing that jumps out at me is just how incredibly detailed these headphones are. I’ve heard headphones going for a few hundred dollars that didn’t have the detail that these headphones have. I am truly impressed. I think this is at least in part due to the fact that these headphones are closed.

They also present a surprisingly spacious soundstage, especially for their price! I don’t get much vertical soundstage, but there is a noticeable depth happening. That’s more than can be said about most of the headphones in this price category.

One thing that I did not particularly like about the HD201 is how they present vocals. Vocals edge on the sibilant side. They also lack the lushness that other headphones can give.

The HD201 edge on the neutral to semi-bright side. I would classify them as being on the dry side of things. The bass is there and controlled. I never get the feeling that there is too much bass weight. The mids are there, but they lack a smooth sound that I am fond of. At times there is a little distortion creating a ‘cave’ effect to the mids, but this is the norm for budget closed headphones. It’s there, but it is not very pronounced. The highs are not present to the point where they become tiring for me, which I appreciate.

I do not find the need to apply any EQ. These headphones are quite neutral. My biggest quibble is that the mids sound ever so slightly distorted and in general dry. This is in absolute terms. Now considering that these retail for 20$us, I can’t think of a more neutral budget headphone.

Build Quality
These headphones are plastic and lightweight. They feel ok for daily use, but I would not feel comfortable throwing them into a bag with other heavy things inside of it. The cable is quite long and thin. It looks like the cable is not detachable. If these headphones would be used for a portable setup, something would need to be done to wrap up the excess cable.

Comfort
They are fairly comfortable owing to the fact that they are very light and do not have much clamping pressure. The ear pads go around my ears, not on them. The fake leather ear pads are stiff, but they don’t seem to bother me. I have hair, so I have no complaints with the headband. For fake leather, the ear pads remain relatively cool.

Misc
I was surprised at just how much I needed to crank up the volume on my amp to drive these little things!!! They require more volume than my HD580. Because of this they might not be the best choice for some low power portable sources.

They are closed headphones and attenuate the outside sound a little, but they still leak in a fair amount. If someone talks to me in the room I can hear them. I would not use these on a plane or in a noisy environment.

Conclusions
So, these are an entry level hifi headphone that can be had for 20$us. Light, somewhat comfy, quite detailed, neutral sounding… At 20$, these are very nice!

I would not use these for a portable setup. I would also not get these in the hopes to isolate myself from noisy environments.

I highly recommend the HD201 to people looking for a neutral and detailed headphone, perhaps for budget music editing / mixing or monitoring. Personally I would choose these over the AKG K240 monitoring headphones. They also would be a nice little thing to plug into a guitar amp or electric piano, etc.
I would also recommend these as a nice little budget computer headphone. Especially for gaming on a budget, where detail and soundstaging is very important. I think these would make a very nice gift for a teenager who enjoys playing computer games but who has not tried headphones.

Some pics:






As always, feel free to post any questions or comments.
I hope this was helpful,
~Drew
post #2 of 41
Have you tried the AKG 240 with the Wa 6? And you are the second person whom has stated these cans being somewhat power hungry...intriguing for a can of entry level.
post #3 of 41
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trav View Post
Have you tried the AKG 240 with the Wa 6? And you are the second person whom has stated these cans being somewhat power hungry...intriguing for a can of entry level.
Hello Trav. I had the AKG K240M about a year ago for a month or so. Back then, I was driving them off of my HeadAmp GS-1 or Gilmore Lite. I forget which I had back then. They were fed with a mhdt labs constantine USB+.

I really wasn't impressed with them, even for the 40$ that I spent.

About the hard to drive part, I am shocked as well! Especially since they are rated at 24ohms. I don't know what to make of it.
post #4 of 41
It should be noted that the HD201 are only decent sounding if you amp them. Straight out of a DAP or CDP, they are pretty bad. I find it strange that Senn would make a $20 that is so inefficient. But anyway, if you amp them they are good for the money.
post #5 of 41
You definitely drove them with nice equipment...still scratching my head over the 201 thing...amping a $20 hp....good for the money....scratches head again
post #6 of 41
FWIR the HD201 works well with a Fiio amp, probably a good sub $50 option.
post #7 of 41
Thx for the write-up=o.

Are there any other headphones you can compare these to? Thank you!!
post #8 of 41
I used to have a pair of HD201. The closest match to these would be the K240DF. HD201 only fails in treble presentation - too much sibilance destroys cymbal tones. Soundstage is the last thing I'd expect from 20$ closed headphones, so don't look for much there.
Btw, these little headphones have lots of bass hidden inside. They have a small cup inside covering driver back (only seen when fully disassembled). If you drill some holes in it you would get an enormous bass boost.
post #9 of 41
Nice review! I agree with pretty much all of it. The HD201 is unkustly dismissed by many because if is so neutral and doesn't have the over-emphasis on bass that so many budget headphones have.

The cable went on my pair and it wouldn't be economic to replace but I will be ordering a replacement, so I agree care is needed for portable use.

They do sound better with an amp but there is no need for a high end one. They sound pretty sweet out of an iPod with a budget portable amp such as a little dot micro.

Simon
post #10 of 41
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by denl82 View Post
Thx for the write-up=o.

Are there any other headphones you can compare these to? Thank you!!
My plan is to also write up my impressions for the Sennheiser PX100 and the Koss KSC75. I also have a access to an HD457 which I may try as well. I used to have the HD497, but sadly it has been way too long since I have heard them (plus I no longer have them).
post #11 of 41
great review it has to be said. However I always feel that buying the HD202 headphones is money better spent.
post #12 of 41
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by captian73 View Post
great review it has to be said. However I always feel that buying the HD202 headphones is money better spent.
Wish I had one on hand to compare the two.
post #13 of 41
I am afraid I can't fully agree. They're nice for the money but I wouldn't call the bass 'controlled' and wouldn't call the HD201 detailed at all. They sound pretty muffled to my ears.
post #14 of 41
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by apatN View Post
I am afraid I can't fully agree. They're nice for the money but I wouldn't call the bass 'controlled' and wouldn't call the HD201 detailed at all. They sound pretty muffled to my ears.
One of the benefits of sourcing a 20$ headphone with 1400$ worth of upstream equipment. ^_^
post #15 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by gtp View Post
It should be noted that the HD201 are only decent sounding if you amp them. Straight out of a DAP or CDP, they are pretty bad. I find it strange that Senn would make a $20 that is so inefficient. But anyway, if you amp them they are good for the money.
Agreed about the HD 201.

However, I also found a lot of non-earbud headphones priced under $25 retail to be inefficient, as well: Most of those not only sound pretty bad on their own, but they also require a rather huge amp just to produce adequate loudness levels.
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