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Just bought a used Sennheiser HD414 Classic also known as the 50th Anniversary edition for 50 bucks.

 

This is not the original 2000ohm version or the 600ohm variant. The box and accompanying papers rate it at 52ohms.

 

I've read a few threads on the HD414, though these are few and far between. Most people say this 50th Anniversary model is not similar to the original version. Many also say that its the 'lousier' version. Oh well, for 50 bucks how can I complain . Some also complain that these cans are very bright. Well let's find out:

 

Note: Please understand these are my impressions - my POV, to my ears etc. and that these impressions are valid for the time being and only with the music listed below. I find that sometimes, especially with lower end cans, my impressions might change after more time is spent with them.

 

Firstly, these cans are incredibly comfortable. Light as air. The bare bones, almost austere structure helps I guess. No fancy razzmatazz 3D gravity defying spring loaded technology. Honest to goodness and simple. I like that. I've only had them on for a short while so a longer listening session would be more conclusive. But for now, things are looking good on the comfort front. 

 

For the past 40 minutes or so, I've been listening to various pieces from Sonny Rollins' Way Out West, John Coltrane's Giant Steps, Miles Davis' Bitches Brew, Bill Evans' Waltz for Debby, Gene Ammons' Boss Tenor, Charles Mingus' Mingus at Antibes and Wes Montgomery's Full House. I know the selection of music might not serve as a good reference for many people out there, but I have to listen to some of my old favourites before I hit the other records late. I do apologize.

 

Treble

 

I'm surprised but these cans aren't as bright as some people have made them out to be, to my ears at least. In comparison, the Grado SR60, which I recently listened to, was a fair bit brighter. Treble detail is surprisingly present in relatively decent amounts. It also doesn't suffer from the slightly shrill and forward treble region that the Grado SR60 puts out. Mind you, treble on the HD414 is slightly forward, but not as much as the SR60 and definitely not as much as the Sony MDR-7506.

 

Upside: Decent treble detail for the price, not very shrill and fatiguing as other cans in the price range

Downside: I don't hear every single nuance, inner detail and texture like I have with higher end cans. But again, for the price, absolutely no complaints.  

 

Mid-range

 

The Grado also had a very accentuated mid-range which made instruments like trumpets and tenor saxes hitting the higher notes a tad painful. The HD414, does have a slightly grainy and forward mid-range but to these ears they are much more bearable. Actually I quite like the way the HD414 renders the mid-range, not the last word in neutrality and balance, but it does present this part of the sound spectrum in a pleasing manner that isn't boring. They can be produce pretty engaging mids actually, without being too in-your-face and fatiguing.

 

Upside: Good balance between engaging and polite, quite euphonic and enjoyable

Downside: A bit grainy at times, not the last word in resolution and neutrality, but decent nonetheless

 

Bass

 

Ok many said these were bass light. I don't find that to be true, at least not for Jazz. But I would have to admit that the bass region is where don't fare too well. The HD414 suffers from a serious lack of bass detail retrieval. Mingus' double bass lines become muddy and unclear. I can't discern the difference between the various notes being played, they kinda fuzz and mesh together. Again not as bass as the usual lower-end cans currently in production. But still a problem. Kinda reminded me of the Grado SR60 here. I found bass on the SR60 to also be a little fuzzy and unclear. 

 

Upside: Well at least it doesn't go booom, booom, booooooommmmm 

Downside: Fuzzy and unclear, lacks bass detail

 

Bottom Line:

 

Honestly this version of the HD414 sounds like a PX100 that has been tuned - bass quantity decreased and mid-range + treble brought slightly forward - to appease my sonic preferences (mostly), with a slightly 'bigger' sound. I did some brief comparisons between the two after borrowing my brother's old PX100, and found this to be largely true. For the price and comfort, and decent SQ, I kinda like these cans. Not too shabby for an impulse buy on the local forums.

 

Yesterday, I spent quite a fair bit of time auditioning lower-end cans to hold me over till God's answer to perfect sound arrives in a month or so. I was sorely disappointed at what's available in the market right now. Coming from the ESW10JPN, which aren't exactly high end, I was kinda spoilt. I'm just glad that I picked something decent for a helluva low price.

 

Now time to wait for my higher-end-voodoo to arrive  so that I don't have to languish in the seedy underbelly that is lo-fi!


Edited by milesandcoltrane - 5/9/10 at 5:14am