One day as I was searching for "stuff" in Amazon I came across a can that in the big scheme of things was quite inexpensive. Since I already had another inexpensive closed back can I purchased it to see how well or not they would compare. In the back of my mind I also contemplated comparing these two "cheap" cans with one that costs significantly more to see if it is really "worth it". I hope I do not offend anyone with what I heard but I was very surprised that so much FUN can be had for so little and realized we are too engrossed on the latest and greatest (expensive usually) and do not give an opportunity/chance to the lower priced gear. Perhaps since many of us can be snobs at times in our attempt to keep up with the Joneses. Anyway I hope you enjoy the following impressions and take them in the light of pure entertainment in which they are given. Cheers!
I have not had this much fun in a long time! These are really inexpensive cans which can be obtained for under $25 each including S&H (unless you want the Panasonic in white or black).
Both cans sounded like KRAP when first hooked up, and they both changed although IMO the Panasonic benefit the most from the burn-in. BTW, 100 hours was the sweet spot and I could not detect any major differences beyond although I let them reach 200 hours.
Looks wise I prefer the Panasonic. Although the rail system (headband) is finicky and does not stay put so you have to adjust it occasionally. At first I found the pressure a bit too much but a very slight stretch of the rails made the Panasonic quite comfortable (unless you have big ears). The Senn looks ok and the earpieces stay put, however I found that although in the beginning the fit was not as good with head time they settle into a comfortable fit. I should add that depending on the shape of your head/ears either of these two cans may present a challenge to fit you properly. In the worst case you could re-sell them at an slight loss or keep them as “beater cans”.
The Panasonic is the easier can to drive. As a norm I had to increase the volume pot about “1/2 an hour” to bring the Senn to the same volume level. If you plan to use either on the go I would use the Panasonic since it has a much shorter cable and are smaller in size.
I could not leave things along for too long, specially since I felt I heard a bit of an echo with the Panasonic. So, I made a template of the inside of the cup and opened her up and placed dynamat on both the inside of the cup as well as bit or a round section on the back of the magnet. To my ears the echo is gone and although the bass goes as deep as before it is not as prevalent nor as boomy as before.
Next I place a bit of cotton in the space inside the cups. However the sound sounded muffled and the treble extension was reduced so I removed it. BTW, both of this modifications were done after the cans had about 110 hours of burn-in and head on time. In other words I felt there was not going to be any further changes brought on by burn in and I also new its stock sound signature.
Well now that I have lived with both cans for a few days after they were both fully burnt in and modified with the addition of the dynamat I can say ... that I can’t truly decide. I mean the HD 201 is the more precise can and the one that most accurately reproduces the music. It is overall the more comfortable of the two and one that for about $23 delivered is a major bang for the buck!
The Panasonic’s sound stage is narrower and not very deep. The sound is in your face with a certain loss of clarity and detail. The bass although much more controlled with the addition of the dynamat is still quite present, the top end is not as extended. You would think that based on these observations it would be a can I would just want to throw away but ... it is just so much FUN to listen to music with that I just want to keep them on.
So in closing if you are looking for a fun can easy to carry without spending a lot of money the Panasonic will fit the bill nicely. If on the other hand you want a more accurate and proper sounding can to keep around the house the Senn would be the way to go. It would certainly be fun if others bought these two cans and compared them for themselves followed by posting their impressions.
PD: I decided to compare both cans to an Audio Technica ATH-ESW9 which in a way is very crazy since these have an MSRP about five (5) times higher. Interestingly enough I found the overall sound signature of the Audio Technica to be closer to the Panasonic. The bass, soundstage, depth, and overall presentation are quite close. The Audio Technica does have a better top end extension, clarity, and detail.