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Sennheiser HD25-1 II vs Bowers and Wilkins P5 for Gaming

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 



I am interested in getting some headphones and have become fond of these two models. Music is a tad more important than gaming to me, but that may change and is not the deciding factor. I lean towards the Sennheiser HD25-1 II for music for the neutrality and balance I've read about, but like the B&W P5 for the style, size, comfort, and reviews posted by people who have let them wear in (it is supposedly a new ball game once used substantially). I am on the fence about this, but like I said, I am leaning towards the Sennheiser. What I am interested in is if either of these have impressive gaming performance. I play games like Skyrim, Fallout, and Starcraft II. If you are not familiar with these games, they have great soundtracks and benefit from clarity in vocals and sound effects. I may dabble in all genres of games, but these titles are my favorite. How might these headphones hold up? Am I hoping for too much?


Thanks so much!

post #2 of 13

I tried a pretty used demo model of the P5, so what I heard isn't the most accurate of perspectives, but I really disliked it. They looked hip and sturdy, but that's where it ends. The sound was tiny, like it was coming from far away. Plenty of bass, rolled-off highs and recessed mids. People have told me the P5 didn't sound like that at all to them, so I assume my experience might have been bad because of the fact that it's a continuous-play demo model.


To me the HD-25 1 ii just crushed the P5. I still think of them as the definition of a V-sound signature. They just sound really good and fun, and yet they have more detail than I'd expect. Also they isolated pretty well, the clamp might hurt after like 2 hours, but the cushions were pretty good. They seemed sturdy, even though they were plastic I doubt I could break them accidentally. I just had an overall feeling that someone spent a good amount of time thinking about the sound, instead of just the looks.

post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the reply. Do you think the HD25-1 II will offer anything to the gaming experience? I am also considering some in-ear monitors such as the Shure SE535 and the Sennheiser IE80. So far I really like what I am hearing about the HD25-1 II, and am hoping they are the portable headphones I am looking for. They certainly meet my music desires. I am just not sure that the versatility I am looking for is really out there. I would have liked the B&W to have better performance. Oh well.  

post #4 of 13

Well in gaming people often go with big closed headphones like Denons, or simply with open, because the soundstage supposedly helps you figure out where you're being shot from rolleyes.gif I don't think this is much of an issue since you play non-FPS games. I play Skyrim with my CALs and one thing that I really like is the bass extension. Right when the game is starting and the Bethesda logo appears, there's a really deep bass note and listening to it makes the headphones vibrate. The HD-25 1 ii are more of a mid-bass punchy headphone than a deep growling one, but they should improve your overall experience more. Also Skyrim's music is orchestral, which isn't something I'd initially pair with the HD-25 1 ii (I must admit I never tried). What I'm saying is they're not my first pick for gaming, simply because some thing are more indicated for it, but this doesn't mean they won't be great at it.

post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 

I am not looking for a dedicated gaming set. I have no headphones of any sort at the moment and need a pair. This is why versatility and portability are so important. Why would the HD25-1 II not pair with orchestral music? My music of choice would be bluegrass, which is acoustic. Would this lack of pairing carry to bluegrass?

post #6 of 13

Well that's where sound signatures come into play. A headphone isn't good or bad, it depends on what music you're using it with. In my opinion these usually pair well with most stuff, because unlike most V-shaped headphones these don't have recessed mids. But if you ask me if for this price these are the best thing you can get for acoustic music, I'd say no. You might miss some neutrality, which is what most orchestral listeners want and these are definitely not neutral They're great for stuff which relies a lot on synths and bass, but although they are good with everything else, there might be better options. I never had the pleasure of listening to a Grado, but maybe those would suit you better (although they're open) since they're said to be very rock-oriented.


If you wait, someone more experienced will post. I commented because I know the HD-25 1 ii pretty well and love them, but there are other options that are more versatile that do everything well.

post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 

Well I am very appreciative of any help I can get. I need to take another look, but I thought I read some in depth reviews that claimed the HD25-1 II to be neutral. I am a purist at heart in the technological world. I look for the most natural, accurate, and untainted or colored reproduction of audio and video. 


Also, I just stumbled upon the Sennheiser HD598 and although not an ideal portable set, these may hold great value for me. They also do not require an amp and can therefor be a portable set despite their size. 

Edited by crzycuyler - 4/20/12 at 3:37pm
post #8 of 13

Neutral isn't always the same as natural. Headphones lack the ability to reproduce the very low frequencies which we cannot hear, but we can feel through an effect called bone conductivity. I'm a believer in a neutral chain (source, DAC, amp) up to the headphones, where I find it fine to equalize or choose colored models to suit my taste.


The HD598 are pretty good for Rock. I remember them being warm. Consider that they're open, and so will leak a lot of noise and isolate badly, which will force you to crank up the volume. For portable it's really necessary that you go with IEMs or supra-aural (over-the-ear, like the HD-25), or at least closed circum-aural (around-the-ear). Look into the Shure SRH840 as well.

post #9 of 13
Thread Starter 


Let me lay things out a bit clearer...


Environment: I will be using the headphones at work, the university library, on walk to campus, and at home. 


Use: I will be using the headphones for music, computer games, and an occasional movie. The ratio for music to games usage is nearly 50/50, but my main concern is with music. I care more about my audio experience with music than with computer games, but do not want to suffer terribly in my gaming experience.


Purpose: To provide the most detailed audio without sacrificing a natural/accurate sound. I am very OCD when it comes to certain areas. I appreciate a balanced sound. I want to hear the most accurate reproduction of the recording. I am a very analytical and intellectual listener. I listen to tracks multiple times through to follow different instruments, rhythms, harmonies, and pick up on unique features. I sing, play guitar, play mandolin, and write music, and I like to hear the details behind what is occurring so that that I can grasp what the artist is doing. If theses descriptions make for a boring headphone, I could look for something a bit more fun, but I cannot stray far from these characteristics. 


Music: I listen to Punch Brothers, Iron and Wine,The Civil Wars, Glenn Hansard, The Frames, Nickel Creek, and anything Chris Thile, firstly. Secondly, I will on occasion listen to many genres consisting of The Raconteurs, Incubus, Matchbox Twenty, Jason Mraz, Jamie Cullum, John Mayer, Radiohead, and The White Stripes. 


Gaming: Games I play consist of Elders' Scrolls: Oblivion, Skyrim, Fallout 3, Starcraft II, Diablo, Guild Wars, Bioshock. I mostly don't play first person shooters. I love RPGs, and it just so happens that almost all the games I have mentioned have very unique and intricate soundtracks.


Summary: I may not know the best thing for me, but what I have concluded thus far is that I need a portable, isolating headphone for my use. Feel free to argue with me. I also believe I need a well balanced, versatile, accurate headphone. This would mean it does not lack significantly in anything. For game use, is bass important? 


Models considered thus far:

-Sennheiser HD 25-1 II - The talk of balanced sound, build quality, and isolating ability has excited me. I have not and will not be able to test them. I hear the bass is nice; this helps video games and some genres of music. I hear they are accurate; this fill my OCD craving. I hear they are detailed; this is the most important factor as I am VERY interested in hearing the minute details.

-B&W P5 - I know very little about these. I like the look. I've read they aren't very detailed, but that they have nice mids? This did not have substantial support. 

-Shure SE535 - I know very little about these, as well.

-Audio Technica ATH-ESW9A - I'm hoping that if the HD 25-1 II are not for me, that these will be. The pricing I display in a moment will explain this.. They are pretty attractive. I've read a few nice reviews, but they were few and very subjective. Advice here would be nice.

-Klipsch Image X10i - Someone recommended them before... that is all I know.

-Etymotic ER23-HF3-C - These were recommended and through research I read that they are very accurate IEM. I am not sure if this is a "very accurate for the price" statement, or if it is overall.

-AKG Q701 - Clearly not a portable or isolating headphone, but it is of interest. If it can support much better audio than the portables, then maybe sacrificing my portability and isolations may be worth it. I'll take a fantastic experience on regular occasion, rather than a pretty good one all the time. I've read the AKQ Q701 are pretty raved about for value, detail, balance, and bass. Any thoughts?

-Sennheiser HD650 or HD598 -  I know little of the differences, but my thoughts in this direction are near exact as the AKG Q701 thoughts. 


Final Vital tid bit: I work at Best Buy. I get employee discounts. They can be substantial. I also get the discount on replacement plans, and I can get 18 months no interest financing. Therefor, I am wanting to choose from the selection at Best Buy. 


Edited by crzycuyler - 4/30/12 at 1:56pm
post #10 of 13

I don't agree with the idea of trying very hard to have a completely neutral chain, I believe in being neutral all the way up and then using the last link (headphones) to have your specific coloring. Phenomenons like bone conduction mean that even a ruler-flat FR on a headphone won't be completely neutral to you (neutral vs natural). Of course I understand this is purely subjective and if it's what you want I'll try to help.


The HD-25 1 ii are not neutral. I've heard this before, but honestly to me they are the definition of a fun sound signature, and a very well accomplished one. They didn't feel like they had recessed mids, but that does not mean they're neutral. I still love them though.


I didn't like the P5. They're not analytical at all, and the bass made everything sound a bit recessed.


As for the Q701, a few people say they're bright (although warmer than the K701). I found them neutral and maybe warm. I wish I could have had more time with them, but from my fuzzy memory they seemed just right, the vocals were very natural. A solid bet for what you want. If you use a bit of equalizing these get really natural, there's a guide for the K701 around here that you might use as a starter point. But they need a good amp.

post #11 of 13
Thread Starter 

I really should split this into two categories. Portable vs Not-Portable. I feel like I may have concluded the same about the Q701, but I have not had it in me to eliminate portability and isolation. I am a college student and I spend a good deal of time in the library. Also, I'll be listening and gaming in the same room that my room mate will be watching television. So what is your opinion about  what to choose as a portable vs non portable or isolating vs open back? 


I truly appreciate your time. Don't feel pressured to answer everything. I wrote that long bit and copied it to a few other conversations, but you have been very helpful.

post #12 of 13
Thread Starter 

I've been recommended time and time again recently the AKG K550. I think I may pull the trigger. I am looking to see if someone thinks they can talk me out of it. 

post #13 of 13
Originally Posted by crzycuyler View Post

I've been recommended time and time again recently the AKG K550. I think I may pull the trigger. I am looking to see if someone thinks they can talk me out of it. 

Did you already make your purchase? I've owned the B&W P5s and Grado SR 225is for a few months now. I'm not a big gamer, although I've been nostalgic lately and I have been playing the Sega Dreamcast...biggrin.gif

Edited by davidsdiego - 5/19/12 at 9:19pm
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