Originally Posted by postrock
I haven't heard the PX-200 II so I can't comment, but Katun's impression is something I haven't heard much. Most people have given them at least a favorable review. But I'm intrigued because I know he is a big fan of the PX-100 II. Have you read this one?:
Mike's review is pretty well-done (although his English is not the best, I think he's from Singapore) and he compares the two Senns. I'm inclined to differ with him overall in regards to his shootout. He rated the V-Jays as the best, over the PX-100 II and AIAIAI Tracks, and seems to prefer the PX-200II over the PX-100II. It's a good review though and he did some nice photos.
I'd glanced at it a while back. But as I wasn't even remotely in the market for a pair of portables back then, it was a cursory glance at best. Just went back and read the full shootout a few moments ago and I'd have to say that it was a bit sparse in terms of isolated (non-comparison) impressions on the PX 200-II. Because I haven't heard the previous incarnations of the PX 100 and PX 200, or the newer PX 100-II for that matter, it can be a bit difficult trying to find out what he's on about.
From my point of view, the PX 200-II is fairly well-balanced in terms of its overall presentation, in the sense that I would not characterize it as swinging either dark or bright. I also wouldn't call it full or lush. Seems that there are certain recesses in the transition from mid-bass to mids, and in the transition from mids-to-highs as well. I would assume that this is why Mike detected the "forward upper mids". I find the mids to be neither forward nor laid back - just slightly accentuated by virtue of being well-bracketed by recesses.
I certainly agree with him in that these are not bright (not at all as per my tastes). I think he's spot on there. So while I'm fine with this unit for many genres, I wouldn't grab this on the way out on those days that I pine for something acoustic. And because of this, I don't find them particularly lively or engaging - certainly not enough to say that they've got the "perfect amount of liveliness". They are what they are, a very even keel pair of ultra portables that have clearly inherited the Sennheiser legacy of balanced presentation.
It's like the plaintive guy at a party - neither an interesting conversationalist nor the life of the party, but equally non-offensive as to never be off-putting. So I do appreciate it on that level, and can easily recommend it to non-bassheads and non-head-fiers that just want something ridicuously light for mainstream/Top 40 stuff.
I would like to add that - despite being closed back - I found the isolation wanting. It's pefectly fine for walking about town, but rather poor for public transit (rail in particular).
On a sidenote, I think it showed a bit of poor form throwing the HD 238's hat in the ring, but whatevs. It was his party, and he got to choose who crashes it so...
Originally Posted by postrock
I'm curious to know if your take on the K422 is similar to my review of the K430 in this roundup. I would think the fabric lining on the earpads is more comfortable than the "pleather" on the K430. Do you find them tight or uncomfortable? That was my biggest complaint on the K430, otherwise I liked the sound a lot.
In terms of form factor and packaging, the K422 is similar in many respects to the K430 (as well as other AKG portables) It utilizes the same 3D-axis bails, rubber-overmolded metal headband, and it seems to share the same semi-open back that the K420 sports. Even the packaging is the same - right down to the box-of-crackers opening mechanism. However, unlike the K430, the cord is not single sided, there is no volume control, and all I got was a nylon sack. Clearly AKG intended for this to be a bit lower on the rung than the K430. Now, about the pads...
Believe it or not, the pads were the single most important factor to me in making this purchase. Well to be fair, the price helped as well ($20 each via a one-day-deal posted in the Deals Thread). In any case, I wasn't too keen on the K420's foam pads (or foam pads in general for that matter). I'm more accepting of pleather pads, but I do ready myself for the eventual heat and moisture build-up. So when I saw the mesh cloth pads, I easily jumped on the deal. And I'm glad I did.
For me, the pads solve two issues. Firstly, the breathable fabric is incredibly comfortable. I was out and about with them on this weekend in Los Angeles. For those outside the country, we had a heat wave here in the States this weekend. Many people died from it. Yet I remained quite comfortable indeed. I did sweat a bit as not everywhere we went was air conditioned, and the K422 trapped none of that perspiration. I was a bit worried that they would soak up sweat and render the unit a soaked mess. Nope, that didn't happen. The synthethic mesh appears to be somewhat moisture resistant as well. And while I've read at least one impression that found the cloth scratchy, I'd have to say that it did not bother me in the slightest (certainly not as much as foam pads would have).
Secondly - and you'll like this - the pads are ridiculously plushy. The fabric seemed to be engorged with a generous amount of soft and pliable cushioning material. As a result, the clamping force felt much more akin to being snug and tight. YMMV depending on your particular cranial width, but I noticed little to no pressure-related discomfort. I would think that the metal headband would lend itself to a little bookshelf speaker stretching, so even those with wider heads could probably mitigate much of whatever discomfort they would experience.
Sound-wise, I do rather fancy these. They have the same wide soundstage characteristic of AKG's house sound. The bass extended much deeper than I thought it would, though it was somewhat boomy. The highs were good as well, carrying a good level of detail, and falling just short of that sparkling/glittery quality that I like. The mids were most definitely not recessed. They were fairly forward (though not irritatingly so) with just a slight bit of warmth in the lower mids.
And, for a semi-open, cloth-covered pair of portables, the K422 acquitted itself admirably in terms of sound leakage. I was originally worried that I might offend others around me when in public. I asked a few people around me if the sound from my headphones bothered them. I was met with quizzical looks that seemed to indicate people didn't know what I was talking about. That was a good sign. In terms of isolation, it fared less well. I could clearly hear my surroundings as city sounds mixed into the soundtrack of my life. A rather curious and interesting experience I assure you. I didn't mind it so much, but if you're looking for as much isolation as you can get with your portability, these aren't for you.
Overall, I am smitten with the K422 as a pair of portables and would easily recommend them to anyone looking for a pair of portables where isolation is not a factor. I am kicking myself that I did not pick up more as possible gifts.
OT: I had thought about attempting a postrock-esque write-up, but the above just about covers the major points. Plus any such attempt would be an homage at best - a poor imitation of sorts.
Originally Posted by postrock
Finally, YES I do lower my expectations when reviewing compact portables. They are what they are and maybe the very best can compete with full-size cans, but holding them to those standards is not realistic. I do think any respectable Head-Fi'er should own at least one set of compact portables that meets their tastes. They're fairly inexpensive, fun, lightweight, and portable! I would never take my better full-size phones with me when I'm out and about or traveling.
I agree exactly. Full listening enjoyment would entail a portable amp as well. An while such a setup would not be outside the realm of what is possible, it is most definitely not preferred. Just the impedance in mobility and concern over possible damage is enough to put me off. I understand that I lose a lot with portables, and that I certainly won't be doing any critical listening until I am home again, but that's a cost I am willing to incur. And there's the added upside that I will be more fleeting should a spontaneous zombie outbreak occur.