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I want to first thank TheDeliveryMan of Sennheiser for providing me with this lent unit. They are about to re introduce the HD 215 Extreme DJ Sound headphones back into market after its introduction in 2005. I noticed there was a lack of real audiophile reviews of this and so let's kick it off with one!
Read the review here:
The builds on these are very simplistic, but very "efficient" in that despite some simple designs, it uses them to the up most performance. The headphone pads and driver units themselves are in a ball and socket kind of joint that works well for this kind of headphone. The plastics on the drivers are the regular kind of not hard but just very regular plastic. It doesn't have any glaring deficiencies. The build of the headphone is more or less 100% plastic for bar the drivers themselves of course. The sliding adjuster plastic however although it fits, does have a fair amount of play. It is thin and is different from the "outer" plastic they use. This is one of the key area's that an accident may happen on. The upper foam head pad is also a simple design of a puffy foam thing on a flat platform which it seems is then wholly glued to the top. There does not seem to be any play and is adequate. The material used in the pads of the driver units and head band seem to be similar. Not the most durable feeling outside but it does a good job, liquid resistant too if you know what I mean. Gross I know but it had to be mentioned. As we all perspirate.
The cable is a mostly coiled design leaving about 12 inches from the 3.5mm driver side connector base to the coiled part and 13 inches the other way around from the 1/4 adapter base to the coiled part. (approx) It isn't too long but isn't too short. When walking with them portably, they do go a bit low and is inconvenient. They do a fine job. Although the cable casing or plastic covering is a bit "hard" it has a more static crookedy form as you can see in the photo's where it doesn't really conform like spaghetti like in the SRH440.
As you may have noticed. The connector for the headphone uses a standard 3.5mm jack with a good opening. What keeps the cable secure is the jack's pins along with the more or less exact fit of the whole to provide friction using the hole and cable housing itself. You can thus of course do a bit of DIY and use your own custom cables if you wish as it is so simple. If the coiled design does not fit you, you can easily use your own straight cable be it a real cable or just a 3.5mm interconnect cable. You can mod or make the whole bigger if you choose to use more expensive cables but remember, any of this is at your own risk and voids the warranty. Keep in mind that a DIY or aftermarket cable may make it easier to pull the plug out of the headphones as the HD 215 uses frictional force of the exact hole size to make it nice and snug, although 3.5mm jacks tightness in general is fine for everyday purposes. This is at your own risk.
Isolation and leak:
This does an above job of isolating overal but don't count on it as a full isolating pair. The light plastic and pads do allow some sounds to get in, as well as out. IT is a manageable amount, but enough for someone nearby to tell that you are listening to Justin Beiber if you listen to it at a decent volume. Although at a decent mild volume, you can only tell what song it is if you are familiar with it as it is a bit faint, but enough for someone to know who it was when "baby! Baby , baby !NOOO" comes on.
Largely average. Not annoying or hard nor heavenly soft either. The light pads do provide a nice semi plush feel but it is a bit shallow.There are knobs on the driver edges that if your ears move to it, it may feel them as well. Generally during first usage your ears will sweat when using a new headphone but after you get over the sweating period, you can wear these for 2-3 hours approx.
These come with a unique swivel feature for DJ users. IT only allows swivel on the right headphone driver unit which includes the lower arm swivelling as well. Don't try to swivel the left one. The swivel accompanies those that prefer the right ear open but the left can be left open as well...awkwardly.. Bend it backwards toward the back of your head almost fully and it rests on your hair well and your right ear is open. It moves back into place easily as well. IT makes a click when it does but it has a nice area middle section that you basically know is the middle state. To get your left ear open, you swivel it back as well, but you hold the right ear in place and swivel it. When this happens, the headband is to the back of your head and left pad along with wire directly above your left ear....a bit uncomfortable and very goofy looking but it works.Not as easy as it may seem to swivel it, it makes you make some uncool gestures(something you dont' want to do while DJ'ing) and does has some resistance and you don't want to snap the plastic
Left ear open: Very goofy and can get uncomfortable above the left ear
Right ear open :default
In the Box:
In the box it is very plain, a headphone with cable already attached, a 1/4 inch adapter and lastly a carying bag. No pamphlet or anything fancy. Unboxing video is below.
Personally made Unboxing video.
The big section you have all been waiting for! I am a very universal listener. Not exotic in artists but univeral in genres. I listen to the popular artists or songs of many genres. For example, Bach and Mozart, Linkin Park and Rise Against, Nickleback(say what you want), Owl City, Katy Perry, Lil Wayne, Eminem, Nelly, LAdy Gaga, Disturbed, Nightwish, Slipknot, Dragonforce, Drowning pool, Adele, Girls Generation, AKB48, 2NE1, TM Revolution, FLOW, Skrillex, Pendulum, xKore, Deadmou5. Etc.
Good highs for a studio product. They are neither harsh or over apparent. They are "visible" to the listener, but sometimes it goes by unnoticed. The HD215's do give you the highs you need but they don't make them in your face or look here half the time. This is both favored and unfavored, depending from person to person. Some very high frequency parts of songs will just display the high frequency generally without getting harsh or "lost" and or have trouble keeping it without making your head hurt from the over apparency of the headphone trying to give them major attention. They aren't the cleanest highs I have heard though but at this price point I am not complaining. There is a barricade in the highs that although they are nice, they have an invisible plateau that to people with many headphones can tell is there. Some parts just go up and oh so barely get there. So close but there is a barrier for "super highs". The high frequency will sometimes jump in and out in terms of getting slighly louder and then slightly quieter which is another apparent sonic quality of this headphone. Although nothing that will stop a DJ or most studio agents at this range. They are nice and generally clear, clean and smooth enough to get the job done though. They may lack clarity or smoothness during some more demanding parts but hold their own extremely well at this price.
Good all around for this product. The vocals however aren't as "personal" and distinguished or as life like as some of this price ranges cousins can get to. I pin it largely on the soundstage but I'll get to that later. The vocals in my opinion slightly flavor more intimate people. People with very pleasurable slower not as faced paced voices. The guitars and other various instruments at this price range also do well. However they are a bit "blunt" feeling at times where it doesn't necessarily "slice" through a section. The vocals however are forward but sometimes slightly overpowered on the sides by various guitars and bass and some of the percussion instruments that fall in this range. They are slightly behind various instruments which I think is pinned on the impressive soundstage for such a product. Think of this as S-Logic by Ultrasone except a bit closer to the person ..but at the same time with less intimate vocals despite being closer. Lastly the low frequency ranges mid bass and most frequency, upper bass frequencies (which is a bit overpowerd and weird; more later) get mixed into the vocals frequently on songs that have them which brings you to a slight mess when the low frequency ranges try to enter the mid range, guitars may become a very fuzzy mess and vocals become muddy and hidden even more when this happens. And so thus, while the vocals and mids are fined on slower or cleaner songs that dont have a lot going on or with a lot of instruments, they get into slight troubles with more complicated songs. A regular occourance at this price range for studio's however.However a problem is that the vocals aren't as smooth as can be. At the lower range of the vocal range there is a very very choppy mix of sound. It is that very messy sound that you will often hear on low quality earbuds. It mainly focuses on the bottom of the vocal range however. This is quite unlikeable.
I was expecting a bass head headphone when I first got work I was receiving them. The Citadel style with the DJ Studio sound advertising made me prepped for some nice bass. I was a bit disappointed in the bass but overall it performs admirably along with it's brothers although, at less the precision. I found weird bass on these to say it plainly. They basically had impact but the low frequency itself would fire off either too much uppper bass frequencies at places I have never heard upper bass quantity in and thus muddying up the vocals or it had too little mid bass and or no bass extension! I found that the upper low frequency ranges of these are overly pronounced and will with many songs fire off a bit too much at times and thus muddy up the vocals and mids to varying degrees. The mid bass that is generally very used in rap songs for that oomph punch in the back is under emphasized. The bass on these is the least neutral or accurate of the entire frequency range on this headphone(mids, lows, highs) in my opinion. There isn't a "problem" with them in terms of being able to listen, but it is not accurate. The mid bass doesn't have not just the punch that is needed. Or the actual quantity to make it feel like it's going along with the song. This is something that one won't notice unless you have experience with other headphones so it may be missed by others but it is a problem. Finally we have the lower bass, that sub oomph. There is little in here as well, not a lot of quantity or even detection of a sub bass to be honest. What does this mean? IT means that a DJ or Studio user may add too much mid or sub bass and thus lead to an extremely muddy track when played on consumer systems that already overpower the bass. Mainstream rap and hip hop songs that had a tremendous amount of mid bass had me question the problem of the lack of punch. And please note that it isn't a quantity problem. There isn't much quantity of mid bass in the Q701's but the ratio of how it goes with the other frequencies matches well and you can tell that although it isn't quantified, that it has the fulfilling presence needed. With these, it feels like you just needed to add more mid or sub bass into your music when you were making it(as that's what theese headphones are targeted at, DJ's and Studio producers). So yeah, watch out. Although I am lenient on this. The Shure SRH440 and other "Studio" recommended headphones at this price also have weird or low bass quantities as well. I have read that one head fier with HD280 Pro's mixed too much bass into his song or production he was doing as he didn't "hear enough" which ultimately turned into a muddy bass-rific mess.
At this price point, the separation is good. That's really all there is, as I noted before, with some bass moments, the low frequency can muddy up parts of the mid frequency range which do put a damper on being able to tell which instrument is doing what. But overall individual instrument separation at this price is decent. No complaints.
As I mentioned, these have a nice and suprising soundstage for the price. I was suprised when I first heard them. There isn't much closed shell reverb that may happen due to trying to get a wide soundstage out of a closed headphone but that doesn't seem to be a big issue nor am I detecting much. These have the vocals pulled back, kinda like S-Logic, but instead of S-Logic where it's pulled back farther with more soundstage with the singer like he is in front of you. The soundstage effect you have on these have the vocals really just pulled to each side more. Along with much of the frequency range. As none of it sounds up close and personal as a true small soundstage closeed can will have. Those that like up front and forward may have some trouble with these due to that, and when you add in the problem of "contamination" of the mids by the lows, it becomes even less a favorite for treble heads. Keep in mind I am emphasising people that like that count of stuff. The vocals are still "up front" in the sense that they aren't hidden out back. Overal, a nice boost of soundstage for some of your gaming, or classical music, but don't expect super soundstage. Sennheiser did a good job of providing a soundstage without going too far and making it sound artificial. The pulled back frequencies do make it a bit "fake" to those that are used to closed or those of us with full or semi opens but it is not artificial if that is what you want to know. A good combination and ratio of soundstage at this ratio!
There is a slight bit on some songs more prone to the evil ssss's and it is still there on all your music if you listen to the s's but it is in no way in your face or even apparent to most if not at all if I didn't tell you about it. Low sibilance but it is there.
Testing: Half of the time spent with the HD 215 was directly out of an iPod Touch 2G. It was tested for the other half with the Audio-gd NFB 12.1, Custom Objective 2 amplifier,FiiO E5, and Arcam rPAC. The end review was written by the follow:
ComputeràS/PDIFàAudio-gd NFB 12.1 Fixed line out w/ Dual Wolfson WM8741àOFEC audio RCA cableàCustome Objective 2 with Burr Brown OPA2228.
Whether or not you believe it, I burned these in for 70 hours overall. I was with them for a large portion of the time and was listening to them while reviewing.
IT has easy looking specifications, but these aren't insanely easy to drive. To get to loud volumes requires the whole iPod volume bar. So while these to get to their loudest volume don't need an amp, you do get just enough for the people that listen. However if you listen to oldies that are very "quiet" compared to your older songs while on the go, I would recommend an amp. If you do want to use this on the go, I would recommend swapping the cable with a 3.5mm interconnect cable of adequate thickness and length.
They are not needed for use with an iPod for most songs. However please note that these headphones start to sound cold and thin using directly out of my iPod Touch 2G's direct headphone out. Very unpleasant. The cable makes these not very portable but it is easily swappable. Make your own descision but to get to a good volume, one is not needed.
You can swap the cables with your own straight one without needing to mod if the jack is thin enough to make it more or less portable. They fit snugly on the head. But with the coiled design, the cable does start swinging everywhere and get in your way and it's moderately long enough to be a nuisance.
At the price point of around $80 MSRP or whatever Sennheiser chooses to use as their set price across all their retailers when they re introduce these. I would say that they are a good choice. At $80 they compare well to the SRH440's, another popular choice for studio's here. The Shure's have more frontal vocals and a much better but harsh high frequency responce. But they also have their own problem of the mids getting muddied up with too much complexity. The Shure's are more or overal bass shy but it has a more accurate impact and thump when you do try to listen to hip hop. The HD 215's are more comfortable than the Shure's and due to their cable design, you can easily and cheaply swap the cables. The HD 215's are more universal to what genres they can listen to and they also have that nice featured soundstage to go with it, but I am genre specific sometimes, and at those times, the more accurate highs and bass(although not as existent) make it a grab for me personally if I want sonic quality but then the comfort factor play in. I used the SRH440 as a comparison as many will ponder this when it comes out and it is ultimately your choice. I hope you can make it from my review today!
The Sennheiser HD 215 Extreme DJ Sound headphones made for DJ and Studio use are a good choice at the price range for those that need it. I would recommend rechecking the song that you are making if it is bass heavy to make sure you didn't over do it due to the bass lightness on these and if you happen to be a bass head. These are not bass head headphones. They come with a nice and very well made carrying baggy as seen in the video and is of very efficent design. Despite the bass problems in my opinion, these can still largely and enjoyably used by Studio and DJ users alike. The Swivel system works on the right cup and allows you to swivel so either ear is left open of your choosing which is a nice system and has decent comfort to go along with it.
Additional Reviews by other members:
32 Ohms impendence
12-22KHz Frequency Responce
Undecided, will update when I get news. As of right now it is around:
Build Quality: 7/10
Sound Quality: 8 Overall. 7.5/10 Enjoyable
The rating sections scores are relative to the price of the Headphones.
Comments, both negative and positive are welcome, questions or anything whatsoever!
Edited by bowei006 - 2/22/14 at 9:33pm