A couple of weeks ago I bought myself the Sennheiser HD239 on-ears cans. I took severel vitis to a local store and the Mediamarkt (a populair electronic company in the Netherlands) and read a lot of threads around here. Dring my tests I also used my own music as source, on which I had some WAV-files 16bit/44,1Khz. Among the brands that past my hands were Grado, Sony, Beyerdynamics, House of Marley, Philips, Bow and Wilson and Sennheiser. My budget was around €100, but that dit not withhold me to test much expensive cans. There were two pair of cans in my price range which struck me immediately: Sony MDR-ZX-600 and the Sennheiser HD239. Not that (for example) the Grado SR 60 wasn't impressieve, it sounds fabulous, but it did not grab me and hold me for longer times. You could say the sound was superieur but didn't involve me enough to keep them up for more than a couple of minutes. With the Sony that happened directly. I heard a very involving clear and powerfull soundstage. No mather wich music I tried, I couldn't stop it halfway, had to keep listening...but I must zo it exhausted me too. Its a vivid sound, punchy in the bass, clear and loud in the mids and a litthe withdraw at higher tones. Voices sounded as if the singer was over enthousiastic to sing especially for me. Exciting but also exhausting as i said.
Then I putted on the Sennheiser HD239 and I must be honest, I was astonished. I couldn't believe that a rather budget pair of cans could sound so overwhelming. I really was blown away by the first seconds of listening. Away was the intruding rithm of the Sony, but what stayed was a beautifull clear and open little warm and authority claiming soundstage. It didn't exhoust at all, but took me into the music, involved me easily and keep me there where I really enjoy music. Like satin on a skin, the tones dropped into my ear, keeping it sweet no mather how high I put up the volume. And there was enough power in my pocket, using the fii0 combined with a iPod classic. My descision was made, this pair I had to have. I am enjoying them now with the latest Steven Wilson "Get what you deserve" album. The cans are very much able to switch from this prog rock to a string quartet of Shostakovich or an old record of Fritz Reiners interpretation of Bartoks Concert for Orchestra, piano and celesta. I am most impressed by how the Sennheiser handles every kind of music from jazz to rock to classic. If you can do give it a try in your local audiostore.
Last remark, i read a lot of comments on open cans (like this Sennheiser HD239) used in public transportation. Well I travel by train every day. Sometimes crowdy and I guarentee you, these cans are no problem at all. The only thing for you to do is, to adjust the volume to the surrounding sound. If it's all quiet, you can put your music down a little (but still very resonable volume). When ther is a lot of noise around, put it up. I tried several times at violumes I really liked my music and then put the cans on my knee (a earcan on both sides) and tried hard if I could hear them. Well I coudn't really. With real effort I slightly heared some music, but never saw a reaction of angry eyes to my direction on any of my journeys. I foudn this information important because the argue of the noise out, almost hold me back in buying these cans, glad I didn't