In early 2012 Sennheiser released their new version of on-ear headphones deemed the Sennheiser Amperior.
This is a headphone for all types of music that you can honestly listen for hours on end feeling comfortable and sonically pleased.
Pros - small form factor, exciting fast sound, great isolation, superb build quality, lightweight, right earcup swivels, all parts are replaceable
Cons - clamping force, treble might be a bit much for some, plasticky (but probably the most rugged plastic out there)
Sennheiser Amperior Review
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The Sennheiser Amperior headphone is a headphone that comes fully loaded with a bunch of features and are very practical if you just need one headphone that will last you a long time, block out noise, while sounding lively and exciting.
A brief history
The Amperiors is essentially a portable version of the much acclaimed Sennheiser HD-25, a legendary 25 year old, headphone especially amongst the DJ community. The Sennheiser HD-25 was known for its remarkable build quality, superb noise isolation, amazing stability on the head and its impeccably tight bass response, all of which are criterias DJ’s look for as a companion when performing and moving between events.
The Amperiors is unfortunately now discontinued, but is still sold at a rock bottom price at the time of this review. Its been replaced by the Sennheiser HD 25 Aluminum Edition, which have the same drivers as the old HD25 but with aluminum earcups and different earpad materials.
The following review is based on my used Sennheiser Amperior headphones, so your experiences may vary.
In terms of accessories the Amperiors really do not come with much accessories other than the two detachable cables. There is a 1 m IOS cable with a 3 button remote (+/- volume, and a centre button (for play, pause, rewind, fast forward) and a mic for phone calls. This cable ends with a straight jack (I prefer a L shape jack just so it doesn’t stick out of my pocket when plugged into my Ipod touch). The second cable is a 1.2 m audio-only cable that ends with a L shape jack. Both cables are rather thin and supple, and do not tangle. However, I would have wished for a thicker cable, I can see these cables fail over time, however you can easily source an aftermarket cable in the event that happens. I do wish it came with a hard shell carrying case or at least a pouch though, just to better protect these headphones, just for more assurance.
In terms of features, the Amperiors have plenty!
1) The first feature is that every single part of the headphone is replaceable, from the earpads, to the drivers, the headband, headband padding to cable). Replacement parts can be easily purchased from the Sennheiser website (here is the link). Also replacing the parts, is fairly easy to do (here are some links on how to replace various parts of the headphone).
I think this is huge plus because normally when a part of headphone breaks, this would require servicing from the manufacture where there is a waiting period where you have no headphones. With the Amperiors, you avoid this hassle and you can easily buy extra parts and swap them out easily with little trouble at all.
I had purchased a pair of HD25 pleather earpads and installed them here is the link on my impressions on them (and how they changed the sound on the Amperiors) and how to change the earpads)
2) The second feature is the split headband. There is endless possibilities how much or how little you can split the headband. The rationale for splitting this headband is to allow the headband to evenly distribute the clamping pressure while increasing stability on the head. Essentially improving comfort and stability!
3) The third feature is that the left earcup can swivel up to 180 degrees (see pictures below) allowing for one ear listening and monitoring. Surprisingly enough, the stability of these headphones is still great when utilizing the headphone like this.
Design and build quality
The design of the Amperiors is just a practical minimalistic yet professional design. I quite like the silver earcups (these also come in a blue version as well). Some parts of the plastic edges used are a bit sharp and less refined (for example on the headband), so it does detract it from feeling like a premium product.
In terms of the build quality, despite the large amount of plastic used on Amperiors, the build quality is superb. The plastic used despite not being the most refined looking, it is very rugged and I was never worried about these headphones. I can definitely see why DJs use the Amperiors and HD25, just for this reason alone. Also the earcups on the Amperiors are made of an anodized aluminum, and it appears to be scratch proof as well. Also, stated before the each part of the headphone is replaceable, a welcome feature for those hard on their headphones. Something to note is that, the earcups are rather loose and at times it can extend and retract more easily than i'd like.
(To remedy this issue, I added a layer of tape inside the adjustment area to prevent it from sliding out of place. Now, the headphones will never slide out of place unless intended and the tape remains out of site)
Design Overall: 7/10
Build quality Overall: 9/10 (which a bit more metal was used, but the plastic is super rugged)
Comfort and weight
The earcups swivel to fit anyone’s head and ear shape and the Amperiors was meant to have superb stability and isolation when moving around outside or in the DJ booth. So comfort does suffer, along with the fact that these are on ear headphones (which traditionally are not the most comfortable headphones to begin with, having to rest and press against your ear to maintain seal).
Using the stock velour earpads, I was able to use these for about 1.5 hours before I had to take them off, due to my ears hurting and starting to sweat at about the 40-50 min mark
Comfort Velour: 7/10
With the HD25 pleather earpads, I was able to wear them for about 1 hour before I had to take them off, my ears hurting and began sweating quite a bit starting at the 20 minute mark.
Both earpads are about the same in terms of padding but the velour earpads are much more breathable and overall more comfortable than the pleather. The material used on the pleather earpad seems kind of papery as cited in my impressions video below.
Comfort Pleather: 6/10
In terms of weight, the entire headphone weighs in at about 160grams, very lightweight on the head and around the neck, and I did not feel the weight of headphones on my neck even after extended listening periods.
Isolation and Portability
Whether your using the velour or the pleather earpads, the isolation on is superb! It is easily class leading in the category of on ear headphones. You can definitely use these in your morning bus and subway commute. Its actually quite scary how good the isolation is, it rivals many IEMs/ earphones.
I did find the pleather earpads isolating more on my subway commute than the velours.
Isolation Velours: 8/10 Isolation Pleather: 9/10
In terms of the portability, the Amperiors are small when on the head and when around the neck, there is no restrictions in head movement. But I did notice that when putting these around my neck, the split headband joins together and for me anyway I would have to take off the headphones re-split the headband before putting it back on my head (see video for a clear explanation). This is a mild annoyance but I’ve grown use to it now.
Portability: 8/10 (which it folded up or flat)
Sound quality: The Amperiors have a mild V shaped sound signature, that never sounds bloated in anyway while being a very lively and exciting. Its quite remarkable how fun it is while being so clear and articulate.
The following is based on my opinion of the Amperiors with the stock velour earpads unless otherwise stated.
Bass: The bass is where this headphone absolutely shines! The bass is warm and north of neutral. That said the Amperiors have absolutely the tightest, quickest bass response of any headphone or earphone I have ever tried before. If I had to make an analogy, you can think of the Amperior’s bass being a while (like a lion tamer) its quick, its precise, it’s powerful, yet it never overstays its welcome. The midbass of the Amperiors is chesty and slams with authority without sounding bloated. You can throw the most complex bass lines on the Amperiors and they will reproduce it so cleanly and effortlessly. An aspect that DJs need when beat matching.
I did however have two complaints with the Amperiors in terms of the bass.
1) The first was that I would like the bass to be a bit more north of neutral, nothing drastic maybe 1-2 db more. Then it would be basically perfect for me as a portable on ear headphone.
2) It doesn’t have the greatest extension all the way down there in the subbass, and it does roll off a bit there. So you won’t get the rumbling enveloping bass.
With the pleather earpads, I did feel the bass was slightly boomier, and less controlled. It did lose some of that lightning quickness. It was nothing extreme and but was evident immediately. However, the differences is less noticeable when outside with ambient noise present
Midrange: the Mids are a bit recessed but nowhere near the same extent as the Sennheiser Momentum On Ears. Vocals especially female vocals are more forward. The vocals have a thinness to it, which definitely helps in terms of clarity. While remaining perfectly clear of bass, while being full intergrated in the mix, something I felt wasn’t executed a well on the Momentum On Ear. Female vocals in particular sound great while retaining a lot of their character and “naturalness”. However I did feel that some vocalists sounded a bit overbearing from time to time because of how forward the vocals are in the mix. So take heed if you’re sensitive to this.
Treble: Again the treble similar to the rest of the sound signature of the Amperiors is forward and aggressive. Some users have noted that they seem harsh and I can see that for some people that are sensitive to high frequencies, the Amperiors are just not the headphones for them. I did find them a too bright at first, it has probably the brightest treble of anything I’ve used before so it did take some getting use to.
Even now I do find the treble a bit bright for my taste so it doesn’t lend well for long term listening as your ears do fatigue over time (in addition to the physical fatigue from the clamping force).
The treble though is very well extended and articulate and very fast sounding, perfect for rock, and more electronic music. That makes everything lively and engaging.
With the pleather earpads I did find the treble edgier and “more raw-sounding” and even more exciting compared the velour’s (which sounded smoother in comparison).
Soundstage: This is one area that I’m a bit disappointed with. The soundstage is quite closed and in your head. Though the Amperiors do a good job placing instruments in this space, I would like it if it was a bit bigger, at least similar to the V-moda XS in this category, which sounds like a small room.
Overall: 9/10 ( the treble might be a bit hot for some folks)
In conclusion, I think Sennheiser has absolutely hit a HOME RUN with the Amperiors. Its spectacular in terms of build, isolation and sound for a portable on ear headphone. I do wish the design is a bit more modern looking, and the comfort can be a bit of an annoyance for extended listening but all in all I can easily recommend this to anyone, especially for those that go through earphones/headphones every few times a year, good luck trying to break the Amperiors!
Pros - rugged and utilitarian, good sound at this price, isolation one of the best, practically industry standard and most people know what it sounds like
Cons - good isolation comes at the cost of high clamp
Just a point form review... really just notes for myself comparing vs the HD25-1-ii. If you want something with more sonic impressions, read any other Amperior or HD25 review below or the excellent one over at InnerFidelity.
pads: Amperior has this supple pleathery material which is way nicer than the HD25 pads and more comfortable
isolation: but somehow the HD25 pleather pads isolate better
clamp: really the same
build quality: Amperior clearly better in every way with nicer cups and cable assembly (and changeable cables with iDevice capability)
sensitivity: the Amperiors are a bit easier to drive
impedance: much lower than the HD25, which may be an issue with amps that have a high output impedance if you're the sort that worries about damping factor
amping: not really needed, nor much of a difference noted
bass: midbass still humped like the HD25 but to a slightly lesser degree
midrange: same 'ol
treble: again a tiny bit cleaner than the H25
overall sound: it's really just a slightly cleaner sound overall
upgrade from HD25? eh... if you already have the HD25 I don't really see the point unless you want the colours
Extra comparison of HD25-13 vs HD25-1-ii...
pads/isolation/clamp/build: all exactly the same as HD25
impedance: boom we're at 600ohms
sensitivity: not surprisingly lower than the HD25, but actually not by much; you can still get plenty of volume from a portable dap
amping: makes a difference, but don't go breaking the bank for it; it's a mild improvement and more useful here for the headroom
bass: take the HD25 midbass hump and stretch it out lower
midrange: same 'ol
treble: less wobbly than the HD25, more "hifi" but less useful for DJ use where you want that extra sharpness
overall sound: more even response across the frequency range
upgrade from HD25? only if you already have an amp, otherwise stick with the regular one
Pros - High build quality, clean, punchy and efficient headphone.
Cons - Not the most confertable headphone, lack of soundstage.
I got these second hand to use when traveling. I have owned a bunch of other headphones like the Grado RS225 D2000, DT880 and still own a HD650 (just so you know my point of reference).
- I think they look good in a geeky sense, they are not stylish at all.
- The construction seems very solid as one would expect form Sennheiser at this price level.
- The headphones sound pretty good straight out of the headphone jack of my macbook pro (equalized) as they are quite efficient (this is one area in which they improve upon the HD25).
- They are designed in a way so that you can fix them if they break!
- Velvet ear pads that feel way better than plastic types.
- They are punchy, good for base driven music (electronic, rock, reggae).
- The sound is very clean.
- Overall well tonally balanced i.e. not dark or bright.
- Decent isolation.
- Not too analytical while still retaining a good level of detail.
- These are definitely not the most conferrable headphones you can buy due to excessive headband clamping force.
- I am not too much of a fan of the split headband although some (drummers) might find it useful.
- Complete lack of soundstage, the music is in my head not happening in front of me.
- They are not as portable as they could be, you cannot fold them up.
- They lack musicality, this is not a Grado.
- They sound a bit congested but they are small and closed so this is not really a criticism.
It it is good at what it does well. Buy it if you are not satisfied with the level of fidelity provided by a HD25 and want a portable headphone that is good at bass driven music. I would not buy it if you listen to a lot of classical music.