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On-Ear item created by , May 5, 2010
Pros - Sound quality, construction, spare parts available
Cons - do not fold
Old timer which is still the best.
I love its dynamic sound but can brings fatigue after some hours.
Every things is there :bass, mids & highs with good details.
Every parts can be changed to make sure it will last long,
The only complaints I have : it doesn't fold
I think it is still the best on-the-go headphones
Pros - Relatively cheap, indestructible, good comfort, nice bass impact, good isolation
Cons - Bad soundstage, spikey treble, annoying cable
Sennheiser HD 25-1 II Review
I bought these headphones about a year ago to enjoy my music with decent isolation, comfort and sound quality on my portable rig. I was very satisfied with them, and have been up until I got my IE80's. The IE80's are simply better in terms of sound quality and portability. However, these cans are still absolutely awesome in other aspects.
Before I'm going to do away with my trustworthy HD 25-1 II's, I thought it'd be worth the effort to write a review about them. I tried to keep this review short and clear, without leaving anything out. I'd like to think I succeeded, but like always I kindly ask for your input.
I wrote the sound quality impressions collectively from several setups:
Galaxy Note -> HD 25-1 II
Galaxy Note -> AMB Mini3 -> HD 25-1 II
Audio-GD NFB-12 -> HD 25-1 II
Audio-GD NFB-12 -> AMB Mini3 -> HD 25-1 II
If there is one thing I noticed from these comparisons, it'd be that this can is the furthest from picky; whatever you drive it from it'll be very near it's full potential. It has crazy high sensitivity as well, and I found myself listening to it one an airplane directly out of my phone or iPod with no need for extra volume.
I compared it to my IE80 primarily, but also did detailed comparisons with my HD650 and SR-202. I won't list the comparisons themselves, but rather what I found out through comparing them. If you're looking for the comparisons shoot me a PM.
The build quality of this can is legendary -- and rightfully so. There is simply no way you're going to break them, even if you tried. And if you're particularly vandalistic, you can still replace every single part of this headphone. They feel light in your hands, and are relatively small too. This makes them perfect for chucking them in your backpack.
These are labelled as professional DJ headphones, and are in fact used a lot by (famous) DJ's all over the world. And from a durability point of view I can definitely see why.
Cable & accessories
The cable is extremely good in terms of durability. The plug is very good in this regard as well, since it's right angled and very stiff. The included screw-on 6.3mm adapter is also very nifty.
However, there are a couple things which I don't like about this cable. For instance, while the cable never ties itself in knots, it does not stay straight either. It curls up awkwardly, which is not very pretty nor practical. Secondly the plug is too well-built; it is so stiff that it has destroyed multiple jacks of mobile devices, since it put too much stress on them. Eventually I started using this can with a 3.5mm extension cord just to relieve stress from my phone's jack, but this was a far from practical solution.
I personally bought the basic version, which only came with a 6.3mm adapter, and nothing else in terms of accessories. The complete version includes a pair of velour pads and a bag as well, but I doubt these are worth the extra price.
Not really an accessory, but I should also mention the swiveling ear cup. This is a feature meant of DJ's where they can swivel back one of the ear cups to hear the music from the headphones and speakers at the same time. I personally don't think this has much added value, since tilting the headphone works just as well. It also takes a bit of effort to get the fit perfect once you're swiveling it back to its original position.
Comfort is surprisingly good. While the clamping force is still relatively high, I can comfortable wear them for several hours. They only start getting uncomfortable after the 3 hour mark, and more quickly if it's hot. They come with a split head band, and adjustable cups. There is a relatively comfortable cushion on the head band and the pads are quite comfortable too. Make no mistake -- these are far from as comfortable as a pair of full size cans like my HD650 or SR-202, but they are definitely not bad considering they're portable cans.
One annoying thing that should be noted is that it usually takes several seconds before I've found a comfortable fit. And putting the headphones on with only one hand is difficult, especially without practice. Though that's true for most headphones.
Overall I find this to be the most lacking area of the HD 25-1 II. For the price I'd like the sound quality to be a bit better, although all round they are decent enough for regular use by any audiophile.
Frequency response These cans have a recessed sub-bass, probably thanks to the small driver size. They are fairly flat in the mid-bass and mids, but have a recessed upper-mids/lower-treble with a massive spike at 10kHz. Overall I would describe these headphones as having a bit loose bass with a harsh treble, but with an overall feeling of neutrality.
Bass The bass packs quite a punch in terms of volume. More so than my HD650, but less than my IE80. The bass does sound a bit loose and uncontrolled, perhaps caused by the mediocre soundstage. In my experience these are well suited for electronic music, but aren't the best for things like conveying the energy of rumbling bass guitars with heavy distortion.
They do feel fairly neutral in terms of frequency response in the bass region. And for most smooth bass guitars used in rock they perform adequately.
Mids I find the mids to be decent with male and female vocals, and in general acceptable with piano, reed instruments and horns. Not too much to say about the mids since they sound fairly normal and neutral.
Treble One of the worst factors of the HD 25-1 II. Female vocals can sound a bit harsh when high pitched, cymbals sound tinny and just weird in general, they have noticeable sibilance, and are sonically fatiguing due to their harshness. The huge 10kHz thump in the FR can probably account for all of this, and I have found that EQ'ing helps to tame this beast. It's performing sub par in this area in my experience, although I may be making it sound a lot worse than it is. It should also be noted that these do not sound bright, but rather just harsh.
Soundstage The second bad factor. The soundstage is fairly small. Instruments sound like large sound sources, and are poorly separated. In the more chaotic passages all the sound is clumped up into one big ball. There is hardly any sense of distance either.
This is probably the same for most portable cans, and perhaps I'm spoiled by comparing to my IE80 and SR-202, but I do feel that this is the can's weakest area along with the harsh treble.
Overall these cans are pretty neutral. They do lack in energy, soundstage and treble. For the money they are pretty decent. But I wouldn't get them just for the sound quality; I'm sure there are better alternatives at this price. The fact that it's indestructible, portable and isolating are its main selling points.
They are pretty good value, but not if you go by sound alone.
Pros - accurate, very good imaging, portable, replaceable parts
Cons - comfort for others
The HD 25 series has been around for 15 years and this has been my 2nd purchase of the famed dual-band headphone.
Value: 10 years ago, if you are purchasing a $200 headphone it would've sounded absurd. Thanks to Beats by Dre, $200 headphones are now a steal. For $200, you get 2 pairs of ear pads (1) velour and (1) synthetic, also you get a nylon carrying bag, and of course the star of the show, the HD 25-1 II.
Audio Quality: HD25s are a favorite among DJs and broadcasters, although it is primarily designed for studio use, I rarely see this headphone used for mixing and remastering. The most common headphone, I see in studios are the ATH-M50 and SRH-840s.
Bass: It is there, present and just about right for a variety of tracks such as rock, hiphop, jazz, RnB, acoustic. But, if you are a basshead, this might not be for you. Bass is not deep as the ATH-M50s and the pacing is not as fast. This headphone will suffer from house music and dubstep.
Mids: Now this is HD25s cream, the mids are very revealing, it is an ENG headphone after all, it will be unforgiving on bad recorded tracks as you will hear all the pops on the vocals. This is great if you like absolute precision when mixing. And, those who love vocals will definitely enjoy this.
Highs: Average, rolled-off in some tunes, very common in studio headphones. Purposely done, not to fatigue your ears for long listening session.
Design and Comfort: HD25s are a ruggedly designed headphones, they are used almost everywhere by professionals. It is a favorite among DJs because of its isolation. This headphone can cancel out 20db of noise, better than those noise-cancelling headphones with batteries. Standing right into a noisy washing machine, I can't hear a thing with only 60% volume from an iPod, that's amazing. With isolation, you lose comfort. But in my case, I find this headphone very comfortable, the padding are well-balanced to distribute the clamping force of the band.
If you have a small ear, then it be uncomfortable. For medium and large ears, they'll be comfy since they will sit just on the inner side of the ear. Build quality is very good, plastics are tough, but not as polished as say Audio-Technicas. The plastics on the HD-25s are unpolished and raw. But, since I own this for 10 years, they are very reliable.
Split band will secure the headphone better, although, I'm not a fan of it. I use them as a single band. Also, there are a lot of aftermarket parts for this headphone, no worrying in breaking them. Replaceable ear cups, headband, cables with different flavors, ear pads and more.
Overall: The past 10 years, nothing has changed. But, this little headphone will continue to wow new enthusiasts and it will continue on production forever. If there is something to improve, it is to polish the plastic make it look more presentable and classy. Overall, it is still a highly recommended headphone, and it is my favorite DJ headphone for the clubs and commute.
Pros - Kinda of OK - there are much worse out there
Cons - Too much bass, treble is an assault upon my ears
Too much bass, strident treble. I guess it could be worse. Midrange is not bad. It might sound OK straight out of my out of my cheap Android phone which lacks power and sounds kind of muddy.
The treble hurts me. I wouldn't keep them though, even if someone gave them to me for free. I wouldn't give them to my kids either because I don't want to destroy their high frequency hearing.
Really ugly too.
Pros - Superb sound; portable
Cons - Unfair UK pricing; sound stage may not match orchestral music
I'm still burning my 25 in (and I do believe in burn in - partly because NwAvGuy says that he does, partly because I *thought* I noticed a difference with phones I burned in left connected to my PC when I picked them up a week later) but already I'm in love with them.
They're often cited as being a superb rock phone and having a rather Grado-ish signature instead of the laid-back Sennheiser house style. I'm going to eschew words like "forward," "dark, aggressive" etc because they're meaningless, subjective, and subject to change by EQing.
- You can make the 25s sound bassy, mid-range dominated or trebleish by using your EQ. These things are very responsive to EQ!
- I literally heard things in tracks I'd never noticed before. Tracks I've listened to for years, often using my supposedly detail revealing Ety HF5s.
- For those who don't know, prAT! (I think I have the capitalization right - I didn't know the word yesterday myself, other than its English slang meaning) is a the ability handle sounds with lots of attack - ie sharp beginnings and ends - convincingly. So drums need prAT! big time, and human voices and acoustic guitar much less so. Electric guitar otoh needs it quite a bit - and so does piano. (Imo.) The 25s excel in prAT! Drums and electric guitar sound better than I've ever heard them before. And I've just switched to a Ben Folds album and the piano sound amazing.
- Soundstage is there, but it's ***tight***. You don't just feel that you're on stage instead of an auditorium seat (as people say of Grados) - you feel that the band has formed a tight cluster around you, and start wondering why can't smell Gillian Welch's breath and why you're not getting sprayed with sweat by the Replacements. You remember that story about John Cale beheading a (dead) chicken on stage and wonder if the blood will wash out of your clothes. The instruments separate out magnificently, and you have a feeling of intimacy with the performance. I love it - but you might not.
I didn't test with orchestral classical music - my classical tastes are more for piano and chamber music. If the Eroica is the sweet spot in your listening tastes, then I can imagine that the 25's presentation might seem rather bizarre.
- Vocals sound amazing. Ms Welch really does sound like she's standing beside me singing directly into my ear. From a range of about 5cm.
- I've heard people say that certain high end phones won't tolerate bad recordings and sound worse with them than cheap phones would. I have no idea if this is true, but to my ears it isn't the case at all with the 25. I have an awful bootleg concert recording of the Replacements and the 25s, in cooperation with the J3's EQ, let my ears cut through the fog and murkiness to hear hidden detail. The result was a recording that sounded better than my studio albums did yesterday - you can still hear a lot of the sonic flaws, but the good stuff dominates and that's what matters.
- I bought the 25s looking for phones that would make music sound as exciting to me as my old Mission 70 speakers did (these things were real killers for their day...) They've done everything I hoped there, mostly by way of that prAT! thing, but they've also revealed so much I wasn't hearing before that a lot of music has changed for me - I can see myself buying a lot more jazz, for example. And some later Clash recordings have just opened up and revealed magnificent textures that I never suspected they had - stuff quite at odds with my assumptions about them.
- Comfort Mine are fresh and the ear clamping is a little hard - I'm feeling some real pinching at the top of my ears. I understand that it would be less if I swapped to the velour pads, and that the band will become a less aggressively springy in time. At the moment it is a small price to pay.
- A nice feature is that the band consists of two arms. You can adjust the gap between these from zero to lots - the idea is that the twin arm design will cradle your head keeping the phones on under all conditions - these things are designed for news pros and DJs.
- Useful hint picked up from the net: you're supposed to set these so that they're slightly loose and then tighten the fit by widening the headband split.If you do this they're much more comfortable - I can barely feel mine on my head now, although they've also had 12+ hours of wearing to break-in. If you're a DJ or in a TV news team, then someone will tell you this, I suppose. But for everyone else Sennheiser really should have included a manual...
- These things have a rep for toughness - news people and DJs use their gear hard and they survive it for years. And because they're meant for pros, all the parts are user replaceable - you can buy every component from Senn and swap out broken band or a driver for a fresh one.
There's one spot on each side of the band where the cable running between the ear cups can get trapped and damaged if you completely close the two bands together. There's a notch to prevent this, but the cable might not stay in it. If you're going to repeated close and unclose the bands completely - which is pointless - then you will want to watch this or add a dab of tape or something.
- Sounded great on the Clip+ and J3. I *think* they sound better on the J3, but I didn't do an ABX test and really don't trust my own feelings on this sort of thing. There was no problem getting them loud enough on either player. I keep them at about 22-26 of the Cowon's 40 level volume control.
- Looks: Industrial in the functional rather than the designer sense. These things are designed to blend into the background of TV news and sports broadcasts.
But... the 25s are *very* customizable. You can change pads and cables for coloured ones, and even paint the band and shells. Or you can buy some amazing pre-customized phones from http://www.customcans.co.uk/
The owner of Custom Cans posts on head-fi as jfunk, btw. They also sell coloured ear cushions and what have you - including from an ebay store. They're based in the UK, but I think they ship everywhere. They customize other several phones, but the 25 seems like the core of their business.
- I've avoided giving numerical scores but for those who must have them, choosing some widely known comparators: if I gave the HF5 a 5 for sound quality, then the EPH100s - which are widely being compared with some of the best IEMs around - would be a 6.5 to a 7 and my Superlux 668Bs a 6 or maybe a bit more. The 25s would be, oh, a 9.5. Maybe they'll be a 10 when they're burned in. But I'd be the last person to deny that a lot of what makes a good set of phones is subjective, so ymmv.
- The HD25-SP has different drivers and a simpler headband; I've no idea how close it sounds to the "real" 25
- The Standard edition comes with a (cheap, unpadded) bag and two pairs of cushions - pleather (fitted) and velour
- The Basic edition comes without the bag and velours
- The Adidas is a slightly prettified version of the standard edition.
If I was buying again I'd go for the Basic and use the money saved to buy funkier velour cushions from Mr JFunk - he also sells what looks like a very nice bag. Or I might go crazy and buy one of JFunk's special editions.
Finally, as so often, UK buyers get an awful deal on the price of 25s compared to Americans. So if you're in the UK and making a trip to the US, you might put buying a pair of 25s on your to-do list. But also, as mean and obsessive about US-UK price differences as I can be, I am ***really*** glad that I bought these!
- The estimable Mr JFunk of Custom Cans has provided a guide to tweaking the 25s acoustics here:
..And a guide to painting them here:
Pros - Everything
Cons - Nothing
I bought these puppies just before Christmas and they have been a revelation.
I can't tell you how much they suit my listening tastes. I love close listening with lots of treble and tight bass and these deliver this in abundance.
Never before have I been this sad to take a pair of headphones off.
I used these for traveling to work but have been using them more and more inside as my main headphone. I can appreciate that the sound may not be for everyone (no sound is) but if it is then, sweet baby Buddha are you in for a treat.
The build quality is exceptional and the anti urban styling spot on. I even (unlike most) like the pleather comfort!
I can't see me replacing them anytime soon.
Pros - Hardy, highly replaceable, swivel cup, long cord
Cons - uncomfortable after extended use, a bit bulky
Good value for the use I get out of them professionally and personally.. A great all rounder Can and they make my ears happy
Pros - Affordable price, indestructible, comfy, and fun
Cons - Cable is a steel cable. Not perfect.
Very Grado-y sound signature, but closed. An amazing portable headphone. Very easy to "personalize" with other colored pads and also very easy to disassemble. HD650 cable fits when flipped over. Amazing phone for the price and portability.
Unfortunately, comfort is an issue for some (myself included). I've had to return them because they clamp my head like a vice.
I like them.
Pros - Great Clear Sound
Cons - Very Tight on My Head
I love these headphones. I just recently got these headphones for Christmas and they are AMAZING. In the past few years I have created a huge love for music and found this site when looking for some really good quality headphones. I love the sound quality of vinyl music and these headphones are great because they work with my record player which uses a 6.3mm headphone input. Hands down the sound quality of these headphones are the best. They don't have too much bass and have a nice clear precise sound. My only complaint is that at first the headphones are really tight. I am an average weight 21 year old girl and even I thought these headphones were tight at first. I do have to mention that I do have a huge scar on my head because I had brain surgery when I was 16, but even considering that I thought they were tight fitting. Despite the tight fitting design, you can't beat the quality of these headphones. Buy these if you want a truly good sound quality from your headphones.