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When looking for a pair of headphones to use with my PC, I was looking for the following attributes:
1. I wanted a pair of large closed cup headphones, the type that covered my ears as I hate in ear ones.
2. Decent sound quality so that I could listen to music and really enjoy the experience
3. I wanted to be able to sit in the same room as my daughter while she was playing her music full blast without hearing that annoying boom-da-boom noise coming from her direction.
4. I wanted to get all of this without spending a fortune, my budget was just £30.
I spent quite a bit of time looking round at headphones before I decided on the Sennheiser HD201 closed back headphones which were selling on Amazon.co.uk for just £14.99.
The black and silver headphones are really comfortable to wear, the padded headband is adjustable so even if you have a big head they should fit you nicely. The part that sits on your ears swivels slightly from side to side giving it a bit of leeway to make sure the ear cups sit exactly in the right position over your ears and this means they are even comfortable to wear while wearing glasses.. The ear cups have a thin layer of material cushioning the speakers and the leatherette padding around the edges is very comfortable. I do get slightly sweaty ears if I wear them for hours on end but weighing in at just 164g this means that overall they are lightweight and comfortable to use.
The headphones have a 3.5mm jack which fits into a standard i-pod or PC headphone socket. They also come supplied with a 6.3 mm stereo adaptor allowing you to plug it into your sound system and which also proved to be a lifesaver when my little niece decided to have a shot of my keyboard, the adaptor meant I was able to make her wear the headphones to save my ears from hurting! The only annoying part of the headphones when they are in use is the 3m long copper cable. Some may value the extra length as it gives them some freedom to move around while wearing the headphones but I find it just gets in the way, right now I am wearing the headphones while typing for example and I find the cable trails round my feet just waiting to be tripped over when I stand up. The long cable length means that you would not want to wear them when out and about, although to be honest I doubt many people would want to do that anyway due to the size!
It’s all very well and good being comfortable but lets face it a pair of headphones that don’t sound good are not going to be much use. Sennheiser claim that these headphones are responsive between 21-18000Hz and when I tested this out I found it to be accurate. The test I did on YouTube also showed impressive surround sound qualities with the sound coming from different directions provided of courser you remember to check the cups for the mini L and R icons before you put them on!
A test is one thing but the headphones also perform well with all of my listening needs. I listen to a fairly wide range of music and video ranging from classical to folk to rock and the sound has been crisp and clear and undistorted with a reasonably strong bass and the high notes sounding clear without the annoying shrillness you can sometimes get. I’m no audiophile and I’m sure somebody like a sound engineer would be able to pick faults in the performance but from Joe Public’s point of view they sound great.
The headphones are not good at blocking external noise out, I can still hear everything else that is going on in the room when I am listening to my music. There is no leakage from the headphones at all which means that the other people in the house can’t hear what you are listening to which is fantastic for me who has a child who likes loud music.
The maximum volume of the headphones is 108 decibels. This is so loud that it is really painful and the sounds are distorted at this volume. As a comparison a pneumatic drill 12 feet away registers 100dB. Volumes above 85dB can cause ear damage when listened to over long periods of time and many headphones now have sound limiters built in stopping kids from blasting music too loudly into their fragile little eardrums for too long, the fact that these Sennheiser headphones do not have this feature might concern people whose kids are going to use them a lot as you can’t depend on kids to be sensible with their music.
Overall, the Sennheiser HD 201 is a brilliant budget buy which has performed better than more expensive headphones I have used in the past. You would be forgiven for mistaking them for a more expensive pair of headphones based on build quality and sound produced, they feel nice and sturdy and have so far stood up to a few months of less than gentle handling from my clumsy family. They are almost perfect for use with a PC, the long cable being the main annoyance and I can also see people happily using them for musical instruments, stereos or watching the TV in bed.