Sennheiser HD 201 Headphones
I purchased these headphones from Amazon for £14.99 (priced at £15.90 at the time of writing) so that I could play my keyboard without annoying everyone in earshot. I had previously being using a cheap set of earphones but being appalled at the sound quality and the complete lack of comfort after an hour or so playing, I decided I should invest in a proper pair of headphones. After looking at several products in the £10-£20 price range I thought that with a quality make like Sennheiser and for just £15, I couldn't go far wrong.
==== Sound Quality ====
Firstly, what good are a set of headphones if they don't convey sound very well. Fortunately, these are nothing short of excellent in my opinion and far exceeded my expectations. There is a huge scale of improvement from my cheap and nasty set of earphones (which I believe were free with something - go figure!). Every key I hit on my keyboard sounded as if it originated from the (high-quality) speakers on the keyboard itself. There was no obvious medium through which the sound quality suffered any deterioration. I especially noticed the difference with the lowest keys. My previous earphones barely recognised said keys and I often had the impression that I hadn't actually hit the key at all! Only when listening carefully did I notice the faint muffled sound which told me that I had indeed made the connection between finger and key. Not ideal when trying to learn Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata!
The high notes are also brilliantly conveyed by these headphones and are as clear and true as I could possibly have hoped for. I often forget that I am listening through my headphones with the only clue being the absence of any background noise. This leads me onto the excellent noise reduction quality of these phones. The padded ear surround fits snuggly round my ears and thus forms a pretty good physical barrier against the many background noises that exist in and around my front room. Gone is the low monotonous hum from the rather worryingly loud fridge in the kitchen. Gone also is the sound of traffic driving by the window. This allows for complete escapism with no minor annoyances to distract me from focusing on my playing. Obviously, if someone comes in the front room shouting at the top of their voice and auditioning for town crier then my bubble of quietude will be burst. This is unavoidable even with the best headphones and so I won't drop any marks for this.
==== Comfort ====
The next requirement I desired from a set of headphones was that were comfortable to wear for several hours. After an hour or so with the old cheapo earphones, I was under no illusion that I had something in my ears. So uncomfortable they were that I had to unplug them and resort back to subjecting everyone around me to my rather clumsy early attempts at playing Fur Elise. This simply couldn't go on - I feared a good beating unless I either improved quickly or once again limited my musical exploits to my own ears.