Sennheiser is a name synonymous with quality high-fidelity products, and none more so than headphones. Yet, when it released the closed, supra-aural HD 202 II for a price below the £20/$30 mark, and claimed it’s aimed at Djs, some eyebrows started rising with a palpable sense of disbelief. Here we are to shed some light into the matter, and hopefully reassure you that Sennheiser has not trodden the dreaded path of mediocrity that some other headphone manufacturers seem to know so well.
Build Quality & Design
As you’d expect for the money, Sennheiser didn’t go overboard with frills and frippery. The frame is entirely made of plastic, and aside from the glossy circle on the edge of the earcups, not much can be said in terms of overall build and design. The earpads are covered in leatherette material, but they’re light and soft, comparable to many other budget headphones. The cushions will mold to the head and stay there. Slightly smaller than most, the earpads won’t cover most ears entirely, but the inner insulation is pretty good.
The range of motion for the earcups isn’t particularly wide, particularly on the vertical axis, but they do offer some leeway for oddly shaped heads, thanks to a pretty good inward-outward swing. Right out of the box, the headphones can seem slightly stiff, but the earcups gradually give in and fit snuggly. One aspect that is particularly interesting is the fact that, while the headband isn’t adjustable, the Sennheiser HD 202 II can be fitted for just about any head shape. The earcups slide along the headband along an inner railing, they can click into several positions.
The headband features a soft pad on the inside, which makes the Sennheiser HD 202 II comfortable to wear over extended periods of time, although a longer strip of padding would have been even better. At the very end of the brackets, hanging over the earcups. the Sennheiser logotype is printed in white over the black background, which is slightly too in-your-face, but you can never underestimate the importance of brand recognition in affordable headphones. The dual cable on the earphones is non-replaceable, and it extends for a good 10 feet, which is the reason for the belt clip provided. This cable organizer/belt clip tool is chunky and slightly annoying to carry around, but it does come in handy when you use the headphones with a desktop or laptop.
Even though the price is somewhere below the average, the performance of the Sennheiser HD 202 II is anything but mediocre. Given the price, it’s clear that these headphones are not audiophile material, and they’re definitely not designed for intense audio monitoring work. But for consumer-grade audio and basic professional studio work, they will absolutely live up to the Sennheiser promise.
These closed-back, over-ear headphones offer decent noise isolation capability. The soundstage isn’t mind blowing, but then again, you really can’t expect first-grade, flawless sound from a headset worth twice as much, either. The performance to price ratio is fantastic, though. Considering these headphones are made entirely from plastic, it’s absolutely impressive to find such clarity and fidelity.
The frequency response goes from 18 Hz to 18 Khz, the sensitivity is classed at 115dB, and the impedance is set at 32 Ohm. The drivers are dynamic, and the channels are stereo. The result is fantastic. They can hold down bass tones splendidly and the mids are rich and velvety. When it comes to the highs, there’s a bit of distortion there, but it doesn’t take anything away from the general enjoyment of most types of music and files.
Regardless of what others may say, we’re fully convinced that these are the perfect entry-level professional musician’s headphones, so the Sennheiser HD 202 II has earned its title as a ‘professional’ tool. Mixing and mastering are not only possible, but recommended, as these headphones will render sounds from a broad spectrum with integrity. They’re balanced, though, so if you’re looking for overpowering bass, it may be a better idea to upgrade to the 280 Pro.
Inside the package, there’s far more stuff than you’d expect for the money, and certainly very well-made. There’s a cable organizer/belt clip and a 3.5 to 6.3 mm adapter for the cable jack. While this makes the headphones an appealing option to those looking for Dj-style gear, let’s not get ahead of ourselves and rely on the Sennheiser HD 202 II alone for professional mixing, but amateur work would be perfect.
Given the fact that the dual cable is non-replaceable, repairs are out of the question. Inexpensive as they are, these headphones may need replacing every now and then, but for the price, it’s not a bad idea to have a backup set if you know yourself to be the archetypical butterfingers. The cord, thin as it is, much thinner than the coiled ones the 280 Pro has, in fact, is anything but flimsy. Luckily, the leatherette earpads are removable, so regardless of how much wear and tear is likely to happen, a spare set can always be purchased online.
Weighing in at a mere 2.9 lbs/130g, the Sennheiser HD 202 II is not only a professional headset on a budget, but also on a diet. They’re so light that you barely feel them in your backpack. Add the passive noise cancellation and day-long comfort of the earpads and it’s safe to say you’d be lucky to have a pair of these Sennheiser HD 202 IIs.
A great many things can be said for and against the Sennheiser HD 202 II, but if there’s one thing you need to take home, let it be this: this is a no-frills, under the £20/$30 mark, balanced set of decent professional headphones that can be used at home or on-the-go. Even though they’re aimed at Djs, our feeling is that it’s best used at home, when mixing, mastering, and replaying files used on stage, but definitely not your typical on-stage gear. The value for money is absolutely fantastic, and it’s hard to think that any headphones producer could ever top it with an ethical production process. In conclusion, buy one or several, but do definitely buy!
|Sound Pressure Level||115 dB|
|Cable||3 m highly conductive OFC copper cable|
BUILD QUALITY & DESIGN74/10
- - Great sound
- - Good value for money
- - Not the best build quality
- - No frills, quite basic