Sennheiser HD 201

What Hi-Fi (UK) - - Contents -

There are a lot of things you can buy for £17 – four boxes of 20 Chicken Mc­nuggets with BBQ sauce, for in­stance. Or these Sennheiser head­phones. They are nei­ther new nor par­tic­u­larly ad­vanced. Nor are they packed with fancy hid­den fea­tures. Frankly, these over-ear head­phones are as ba­sic as they come, but they are also se­ri­ously good value for money.

They’re made from the light and bendy sort of plas­tic you might as­so­ciate with air­plane head­sets, along with thin plas­tic ‘leather’ on the earpads and head­band. But the Sennheiser HD 201s are tough and will hap­pily sur­vive be­ing thrown about or squashed in a ruck­sack. That’s im­por­tant, con­sid­er­ing they don’t have hinges and can­not be folded.

No mushy strokes

“It’s a co­her­ent lis­ten, just not the most en­gag­ing one. But what did you ex­pect for a mere £17?“

The HD 201s are com­fort­able and light­weight enough to wear for hours, al­though your ears might get a lit­tle warm. On the flip­side, noise iso­la­tion isn’t great. Though a closed-back de­sign, they do lit­tle to block out back­ground sounds.

It would be un­der­stand­able to ex­pect in­fe­rior sound from a pair of head­phones cost­ing £17, but the HD 201s are sur­pris­ingly com­pe­tent, with key strengths be­ing in­sight and bal­ance. It’s not the sort of fine def­i­ni­tion that lets you iden­tify how many vi­o­lins are in the orches­tra, but it’s not broad, mushy strokes ei­ther.

As for bal­ance, the HD 201s put out a tonally even per­for­mance that is ac­cept­able across the whole fre­quency range. The top end is never hard and the midrange is di­rect. There’s enough bass too, even if it doesn’t reach the depths re­quired to make the most of Mas­sive At­tack’s An­gel.

The one area that could do with some work is dy­namism. The HD 201s don’t make the most of the dy­namic shifts so preva­lent in Prince’s When Doves Cry, and the re­sult is more flat than funky. It’s a per­fectly co­her­ent lis­ten, just not the most en­gag­ing one. But what did you ex­pect for £17?

The Sennheiser HD 201s are far from per­fect, but they are com­pe­tent. If you’re at­tracted by that low price, there aren’t many op­tions that of­fer such good value for money. Ex­cept 80 chicken nuggets, maybe?

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