Monday, February 25, 2013

Sennheiser HD 228 Headphones Review


Ear buds are probably the best way to take your sound with you, but they are usually not terribly comfortable, especially for long trips. But there are some nice options for lightweight over the ear headphones. I recently picked up a pair of Sennheiser HD 228 cans, and they are working out to be a good compromise for travel. I already own a few pairs of Sennheiser phones – the HD 280 and HD 380 models, and they are really a phenomenal value.

The HD 228 headphones have a compact over-the-ear design, and fold flat to make them a little more portable for travel. They are available in black or white, and come with a 1/8-inch (3.5mm) jack on the end of a 4.5 foot (1.4-meter) single-sided cable. It does not look like the cable or the vinyl ear pieces are replaceable, so these will not last for the rest of your life.

These cans are very lightweight, and with the padded headband and swiveling ear cups they are super comfortable. They are springy enough to stay on at the gym or while walking, but not so tight that they hurt. I have worn these for hours on end with no problems.

Neodymium magnets are used for higher output, and specs-wise, there is nothing unusual going on with these dynamic headphones. They have a frequency response of 18, 000 to 22, 000 Hz and are capable of putting out 110 dB. Total harmonic distortion is supposed to be less than 0.5% with 100 dB at 1000Hz. The last spec is important to me, and I am getting different numbers depending on where In look. Their website says that these phones have 16 Ω of resistance, while the packaging says 24 Ω.

I have burned them in for around 100 hours, and they loosened up quite a bit and sound much better than they did out of the box. I use them or traveling on planes and at the gym, and though they do not have big ear cups, they provide pretty good isolation and not much leakage to annoy my companions.

They are loud enough for travel, despite the higher than rated resistance ( 32 ohms is as high as I would want to go with headphones for an iPod). I tried them with a few different headphone amplifiers and they really perked up, but that is not really the sort of use these phones were designed for.

Sennheiser says that the HD 228 phones “provide excellent bass performance” and are “optimized for iPod, iPhone, MP3 and CD players.” Well, they sound good with my iPod and my laptop, but I would not say the bass performance is excellent.

They do, however, have a nice crisp tone with good enough bass. I hear some mid-range resonance, and they are not nearly as good as any of my other Sennheisers (HD 201, HD 280 and HD 380). But they were never supposed to be as good. The HD 228s are cheaper, more portable phones so I never expected any miracles. But I think they are too spendy for what they are…

The Sennheiser HD 228 headphones have a list price of $99 and a street price of around $75. I found mine for $25 on closeout at an electronics store in Tokyo. For $75 you can move up to a pair of HD 201 or HD 228 (on sale) cans that sound a ton better, but keep in mind that they are both quite a bit larger. So, if you crave portability I suggest that you try the Koss Portapro headphones instead.



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