ESS 252 Headphones Review

ESS 252 Headphones Review

Who the hell is ESS? Well, I looked them up. Apparently, the 46 year-old company became famous for its Heil Air Motion Transformer, a mid-range tweeter inspired by some German physicist. What does this have to do with the price of headphones in China? My point is, don’t let the obscure brand name fool you. These cans have serious class for 130 bucks. Let’s find out why in this ESS 252 Headphones Review.

ESS 252 Headphones Review

IN the BOX – ESS 252 Headphones Review

Detachable 3.5mm cable with ¼” adapter

Zip Semi-Hard Case

FIT – ESS 252 Headphones Review

The fit is firm and feels slightly tight around my jaw. But the flip side is that the sound isolation is great.

DESIGN – ESS 252 Headphones Review

I love a wooden design. Nothing sounds quite like it. These dynamic driver cans are made from beautiful walnut, a medium density wood. The walnut cups are combined with a shiny and sturdy metal frame. Indeed, it’s a very strong design, and the best looking headphone I’ve seen in this price range. At 32 Ohms, you can easily listen to the ESS 252 through your phone or portable AMP. And being able to fold them up in a little bundle makes them the perfect on-the-go headphone.


SOUND – ESS 252 Headphones Review

Warm, full-bodied, easy listening. 


A deep and slightly resonant bass. These are some meaty lows that sound fantastic when listening to pop, hip-hop and EDM. Even though this headphone is less than punchy, they have awesome weightiness that lend themselves well to these genres.


The lower mids seem to be slightly driven by the lows. That being said, the midrange is well balanced, and there’s no harshness in the upper midrange. It’s got such an expansive fullness, that you can forgive it for lacking separation, especially for the price. Rock choruses sound solid and huge. At the same time, there’s enough detail to enjoy folk music too.


You’ll get no piercing sound with these headphones. Even the most soprano trumpet notes have a sweet roundness that makes them easy to listen to. The transparency is quite good in the highs. But at the same time, there’s a cohesiveness that makes strings and brass sound smooth and luscious. In this range, you realize the magic of wood headphones; acoustic clarity meets a soft, melodic feel. 


I’m very happy with this soundstage for the price. The sense of depth was especially impressive. With a nice amount of width and even a little height, the listening experience was decently multidimensional.

SUMMARY – ESS 252 Headphones Review

If you like warmth and richness, and you can tolerate a tight fit, you’re going to get a superior headphone for the price. These cans sound great in almost every genre, especially rock. And for listeners with a softer temperament, the ESS 252 work perfectly for classical too.

You can find these headphones for the best price at:

Amazon: ESS Laboratories ESS 252 Dynamic Driver Wood Chamber Headphones

SPECIFICATIONS – ESS 252 Headphones Review

Speaker Size: 50mm Dynamic Orientation

Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20KHz

Sensitivity: 107 +/- 3dB at 1KHz 1mW

Impedance: 32 +/- 15% Ohm

R & L Balance: <3dB (20Hz – 10KHz 1mW)

Rated Input Power: 30mW

Maximum Input Power: 50mW


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Gabby is a composer, songwriter and music producer who has worked in the music, film, and commercial industries for too long. You can hit Gabby up at