This past week we’ve been tackling new headphones from Sennheiser. So, with my desk overflowing with options, I figured I’d take a look at one of the more consumer-oriented models – the brand new $69.95 HD 2.20S. Sennheiser markets the 2.20S as having “powerful bass response,” but is it just a one trick pony, or is there more to this headphone?
Sennheiser HD 2.20S Review
Packaged in a smallish cardboard box, the HD 2.20S doesn’t hold any surprises – just the headphones, and a warranty booklet.
With a hinged, plastic design, the headphones feel a little cheap, but still stable enough not to fall apart in your hands. The thin headband features a strip of rubber padding, but the headphones are so light that I doubt you’d ever really feel it. I know I didn’t.
The earcups feature pads that press flush against the ear, and with a little bit of clamp, these headphones can fatigue the ears just a bit. However, I was able to give myself an hour or two before I felt any pain.
A fixed, 4.6 ft (1.4 m) cable offers a single-button remote with an in-line microphone.
Frequency Range: 18-18,000 Hz
Impedance: 26 ohms
Sound Pressure Level (SPL): 112 dB
Total Harmonic Distortion (THD): < 0.5%
As we can see from these specifications, the HD 2.20 sports a narrow, clipped frequency range with a little more of a low end and little less of a high end. The low impedance of 26 ohms pairs perfectly with computers or smartphones, and volume and clarity should be on par with Sennheiser’s competitors.
The low end sounds decent for the price, but without the level of detail we’ve seen on other Sennheiser models as of late. Bass is deep, with plenty of impact, but sounds fuzzy with a little too much bleed – obscuring vocals and some instrumentation.
Plenty of detail but some slight compression throughout the midrange hamper this part of the frequency range. Instrumentation doesn’t seem to suffer too much, but that compression really makes itself known wherever vocals are concerned. This isn’t a total deal breaker – you can still get about 80% of the vocals, or a gist of what the artist is singing about, but voices are just a little too fuzzy for critical listening.
Surprisingly, the high end is actually kind of good. While not bright enough to deliver piercing, uncomfortable highs, you do get some better control than what we saw in the low end, with vocals here just a little less compressed than in the mids. It’s still not ideal, but it may be a saving grace to an otherwise troublesome frequency range.
Some placement and some depth give me the initial impression that soundstage might not be so bad on the HD 2.20S. However, as I listen it becomes apparent that neither is sufficient to truly separate more intricate compositions – leading to a soupy, muddy sound that loses some of its definition as the headphone struggles to keep up.
The Sennheiser HD 2.20S isn’t a complete dud. To its credit, this headphone does sport some thumping bass and a fairly well-controlled high end. Despite the lack of low-end and midrange detail, I’m sure there are people out there who will still love this headphone – if not for the sound, then for the low cost, as well as the comfort and portability.
If you’re looking for a high end on-ear headphone that does everything well, skip this model and go with the higher end Sennheiser HD 2.30i instead. Or, if you just have to have something inexpensive, I might also recommend considering the slightly less-expensive HD 2.10.
Who is this headphone for then? Well, pop listeners and some bassheads may prefer the sound of the HD 2.30S to any of the above headphones, if only for the high end and bass, respectively.
Strong in bass and highs, but sporting a less-than-clear sound in the lows and mids, the HD 2.20S is sure to have its niche customers – but this is one headphone that I doubt I will be recommending anytime soon.
However, if you want to give it a try, head over to Audio 46 and get it at the cheapest price when you use discount code “majorhifi” during checkout. It is also available at a competitive price on Amazon from authorized retailers.