Finding a pair of affordable and yet capable headphones is a daunting task. The reason for that is simple: There are primarily two types of headphones in the market. There are the cheap ones are very pocket-friendly but sound absolutely jarring to ears. Then there are the expensive ones that look great and sound even better but they cost more than Rs 15,000 to Rs 20,000. In between, there are not too many good options. The Sennheiser HD 2.30, which was launched in India recently, attempts to fill in this void.
Now, depending on how much you value your music and how it sounds, you will find the Sennheiser HD 2.30 either expensive or cheap. But I believe that with a price of Rs 6,990, these are right up there in the alley that we can call value for money if they can deliver half-way decent sound and comfort. Sadly these fall just a bit short, not by much but short nonetheless in my opinion.
Foldable design and very light
Before I talk about the sound quality of this headset, let me first clear what it is and what it is not. The Sennheiser HD 2.30 is a on-the-ear headphone. This means it is smaller than some of the big headphones that you must have seen. It’s earcups also sit on the top of the ears and not go round them. This is less comfortable design compared to around-the-ear headphones. But it has its perks.
Some people prefer the around-the-ear design — I am one of them — while some like the on-the-ear headphones. There are two reasons to prefer the on-the-ear design. One, these headphones are smaller and lighter and second they don’t make your ears sweaty even after hours of the continuous use.
On both accounts — less sweaty ears and compact size — the Sennheiser HD 2.30 are true to their pedigree. These are headphones made of plastic — although very good quality plastic — and that ensures they are very light. Also, they come with these two hinges in the headband that allows a user to fold them easily. This will be super useful to users who like to travel with their headphones. You can easily tuck the Sennheiser inside your carry bag.
Overall, these are also fairly comfortable headphones. The cushion on the earcups is super soft and the clamp force of the headband is neither loose nor tight, although if you have a smaller head it you may find the Sennheiser HD 2.30 a bit loose. But the reason why I said “fairly”, is because there are two minor issues with the Sennheiser HD 2.30. One, the mechanism to adjust the hair band is iffy. You have to slide and adjust the earcups on both left and right side while you are wearing them. The band doesn’t move. Only the earcups do. And it is not easy to get the fit right.
The second problem that I faced was with the hard plastic of the headband.
Depending on how it fits you, the hard plastic tends to dig a little into the head. It is not very uncomfortable but after an hour or two of use, you do feel that it’s there on your head digging into your hair.
As far as the build quality is concerned, the Sennheiser HD 2.30 is built fabulously. This is a premium headphone, and even if the plastic takes away some of the charm, the finishing and the materials used to make it are really good. The cable uses the flat design. The Sennheiser HD 2.30 also works well with the Android devices and the iPhone. It is easy to drive and has the inline volume controller. There is also a microphone which allows a user to receive and make calls using the Sennheiser HD 2.30.
Good sound but no wow factor
The sound is something that is very personal. Some people like bass. Some want the clarity in mid. And some other want to feel the soundstage. So this is going to be very subjective: I find the Sennheiser HD 2.30 very capable with the sound that is laid back and lacks the wow factor.
It is surprising that on its product page Sennheiser India advertises the Sennheiser HD 2.30 as a pair of cans that have coloured sound with extended bass. But I think that is just a description written with a bit more enthusiasm than what the headphone really warrants. In actual use, I found the Sennheiser HD 2.30 to be very balanced with somewhat darker sound that is fairly common to Sennheiser headphones. It has the toned down highs but clean mids. The bass is present but lacks the punch and if you really try to extract it out by fiddling with equalizer at best you get muddy bass.
Overall, the sound signature is such that you can listen to music on Sennheiser HD 2.30 for hours and your ears won’t complain. But at the same time, the music also sounds somewhat flat. The soundstage is strictly average, even for a closed back headphone. In other words, you won’t get a stereo feel with these headphones. The sound doesn’t travel too far, though to be fair to the Sennheiser HD 2.30 it is difficult to get a closed headphone that has wide soundstage.
If I have to make a recommendation, I feel the Sennheiser HD 2.30 works well enough with Bollywood and pop songs and handles vocal heavy songs like Rihanna’s Te Amo in a way that will please your ears. It works okay with the classical music, although it can’t make the Symphony No 9 or Habanera come alive. For hip hop, the Sennheiser HD 2.30 isn’t the headphone you will like to use. For example Eminem’s 8 Mile sounds sad on this with none of the fury that the song usually packs in.
Overall, the sound signature is such that you can listen to music on Sennheiser HD 2.30 for hours and your ears won’t complain. But at the same time, the music also sounds somewhat flat.
Another issue with the Sennheiser HD 2.30 — and this is something that afflicts almost all on-ear headphones — is that sound isolation is poor. Even with music on mid level of volume, you can hear the chatter from your colleagues if you are using these headphones in office. A full-size headphones or an in-ear set of earphones provide better sound isolation than the Sennheiser HD 2.30.
Should you buy it or not
Overall, I like the Sennheiser HD 2.30. It’s just that I don’t like its price. It offers clean, pleasant sound, although bass hunters will be little disappointed with it. But most people will like its clean mids. The design is something that is subjective but if you are into the on-the-ear headphones, you will most likely find the clean design of Sennheiser HD 2.30 appealing.
The only major issue with the Sennheiser HD 2.30, however, is its price in India. With a price of Rs 6,990 it is too pricey. For similar price the AKG 240 Studio is a better headphone. And if you are willing to spend just a thousand rupees or more, you can get a headphone that could be part of the entry-level audiophile gear.
Sennheiser HD 2.30 7/10
- Good stuff
- Lightweight, well built
- Clean mids, balanced sound
- Soft earpads
- Bad stuff
- Average soundstage
- highs and lows lack zing
- High price