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For anyone interested in audio on their PC, a decent set of headphones is something of a necessity. While a surround set of speakers will give you the purest experience, there’s nothing quite like the sense of immersiveness you get from a pair of headphones.
Sennheiser is a name that’s very well known in the hi-fi arena with a range of professional headphones that includes a reference quality model that offers serious sound quality at a very serious price. However, it’s also a force in the PC space with a range of affordable headsets that are ideal for VOiP applications such as Skype or shouting insults at opponents in games such as Counter-Strike:Source.
The set that we are looking at here though is a conventional pair priced at the more affordable end of the market. The HD 215s are of the closed back variety, which means that they completely surround the ear. Closed back headphones aren't preferred by audiofiles as they typically don’t sound as good as the open back variety due to the effects of the sound resonating in the enclosure. However, closed back design have the advantage of keeping external sounds out, and your music in, ensuring that the outside world doesn’t disturb you and vice versa.
I can clearly recall listening to my Minidisc player on the train with a pair of beautiful sounding Grado headphones that set me back about £70. As these were open backed and the train was noisy I needed to have the volume up quite loud to be able to make out the music, which in turn disturbed the passengers. After one particularly withering look from one lady, I never went back to using them while out. So whether you're travelling, DJing, or wanting to zone out in the office, closed back headphones are the only way to go. That said, the Sennheisers are also quite big and bulky and as such aren't really suited for use when out and about. They are advertised as having ‘extreme DJ sound’ and this refers both to their look and the type of the sound they produce.
As for design, the outside of the 215s look striking but the finish is undeniably plastic looking. The headband sports the Sennheiser logo on top with the motif set in a circular button. On the right hand side this actually contains a hinge. This enables the whole earphone to be lifted up to the front or the back. This feature is aimed at DJs for monitoring, enabling them to hear one track live as another one plays in their headphones so that they can mix effectively.
Another neat feature is that the headphone cord can be unplugged from the body of the headphones. This ensures robustness as it means the cord can be replaced if it gets damaged avoiding having to throw out an otherwise perfectly good pair of headphones.
To help freedom of movement the cord only comes down one side. As with all full sized headphones the 3.5in connector can be removed revealing a minijack connection underneath. This enables it to be plugged into soundcards or portable audio players. Unlike many headphones the 3.5mm plug actually screws on to the minijack underneath. This ensure that it won’t simply pop off when tugged, which might happen in a ‘DJ’ type situation. The connectors are of course gold plated to optimise sound quality. Sennheiser has also thoughfully thrown in a well made carrying pouch.