The 'phones weigh in a reasonably lightweight 280g, and though they grip quite firmly there's a fair amount of padding and they do feel comfortable to wear for extended periods. I had no problems listening to a couple of albums in succession with them on, though I wouldn’t want to go beyond that.
In terms of specs the Sennheisers offer a frequency response of 12 – 22,000Hz, and a sound pressure level (SPL) of 112db. This is actually lower than the SPL figure claimed by these small funky in-ear iPod headphones. However, the far larger drivers in the Sennheisers means that they don’t have to do so much work to achieve a louder sound, which is clearly reflected in the sound quality.
As for how they sound, I was expecting the larger headphones to produce a much larger noise compared to my own Koss Porta Pros. This was true but not in the way I imagined. Rather than just being louder and bassier for the sake of it the Sennheiser’s gave music a much more three dimensional feel than I am used to with headphones. With smaller models the quality issue is simply whether there is too much bass or too little treble. With these though, it was more about discovering instruments, effects and vocals that I barely noticed before. From the delicate tones of Michael Bublé and Bic Runga, to the powerful beats of the Chemical Brother’s Galvanize, the layers inside the track were effectively revealed.
The sound was bassy without being overextended and when listening to my iPod I found that music sounded best without any EQ settings applied. EQ is normally used to artificially boost parts of the music to make it sound more direct, but on the HD 215s the overblown nature of these effects was all too easily revealed.
In fact, the Sennheiser’s could be accused of being too accurate. While this makes them a good choice for the musician they’re perhaps not the perfect choice for the casual listener, who might enjoy a bit more warmth to the sound. However, listening to them was enjoyable and there’s no doubt that you’re getting a lot of speaker for the money. On that basis they’re undoubtedly worth a listen.
The Sennheiser HD 215s are a well designed and robust set of headphones with some neat design features such as the turnable ear cup and removable cable. The sound is highly detailed and accurate, almost to a fault while the asking price is very reasonable. If you want to listen in private, without being disturbed or disturbing others, these headphones are a good choice.