If it ain't broke, don't fix it - the old saying goes. The Sennheiser Amperior headphones are an update of a modern classic set of headphones that has won the hearts of audio obsessives across the globe - the Sennheiser HD 25.
The look of these headphones makes them a dead ringer for the trusty HD 25 - the rounded cups, the cables that poke out of the top of them and the strange two-piece headband. If you're not keen on buying £260 cans that look just like ones you can snag for around £100, rest assured that there are a few differences.
Most obviously, the Sennheiser Amperior cups are backed with silver aluminium rather than textured black plastic, and the standard pads upgraded from plastic-leather to velour-topped soft foam. The rest of the frame is still primarily made of plastic, though. An upgrade? Absolutely, but these headphones don't have quite the arresting physical presence of the delightful Bowers & Wilkins P5.
The comfort factor involves a similar tale. These new pads are more comfortable than those of the HD 25, but the fairly firm grip of the headband can cause discomfort to sensitive ears after a couple of hours, and the pressure is also a factor for glasses-wearers. Next to the rather sumptuous-feeling P5s and the Bose QC3, the fit of the Amperior pair is a little less luxurious.
That said, they are certainly among the best headphones in design terms for commuters. Decent comfort, the closed-back, not-too-large design and the flexibility of the frame make the Amperiors portable winners.
Some of the design DNA from the studio/DJ past of their forefathers still exists too. The left earcup swings up to 90 degrees each way, for easy one-ear listening. Or monitoring, as the pros like to call it.
The headband is also very odd. It's made up of two plastic bands that can be opened out like the mouth of a hunting trap, presumably to give the headphones a better grip on your noggin. Each has its own velour-topped padding, and while most will probably prefer keeping the two bands together, the unusual design doesn't have any significant drawbacks.
A nod to "normal people" rather than DJ types, the Sennheiser Amperior come with two sets of cables, which attach to a 3.5mm jack housing around 30cm down from the right ear cup. Like the recent Philips Fidelio L1, the cable is modular rather than 100 per cent removable. One of the cables has a handsfree housing for iPhones, and the other is a plain one.
The wire is thinner than that of the HD 25, but this helps to keep the weight down - and comfort up. With lower impedance than the HD 25s too, the Amperior are more clearly designed for portable use, where a separate amp is less likely to be used.
Noise isolation is up there with the better on-ear headphones. Pleather pads would likely fare slightly better - as they are less porous - but in action, the Sennheiser Amperior fared pretty well on trains. They provide a good level of outer world muffling, drowning out nearby conversations fairly well, but they aren't so hot with low-end rumbles, such as those of the London Tube network. They're not a patch on the active noise cancelling Bose QC3 on this front. But, then again, almost no headphones are.