We may not have gone as far as to bash the Sennheiser Amperior headphones so far, but it's probably clear that they aren't quite as comfortable as the often gushed-over on-ears pairs from B&W and Bose. However, they win back all lost points with their sound. Managing to blend audiophile-like clarity with sackloads of fun and pure enjoyment, they're our favourite on-ear commuter headphones of the lot.
They match excellent clarity and definition with class-leading bass slam and impact. Bass volume isn't actually all that high, given it's the low-end response we find most remarkable here - and is much less voluminous than, say, the over-ear Monster Beats - but you get all the excitement of powerful bass with no sacrifices elsewhere. No bloat, no boom. And we put headphones to the test with tracks mastered with too much bass to see if they trip over - the Sennheiser Amperior set passed, only skating near the bass overload zone on very rare occasions. Bass separation is excellent given the power it wields.
Treble too is articulate and detailed, if lacking some of the smoothness of the open-backed HD-series Sennheisers at the price. And while the level of definition here makes music sound "big", sound stage and "air" can't match a good open pair - hence our bigging-up of these as out and about cans rather than those to use at home.
Within their particular field, though, they're spectacular. The poise they muster is truly impressive, putting them into a completely different league to the similarly-priced Bose QC3 and ensuring a victory over the recent Philips Fidelio L1.
To our ears, the Sennheiser Amperior are what headphones designed for urban or beat-based music should sound like - what the Monster Beats should have aimed to be in the first place. Few others can relay the low- and sub-bass of synth instruments and beats with the same assured strength as these, and all without spoiling the rhythm of the music - as headphones with a less "fast" or taut bass response will tend to. The litheness of the low-end performance here is comparable to a good dedicated subwoofer.
Excellent bass control and overall articulation let the Amperior headphones have a good crack at any kind of music, but if you're after a real light touch or laid-back approach to music, you may want to look elsewhere. And although technically inferior in several respects, the B&W P5 and P3 offer a smoother, more relaxed listen. But we know which we'd rather rock out to.
About as much fun as you can hope to have without risking arrest, injury or embarrassment, the Sennheiser Amperior headphones are some of the best out-and-about headphones ever made. Incredible bass impact is matched with great articulation, showing up most big-name alternatives. You can get more impressive tech and more en vogue designs elsewhere, but if you care about sound quality and are out for a good time, there aren't many closed-back sets better than this.