Fashion earphones are remarkably popular, even among those cool kids who would dispute giving their favourite cans such a loaded title. The Adidas-branded Sennheiser HD 220 Originals are cheaper than the Dr Dre-endorsed Beats, or the Lady Gaga-labelled Monster Heartbeats, but with Sennheiser at the helm, they're surprisingly good.
The Sennheiser HD 220 Originals have been given the traditional colours of the Adidas logo - white and blue - but at heart they're just like the Sennheiser HD 218 on-ear headphones, which have been available for years. The construction's the same, featuring plastic for the main body of the headphones and fake leather for the pads and headband pad. You just have to pay a slight premium for the Adidas branding, but as they sell for between £35 and £40 instead of around £33, the extra cash is not a show-stopper.
Each ear cup swivels around by 90 degrees, increasing portability. Unlike some on-ear headphones, the arms don't fold down completely so although they're lighter and less bulky than most supra-aural sets, the HD 220 Originals' portability is somewhat limited. They come supplied with a rather natty blue and white pouch, which - in our opinion - shows off the blue and white colour scheme much better than the headphones themselves.
This is perhaps our key gripe with the Sennheiser HD 220 Originals. Over the last few weeks, we've been wearing them about town, on the way to work and so on - yet we've never quite gotten over the embarrassment factor that comes with seeing your bonce adorned with a pair of bright white and blue headphones whenever faced with a reflective surface. Perhaps it's the influence of Narcissus talking, but we do urge you to make sure you're a-ok with the bright colour scheme of these headphones before picking them over the more sober-looking HD 218 or HD 228.
The all-plastic construction doesn't feel super-strong, but shows no signs of wear thus far. It does seem a cut below the metal-and-plastic construction of the wonderfully cheap MEElectronics HT-21 though.
Pleather (plastic leather) often causes ear overheating, but the design of the HD 220 Originals is comfy enough for listening sessions of several hours. Behind the pleather covering of the earpiece is a foam pad that rests on your ear. The sound passes through a mesh circle within the pleather cover - this is naturally the bit that needs to be over your ear canal to get the correct sound, and sound isolation.
While the sound doesn't fall apart as badly as some other on-ear headphones when they're not placed perfectly on your ears, sound isolation does. With the correct seal around the mesh circle, we found the HD 220 Originals' isolating enough to use on public transport - crucially without disturbing nearby passengers with 'yer bangin' tunes. Leave them resting on the wrong part of your ear and you'll be able to hear the conversations, sneezes and snuffles of people nearby all too well.
They're closed-back headphones, so virtually the only sound that'll leak out is from the front of each speaker rather than the back. Isolation is superior with IEM earphones that use rubber tips, so if you're planning on walking past roadworks daily or taking the London tube and can face having an earpiece jammed down your ear canal, consider an alternative like the Sennheiser CX310 Originals. Or one of the dozens of other great IEM pairs available.