- Full but easy-going sound
- Light and comfortable
- Bass could be tighter, deeper
- More expensive than HD 218
- Review Price: £36.70
- Blue and white Adidas finish
- 19-21,000 Hz frequency response
- Angled headphone jack
- Carry case
- Closed-back design
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.
The HD 220 Originals have what Sennheiser’s best affordable earphones and headphones offer – great sonic cohesion. Other big players offer better detail, others better bass, but few managed to make their headphones sound as consistently “right” as Sennheiser.
What does this mean? That the bass doesn’t boom out, stepping on the toes of the higher ranges. The treble doesn’t have a serrated edge that sits on top of every vocal like a chainsaw-wielding imp. Imperfect as the HD 220 Originals’ sound may be in some respects, it succeeds in dealing with all types of music without any serious musical faux pas.
The mid-range has a hint of slightly boxy sensibility recognised as a key part of the Sennheiser sound signature. The bass doesn’t extend all that far down and treble lacks the sparkle you’ll find in a great pair of brighter hearphones. Yet it still supplies a warm, bassy and detailed sound thanks to the feat of balancing Sennheiser has achieved here.
Partly this is down to the prominent lower-mids, which prove the Sennheiser HD 220 Originals with a lot of their sense of presence and warmth and support the surprisingly detailed high-end – surprising given there seem to be some roll off up there in the clouds of the top frequencies. Although nowhere in the league of open-back headphones, this pair offers excellent clarity and a good sense of spaciousness. For electro-heads though, there may simply not be enough of a pumping bass to satisfy here.
The HD 220 are far from weedy, but they struggle to create that bass thumb that some punters can’t live without – even though the sound will appear to some to be bass-driven. They just won’t quite reach does into the fiery pits of bass hell as much as some would like. The result is that while their sound is full and warm, it’s also laid-back.
They’re not fatiguing, either on your ear drums or your ears themselves, so the Sennheiser HD 220 can function as a great, affordable all-day pair. Just like the Sennheiser CX310 Originals before them though, the HD 220 are basically a re-branded version of on of Sennheiser’s existing classic models – this time the HD 218. However, if you’re not a slave to bass, they can compete with models costing double the price.
We can’t entirely forget that the vanilla edition of this headphone, the HD218, is available for less money though – as little as £25 if you shop around. We can recommend their sound, then, but as a package the HD 220 Originals are bettered by their non-branded brothers, and higher-end HD 228 and HD 238.
The Sennheiser HD 220 Originals offer a pleasant, warm sound and a price tag that doesn’t scream that you’re playing over-the-odds for the Adidas name and logo drawn onto each earcup. They’re more tasteful – and a whole lot cheaper – than the hugely popular Monster Beats.
In fact, their biggest rivals are their best friends, the non-Adidas branded Sennheiser HD218, HD228 and HD238. However, if you’ve already fallen in love with their white ‘n’ blue colour scheme, this is a quality pair of headphones selling at a very reasonable price.
Score in detail
Design & Features 7
Sound Quality 8
|Type||On Ear (Supra-aural)|
|Number of Drivers (Times)||1x|
|Frequency Range||19 - 21,000 Hz|