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Sennheiser HD 215 Headphones Revisited

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Around 2008 I wanted to buy good quality closed-back headphones for several tasks and replace an older, cheaper pair. 

After testing a number of other brands, and models, I chose the Sennheiser HD 215 for listening and making music. At the time I couldn't hear the determinable difference between a $100 and $200 set of headphones. 

Maybe it is unusual, but I think these headphones are the little cousin of the legendary, and expensive, Sennheiser HD 600. The dry and neutral sound is similar with both. 

Sennheiser HD 215
This is my used HD 215

The Aesthetic

It is made from a robust black plastic, but I'm sure you haven't seen and touched a product like this. The plastic is so thick and massive that it can survive big pressure. The engineers designed this one with care. 

The headphones can be set to your head size to be more comfortable. You can also rotate the right cup up to 90 degrees for easier DJing. The cable is on just one side, so it doesn't frustrate the listening experience. 

The Sennheiser HD 215 headphones also come with a pouch for storage and transportation. The cable is spiral-wound and replaceable.

The Aural Experience

The Sennheiser HD 215 has a completely dry, flat, clean and natural sound. It doesn't scream into your face, and the bass is small. I can't hear sub bass, but there is low bass and mid bass. The transients are quick at this price, and it has a big panorama.

The sound stage is good but doesn't sound artificial. I also like the mids and highs; they are clean and smooth.

Sennheiser HD 215 different picture
The foam is already worn out on my 215, but the sound is still great

Pros

  • neutral, natural sound
  • durable, massive build for long-term usage
  • good panorama
  • quick transients
  • you can use for long sessions
  • cable can be removed and replaced
  • DJ friendly
  • affordable
  • good comfort
  • good isolation
  • great without equalizer

Cons

  • not enough low end
  • not accurate for mixing and mastering
  • foam falls apart in a couple of months
  • sometimes sibilant

Use-Case Scenarios

I recommend them for these activities:

  • listening
  • DJing
  • live monitoring
  • music making
  • sound design
  • mids and high frequency range

The low range below 90 Hz goes silent very quickly, so I don't recommend these headphones for music with big bass sounds. It is not detailed enough for mixing and mastering. I would only use them in an emergency for those with reference tracks.

Note that the description says 12 Hz for the low end, but the reality is below 90 Hz you won't hear much. This is because I hear a low-end roll-off around -14 dB at 70 Hz. So there is no sub.

Sennheiser HD 215
The head band is pretty big on the HD 215

Playlist

I tested the cans with this music:

  • Noisia: Split the Atom
  • Noisia: Collider
  • Diana Krall: Frim Fram Sauce
  • Deadmau5: 4ware
  • Jamie Matrix: Rotation
  • Jody Wisternoff: Lassoo
  • Papa Roach: Face Everything and Rise
  • Armin van Buuren: Waiting for the Night (Beat Service Remix)  

I tend to choose different styles of song that cover a wide range of emotion and mood. Also different types of music in terms of sounds and instrumentation. For this testing session the music styles were: drum and bass, house, trance, jazz, and metal.

Specifications

  • impedance: 32 Ohms 
  • frequency response: 12-22 kHz 
  • sensitivity: 110 dB 
  • total harmonic distortion: < 0.2 % 
  • ear coupling: circumaural 
  • jack plug 3.5 / 6.3 mm stereo
  • transducer principle: dynamic, closed 
  • weight w/o cable: around 280 g  

Price

The Sennheiser HD 215 cost around $98 or €99 as of January 2017. 

Summary

Half a year ago—after buying the Sony 7506—I wanted to sell these headphones. Nobody bought them, but I'm happy using them in the office for my day job. I decided to keep them. 

For composition, mixing and mastering, I continue to use my Audio Technica R70x when using headphones.

I recommend the Sennheiser HD 215 for listening, DJing, and composition.

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