Sennheiser HD 238 Precision headphones review

The Sennheiser HD 238 Precision headphones offer an open-back design that falls somewhere between in-ear earphones and over-sized circumaural headphones, with swivel ear cups, beloved of superstar DJs. Light and portable, the HD 238 headphones pack an impressive sound into a small, comfortable, over-the-head design. The compact, extremely soft on-ear pads and slimline headband help ensure you avoid sweaty head syndrome during prolonged listening. The ear cups can be individually adjusted for additional comfort and the band extended to accommodate all head sizes.

Sound-wise, the HD 238 headphones offer rich and detailed reproduction, with good bass without resorting to distortion. A wide range of music sampled during the review process sounded exceptional; stereo effects, such as sound moving from one ear to another, were very impressive. The level of crisp detail displayed leaves many in-ear style headphones wanting, something that should be clear to both audiophiles and those simply wanting to improve everyday listening pleasure. The headphones also worked well while watching a DVD plugged into a receiver and particularly when listening to music on CD via hi-fi separates.

The open-back design does bleed sound. Hold the headphones at arm's length while playing a track and you can clearly hear the music. This is only really an issue if you travel by bus, tube or train or plan a visit to the library and don't want to upset those next to you. Home alone or in quiet environments the HD 238 headphones excel, placing emphasis firmly on the music you’re listening to.

There are a few negatives. The single-sided OFC cable feels on the thin side but will hopefully withstand general wear and tear, and while the headphones can be folded flat we'd recommend a hard case if you intend to travel with them in a bag. You'll need an adaptor to connect the 3.5mm jack to the larger 6.35mm stereo jack socket found on some hi-fi units. The HD 238 headphones also sound a little quiet when listening to your iPod compared to the power of a hi-fi or decent amp, when the headphones can sound exceptional.

OUR VERDICT

The Sennheiser HD 238 Precision headphones score full marks for exceptional sound reproduction that, in the right environment, bring new clarity and detail to even the most familiar of songs. Listening to your music collection, particularly through a hi-fi but also an iPod, can be a revelation, remastering without the need to invest in new versions of old favourites.

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