Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I'm a junkie, Man (Sennheiser HD435 review)

Many of us have addictive personalities. I'm one of them, I'm afraid. Some are addicted to drugs, others to alcohol, still others to sex. For me it's none of these. I'm a junkie alright, but the drug of choice is HEADPHONES!

When I was about 10 years old, my parents bought a huge Zenith console stereo. It was glorious! 12" 3 way speakers, three speed record changer, auxiliary input for a tape deck, external speaker outputs (more on that later), and AM/FM STEREO!

By my 12th birthday, the audio and radio bugs had bitten, and I bought an adapter cable at Radio Shack so I could plug headphones into the RCA speaker jacks. A pair of el-cheapo headphones from Brendles in Elkin NC later, and I had a near-religious experience. Stereo through headphones was MAGNIFICENT! EZ-104 (WEZC Charlotte...104.1) and WBT-FM (107.9 also of Charlotte) broadcast beautiful music in glorious stereo. Then WKBC FM (97.3 in North Wilkesboro NC) went stereo. WOW! I listened through headphones for HOURS. I was hooked. And I still am.

Through the years I've bought MANY pairs of headphones (I'd be embarrassed to tell you how many I own). My collection includes some of the "big guns"...Sennheiser HD580, Sony MDR-7506, Beyerdynamic DT-990 PRO, Koss A250, among others. But they mostly sit unused, because these days my favorite "cans" are the cheap (about 60 bucks...cheaper if you shop around) and outrageously good Sennheiser HD-435

Their bass is solid to the "bassment" (20hz and below), the response is smooth octave to octave, and the deviate from neutral on the "warm, full" side. The bass is slightly elevated in level, but this is perfect for the way I listen...mostly at night to soft music (cd, mp3, HD Radio, XM, internet radio). They're comfortable...and I'm talking about more than just their fit. The SOUND is can slip it on like an old pair of slippers. And unlike "analytical" 'phones such as the MDR-7506/MDR-V6, they don't emphasize what's wrong with a signal. You may hear things like artifacts in low bitrate digital streams, or slight distortion in recordings or broadcasts. But when there are problems, the 435s just make you aware of it, rather than BEATING YOU OVER THE FREAKIN' HEAD WITH' EM!

They're great 'phones for the real world, if not for "audiophools" (those who care more about gear than music). REAL recordings, those with musical merit are enjoyable, even if the recordings aren't perfect. What more can one ask?

Buy them. They're FANTASTIC!


Anonymous said...

Buy Grados.

Anonymous said...

I bought a pair of Sennheisers a while back and I was a bit underwhelmed with their performance.

I don't remember the model, but I bought them at CompUSA for a little over $100. Returned them the next day.

There's only one model of headphone I've been truly happy with for over 7 years now, the Sony 7506. They're the only cans that sound right to me. I'm not sure if that's because they're more accurate than the others I've tried or if it's because I'm so used to them now.

Even the similar Sony MDR-V600s seem alien to me when I'm forced to wear a pair.

It's odd, because I'm somewhat speaker agnostic. If it measures relatively flat and can play fairly loud I usually like it.

For some reason though, headphones are different for me. I love my Sonys.