The Sennheiser HD215 headphones are fantastic DJ, home-studio or music listening headphones at an even more fantastic budget price. As is typical of these kinds of headphone the HD215 cans are large, cushioned and comfortable, connected by a cushioned headband and a pleasure to wear during extended periods of listening, even along with glasses without them being dug into your face and ears.
The sound quality is, as expected, simply incredible; rich bass, sharp top end and everything you would expect in the middle, making for truly excellent sound reproduction. The HD215 headphones are noticeably and demonstrably better than your average cheap pair of cans, they demonstrated that my mixing desk was quiet but as soon as my microphone was switched on I heard a new hiss that hadn’t been evident before. When your listening equipment starts showing up flaws in the rest of your gear you know you’ve made the right choice.
The cans offer great external noise suppression with the added benefit of them isolating the sound they produce to prevent it leaking into a microphone at high volumes. This makes them great for recording and DJing in addition to being excellent for listening to music or playing video games without disturbing anyone else.
To further enhance their usefulness to DJs the HD215s come with a DJ ‘feature’ that allows you to swivel the right can backwards so that it does not cover your ear. I found doing this makes the HD215s awkward to wear and that swiveling the right can is not something you could do without first removing the headphones. All of the DJs that I have seen just move the right hand phone behind their ear when they need to, quick, effective and simple.
The swivel feature seems to be a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. Also the swivel function adds a weak point to the construction of the head band which is as sturdy as any Sennheiser product but over time, or with heavy use, it could work loose or be broken. It is, however, possible that some DJs may find the swivel function useful, I’m not a DJ so I can’t speak for them.
The detachable cable supplied is a coiled one, this is another DJ feature that impedes other uses of these headphones. Fortunately the important word in the previous sentence is “detachable”, and the cable is exactly that. The coiled cable got in the way when playing guitar in my home studio, this could be solved by facing away from the computer and running the cable down my back but can equally be solved by replacing the cable with a straight, uncoiled alternative.
The detachable cable is also an excellent feature to prevent wear-and-tear where it connects to the headphones, and make accidental cable damage or wear to the cable itself a complete non-issue. Cable too short? Replace it. Cable broken? Replace it. This is certainly a feature I would like to see on all large headphones and cans, the cable is the cheapest and most vulnerable component.
Overall the HD215s are an excellent set of cans boasting superb sound quality and comfort with a couple of curious design features that are easily forgiven or explained by their classification as DJ headphones.
Co-written by Rob Farley and Philip Howard