by Anthony Kershaw
For my second headphone review, I checked out the US$99.00 Sennheiser HD238 headphones. These ’supra-aural’ headphones are very comfortable and will fill the gap nicely if you are fed up (like me) with buds, pods and ear canal diggers and you don’t want the full, over the ear headphones. As such, they sit on the ear (supra aural) rather than over them.
Reviewers suggested a 30 hour break in, which I did before listening too seriously, although out of the box, they sounded quite good. Well balanced and open. I did perceive better bass (more extended and balanced) after about ten hours.
Like the outstanding Grado line of headphones, the HD238s allow sound from the speakers outwardly. Your fellow passengers and workmates may not enjoy slash punk at top levels. Beware of sound levels in mixed company.
The sound after the 30 hours was airy, detailed and extended both in the treble and bass. The mids were well integrated. Do they outstrip Stax Earspeakers? Not even close, but for what headphones are supposed to do, they do very well. You’ll enjoy your music with original acoustics intact and be able to listen comfortably for hours.
My review period took in a week, during which I listened through my iPhone and a NAD C720BEE Stereo Receiver (no headphone socket on the main home system!). Well recorded classical music sounded lovely (I used the headphones for some detailed work on my upcoming Rattle/Brahms review — and made some interesting discoveries). Miles Davis’ complete Columbia set was replicated with all the idiosyncrasies intact — Cannonball in the left ear and Coltrane walking in from the right!
What I liked best, though, was the comfort. I wore the HD238s for hours. They never felt uncomfortable or claustrophobic. Lots of air and pleasant, detailed sound. Recommended.
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