"They look so ... ordinary," was my first thought as I saw the new HD2X8 series of Headphones from Sennheiser, "I wonder what all the fuss is about?" Sennheiser had called us to prepare us for the arrival of these "great, new cans." We could tell they were quite excited and anxious about the introduction and our take on this new line of mid-cost cans. Meh, I tend to fall in love with very expensive or very cheap cans, the ones in the middle strike me as too ... middling to really matter much. Hah! Boy was I wrong.
Sennheiser's new 'every man can' stands out in its ability come together as something perfectly ordinary --- perfect in its ability to delineate the ordinates of what's needed for a general purpose headphone. They sound good, they look good, they fit well, they're priced reasonably, the earpieces rotate flat for briefcase transport, and they're built well. The Sennheiser HD218 is the low cost can in the line and delivers good sound at its price. It's a sealed headphone, but since it doesn't surround the ear it doesn't block out quite as much noise as a full-sized sealed can, though it does surprisingly well considering it's size.
The Sennheiser HD228 is well worth the extra $20 as an upgrade over the HD218. The sound is truly remarkable for a can this size, especially in a sealed design. The lightweight driver of these cans deliver substantially improved sound, and bass slam and control. The Sennheiser HD238 is an open design (it won't seal out external noise) and is able to deliver remarkably good sound. When I recently attended CanJam and had a longtime and golden-eared headphone enthusiast have a listen to these, he immediately said, "Geez, I could live with these cans."
High praise indeed from a headphone fanatic. He immediately placed an order for his kid---because, of course, he really couldn't live with them but knew his son could. As a fun little side note, the earpads of these cans are removable and replaceable. As soon as we saw this we started playing around with the pads to see if we could make them sound better. We could make them gain a little detail, but to my ears weren't able to improve them at all. Those Sennheiser engineers are smart guys and I bet you they tried a whole bunch of materials and foam types, mixing and matching until they ended up with the best set of alternatives. Yeah, highly recommended for ordinary applications.