Sennheiser HD 203 mk II

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Absolutely love these, they come really cheap at around 2000 INR. Why would I  recommend them you ask? its because they are surprisingly one of the best phones I have come across even competing with higher priced models that give the kind of clarity of sound and a no-confusion stereo spacing of the sound stage in tracks. I purchased them as an addendum to my travelling headphone kit. I now keep them in a separate bag compartment for high powered listening when I don’t have headphone amps or when I need to double check a specific track for difference in sound and audible/inaudible details. It drives relatively easily and might be a good solution to noisy environments if volume is really needed, because this one can pump out enough for you to turn down in a while. Mind you these are not DJ phones that can play loud enough to hear them at a distance of a 1 foot or so. These are loud enough that when fully driven you might have to take your phones off. The tracks sound very powerful which is the best description I can give after listening to my favorite tracks. The spacing is a little constrained in that extreme pans and convolution reverbs sound as if its done in front of the studio monitors. The room feel is a little diminished. But that is in not way a detriment, trust me. I still wonder how is it that Sennheiser put up a lower price tag for this model. Whats the catch?

Sennheiser phones always need a short burn in time. I usually notice significant consistency in the sound after about 35 hours of continuous burning. That is little over a day. My method is – don’t play tracks you don’t listen to like radio or regular stuff. Play tracks that are best suited to your tastes. Its almost like supervised learning in a machine learning algorithm. You try to get the phone used to playing out a specific frequency response range based on the genres and their individual mixing styles, for instance house music definitely focuses on the kick, while hip hip focuses on the overall boominess of the lower bass and kicks combo along with a contrasting high pitched ostinato accompaniment and vocals. Its something like beating a shape of the curve to the small speakers diaphragms so that they consistently give out that response on all other tracks. Keep the volume to a little higher than the volume you would normally listen to . The sound should not be distorting as then the speakers will be damaged and the sound will certainly not be as smooth and filling as you expect.

The cables on this phones are really long, without detachment options. I find this really good actually though in times of travelling you might want to keep the cable bundle in a separate pouch or so. The headbands are very sturdy and give a sporty look with its silver color. The fit is snug. This will never fall off even if someone pulls the cable my mistake. The phones themselves retract into the band thus giving them storage space and protection advantage.

Again highly recommended for not so easy listening – bang out loud music!

Comfort – Snug and full, you might have to remove after a couple of hours in hot climate.

Fidelity – Exceptional for this range, without bias, very good indeed.

Genre consistency – Very good for busy music –DnB, dubstep, rock.

Best ranges – All, it sounds pretty well balanced indeed.

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