Sennheiser HD 449

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I purchased mine recently finding it perfect for the traveller on go. I do read the specifications for any audio purchases but always go by the gut feel after listening to the equipment in question. Cos, you never know what it really sounds like until you hear it, quite logical no? Anyways, so the packaging is standard Sennheiser style impossible-to-open-and-close-twice. I do carry a handy switchblade that helps on such occasions, and more. I get a gold plated 1/4 inch audio jack that has a female input for the cable on the phones. There is also another set of extra extension cables for longer distance listening from the source if so required. Normal users and even audiophiles wont actually make any sense of the specs like impedance or the frequency response etc. These are terms taken from electrical engineering and used to calibrate the audio range and their respective amplitudes over the human hearing range. You also might take into account the Fletcher-Munson curves which are a set of graphs that plot the human response over the frequency range of 20 Hz to 20K Hz against the decibels detected. Nonetheless, most listeners or buyers just want to know if a phone would suit their musical tastes. I consider myself musically and technically qualified enough to make recommendations to someone in need. This is a budget phone in the price range of 100 USD or 5000 INR +. This might seem a little compromising for lay consumers who believe that a price tag equates quality every time.

The price of music technology equipment for music professionals and hobbyists have come down drastically. Brands like M-Audio and Alesis have certainly helped this by putting out outstanding products one after the other. If the price of powerful enough laptops and midi keyboards, sound modules and pro soundcards that can records in 24bit/96KHZ+ – have all come down it follows that quality can be purchased at lower prices provided there is enough demand. I really cringe at consumer audio stores like Bose audio systems – one of my acquaintances has one such. It is priced at over 50,000 INR and is absolutely BS to my ears. After spending time in front of mixing desks and studio monitors – aka loudspeaker, not the LED/LCD monitors, the drastic difference is immediately noticeable.It might be a separate market for such overpriced systems but I really doubt the ‘fidelity” aspects of such gear. Certainly would not recommend anyone to mix their tracks on them. Not surprisingly tracks from Swedish math metal band Meshuggah actually sound tame on Bose systems. Drum n Bass – only the ambient kind sounds good really.

HD 449 wraps around the ear, is light and the sound is tight. Its quite different from HD 448 in that the bass is admittedly a little weak when un amped – that is if played from a regular 1/8 inch jack from your phone or iPod. Headphone amps are excellent for Sennheiser headphones and they really give the resulting sound more clarity and power that vanishes when connected to non amped sources. I really like the HD 448 because it noise cancelling effect is better than the HD 449. Noise cancellation is not really the selling point here for the HD 449 but what these models do is increase the distance of the sound sources as well as muting the higher frequencies  and thus giving a muffled output. the thing in Indian traffic in big cities is that it does work by significantly making the traffic din more bearable.

I listen to everything that sounds good and eclectic and well produced. Electronic music has been always my favourite and these genres really shine on this baby. Drum n Bass tracks like ‘Music in my mind’ by Adam F rocks the phone and the spacious pads and trumpets sound awesome. For a more grimy feel listening to MC Solaar’s album Prose Combat  presents the 1990’s French Rap feel very well indeed. The fidelity or detail is best in the mids and the bass is tight enough that it is well defined. I can also whip up draft mixes on these phones without losing too much of the initial character before I transfer the tracks to a desk. That is not recommended though laziness is good at times and this assists like nothing. “The Power (Atjazz Mix)” by James Perry is also a good deep house track that feels good to listen to. Overall if these 3 genres sound good I am sure other genres will rock. The thing I really like about this phone is its durability. The HD 448 my first favorite has fragile headbands ; the 449 has tougher ones and the paddings done tear easily. Wearing too long may increase heat in the ear pinnae area and breaks every 7 hours or so is recommended.

Finally the best thing about the sound o HD 449 is the memory aspect of it. Listening to other phones, you might get a feel of the overall sound after a while obviously and listen to certain tracks or new ones with a kind of apprehension ,if you will. With these phones the sound is always consistent regardless of the genres played. The bass and mids sound so consistent over tracks and albums that demo mixes can be done if you really want to. The sound in this case is expected and never lets down. This amped up and tightened bass up from the HD 448 is the best thing to hit my ears , especially at this price range.

Highly recommended.

Comfort – 8/10

Fidelity – 8/10 , with amps goes to 9.5

Genre consistency – 9/10 (Plays equally good on all genres)

Best ranges – Mids, Bass (Not booming type, very tight)

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