Thanks to its instantly recognisable brand name and superior distribution network in India, Sennheiser is among the country's champions when it comes to audio gear. Countless audio beginners have begun their journey into personal audio and headphones with a Sennheiser pair, and the company has a product range that covers everything from the wallet-friendly CX180 to the $55,000 Orpheus.
One of Sennheiser's top products in India is the HD180 budget around-ear headphones. At Rs. 990 (or less, depending on where you're buying it from), the HD180 is the epitome of simplicity. The focus here is on comfort and ease of use, while keeping the price down to levels that are affordable for most. We go into the details of the Sennheiser HD180 in our review.
Design, specifications and comfort
From the ear cups to the headband, the Sennheiser HD180 is entirely plastic. The large ear cups have a sophisticated-looking silver finish with the Sennheiser logo, and they also twist and turn a little on pivots to make fitting a bit easier. Headband length can be adjusted on both sides, and there is comfortable padding on the ear cups as well as on the headband. The around-ear fit ensures that the HD180 is a pleasure to wear for hours at a time.
Apart from the design and comfort, there's one another aspect of the HD180 that makes it ideal for use at home. While most headphones have cables that are around 1.2m in length, the HD180 has a luxuriously long 3m cable. This will allow you to move about a room with some degree of freedom when the headphones are plugged into a computer, and depending on your television set up, you could possibly use the HD180 with a TV as well.
The cable is an ordinary rubber-coated affair with two separate channels and no microphone, splitting into each ear cup at the Y-splitter. The cable length however makes it extremely tangle-prone, especially if you're sitting right next to your computer and leaving it slack. We suggest you use a binder of some kind to keep the cable in control when you don't need all of its length.
The HD180 is fairly ordinary when it comes to specifications, with a resistance of 24Ohms, sensitivity of 108dB and frequency response range of 21-18,000Hz. The whole thing weighs a comfortable 165g. The cable has a standard 3.5mm stereo plug, and a 6.3mm adapter has also been included in the sales package, which is useful.
We used the Sennheiser HD180 with an Android smartphone, Sony TV, Windows laptop and our reference Fiio X1 high-resolution audio player. Focus tracks for the review were Todd Terje's Inspector Norse, Bonobo's Days To Come and a live performance of Groove Armada's Superstylin on YouTube.
We started with Inspector Norse, an upbeat progressive house track with great bass notes and rhythm. The Sennheiser HD180 handles the sound with simple poise, sticking to getting the basics right and adding very little more. The sound is clean and comfortable, without stressing too much on any specific elements or boosting any part of the range. Bass and treble responses can just about be felt, but aren't powerful by any means.
Moving on to Days To Come, we examined the soundstage and imaging. The large drivers allow for a slightly larger soundstage than what we've come to expect from similarly priced products, but imaging felt weak, just about sticking to basic stereo separation. Additionally, we felt a lack of excitement in the sound, and the headphones do very little to add any flavour or attack, relying purely on the source device for its character.
Finally, with the live performance of Superstylin, we found that the headphones are, once again, only as good as the source device we use them with. The volume capability of the HD180 is weak, and even with it turned up to the maximum, it isn't quite as loud as we would have liked. Devices such as the Fiio X1 did succeed in bumping up the volume thanks to better amplification, but computers and TVs won't be able to do quite as much. You'll find that at times, the headphones are simply too soft. This is especially the case when it comes to watching TV and movies, where the immersion can occasionally be inadequate because of this.
The Sennheiser HD180 headphones aren't necessarily the best-sounding ones you can buy for the price, but they are extremely comfortable and easy to use anywhere. You probably won't want to listen to a lot of music on this pair though, instead limiting it to computer use or to watch TV at night without disturbing anyone in the house.
There are problems with volume and we won't hesitate to call the sonic signature boring, but the Sennheiser HD180 has its advantages. Simply put, this is a decent pair of headphones to keep plugged into your PC or TV at home even if you prefer a more suitable pair for music on the go. And above all, it's incredibly affordable for what you're getting.
Price (MRP): Rs. 990
Ratings (Out of 5)