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on September 5, 2005
This product is one of the best bang for the buck items I have ever owned. They may end up costing me a bundle, however.

The HD201 came to my attention after reading a little debate on headphones on a bulletin board I frequent. Someone recommended the HD201s as being phenomenal for the money.

I'm not an audiophile, but I do enjoy music and computer games where sound is important, so I thought I'd give them a try. The only other "cans" I've used have been the cheapos that come with portable CD players and a pair of Coby CV-200s that I bought seeking something cheap that would be better than the poor quality phones I have had in the past. The Coby units were a minor improvement, but bass rumbled like crazy.

Enter the HD201s. These closed phones (they cover the ear with a foam pad instead of sitting on top of them) have a padded plastic headband, a long 10' cord that terminates in a mini jack (it comes with a 1/4" adapter). The earpieces have some swivel to them, and they fit my rather large head and ears just fine. Comfort level was as good as any headphone I was used to. I plugged them in to my computer (with a decidedly basic 5.1 soundcard) and began to listen.

The sound is jaw-dropping if you are used to the garbage that ships with portable music devices. I popped in some CDs, from classical to metal, and the lack of rumble in the bass and the clear highs were a treat. Remember, I'm no audiophile (yet) but even to my tin and uneducated ear, the difference was easy to hear. Violins in "Adagio for Strings" were strong and clear, gone was the low rumble in the deep bass of Zep, and I even began to truly note the shortcomings of the audio in some MP3 and "oldies" recordings. Sound in games was great, and I caught some nuances in first person shooters that improved my play.

I was now aware of the shortcomings of all the other cheapo headphones I had used, including the Coby unit, that until now I had considered "good enough". They just flat out sound better across the full range of sound, from low to high.

I was a bit surprised that I could max out the volume on my computer without making the HD201s too painful...perhaps they are designed with more power in mind than my system delivers. My portable CD player drives them to about the same volume levels, loud, but not ear shattering. They might not satisfy those looking for super booming bass or earsplitting volume, but perhaps an amplifier might change this.

I can't give your an expert review of the HD201s, nor translate what the tech specs on the box mean. I can tell you that for the price, I am deeply impressed with the quality of sound. I would be impressed if they cost a few times as much.

A true bargain, but I worry that this might be the launching point in to a world of audio gear that I can scarce afford. If these things sound this good, perhaps I really need headphones made by Grado or the high end Sennhieser stuff, a new soundcard, probably an amp, and about the system in the living room.....
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on January 30, 2006
In summary this headphone has one general strength:
1) Decent sounding depending on your tastes and needs, given the price, and given the kind of sound you get from most other closed headphones of similar price.

However, the Sennheiser HD201 has 4 important weaknesses:
1) Has very low sensitivity: it takes a lot of volume/power to bring them to satisfactory or normal loudness levels.
2) It's a bit bright, bass is slightly lacking, making them sound slightly thin or "weak".
3) Has a tendency to be SSSSSSSibilant with some female vocals.
4) For a closed headphone, doesn't isolate that much.

Weakness #1 is critical if you are considering these headphones for listening to music from your laptop or portable players. If that's the case, it's very likely you won't be happy with the sound even at max volume. These headphones are REALLY hard to bring up to normal loudness levels. If you will use them with the headphone out of a receiver, or maybe with an electric piano (as I am), then you are probably ok.

Weakness #2 is very important if you are what's called a "bass-head". These headphones won't give you slamming rich bass. Bass is (slightly) on the weak side.

Weakness #3 is critical if you listen to a lot of female vocals, and you find it particularly annoying when your playback system enhances the letter "S" as in SSSSSSSay, SSSSSSilver, SSSSSSpoon, preCCCCCiSSSSSe, etc.

Weakness #4 is important if you are expecting these headphones to block all noises around you, you might be slightly dissapointed, it does block a bit but not too much.

If you don't care about isolation I would highly recommend the Koss KSC-75 instead of these Sennheisers. If you do want a closed headphone (either you want some isolation from outside noise, or you don't want to bother anyone around you with your music), and are willing to spend a little more, you should consider the Sennheiser HD280 or maybe the Audio Technica AT500.

The above sounds like a massive critique, and I'm giving it 3 stars because really for music these are not that great sounding headphones to me. However, these headphones sound relatively OK compared to how boomy or treble-happy are most other cheap headphones, whether open or closed. Compared to that trend, these are relatively decent. Yet, compared to other very inexpensive headphones known for surprisingly good sound (e.g. Koss KSC-75) these are not that great really.

PS. Another suggestion in general, if you are looking for any headphone related information you must check [...] it's really the place online for anything headphone-related.
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on November 13, 2006
Basically, I needed a new pair of headphones after I got tired of the Sony MDR-V150s that my roommate lent me. I did not like the idea of having the "cups" right ON my ear, and honestly, they did not sound all that great so I decided to do some searching. I looked at Koss(I did not like any of their models) AKG( I love them, but, for $100, I did not get involved with them.) So, I decided to search some more..

I totally forgot about Sennheiser headphones. I heard them once at an ultra high end home stereo shop in Tampa, Florida and they sounded damn good. So when I saw these for less than $20, I decided to buy them..

First of all, they arrived sooner than usual. I put them on and I noticed something...I could not hear any outside noise. These "cans" really kept outside sound out. They sat comfortably on my head and the "cups" covered my ears. Score!! Now, for the sound..

I listen to a lot of music that I have on my pc. I have a Dell Dimension E310 with the ORIGINAL sound card and I have the Mp3s on Musicmatch WITHOUT any equalization. First of all, I chose tracks at random, all kinds and I heard things that I never heard before. I noticed tiny "cracks" on Avenged Sevenfold's "Seciond Heartbeat." Something I did not notice with the Sony's. I listened to all types of music and found the sound TOTALLY clean. No hissing, no muddy or "sour" midrange. Female vocals sounded great. Even the low end sounded great, specially with house and trance music that have a lot of heavy bottom end to them.

BUT, I decided to try them on my Panasonic SA-XR55, which is a digital receiver, and I decided to "crank" it up. As I reached the higher volumes, the bass was lost, it sounded weak and muddy, but that WAS when I was pushing the receiver to its limits.

These "cans" are great for listening to music at REGULAR volumes. If you want a pair of headphones that you can crank them up loud so they can sound like a car audio bass challenge, go for something like the AKGs.

Great "cans" for the money, I TOTALLY recommend them.

So here we go:


They fit great, with even a leatherret piece on the top band of the headphones to keep things cushy.

Great sound isolation. I can't hear squat once I put them on WITHOUT music.

Gorgeous sound at "normal" levels. I do not care if you listen to Rap, Christian, House or Trance, you will get a great sound out of these.

Built very well. They look like they do not move or swivel in the picture, but they do, and are very comfortable.


NOT made for LOUD listening.

Not really digging the double cord that comes out of the headphones. Single sided would be better, but that is just me.

And to be honest, I cannot find anything else wrong with them.

So, if you just want to get some "cans" that are great sounding, without breaking your wallet, get these.

Trust me.

You will thank me later.
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on September 12, 2011
I have to give these headphones a while to "break in", but initially I am very pleased with my purchase. For $20, you get some clear sounding music. It's not too isolated, but isolated enough for me. As everyone stated, the bass is not super heavy, but you can eq things. My previous Audio Technica Headphones got sucked up in the vacuum cleaner and the wire got frayed, so, I didn't have much money to spend on another possible "mishap"- so my decision was these. I find the Sennheiser 201's to be very comfortable and that's a big thing with me. Other people said they don't get loud, but honestly... how loud do you need them before ear damage occurs? They are loud enough for me. If you want good quality at a bargain price, try them out. 4 Stars.
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on February 4, 2006
hd 201 fit over the ear. hd 202 are smaller and cushion sits on the ear; my personal comfort would be slightly in favor of hd 201. hd 201 filters out a little less exterior noise but people watching the TV will not be able to hear your music on either in same room.hd 201 has volume, bass, & treble set much lower than hd 202, this can be almost equalized by changing your volume, bass, and treble settings with your soundcard in computer. When listening to computer for over an hour I prefer hd201 due to comfort and less moisture in ear retention. I do not know if the hd 201 would be appropriate for someone not using a sound card to adjust treble/bass. Cord is long on both which is good for computer listening.Both are fairly sturdy & will probably last, each is plugged into its computer in den to avoid TV problems for the family. A very good family purchase decision. probably really 4+ on sound quality but I don't have $100 sets to compare it too.
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on December 13, 2011
I want to dispel a couple things about this headphones. The HD 201 is a studio headphone. This means that Sennheiser has done what they can to make sure that the frequency response of these headphones is as accurate as possible to 'sound image' that a producer creates. Slap these babies on and you'll be able to hear music as it was intended by the artist (as long as your iTunes/WMP EQ isn't on!). I have personally used these headphones for recording studio purposes and I assure you that there is no better buy for your money.

I have read that some people have trouble with the output level being too low. Don't fret; this is not a hardware malfunction of sorts. In fact, the HD 201 was designed this way for a purpose.
When a producer is working in a studio to make a mixdown, they will either use studio monitor speakers, or a pair of monitor headphones. In either case, the volume should be kept low.

1. At higher dB levels, it is more likely that the signal will distort due to clipping or hardware receiving too much juice for it to handle.
2. Higher dB levels are more likely to damage your ears. Any producer will tell you that they do their best to protect their ears, as they are are the best monitors that you can't buy.

That being said, the HD201 was designed to not max out/distort and to not cause damage to your precious little ears. Many in-ear (bud style) headphones can cause SERIOUS damage to your hearing through prolonged use.

Keeping that in mind, I do not recommend this headphone to a DJ who is playing gigs in clubs. The headphones won't be loud enough to give you an accurate idea of what track it is that you are cueing in next.

Casual listening? Music production? These are your headphones. You'll be hard pressed to find a better buy that will accurately depict an artist's audio image for the same price.
For under $30 EVERYONE should own a pair of these headphones.
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on November 29, 2014
I got these headphones off for free with the purchase of an IPod Touch 4G in mid 2010. As I write this review today, I am actually listening to music using those same exact headphones.

These headphones lasted me through a mobilization and deployment to Iraq in 2010-2011. I attached a photo of me wearing them in Iraq in 2010. I also attached the invoice (blurred out sensitive info) for authenticity of my review. They kind of sat in storage afterwards for awhile, but I could always rely on pulling them out and them working perfectly. Sure they aren't perfect as a pair of the higher end models would give, but for the value even for the cost they are now, they are extremely durable, extremely reliable, and sound great.

I use them for hours on end at work even now, except tomorrow they will be placed back in storage as my new HD 449s and HD 598 (from black friday sale) will arrive. But that is how good I trust these headphones, instead of throwing them away, I will put them back in storage in case I ever find a need for them again. The 449s are closed which will replace these at work. The point is these are very comfortable to wear, it's not satin pillows, but I am also not that picky..

If you want a reliable brand, a quality brand, a just all around great product, choose Sennheiser. Like I said, I purchased the HD 518s as well off Amazon a few months ago and they are amazing, The 598 is most likely going to give me an eargasm.

The reason I had to write this review on the HD201 is because this is the pair that started it all. Before I didn't care about what brand of headphones I got, but after that I can tell you I am now a loyal Sennheiser customer for life. That will not change.
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on August 17, 2005
I'm listening to music on my newly purchased HR201s right now and I'm pretty happy with them.

I wanted a cheap pair of headphones to keep around my office and the standard iPod ear buds weren't cutting it -- after an hour or so in my ears, they really started to hurt.

I would describe the sound on the 201s as gentle and smooth. The bass seems to be rolled off quite a bit but the mids and highs are, while not even, very pleasant. I think I'll be able to listen to music for hours at a time without getting fatigued -- they may also come with me to the local internet coffee shop on weekends.

I tend to dislike cheap, closed cans because the bass is usually boosted beyond all reason. These are much more reasonable. I tend to listen to modern jazz and classical but have been known to throw in Autechre, Squarepusher, Underworld, Nine Inch Nails, and others and feel that this is a reasonable choice for $20 even if your music is mostly electronic or bass-heavy.
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on May 11, 2007
I almost never ever review items unless I am really surprised with their quality. And that can go both ways. Unfortunately it is not in a good way this time around.

I bought these when I needed a second pair of headphones because I took my first pair (Philips SBC HP170) to use at work and wanted to leave a pair at home. Well, I ended up rarely using them at home until recently I decided to give them a shot.

I took them to work and have been listening to them every day for the last 3 days, about 6 hours on average (I'm a software developer).

At first I thought that something was wrong with my sound output because I had to crank up the volume to FULL on the system and take it down a notch from there. They have very poor sensitivity it seems. Now I understand why I could never get strong enough sound from my laptop either a while back. I just ignored it that time.

Secondly, I turned up the bass in WinAmp's equalizer because these headphones barely have any bass response. However, all that did was muddy up the sound, didn't really do much with the bass. No matter how I played with the equalizer I couldn't get these to work right. Now it got to the point where I'm listening to music that I used to listen to on my old headphones and I HAD to stop what I was doing because the poor quality of these headphones made me so frustrated that I couldn't focus on work!

I unplugged the HD201s and plugged back in my old cheap, (I think they cost me 17 bucks at RiteAid a few years ago), Philips HP170s. Wow, I'm back to normal now!

Overall I would definitely agree with the review named "Not loud enough, sibilant, slightly bright." It's rare that I get frustrated (or happy) enough with a product to take the time to review it but this is one of those times.

Good luck!
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on March 19, 2010
I bought the Senn 201s because I was looking into a cheap, light, yet quality pair of headphones. The Senn 201s have had many favorable reviews on many sites, so I decided to pick them up. For around $20, why the hell not?

I have to say that I have owned and/or tested headphones that are considerably more expensive than the Senn 201s.

After opening up the package, my first reaction was: The HD201s LOOK great, but they feel cheap. I believe the cheap plastic helped make them as light as they are, so I wasn't bothered by it. I wasn't expecting too much in build quality, but they look great and feel great once you wear them.

Now for the most important part, the SOUND. All I can say is... WOW! I simply COULD NOT believe how great they sound. I mean seriously, I find the sound from these to be more pleasing than even the more expensive Sennheiser HD280 headphones which are about quadruple the price of the HD201! They are considerably neutral, which is a big plus for me. They aren't too dark or too bright. They sound just right. There is no lack of bass, nor do you lose much clarity. They are obviously not as bassy as the HD280s, nor as clear and rich as the Audio Technica AD-700s, but they are well balanced. I can easily say they hold their own among much pricier headphones, so feel at ease if you get these, they're worth every penny. That's just 2000 or so pennies. :)

In the end, I sold them to a roommate, because they pinched the top of my ears after extended use, but I'm a rare case where I need ULTIMATE comfort. I'm sure the majority of you will find them to feel just fine. I find 99% of headphones uncomfortable so don't let my opinion on their comfort sway your decision.

To sum it up:


+A quality product for a budget price
+Sound alone would make these rival headphones worth triple or quadruple the price
+Look great
+Surprisingly great headphones for gaming with Dolby Headphone processing (more details in the bottom section)


-Plastic feels cheap
-Closed ear designs can get hot after some extended usage. Typical closed ear design faults.

Honestly, these are among my faves ever tested and owned considering how cheap they are. There really isn't too many bad things to say about these if you look at how incredibly well they perform. It's like getting a porterhouse steak for the price of a fast food burger.

I have owned and/or tested these headphones in this particular price range:

Koss UR40 ($30)
Philips SHP-2500 ($20)
Skullcandy Lowrider ($35)
Sony MDR-V150 ($20)

The Sennheiser HD201s SMOKE ALL of these headphones! It's an insult to compare them to these headphones.

Note to Gamers:

This section is for the gamers out there: I use all my headphones with the Astro Gaming Mixamp while playing on my Xbox 360 and PS3. The Mixamp utilizes Dolby Headphone surround processing to turn Stereo headphones into 5.1 virtual surround sound headphones. Google it if you haven't heard of it, though I'm sure most gamers have. The virtual surround effect in Dolby Headphone is considered better than true 5.1 surround headphones. I have to agree.

While I use my Audio Technica AD-700 for gaming (the clarity, soundstage and positioning on the AD700s are arguably considered the best in the sub-$200 price range,), I like to test out other headphones to see how they perform under gaming conditions.

The Sennheiser HD-201 headphones paired up with the Mixamp performs ADMIRABLY. This may sound like a joke, but I honestly found them to sound BETTER than the overpriced Astro A40 headset. The Senn 201s have GREAT positioning, decent soundstage, and clarity. I'd say that if you're looking into gaming with headphones/headsets with the Mixamp and wanna save some cash, pick up the Senn HD201 for the small price. You'll be pleasantly surprised. Obviously they don't have a built-in mic, but there are plenty of ways around that setback. Look it up. :)
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