It was the day of Christmas and all along the street, bozos and yahoos were looking for a treat. And I at my desk, with a pair of headphones to review, felt the spirit of Christmas (or spiked eggnog) and said: time to do something new. So I gathered my thoughts, and I began to write. Yo these ‘phones ain’t bad, dog. For $319 they’re more than a’ight.
A lot can be said about Sennheiser’s HD 20 series – whether it’s the 25-1 ii or the DJ version, or that sleek Adidas model I’ve seen floating around on the interwebs. Up until now, I’ve been overlooking the HD 26 Pro, which, in case you don’t know, is a broadcast headphone. From what I can gather, this means it can be used by people in broadcast-related endeavors. It meets a certain kind of standard. But if you plug this sucker into your smartphone or computer, you may be presently surprised at how awesome this headphone is for casual listening, too.
Opening up the box, you might be a little underwhelmed. There isn’t a lot of sleek packaging or a luxurious case like you get with some other Sennheiser models. Instead, when I first saw the box, I thought it was a part for another headphone – but inside that dull, lifeless, plain-Jane cardboard box was the HD 26, as well as a 1/4” stereo adapter and a wide headband.
The build quality of this on-ear headphone is mostly plastic, with just the right amount of metal screws and the tiniest bit of exposed wire. It isn’t a thing of beauty…unless maybe you’re a fan of H. R. Giger. The right earphone extender rotates up or forward about 90 degrees, allowing you to wear the headphones around your neck with the right earcup standing straight up and pressing against your right ear for some badass one-ear monitoring. There’s also a 1.5 m (5 ft) cable that is attached to the headphone via two small screws. Again, this headphone ain’t exactly about the looks.
But looks aside, that extremely rudimentary build assures us that almost every part can be switched out and replaced if need be – something any professional will appreciate.
Even as a casual listener, I was still very impressed with the refreshingly simple packaging and construction. Sennheiser’s marketing philosophy regarding this headphone seems to be “These are headphones.”
Once you put them on your ears, however, the whole appearance changes.
The sound of the HD 26 is detailed but not too revealing. Individual notes can be pulled and picked apart from their surroundings, but there’s a limit to it. Not an unpleasant limit, but maybe the perfect limit. For a headphone with a frequency range of 20-18000 hertz, and a 100-ohm impedance, you’d think they’d sound less good, but these actually blew me away. These are truly audiophile headphones with a build that (probably) won’t die.
There’s just a modicum of bass, and highs aren’t incredibly impressive either. But there’s also no screeching violins, and holy cow, that midrange kills me.
How does it stack up to the likes of the HD 25-1 ii (priced a little lower at $249)? It seems just as detailed, maybe a little more so in the mids. But the 25-1 ii probably has it beat when it comes to bass and high-end detail – offering a more dynamic if less accurate sound.
Should you pick up a pair? If you’re into hearing the details in your music, and you want a tough headphone that you can keep for ages, this may be the perfect headphone for you. If you can get past the on-ear design and it’s lack of sex appeal, then yes, this is the headphone you want. If you’re after something flashy, or something that makes you feel the bass in your “Uptown Funk”, for the love of sweet baby Jesus, keep looking.