Sennheiser HD 200 Pro Review

Please Don’t Buy These

There’s no valid reason for these headphones to exist.

In a vacuum, where these weren’t based on the 400 series refresh that birthed the solid HD 471, they’d be okay.

But these don’t exist in a vacuum.

And I loathe them.

They’re over-priced and under-featured compared to the older Sennheiser models that they’re based on.

Look! It looks like an HD 400 series headphone, only it’s bad. Why are you holding that cable in the shot, Alex? WHY INDEED!

OVERVIEW

The Sennheiser HD 200 Pro launched last year, as a new member of Sennheiser’s vaunted Pro lineup of monitoring headphones.

I don’t think they deserve that company.

The HD 200 Pro is based on the older HD 400 series refresh from 2015. It has the same underlying design as those models, but all of the chrome accents are gone, leaving it with a matte black finish.

It retails for $70.

The HD 461 has an MSRP of $90…but right now it’s going for about $45, and that’s a common price. The HD 471, which comes with more extras and a cleaner sound signature, has an MSRP of $110…but its typical street price is just $70.

See where this is going yet?

Buckle up.

This is the Brainwavz HM5. It has a much better sound for Pro use than the HD200 Pro. As do about a million other headphones in the $70-$100 price category. And many of those have more features too!

SOUND QUALITY

The HD 200 Pro has a sound signature that’s terrible for studio monitoring applications. And that sounds much duller than the comparably-priced HD 471.

The box promises that it has “POWERFUL BASS,” and that’s true! In short, these sound like an HD 471 that had the bass turned up, the midrange muddied a little bit, and the treble detail lowered.

Now, I haven’t heard the 461 yet (Review coming soon!)…but I suspect the HD 200 Pros are based on them. The 461’s also promise powerful bass…and that’s fine in a consumer-oriented headphone that goes for about $45. At $45, and targeted at someone who wants thick bass, these would be just dandy.

As a $69 studio monitoring headphone? Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

The clean midrange and treble detail of the HD 471 are gone here. It’s still a laid back headphone, but now with a little more mud and a little bit less musicality. The soundstage is a bit more “in your head” than the 471 was. If you were to master or mix audio on these headphones, you would lower the bass and the lower midrange far too much. When monitoring, you’d miss out on hiss in the treble that other headphones would catch.

For casual music listening, they’re fine. Adequate. You’ll have to raise the volume a bit more than the average pair of headphones with this same 32 ohm impedance, so be advised of that.

The HD 471 is a better headphone for pro use (and it costs the same). It has a more accurate midrange and more treble detail. The NVX XPT 100 is a better headphone for pro use (and it costs the same). It has a cleaner overall sound signature, and much more treble detail, and better imaging. The Status Audio CB-1, a headphone I thought wasn’t built all that well…is cheaper and has a better sound signature for pro use. The Sony MDR-V6/7506 sounds better for pro use, especially for monitoring field recordings. And it’s often on sale for about the same price.

I could do this all night.

Strike One.

COMFORT/ISOLATION

Just like the HD 471, the comfort is great and the isolation is adequate.

The ear pads, headband pad, and clamping force are 100 percent identical to that headphone.

The ear pads are still just fine. Still a little dense. Still a little smaller than average.

DESIGN/BUILD

The HD 200 Pro takes the design of the 400 series, with its seashell-style ear cup backs, and removes all the fun from it.

The fake chrome plastic around the ear cups is now glossy black plastic that will attract fingerprints and scratches. The ear cup backs are still weird textured seashell patterns, but the finish is much more matte and doesn’t reflect light in the same fun way.

The rest of the design is more or less “standard headphones.”

Build-wise, the materials feel nice in spite of not weighing that much. The rotation mechanisms on the ear cups have a bit less friction on my 200 Pro’s than on my 471’s. I don’t like the way this feels as much, but I’m guessing this change was made to make on-head adjustments easier, and indeed it is a bit easier to get them into the right place on your noggin.

Let’s talk about the freaking cable.

Why is this not detachable? Why. Why. Why.

All of the HD400 headphones, which again, are the same price or CHEAPER than this model…use a proprietary detachable cable system. The 471 even includes two different cables in the box.

The HD 200 Pro has the cable PERMANENTLY ATTACHED…in spite of using the exact same body design and cable end design from the 400 series.

This means that Sennheiser is either gluing or fusing the cable into the hole. I think this is tremendously stupid. Instead of adding this to the 400-series ecosystem, allowing people to have access to different cable options …it’s now just a disposable item that’s done as soon as the cable breaks.

Not every headphone has to have a detachable cable for me to love it. The DT770 doesn’t have a detachable cable and I love it….though the cable still is user replaceable if you want to do a little tinkering.

But MAN.

Sennheiser already did the engineering work to make THESE EXACT HEADPHONES use a detachable cable. Why would they spend a few cents more in manufacturing to REMOVE that function? What purpose does that serve?

Strike Two.

EXTRAS

These come with…a 6.3mm adapter that snaps on.

The box mentions that it’s a screw-on adapter, but don’t listen to the box because it’s lying to you.

Strike Three.

This text on the side panel of the box says the adapter screws on…but it doesn’t. Even Sennheiser doesn’t care about these, apparently.

Speaking of lies, Sennheiser lists this cable at the bottom of the HD200 Pro page under “Compatible Products”. Here’s a screenshot.

If you actually go to that page, you’ll notice that the cable doesn’t work with the HD 200 Pro, but instead works with the old “200 master” headphones.

Also, there’s no way to put that cable into these headphones because the cable isn’t detachable.

Speaking of the cable (have I mentioned the cable yet?) it’s two meters long and made of a nicer material than the HD 471 cables. So that’s…something, I guess?

The ear pads are replaceable but if your cable ever dies you’ll need to buy new headphones or go through warranty replacement.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Why would people ever buy this when they could get the nigh-identical and better HD 461(which I’m reviewing soon) for less money? The 461 comes with a detachable cable and puts more money in your pocket.

I guess if you hate removable cables and money, you won’t like it.

Why would people ever buy this when they could get the cleaner-sounding HD 471’s for the same price? Those headphones also include a detachable cable, a spare backup cable, a bag, and fun silver styling.

In some far-flung world where Sennheiser has hypothetically discontinued the HD 461 and 471…the HD 200 Pro still isn’t a good replacement because it offers fewer features.

And as a Pro headphone it’s not good. It’s got nothing on Sennheiser’s other excellent Pro models (Still love the 280 Pro), and nothing on other comparably-priced headphones.

Please buy literally any other well-recommended studio monitoring headphone on the internet before you buy this one. Many of them will have detachable cables.

I usually love Sennheiser’s stuff. I thought the HD 471 was a great budget headphone. I’ve got some HD 461’s on the way that I bet will offer incredible value for their low price. I’ve loved their 500 series for over a decade. In 2016, I declared the HD 598 Cs the best wired headphone of the year.

The HD 200 Pro is a total flop, and it’s going to sit very high on my “worst headphones I reviewed in 2018” list. If the HD 400’s never existed, and there weren’t many other good Pro headphones for around this price…it might have a shot.

But in the real world where we live? Please don’t buy these!

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