How it sounds

The temptation here is to simply compare it to the bigger Momentum and say why one is better than other. I think that is a bit lazy actually since the On Ear both tonally and physically is aiming for a different market to me. Better to see this in comparison to the V-Moda M80, the Soundmagic HP series, the Marshall Montior and of course the Beats Solo. That is where it is sitting right now for me.

The On Ear itself is not really a classic v-shape sound for me, more of a bass dominant curve on the downwarde slide to a slightly recessed and squeezed mid range and smoothed off highs that dont sparkle quite enough to merit any v-shape description. It feels somewhat disjointed though on rock with a lack of coherence in the presentation. The bass dominates most things with a reasonably clear but mildly recessed midrange that struggles to breath as we go to the top end which, though smooth and easy on the ear, lacks any sparkle and thrust to distract from the bottom end for any sense of balance. Rock is not the forte, it just sounds muddled, slow, closed in and struggling to breathe due to the weight of the bottom end. That warm to neutral tonality should make it very flexibile for almost all genres but the bottom end tuning bias really restricts that flexibility when things get demanding, intricate or fast.

DSC_2865

You are not going to get huge soundscapes, its not the fastest headpone in the world, it is rather cuppy with rock and indie and possitively loathes jazz and classical. Yet never have I felt more of a ying and yang in an headphone than the on ear when it comes to performance in modern dance genres. If rock makes this can sink without a trace then it does the exact opposite for electronica and the whole dance genre. This is where the on ear really earns it’s crust.

The Ying and Yang of the On Ear

This is not a headphone for the purist, the audiophile, the balanced hunter or the treblehead – this is an out and out consumer basshead headphone and wears its colors with pride. The schziophrantic personality of the On Ear both puzzles and delights. The muddled dirge of Bad Relgions slugfest “Heroes & Mrtyrs” gives way to the pitch perfect dance hall elegance of “You’re not alone” from David Guetta. The bass is both addiciting and off putting at the same time. It is a headphone for casual dance listeners who just love bass. If the HD25-I II sounded like it is behind the deck mixing then the On Ear is the audience standing right in front of the speaker lapping it all up and coming back for more. I have been there so many times many years ago and frankly this sounds exactly like that feeling.

The more I play the On Ear the more I have grown to like it. Play it to its strengths (dance, R&B, hip-hop) and it is a reasonably consistent and endearing headphone with a musical personality that is wildly colored and bass dominant but still retains a smooth enough tonality and a certain finesse to edge out the likes of the Beats by some margin. It certainly has the edge over the Marshal Monitor with or without the felt system, the driver feels far more refined in that respect. The Zinken has a more balanced presentation but the driver also sounds a little rough compared to the On Ear and of course no contest in terms of which has more bass, the On Ear over the Soundmagic HP series. I would still give the edge though to the V-Moda M-80 – slightly more compelling and balanced presentation, less cuppy and better highs.

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Just a quick note though 18ohms the On Ear is not the most sensitive of headphones. Plugged direct out of 7th Gen Classic iPod and volume sat in and around 75% for decent levels of volume. Direct out my BB Z10 I had it almost full whack and started experiencing slight distortion and clipping using Neutron and flac. Sounded much better amped though again too much and it doesn’t have a great match. I actually found the Miniwatt N4 usb dac/amp I normally have running to an old Bada Ph-30 to be a wonderfully smooth and rich match. The Theorem 720 DAC/AMP worked pretty well also though I have spent a lot less time with that.

Final Thoughts

The On Ear is a beguiling headphone designed for the pure joy and musicality of sticking your head in front of a big speaker in a dance hall and letting it all hang out. Audiophiles take a pass and go to the opera house or something two blocks down because after an initial eyebrow frown I have actually grown to like the On Ear for what it actually is – a dance freaks joy can. There is no sense in talking technical purity, little debate on the merits of avoiding rock and indie and anything remotely layered and expansive, yet I can honestly detect underneath all that tonal coloring is a rather well constructed driver that has simply been put in one singular direction. If this sounds appealing to you then I guess you are standing in the same direction.

Technical Specs

Impedance 18 Ω
Frequency response 16–22,000 Hz
Sound pressure level (SPL) 112 dB (1 kHz/1 Vrms)
THD, total harmonic distortion < 0.5% (1 kHz, 100 dB SPL)
Contact pressure approx. 3.2 N
Ear coupling Supra-aural
Jack plug Cable 1: 3.5 mm low profile angled plug
Jack plug Cable 2: 3.5 mm straight plug
Cable length Cable 1: 1.4 m iPod®/iPhone® cable with integrated smart remote and microphone
Cable length Cable 2: 1.4 m cable for computers, phones, music players and any device with a headphone output
Transducer principle Dynamic, closed
Weight 160 g (including remote)
Load rating 200 mW

Links

Sennheiser FB Page

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About The Author

I think I am old, some would agree, some would disagree....

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  • 24bit

    Great review!

  • Mang Kanor

    I thought you hated this marcus :)

    • headfonics

      Oh where did I say that? Read the group FB page and the article most carefully my friend ;)

  • Francois-Dara Santos

    now THAT is a review we’ve been waiting for!!! i agree, it doesn’t do much good in rock, there’s no “ooomph” on solos and riffs, but it is indeed a pleasure when listening to hip-hop, r&b, and dance…

    • headfonics

      Thanks Bro, its a muddy mess for rock but the tuning just seems to pick up a few notches as soon as you play dance – works well.

      • Francois-Dara Santos

        hehehe… i remember at the product launch, i was listening to skid row’s monkey business, and youth gone wild, and a bit of children of bodom, because i just love how guitar dive bombs sound especially on good headphones. BUT, i was disappointed, my focus was not even on my listening session, i was even aware of what’s happening around me despite my ipod’s volume cranked up (it’s like one of those moments where you daydream, and your music just becomes a background noise); plus, dimebag’s guitar doesn’t sound “magnetic”… however, switching to “love in this club 2,” and other top 40’s, awakened my “inner chika chika yeah” mood…. =)))

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  • Pedro Oliveira

    Marcus, would you say that thw amperior is still the best all around on ear (dont know if u tested the hd25 alu)…?
    I think this guyan are not bad at all, not on the same level as the over ears pf course but still they are good. Too bad the pads on the over ears are too small for me…. :'(
    Loved the sound and its beeing really har to find a replacement…. Suggestions? :-)

    Cheers

    • headfonics

      Hi Pedro and thanks for visiting us! :)

      The amperior is definite step-up for me personally over the older HD25 so it is a pity they stopped making it.

      Now as to whether or not this the best all-round on-ear that is a very tough question to answer given the explosion in on-ear headphoens that have come onto the market of late.

      A lot of people would vote for the V-Moda M100 or even the smaller XS as excellent on-ear, others would veer to the Beyer T51P or even stick with the older DT1350. It really depends on your personal preferences.

  • Pedro Oliveira

    The m100 is over ear…. :-P
    …but the pads on the m100 and on the over ear momentums are so small that some like me may call it a on ear indeed….

    Actually i have a stock hd25 since i am not a modde. If everything works out well i am receiving a pair of silver amperiors next week. I am really excited to see how they conpare straight from my 4th gen ipod touch. I am hopping for a bit fuller sound, a bit more bass and more controlled highs…. Also hope the velour pads are more confortable since i use the pleatherette ones on the hd25 and i can almost feel the drivers after half an hour… :-D

    I never tried any v moda but i dont know if i would like them. I like clear sound with not much coloration. I didnnt like the mdr 1r for instance, too colored and muffled vocals. From what i read the v modas have a similar signature too the 1r but with added bass imact of course.

    • headfonics

      Oh in that case you would hate the M100 because its a very colored headphone. Actually a very neutral headphone with great bass is the M50 believe it or not. The Amperior is going to sound more high fidelity than the HD25 with more controlled highs and a slightly smoother and more refined response. I think you are going to enjoy it if you get it.

      • Pedro Oliveira

        I had the m50, i really liked the bass but the midranbge was too recessed and the highs sounded a bit plasticky to me. Also they were quite bulky. I am hoping to like the amperior too. The amount of bass is more than on the stock hd25? Will i nottest a big difference? I have no amps so i am expecting to try the amperiors.
        I think the problem of the hd25 is mostly the compressed soundstage. I dont want much more bass on the amperiors and i dont want the highs too be much smoothed, o just want a tiny bit fuller sound and more bass straight from my ipod. But in terms of soundstage the momentums on ear are far better than the hd25 and probably than the amperiors, but on the other hand the isolation on the on ear momentums is not that good….

        • headfonics

          Depends on what you listen to as the On Ear is excellent with EDM or beats genres but not so good with the standards or classics etc. The amperior as I said is more like a high fidelity HD25 with more control where it counts.

          • Pedro Oliveira

            But the bass is on the amperiors, unamped and the sound overall straight from portable devices is bigger? Slightly or the difference is still noticeable?
            I really liked the over ear momentums, to me the momentums over ear and the hd25 complement each other very weel with the momentums being a bit warmer bit not too much wich makes them perfect for classic rock and stuff like that and the hd25 more headed to beatcentric genres….

            I mostly used my over ear momentums at home…. Have you ever tried the denon ah d600? They are really cheap in europe now…. Worthy momentums repalcement?

          • headfonics

            I believe from memory its the same but just with better detailo and texture and a not so hot high end.

          • Pedro Oliveira

            Hum…. I thought the bass would be at least a tiny bit more and fuller. At least the treble is better….But straight from portable devices will i notest a big difference against my stock hd25?
            Confort with the velour pads must be nice compared to the pleatherette pads….

            So you have never tried the ah d600s?

          • headfonics

            Never tried the 600’s sorry. Mind you I last tried the Amperior a while ago so if you are reading the review then that is still to date my opinion.

          • Pedro Oliveira

            Too bad…. There seems to be a lovehate thing with this denons, not only because of the looks but also because they are the the following line to the famous d*000 line and some seem to think theybare a step back other a step forward in terms of sq. I never tried them too unfortunatelly…. They used too retail for 400, 500 euros and can bow be had for about 140 euros.

            Now another question…. :-P

            A personal one…. :-P

            Are you a momentum (over ear) or amperior (hd25) guy…? I know they are different but just by curiosity… :-P

            Sonically speaking of course….

          • headfonics

            140 euros is a bargain if you ask me, almost worth buying just to try them out.

          • Pedro Oliveira

            Maybe…. Gotta sell my sony mdr v6s first since they are like new and colecting dust…. Is it true the v6s were discontinued and this time is really for real?
            You should review the denon ah d600… :-P

            At the current price point, around 150 and 200 euros maybe they are really realluy worth it now…. Afterall we are talking of headphones that had a initial retail price of 500 euros….