There are a heck of a lot of headphones in the Sennheiser range, almost Nokia type proportions but there are some classics that stand the test of time and one of them was and still is the HD25-1 II. Revered for its form and function in the professional DJ circles and many more beyond that for it’s enduring sound, some may argue the HD25-1 II gave birth to the modern consumer beats driven tonality in many of today’s headphones. Outside of the slightly hot treble in the stock steel cables, the HD25 is a very likable headphone indeed and has been on the go for years now.

It is not often you get an updated model and its perhaps more accurate to say that Sennheiser do not want you to think of this as an upgraded model with a name like Amperior rather than a new number in the range. It certainly evokes the spirit of the HD25-1 II and looks very similar in form and function. However on closer inspection there are a number of key differences externally and naturally internally not to mention the tonality or how it sounds.

What has changed?

The biggest change to the setup are the new aluminum cups on the Amperior which replaces the solid plastic cups of the HD25-1 II. Quite apart from the color designs you can get with these new cups – a nice little silver which matches my Just Audio portable amps to a tee and a rather unattractive blue (is it just me?) – they are also a good bit more taut or stiffer than the HD25 cups and as the guys at Inner Fidelity quite rightly point out the chambers of these new cups handle the drivers in much more confident and noise free manner than the HD25. This is most apparent in the way the Amperior dealt with the previous main criticism of the the HD25 that the treble sizzled a bit too much and sounded a bit harsh at the top end.

The next big change is the cable, often noted in the HD25 as the weak link in an otherwise cracking headphone. The steel cables were generally identified as another contributor to that hot treble and edgy grainy sound the HD25 was capable of putting out. Often the HD25 was seen as a DIY dream because of that cable with plenty of owners opting for a re-cable using either superior HD650 cable (that includes me) or more luxuriant options such as Cardas or anything really with a copper construct to dampen the sizzle. Thankfully the Amperior stock comes with a copper cable rather than steel but with still the same connector design as the HD25 so if you want to take your old cables from your HD25 and pop them onto the Amperior you still can. Further the connector is now terminated around 4 inches from the cups allowing you to switch between two cables, for your igadgets with all the knobs and whistles of a remote and a straight line for pure audio.

Outside of that everything else is pretty much the same. The same dual angled headband that splits for added comfort and control, the same sized cups for on ear and velour pads (the HD25 I have is actually in pleather as is the underside of the headband) and the same cup lock in and wiring guide mechanism. Unlike a lot of headphones the single entry cable is positioned on the ride side of the headphone and not the left side.

Small mention must be made to the new grade box experience from Sennheiser which is much classier than the old plain vanilla boxes sporting a crafted foam insert and space for the cables. You actually feel like your buying something you would want to hold onto for protection and storage of the headphones than another paper weight in the cupboard.

How do they sound?

As soon as you put these on it is apparent what changes have been made and how the sound has improved markedly over the HD25-1 II. Gone is the harsh or hot edgy uppers and in comes a much improved articulation that whilst still sparkles it does so with much greater refinement and smoothness over its predecessor. Its still an on ear closed headphone so don’t expect massive airy sound stage but the imaging and clarity is superb for the its class and its a far more complete experience than the more colored niche TNA-1 or the Urbanears Zinken.

The punchy bass so enjoyable from the HD25 is still present without being offensive or hugely invasive. Unlike more modern bass orientated headphones I always found the JD25 to get the bass quantity just right for dynamics and excitement without it producing a mushy mess in the mids and the Amperior retains that same quality but only a notch or two higher. Its still relatively forward and aggressive with a club type presentation, don’t expect amphitheater HD800 like quality but the mids are clean, clear and vocals are without any irritating sibilance. This is not a dark headphone, its tonality is neutral to bright yet smooth and not as fatiguing as the slightly harsher HD25.

The versatility of the Amperior, much like its predecessor is top notch. The clear mids and combined with the smoother treble allows it to swing from rock to dance to vocals with much more ease than even the older HD25 or other competing models such as the TMA-1 or the V-Moda M100 which come across as far too colored to be anything other than niche headphones (though they do the niche very well indeed). This is at heart a neutral headphone with excellent PRaT and musicality and a forward presentation in keeping with the older HD25-1 II.

Final Thoughts

I like the Amperior a lot, but then I like a modded HD25-1 II a lot also. If I am looking for an all-rounder portable on-ear with a slight bias to beat centric genres then the Amperior is probably the best on the market right now. If your an existing owner of the HD25-1 II and you love that sound then I am not sure if I would say upgrade but give them a demo and see what you think. Personally unmodded the Amperior slays the HD25-1 II in terms of coherence and refinement, particularly that top end, but if you have your HD25 modded already with some nice cables this might be less of a seismic shift to try before you buy on that count.

Join the Forum discussion on this post

Edit:

Upon checking some data deep in the Senn site there is mention of the use of steel cable but on the marketing sheet and not the tech sheet so off we go to Senn SG R&D to clarify based on their initial impressions we thought copper :)

67 Responses

  1. Pedro Oliveira

    Hi guys.

    Sorry to bother but i am loosing my mind here….
    I already have the sennheiser momentum, i love the sound but the fit is driving me crazy… most of the times it seems like i get a better seal on the right side of the headphones… anyway i am considering selling the momentums and buying a pair of hd25’s or amperiors.
    Right now the amperiors are costing 160 euros and the hd25’s are around 180, 190….
    I always have been curious about the hd25’s because i listen to some edm and many of my favourite producers use the hd25’s.

    Given the price difference wich would be best? the amperior or the hd25’s?

    As i said i listen to some edm (above and beyond, arty….) but also, rock (biffy clyro, artic monkeys…), pop and some indie music (stuff like metronomy,radiohead and bon iver).. Any of them will be used straight of an ipod 4th generation ipod touch….

    Will i be downgrading if i decide to buy any of these 2? Will they be better performers to what i listen to?

    Many people told me that the momentums have better resolution than any of these 2….

    Hope you guys can help me please… Thank you…

    Reply
    • headfonics

      Amperior – price same now I think as HD25-1 II and they are not being made anymore – sounded a lot smoother than the HD25 last time I reviewed it also.

      Reply
      • Pedro Oliveira

        Than since having both the momentum and amperior at the same price, wich one do you think is the best bang for buck and the best all rounder in terms of sound quality? Wich in your opinion is more able to provide a fantastic listening experience wether at home or on the streets?

        Cheers… :-)

      • headfonics

        That would be hard to answer for you since you originally wanted to look at another headphone due to the discomfort from the Momentum meaning a comparison is not worth your while?

      • Pedro Oliveira

        I can get a gopd fit with the momentum but i havê to move them for a while and after 1 half an hour they start to become uncomfortable. But forget the confort. Soundwise, for the purposes i mentioned wich of them is the best for you? :-)

      • headfonics

        Depends – all round probably the momentum but perhaps more sparkle on the top end from the Amperior but would be more aggressive than the Momentum. The Amperior is much cheaper now than the Momentum though and is perhaps a little faster. I would advise testing both if you can and matching to your genres – as I said I think the Momentum is the better all-rounder.

      • Pedro Oliveira

        Hum…. The momentums are very good indeed, my main complains are the bad fit. Although i get the over ear efect if i turn my head on a 90º angle it is noticeable that i loose a bit of seal on one of the sides. My other complain is the soundstage because to my ears it is almost unexistent. The m50’s wich do not have a very spacious sound have a noticeable bigger soundstage than the momentums. Sounds definition and resolution is amazing though….

        The sony mdr-1r does not stand a chance against these two in terms of sound quality right? (also 160 euros in europe right now)

      • Pedro Oliveira

        I did. But in my opinion the k550 is too big to be used on the street. I have the ath m50’s ad to me these are already too big. I can feel the pads touching the jaws area. I can imagine that the k550 would be even bigger. And also i heard some complains about the seal..
        The mdr 1r’s are not as good as the senns and the akg’s?

      • headfonics

        The other interesting option is the vmoda m100 but the feeling from the cans you are testing is that you like your bass but with good clarity? The new v100 pads also seem to make a big difference in terms of comfort (XL pads)

      • Pedro Oliveira

        They look very interesting indeed (although it seems that the m80’s get more praise because it seems the 100’s have too much bass for some people).
        Yes i like a good tight punch but i also need clarity and good resolution.

        I had the akg’s k518dj (k81) and eventually i sold them because even without the foam inserts the highs were too rolled off. Bass was quite good though….

      • headfonics

        Well I am from the UK originally and I do know the prices are very high so i hear you on that. Buy from head-fi – much cheaper even with customs.

      • Pedro Oliveira

        Not many v-modas on Head-fi (on european ground). Actually i dont recall seeing anyone selling a pair of v-modas in europe,
        But actually i have a guy from Portugal that has a pair of Lp2’s and he sells them for 70 euros in very good condition… Are those any good? (from what i saw the m100 seem to be a lot better)

        Anothe option i have is to trade my momentums for a pair of hd25’s plus 60 euros… not a bad option as well i guess…

      • headfonics

        Almost forgot – the Aiaiai TMA-1 Studio Young Guru edition is worth looking at – nice bass extension, clean mids and controlled treble – could be what you are looking for and they hail from Denmark.

      • Pedro Oliveira

        Getting Baco to the k550s… I can get them for 109 euros… I know they are not for street use but they seem Luke a fantastic home headphone… I am just a bit affraid of the fit and the bass. I saw some people saying they are bass light and others say that they havê just the right amount and that they are actually quite fast. Só what do you think? Are the akg food all rounders and energetic enough to deliver some edm proper edm and rock?

        I am thinking of getting an akg k550 plus MDR 1r or amperior combination…

      • headfonics

        Well under regular conditions I would suggest amping the K550 with a warm portable SS with good bottom end and see where that goes.

      • Pedro Oliveira

        i will… :) The k545 are out but still the k550 still looks amazing and for 109 euros i think they are worth a shot… :)
        As a portable the amperiors or the mdr 1r’s? :)

        Any of them matches the momentums sound quality and versatility in your opinion?

      • headfonics

        I would go with amperior for portable – easy to drive and soon they will be hard to find ;)

      • Pedro Oliveira

        Just curious… Have you tried the amperiors against the aluminiums? :)

      • Pedro Oliveira

        I am going for the amperiors than… :) I always wanted to try the hd25’s but since i dont have an amp and since the amperiors are now costing less than the hd25’s ts better for me to hurry… XD

        To be honest my only concern about the amperior was some people telling me that the resolution on the momentums was higher… but i dont believe there will be much of a difference. also many people told me that the momentums when side by side with the amperior they sounded a bit muddy. So basically it is like a jack of all trades… XD

        The momentums i have to admit that they look more classy and more premium (the silver 1r’s are in the same league in terms of beauty) but the silver amperiors also look really cool… ;)

  2. Juan David

    hi marcus, I just have a question, I have the hd25 adidas and the amepior, when connected to my phone or ipad it sounds much better than the hd25 due to the low impedance I suppose, but when I connect it to my computer using loseless files the amperior sound much lower and distort quite easily while the hd 25 performs much better, sounds more detailed to my ear and the bass I much stronger, can you explain to me why is this? would very much appreciate it.

    Reply
    • headfonics

      whats is your computer setup? Sounds like amp matching here just on initial impression – again could be impedance is too high on your system or power better for the hd25.

      Reply
      • Juan David

        no amps, just my macbook pro, VLC player (it also sounds grainy when I first start a song but fades away as the song goes along) and some loseless tracks.

      • headfonics

        You might want to invest in a little external DAC/AMP like a FiiO E17 which can also do spdif.

      • Juan David

        but as to my original question, why is it there’s such a difference, they are supposed to me the same drivers only different impedance, does the impedance have anything to do with SQ?
        or is just the sq of either headphone and I just happen to prefer the hd25 connected to a more powerful source? thanks a lot.

      • headfonics

        The HD25 is pumping out at 70ohms thats reasonably high resistance so perhaps your mac soundcard is not suited to that hence recommending an external DAC and Amp for your HD25. The Amperior is much lower as you say.

      • Juan David

        yeah that’s my point, the hd 25 sound much louder/better when connected to my macbook pro than the amperior.

      • headfonics

        ah then all i can think of is that your sound card is an impedance match for the HD25 or the amperior is less efficient on your macbook.

      • Juan David

        ok thanks, also which would you reccomend for both of them, the jdslabs cmoy or fiio 12 or the e17 that you mentioned previously, will the amperior benefit from an amp?

      • headfonics

        Personally the E17 for me with the spdif out and amp out giving you a portable solution as well as a desktop solution – later throw in a fiio e09k desktop amp and you got a nice little system there.

      • Juan David

        sorry for my ignorance, but what is a spdif out and amp out?

      • headfonics

        Your macbook should have optical out right? just feed that optical out to the E17 optical input (spdif) and you will get digital transfer at high bit rates and then your headphone jack is connected internally to a good amplifier in the e17 so you will get a better power handling and DAC conversion for your headphone than macbook alone.

      • Juan David

        also the amperior plugged in to my mac, have less bass and distorts.

  3. DarKen

    Nice review Marcus, I’m rockin my Amperior(Blue) right now and love em, its very smooth, admirably flat actually. A good DAC seems to really bring these out.

    Reply
  4. PT

    Marcus what amp do you recommend locally to pair with the amperior? i love everything but that soundstage…

    Reply
    • marcusd

      Depends on your budget but I would look at Just Audio’s uha-120 or even the aha-120 for sound stage potential but these are not the cheapest amps. The National might be another interesting solution.

      Reply
    • headfonics

      Depends on your budget but I would look at Just Audio’s uha-120 or even the aha-120 for sound stage potential but these are not the cheapest amps. The National might be another interesting solution.

      Reply
      • headfonics

        I honestly have no idea what that means to be fair since you bought an Amperior which is $300? :)

      • PT

        i got these as a xmas gift :D so that doesn’t count right?

      • headfonics

        Count to what? Well i am not to sure what you have in mind for a budget but plenty of amps out there at all prices.

    • t1tan1um

      The whole purpose of Amperior(vs HD25 @ 70ohm) is not needing to amp them due to low impedance (18ohm). If you want soundstage i suggest you look elsewhere.

      Reply
      • headfonics

        Yeah amps wont dramatically improve sound stage on the Amperior – As for matching with a locally available amp drop down to Egghead and try out a few combinations there from ALO Audio or the new FiiO E12 just for fun when it comes out later in the year.

  5. t1tan1um

    Nice review Marcus, but one BIG mistake everybody seems to make. I’m very interested to find out how do you know that the Amperior have a copper cable? Did you personally checked it? Did you read it on the official Sennheiser site? Where do people get this idea? This is the reason i don’t believe in burn-in or the fact that different types of cables make a difference in sound. I think it’s only placebo. I agree with you that the aluminium cups change the sound just like it changed it on IE80 metal housing vs IE8 plastic housing, even though Sennheiser officials said they are the same and they sound the same. I’m sure that the pads also make them sound different. But not the cables. Because the cables are in fact steel. :)

    Reply
    • headfonics

      In actual fact I got that from the rep from Senn R&D SG who was hosting our event, which now leads me to hesitate. I take your point about it possibly affecting your opinion on cables but I can safely assure you if you have tried my HE6 with copper gauge balanced and single ended silver you would hear a mighty difference out of the Schiit Mjolnir :)

      Upon checking the PDF promo they have laying around it does indeed say steel cable haha well then the cups play a much bigger role than perhaps I initially estimated. Certainly then the final twist would be in the tuning of the drivers within the improved housing though I have to go back to their R&D and ask them if that is indeed the case.

      Nice spot but still passionately believe that cables can make a difference.

      Reply
      • t1tan1um

        Thanks Marcus, i apreciate it. Hope you can edit your review if you find out the cable is indeed steel so no one gets confused by it. I’m sure a lot of people read your site and you want the informations to be accurate. Please keep me posted about that. I will buy them in the near future and i would like to know that. This wouldn’t affect my decision on buying them, i will buy them anyway, i just want to know the true. This isn’t the first mistake Sennheiser made. If you check Sennheiser Canada you will find that Sennheiser IE8 have a Kevlar®-reinforced cable, but on Sennheiser America & Europe they don’t mention it. Idk why.

      • headfonics

        Senn R&D is a 2 hour flight away, so tempting haha – yeah the funny thing is they spent ages taking pics of the HD25-1 II with upside down cups and transplanted HD650 cables – apparently this was news to them :)

      • t1tan1um

        So did you manage to find out if the cables are made from steel or copper? :)

      • headfonics

        Yup I got a reply 2 days from Senn SG and it is indeed steel cables – I wonder how the copper thing became bedded in our thinking? That means more study of the cups and tuning of the drivers – is it the same steel construct? That I dont know.

  6. fishda

    hi sir marcus. does this sound like the fa002w? you’ve mentioned 1x before that the fa002w is the bigger brother of the hd25.:)

    Reply
    • headfonics

      I think the Amperior sounds a lot more refined with a better mid section that the FA002w and much easier to drive. The FA002w does have stronger bass.

      Reply
  7. cdarcc

    Good review marcus.

    Have you tried replacing the velour pads with pleather and check if there is any effect on the sound of the amperior?

    Reply
    • headfonics

      Interestingly I didnt see an extra set of pleather in the box for the Amperior. Hope I can do that this weekend at the Senn event. I predict darker tonality, better bass but muted highs and smaller sound stage hehe.. but I could be wrong.

      Reply
    • headfonics

      Thanks Dale! Thought with a recabled HD25-1 II in the armory I cant justify the upgrade.

      Reply
      • dalethorn

        I found the Amperior and Momentum a good compare, good contrast. Both have a lot of the same character, but the Momentum I think is a very pleasant and relaxed listen, with good bass support, while the Amperior is more aggressive or heavier in sound, also very lush in some ways – not so relaxed, but great for out of doors and public transport.

      • headfonics

        So far I find that to be broadly my own impression Dale. I found the Momentum to be a very relaxed headphone with great clarity but not as energetic as the Amperior.

    • headfonics

      Yes I do, will bring them this Sunday to the Senn meeting and pop out reviews before Xmas.

      Reply
      • sese

        So did they best suite.the amperior from the sea of.amps in your suitcase? :)

      • headfonics

        I have yet to try it with the Amperior, but I will do on Sunday! For the review I used the FiiO E17 and E09k.

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