Sennheiser is usually associated with words such as "elite" and "expensive," but you can now add "budget-conscious" to that list as well. The Sennheiser HD 205 II DJ Headphones ($80 list price, $49 to $59 online) are part of the company's HD 200 series budget line and designed for use by DJs and recording artists.
The HD 205 II is a midsize pair of headphones that incorporates a semienclosed circumaural design and is backed by Sennheiser's two-year warranty. Included is a large, thick vinyl carrying bag and a 1/4-inch gold-plated adapter that screws onto a 1/8-inch plug. The construction is decent, but it does flex a bit. Longevity may be an issue, but how much wear and tear is inflicted ultimately depends on the user. After moderate use, however, we did a notice a distinct creaking sound coming from the left side frame of the headphones when adjusting the band.
The company's logo is modestly displayed in silver on top of the headband, while its emblem is embossed in silver and prominently displayed at the left and right hinges. The replaceable pads are black, circular, and primarily made of vinyl, with a cloth interior sewn in. The right earcup rotates slightly upward at a 40-degree angle, in both directions, for monitoring with one ear, and helps keep the frame of the headphones in place. The outside of the cups is accented with a circular silver design, while the rest of the frame is black.
The hard plastic adjustable headband is a snug fit, but is adequately padded on the inside of the crown, providing exceptional comfort for long-term use while limiting ear fatigue. (Note that comfort level may vary based on head size, as the tight fit may be an issue for some and not for others.)
The single-sided, non-detachable, 10-foot-long straight cord exits from the left earcup and terminates at the 1/8-inch plug--not exactly ideal for travel, but roll it up and it's not a big deal. The swiveling cord inside the cup raises questions about how securely the cord is attached and how long the unit will last over time.
The semienclosed design of the HD 205 II shields against ambient noise--whether underground, in the street, or in the office--so well that we couldn't hear a conversation going on between two co-workers sitting 8 feet away from the testing area. Correspondingly, there was minimal sound leakage from the headphones, even at high volumes; the only way others could hear music coming from the headphones was if they were less than a foot away.
We used the HD 205 II headphones in conjunction with a Toshiba Qosmio X505-Q880 laptop (with Dolby Home Theater technology), an Onkyo TX-L5 receiver, and the Apple iPod Classic, Creative Zen: Vision M, and Zune HD MP3 players. With a 32-ohm impedance level, it takes little power to drive these headphones, so they're easy on the batteries in portable devices.