Sennheiser HD 238 review:

Sennheiser HD 238

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A simple canvas carrying case is included. Sarah Tew/CNET

While the HD 238 headphones don't isolate noise as well as over-the-ear models, they do well to muffle outside noises -- this is called passive noise cancellation, in contrast to the active noise cancellation of some headphones that requires an internal battery to work.

In reviewing the Bose OE2, I noted that they sound more natural and don't suffer from "Bose bloat," a term coined for its obtrusive bass boost. These Sennheisers exhibit similarly detailed sound and ample but not "bloated" bass. These are a touch on the warm side and will appeal to listeners who prefer more-laid-back, less-aggressive headphones with edgier treble.

Keep in mind that you shouldn't expect the same kind of sound from these Sennheisers as you would with higher-end models that cost well over $200. The point here is that the while the 238s don't offer great sound, they do deliver very solid performance for their price.

The Sennheiser HD 238 headphones actually carry a list price of $139.95, $10 less than the Bose headphones' list price. Bose headphones are very infrequently discounted, however, and a quick CNET Shopping search finds these Sennheisers for less than $75.

The problem is, that deal is unlikely to last. These headphones have been discontinued, presumably replaced by the Sennheiser HD 239s (list price $120). (Sennheiser also makes the HD 229 headphones, which sell for between $60 and $80.) That means retailers are clearing out their inventory, and the deals on the HD 238s are likely to be fleeting -- especially based on what happened when I reviewed the step-up 238i headphones. So get these while you can at less than $80, since they're far less of a bargain once the price jumps over $100.

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