The Sennheiser Amperior headphones offer great sound quality and a comfortable fit that will please most music fans. Those on the hunt for skull-collapsing bass should keep looking however. That's the short version at least -- read on for all the gory details on these on-ear cans.
I was initially very wary when I set eyes on the superbly named Sennheiser Amperior headphones, because they look just like the HD-25-1 IIs, which offered decent sound quality but were about as comfortable to wear as sticking your head in a bear trap.
Thankfully the Amperiors are considerably less troubling and much more easy on the ears. The cushioned pads rest on your lugs without pinching uncomfortably, and I found these headphones were still comfortable to wear even after several hours. The headband splits open, which makes the Amperiors feel more secure on your head -- I was able to indulge in a fair bit of enthusiastic head-bopping without these cans slipping off.
You might find your ears getting a little uncomfortable in balmy summer months, but generally speaking I was able to ignore the presence of the headphones themselves and focus on the music, which is the most important thing.
Unfortunately the build quality of these cans leaves something to be desired. The Amperiors don't feel as plasticky and cheap as their aforementioned brethren, but there are some elements of the design that don't inspire much confidence -- the plastic hinges for example, and the separating headband that looks like it could easily chomp through the cabling that's threaded along its length.
To sum up, build quality isn't as premium as I'd expect for a pair of headphones that cost £260, but I can't fault the comfort factor here.
Sound quality on offer is excellent. Listening to The Wombats' Kill the Director I was impressed at the clarity of the frenetic hi-hats and cymbal hits, and in the mid-tones, the guitar sounded crunchy without getting lost in the mix.
Vocals come through sounding very sharp, and it's possible to pick up a lot of detail on tracks like Incubus' Are you In. In contrast to the high-end clarity however, the bass quality isn't particularly thumpin', with the track's usually ear-thrumming bassline failing to rattle any bones loose.
I'd never go so far as to call this bass weedy -- it's clear and balanced, and I think it would satisfy the vast majority of music fans. If you're a hip-hop or dubstep fan however, looking for an eye-socket-rocking shake, other headphones that give more priority to the low end (the terrifying Beats by Dr Dre Pros come to mind), may impress more. Giving Skrillex's Bangarang a spin, the mid and high synth noises certainly make more of an impression than the grunting bassline.
Generally speaking, I'm very impressed with the sound quality the Amperiors offer. You'd expect clarity and balance for this amount of cash, but happily I think these cans manage to deliver. As always, how much you enjoy using these headphones will come down to personal preference, so my recommendation is to try before you buy if at all possible.
Step onto a crowded train and you'll quickly lose a lot of that clarity -- the Amperiors don't offer particularly nifty sound isolation. I tested them on the punishing, screeching London underground and found a lot of outside noise creeping in, though I was still able to hear and enjoy my music. These cans aren't too leaky, though if you have the volume turned right up and they're not pressed firmly against your ears, you'll likely find colleagues or fellow commuters shooting looks of annoyance in your direction.
There's an optional cable with an in-line remote in the box, that lets those using Apple gadgets control music playback. I found that skip forward and play/pause worked with an Android phone I tested -- the Samsung Galaxy S Advance -- but tapping the central button three times to skip back a track did not prove effective. iPhone users can use that middle button to take calls, and while I also successfully tested the call function from a Google Nexus S, I discovered that the controls are subtly different.
In short, these in-line remote controls may work with your Android phone, but there are no guarantees. If possible, you should take your phone to a shop to test out those functions with the Amperiors before buying.
The cable feels thick and sturdy, and is a good length for keeping your phone or MP3 player in a trouser pocket. Sadly the cable doesn't detach where it joins the headphones -- a feature I've found particularly handy in cans such as the B&W P5s, because it means you can easily replace the cable if it breaks.
The Sennheiser Amperiors aren't the best headphones I've ever tested, and at £260 I wish the build quality felt a bit more robust. Still, these are comfortable cans that offer decent sound quality. Before buying, also examine the excellent Bowers and Wilkins P5 headphones, which I think look much better, and are slightly cheaper.