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Sennheiser HD 202 II review: A comfortable over-ear headphone for audiophiles on a budget

Sennheiser includes a clip in the box that lets you wind the cable around it and clip it to your belt, but who really wants to deal with that now that we have completely wireless headphones that are much more comfortable to use on the run.

The other limitation that favors the competition is the HD 202 II's lack of mobile controls and a microphone. Forget about keeping your smartphone in your pocket while switching tracks and adjusting volume on an in-line remote -- the wire on these guys is simply a straight cord that terminates in a 1/8-inch jack (a quarter-inch adapter is also included).

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Finally, the headphones don't fold up for compact travel, nor does the company include a carrying case to protect the headphones in transit, which has me wondering why Sennheiser markets these as headphones for DJs.

If that's what you're looking for, you should pick up the Sennheiser HD 205 IIs, a step-up from the 202 IIs that come with rotating earcups for easy listening out of one ear, a storage pouch to protect your gear, and a fuller bass response.

Of course, none of those mobile drawbacks limit the HD 202 II's application at home, and I personally found myself enjoying them a lot more listening to records and MP3s around my apartment, where the long cable is actually an asset.

Performance

The HD 202 IIs carry a relatively neutral tonal balance with a frequency range of 18 to 18,000Hz and a 115 dB sound pressure level. Technical specs aside, that means you'll likely experience a big upgrade in sound quality if you're replacing the earbuds that came with your smartphone. By sound quality, I'm referring to the range of harmonies and details that amplify your listening experience, giving your ears a chance to access more instruments and sonic nuances in your music that would otherwise get buried.

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I tested these headphones and compared them with a number of other budget and top-tier headphones including the MEElectronics HT-21 and the Koss PortaPros; both appear in our picks for the top headphones for the budget-minded on CNET.

Most of the cheaper headphones I listen to have a similar sound profile that's built for universal appeal no matter what genre you pump into them, and the HD 202 IIs are no different, although they do lack a bit of bass punch compared with the PortaPros, with a slightly tinny treble range than the HT-21.

Keep in mind, however, that those opinions are coming from someone who's listened to hundreds of headphones for comparison - if you're just looking for a pair of headphones that sound "good," you won't be disappointed by the HD 202 IIs.

Conclusion

Although the Sennheiser HD 202 IIs may not be the sexiest headphones in the game right now, it's unfair to criticize the design without mentioning the impressive sound quality, replaceable earcups, and comfortable fit that only gets sweeter with extended use.

You can explore other options in our roundup of the best headphones if you're extra picky about sound quality or want features like wireless connectivity and additional accessories, but anyone just shopping for a pair of great-sounding headphones for listening to music or watching movies at home should consider the Sennheiser HD 202 II.

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