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It's been a while since Sennheiser upgraded its mid-range headphones and so we looked forward to playing with its new HD 400 range, which culminates in the HD 448.
Design-wise, the HD 448 is a closed-back set (which means they offer a degree of sound isolation) and comes with a 1.4-metre cable. The headphones are large, but are suited to most environments due to their closed nature, and the extra 1.6m extension cable means they could be used for TV watching as well. Build quality is good, and we really like the metal industrial touches — even though the headphones are mostly plastic. The ear pads feature a decent pleatherette material.
The 448 sit on the head well, and are quite comfortable, and while they don't pinch like the Sennheiser HD 205s they can make your ears quite warm and sweaty after a while.
We listened to headphones with a variety of different sources, including the new Apple iPod Touch and the Creative Zen, and found them to be quite sensitive and capable of good volume levels. Overall, the sound of the HD 448 is quite balanced but with an emphasis on the bass. As a result it's best suited to rock, dance, R&B etc. However, despite its bottom-heavy balance, it's not particularly talented down there. The sound is full, but bass notes can sound a little "bloomy" and ill-defined.
But thankfully its talents in the upper registers mostly cancel this out. Putting on a bass-heavy track like "Tribulations" by LCD Soundsystem did make our head thrum a little bit, but the headphones' even-handed mids and treble ameliorated this a little. Voice and instrument detail was much better than the PX100 for example, but the portables are much more nimble in the bass.
While you could wear these on public transport they're probably best suited to listening at home or work. While they're not the ultimate in high fidelity the sound is even-handed enough to cater to listening to CD and vinyl as well.