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Sennheiser HD 201 Review – Do They Hold Up In 2023?

I gave the HD 201 another chance in 2019, but are they worth a purchase today?

by Stuart Charles Black
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Hey there friend, and Welcome aboard!!

Before we get into the Sennheiser HD 201 Review, grab a snack, sit back and relax because…

You’ve come to the right place!!

Table of Contents

Click to navigate the page!

Video Review
Photo Gallery
Genre Pairing
Final Word

Now without further ado, let’s get rolling!


This may seem off-topic, but I’m going somewhere with it and relating it to the HD201 so bear with me!

Life has a funny way of punching us in the mouth sometimes.

Circumstances that happen in our lives either change our perspective for the better or worse.

If I can get morbid for a second, it can and will utterly destroy some people via suicide or some type of weird seclusion, where the person is shut off from everyone and everything.

Their heart might turn cold and hardened, to the point of bitterness and indifference toward others.

If you let it shape you for the better, then you start to recognize that being happy all the time is not only unrealistic but also impossible.

Emotions come and go.

We can’t really try to control or change them. All we can really do is react to them.

That’s why self-help oftentimes is stupid.

It teaches you to try and control the situation at all times and be this bubbly, happy bundle of sunshine when life doesn’t really work like that.

Nowadays, if you’re even sad for 5 minutes, it automatically means there’s something wrong with you, and OMG we have to fix it!

Here, buy my pre-recorded Seminar and get YOUR life back on the right track!

Back in the day, if my Grandpa was sad, he’d say something like

“Wow. I feel really sad today. Oh well, that’s life. Back to shoveling snow.”

This morning I woke up to a YouTube notification on a simple headphone review and went “Oh Boy! I haz a notification! I can’t wait to lend a helping hand or get my ego stroked!”

When I clicked on the bell, I was greeted with this: “stupidest dude ive ever listened to.”

In the past, I may have gotten offended. Today I didn’t. Perhaps I will again in a future comment, and that’s okay.

Part of life is accepting the fact that you will get your feelings hurt sometimes. People will offend you, and they project their insecurities onto you.

It’s not really that I wasn’t offended by his comment. I guess I sort of was for a second. But my reaction to that negative feeling that I experienced wasn’t extreme or misplaced if that makes sense.

My blood didn’t boil. I didn’t have this deep inner desire to get back at him or even the odds.

I just kind of stared at it for a second, and moved on to doing something productive without even responding.

Because my perspective has kind of shifted, it gives me the ability to see comments like this in a different light.

The HD 201

Likewise, my perspective on the HD 201 has changed. When I first bought the headphone back in 2015, I hated them. I thought it sounded kind of boring and bland.

Because I was still a bass head back then, I had a warped perception of the 201.

I was expecting it to sound a certain way based on my own limited experience with headphones, and it just didn’t. You could say I was challenged.

I was immature when it came to sound. I hadn’t yet experienced what music is actually supposed to sound like, vs. what I was always told it should sound like.

In short, I ended up giving the headphone away, partly because I didn’t like them, and partly because I wanted to be a good Samaritan.

Yay for charity!

For now, let’s take a look at the specifications before we dive in…

Sennheiser HD 201


Now that the boring stuff is out of the way, let’s talk about build!


The build of the HD 201 is pretty underwhelming, but we should also remember that this headphone is worth around $20.

It’s like a drug store headphone if drug store headphones were actually good. It’s everything a drug store headphone should be.

A drug store headphone should be a little drug store-y, but not too drug store-y. Often times it is too drug store-y.

The HD 201 strikes that perfect drugstore balance.

It’s a lightweight affair, and a smidgen on the flimsy side, but surprisingly doesn’t feel “cheap” per se.

It honestly just feels like a headphone of this price should. Light and plasticky. NO BIG DEAL.

Everything is plastic.

The headband, cups, adjustment, etc. Plastic. It even feels like my head is plastic. Fake Plastic Trees, brah.

The padding itself is a cheap faux leather and hearkens back to the 90s when the Sony MDR-V150 was a staple in my collection (Okay it was the only headphone I had Lol). Man, I miss those days.

Why do we complicate things so much? Back then, I listened to DMX with a crappy pair of headphones and a Disc-Man, and I was completely happy.

I didn’t have this impulsive desire to want more. To want the best. I just accepted what I was given and enjoyed the heck out of it.

If only we could channel some of that energy into this weird and convoluted digital age. Buy. Consume. Obey. If only.




I have them on my head right now, and they feel pretty good.

You will be making slight adjustments from time to time though.

Like the Sony MDR V6, I would classify the HD 201 as a cross between a Circumaural (Around-Ear) and a Supra-Aural (On-Ear).

It doesn’t quite achieve either with certainty.

The issue is that because of this, the pads will start to kind of dig into the bottom portion of your ears.

Clamp force is still good for the most part, and the headband doesn’t dig too horribly bad into the top of your head.

Fortunately, an adjustment with the 201 isn’t too involved. Just put your hand on the cup and wiggle.

Do it for the other side. Now you’re golden for a while. This is the type of adjustment that I would consider minor.

It’s not a headphone that you’ll want to rip off your head due to discomfort, but it’s also not comfortable enough to where it feels like air, or that you’re not wearing anything.

It sits somewhere in the middle.

Now, put some pants on while we talk about Sound & Imaging!

Sound & Imaging

This is where I was inspired to completely rewrite this review.

If you read the comments after this revision is finished, it probably won’t make sense.

It was the shortest review ever. It was negative. I completely dumped all over these headphones.

It’s amazing how our perspective changes in just 4 years. I haven’t touched the headphone since then.

The only reason I picked it up is that I wanted to do a comparison to the 206, which I still don’t have at the moment.

I’m sure whoever has my original HD 201 is probably like “I wonder who the idiot is that gave this awesome headphone away. Bet he feels like a complete schmuck right now.”

Or he might have had the same dumbo reaction that I did. Whiny voice: “This headphone doesn’t have enough bass, wah!*Cries*

Anywho, I actually did a measurement of this headphone and it sounds like I remember. Rolled off bass, forward mid-range, darker treble.

Sennheiser HD 201 Review

Right Side vs. Left Side

Sennheiser HD 201 Review



It’s actually a perfect reference headphone because it sounds incredibly neutral aside from the mid-range.

The mids do sound forward but I find for the most part it’s not an issue.

They have some really nice presence but can sometimes standout out a bit much.

The Japanese House’s “Still” is a good example of vocals that are just a bit too forward for my tastes.

Those same vocals, as well as instruments, sound really crisp, lively, and engaging though.

It sounds mostly natural and very organic all things considered.

I think What HIFI? summed it up nicely:

“The level of clarity is such that instruments and vocals, while not as explicit as we might like, are apparent enough to paint a fairly detailed picture. It’s not the sort of fine detail that lets you identify exactly what’s going on, but it’s not broad, mushy strokes, either. Leading edges are solid enough to do the job.”What HIFI?

I think that kind of echoes my feeling pretty well. Let’s be real. These are cheap headphones.

You’re not getting the extreme garlic powder type detail, spacing/realism, and precision that you’d get with a Focal Utopia, but it’s admirable that the sound is even competitive with others outside of its price range at all.


Yes, the bass is rolled off, but it has nice texture and detail.

It’s just very lean sounding, which simply won’t work for some, despite my diatribe on how headphones are supposed to sound.

Personally, I don’t really care about bass nowadays unless it’s done well.

I do like a flatter bass with impact – see HIFIMAN Ananda or really any Audeze headphones.

But I also have an appreciation for a more rolled-off bass because it allows me to understand that the bass is not, nor should it be the focal point of the song.

It should provide a solid base for the music to build around.

I’d rather hear details and the subtlety of the music vs. feeling the impact, through some over-exaggerated portrayal of it.

And yes, I still listen to Hip-Hop and feel that same way.


The treble here is much darker than what you’re probably used to, and that’s most certainly a good thing.

Instead of that bite and sibilance that you’re accustomed to (which makes you want to gouge your eyes out), we have a more subdued but still detailed sound that is conducive to longer listening sessions without fatigue.

You don’t get that essy, metallic hue that’s apparent in other, brighter headphones.

If you’re new to this type of sound, it may be kind of awkward for you at first.

But don’t freak out! It’s okay.

Just give your ears and brain some time to get used to it.

I think you’ll really come to appreciate it after a while.



As far as Imaging, sounds are separated nicely but you’re not going to experience a very wide Soundstage.

But that’s okay. We’re not really expecting miracles here.

It’s a $20 headphone that sounds like a $100 one.

Another cool thing about the 201 is that it doesn’t really sound like a traditional closed-back.

Oftentimes, closed headphones sound just that; really boxed in and in your head sounding.

What I found interesting on ON and ON’s “Drifting”, is that right at the beginning the thumping sound in the track actually caused me to look up towards the garage door, thinking that the sound was coming from about 10-15 feet in front of me (I’m sitting in the kitchen at mom and dad’s).

So in that sense, it sort of does provide an out-of-your-head type of experience, but I wouldn’t buy these expecting that all of the time.

Video Review

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Photo Gallery

Sennheiser HD 201 Review
What a drug store headphone should have been.
Sennheiser HD 201 vs. HD 206

Let’s get into amplification!


You don’t need one per se, but I’m running it out of an Oppo HA-2 and it sounds marvelous.

I would recommend something, even if it’s just as simple as a FiiO E10K or a K3.

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As for the technical side of it, the HD 201 at 24 Ohm Impedance won’t resist power.

At 108dB Sensitivity, it’s also very efficient meaning it doesn’t need a lot from an amp to get pumping.

So you can use it with your phone and it will sound great, especially if your phone’s DAC is really good.

I’ve generally found through reading, and other people’s experience/conversing with them that the iPhone internal DACs are very good (I’m not an iPhone user).

If you have a phone like this, you likely won’t need separate amplification.

With a laptop however running something like Tidal, I would probably not rely on my Lenovo’s internal Soundcard to get the job done. What is a Soundcard?

PC manufacturers rarely make audio the main concern, and that’s a shame considering it’s very important.

Oh well. Now we can just buy all the amps!!

If you need some further help choosing: How to Choose a Headphone Amp!

Genre Pairing

These are the type of headphones that will work well for most genres, but there is a caveat:

This caveat comes with most headphones of this type with a somewhat darker-sounding treble.

It won’t work that well for Metal. I’ve noticed a running trend in headphones with this type of sound signature (AKG K240 for example).

There’s a raw sense of energy and liveliness missing.

You won’t get that slam and impact that you will with something like a Sennheiser HD 25.

So let’s wrap this up, shall we?

Final Grade

B+. Don’t ask me why. Just accept it. Haha.

While I did enjoy the HD201 after giving it another try, there are still better headphones under $100 and I’d point you in that direction first before I’d tell you to buy these.

Interested in learning more?

Check out my Budget Kings Series:


Well, that’s about it for today my friend! I hope you’ve enjoyed this Sennheiser HD201 headphones review.

Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I miss the mark on something? Please leave them down below or Contact me!!

If you love what I do here and want to support the blog and channel in a more personal way, check me out on Patreon and discover all the value I have to offer you.

What do you think about these bad boys? Are they still worth a purchase? I would love to hear from you. Until next time…

All the best and God bless,





Can’t decide which headphones to purchase? Interested in a complete buyers guide outlining over 40 of the best options on the market? Click on over to the best audiophile headphones to learn more!!

Be sure to also check out my Reviews and Resources page for more helpful and informative articles!



Sennheiser HD 201













  • Decent Isolation
  • Flat/Neutral
  • Revealing Sound, Good for Reference


  • Build is a tad flimsy
  • Pads start to hurt your ears over time

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dejavu April 13, 2016 - 10:29 am

why this much negative review! i have them over 2 years next to my dt880 and other headphones.i enjoy their forward presentation and midrange texture more than dt880.btw hd201 is good cheap reference option and they need amp to shine

Stu April 14, 2016 - 3:36 am

Hey there!

Just my personal opinion really. I was very disappointed in the sound, as well as the volume. I don’t think the 201 is a good option in any circumstance, and wouldn’t even bother pairing them with an amp due to the extremely low impedance. There really is no need for an amp. The headphones in general were flimsy and didn’t feel like they would hold up for long. Reviews online echo the same sentiments about these. Glad to hear your experience was a little different though..

Thanks for stopping by!


Stuart Charles Black September 10, 2019 - 1:58 pm

Hey man I actually edited this article after revisiting the headphones!! Let me know what you think. I really blasted these back in 2015 but I think my updated review is a bit more fair.

Asak July 9, 2016 - 8:34 am

I have been using the HD201s for years. They do hold up pretty well, but the cord does tend to fail. The headphones still last a number of years, but eventually they do fail.

My problem is the most recent HD201s I purchased seem a lot less comfortable than the ones I’ve owned previously. It seems like they may have changed out the foam for something much more rigid and uncomfortable.

HD201 vs HD202, the 202s definitely have more bass. However, I think the overall sound is more clear in the HD201s, so it’s a trade-off. HD202 seems like it has sort of exaggerated bass in my opinion. For playing games that may be a good thing, and for those who like a lot of bass.

Stu July 13, 2016 - 4:23 am

Hey Asak!

I agree. The ones I had earlier this year (before giving them away) were extremely uncomfortable. To the point that they actually made my ears hurt badly!

I agree about the sound, to an extent. Yes it is clear, but it’s extremely quiet. In my opinion a flat/neutral sound isn’t worth it unless you can actually hear what’s going on. I was literally struggling to make out parts of the songs. I did appreciate the fact that it didn’t accentuate any particular frequency, but the build quality, comfort, and blandness left a bad taste in my mouth.

As far as the 202’s, I agree; the bass is a bit hyped, but to me in a good way. For $20, I’m not really expecting much, and the fact that they deliver left me pleasantly surprised. I was shocked that they didn’t sound muddy hardly at all. The only time they struggled was with really low sub bass type frequencies. The 202’s are the type of headphone that you just kind of toss in your bag as a last resort. They do well in most circumstances, and provided enough excitement for me to keep around for a spell.

Thanks for the thoughtful comment!


chamath July 19, 2017 - 2:04 am

This is product insults the brand. Why is Sennheiser making such cheap grade headphones and earbuds? I have an HD201 where the cable rubber falls off, and the faux leather pads are flaking and peeling as well. The CX213 where it has an unusual sized jack pops off from my player. However, the HD 40 which is more than twenty years old works the way it should.

Stu July 20, 2017 - 6:49 pm

Hey Chamath!

I agree. The headphones are very flimsy, but for $20 I suppose we can’t expect greatness. One thing that does bug me about a lot of headphones are those annoying flakes. I have peeled off entire headbands because of it. I’ve done it to the M50’s as well as a used pair of Crossfade M100’s. I think it’s ridiculous that companies can’t use something more durable, but after 2 years of using them I guess it’s to be expected. Lol I haven’t heard of the HD40 though, I may have to check those out. Thanks for the heads up!


Dimitri February 6, 2023 - 11:02 pm

I have a pair and because i moved on to other headphone i started modifying them (cut the back of the driver casing , added cotton foam, painted them, changed pads) and now paired with an x duoo mt 601 i actually enjoy them more than other pairs that i have. Very fun experience. Thanks for the viewpoint

Stuart Charles Black February 7, 2023 - 1:31 pm

Nice! And you’re welcome. How are you liking the 601?

Dimitri February 10, 2023 - 12:28 pm

the best headphone i have right now is the fidelio x2hr and the other headphones i have are efficient so it’s powerful for my needs. i actually have the newer version of the amp the mt 601S which have a different tube. i like anyways.

Stuart Charles Black February 10, 2023 - 6:18 pm

Nice! I had the MT-604 so I thought I’d ask. I liked it but ultimately didn’t understand the hype surrounding it. It was a fine amp, but I ended up giving it away to a Patron.

Dimitri February 10, 2023 - 4:37 pm

I actually have the mt601S (it has other tubes than the 601 other than that they’re the same) and since all my headphones are very efficient it has more than enough power.

Stuart Charles Black February 10, 2023 - 6:19 pm


Dimitri February 11, 2023 - 10:27 pm

Sorry for double comment, got confused

Stuart Charles Black February 14, 2023 - 9:48 pm

No worries man! Keep me posted with any questions in the future.


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