Sennheiser HD 4.20S Impressions: Better than I expected, but not for me

My local Fry’s Electronics has a new absurdly comprehensive Sennheiser display. I spent a bunch of time touching and listening to the headphones on it.

The HD 4.20S is the entry- level model in Sennheiser’s low-end fashion can lineup. It’s $80. There’s also a $100 variant called the HD 4.30, which has a different ear cup mechanism and a removable cable. Here is a picture of the 4.20S. I don’t know what the S means.

These seem pretty darn okay for the price! Okay enough that I bought them on the spot? Well no.

But it was tempting.

The headphones have an all-plastic design, but without any hollow cheapness. The headband pad seems a little thin, though on my head for the 20 minutes or so I spent with it, it was fine, as they’re super light. The ear cups feel impressively similar to those on the Sennheiser Momentum 2. The holes are pretty small, but they fit around my normal-sized ears in a nice hug-like way. The padding is ample and soft, and seems like a basic memory foam. Isolation was great. The headphones fold up, though the folding mechanism doesn’t have any noticeable metal, or the satisfying click of other folding systems out there.

Sound-wise, the box for these proclaims they are bass-focused, and that’s true. The bass is strong, pleasant, but with just a hint of flab. The mids are okay and the highs are definitely rolled off.. Not so much that all detail is gone, but definitely noticeable when compared to other Sennheiser headphones on the same display. If you’re a detail hound, these are not for you at all.

I had to wear the headphones almost fully adjusted to their biggest size, and the little detents in the adjustments didn’t stick quite enough for my liking. They popped to the next size up a little too easily.

Isolation was quite good and suitable for the loud environment of the electronics store. I imagine they’d work great in a coffee shop. Soundstage was surprisingly clear and wide for a relatively compact model.

I wish the cable on this $80 model was removable. The bass is a little bit flabby for my tastes, but the overall signature is in line with the relaxed, warm sound that’s very popular right now. If you’re looking for a headphone in the $80 range that provides solid comfort and more subtle styling than other big brands, this might be worth a look. It didn’t stand out enough to make me buy it right then and there, but it was better than other Sennheiser budget offerings I’ve used. A step in the right direction for sure. Better than the equally priced Sony MDR V6? No. But much more stylish!

I’d still recommend saving just a touch more money for a 500 series model if you’re looking at Sennheiser. Perhaps the 598Cs. But for what these are, they seem fairly priced.

Here’s Sennheiser’s page about the 4.20S, and the 4 series in general.

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