The best hi-fi headphones are designed to flatter your music and sound sources, glossing over imperfections to present the best possible sound. On the other hand, DJ and studio monitoring headphones like Sennheiser’s HD 25 series are there to tell it like it is. They need to communicate the ‘bad’ stuff – background hiss, electronic interference, rogue bass frequencies – as well as the good.
Clarity, not brutality
The HD 25 series has long been a favourite of professionals due to their light weight and excellent frequency reproduction. They take a lot of driving, so they won’t blow your ears off like a pair of Technics RP-DH1200 or Sony MDR-V700 cans (both popular with DJs), but they do deliver a far more accurate rendition of your source, from very deep bass to detailed treble, and without the compressed dynamics and aggressive attitude of those two rivals.
The HD 25-C II headphones tested here are a big brother to the cheaper HD 25 SP. While sound quality is consistent between the two, the earcups on the HD 25 SP have an irritating habit of rotating through 360 degrees, tangling the cables along the way. Not so with the HD 25-C II, which features only very slightly rotating earcups and a single cable that’s fed over the headband to the second cup.
Straight or curly?
If you’re after a curly cable, giving you the freedom to leap around a DJ booth or record on foot without tripping over your equipment, these are the cans for you. If a straight cable is more your thing, try the otherwise-identical HD 25 II (the C stands for ‘curly’ cable, see?).
You’ll notice we’re recommending them already and we’re not quite at the end of the review yet. That’s because extensive long-term tests of these headphones has taught us that they’re some of the best around if you want something light and relatively tough for DJ monitoring or sound recording, especially when you’re on the move. For regular indoor studio work, some may find a larger over-the-ear design more comfortable.