Sennheiser HD-202 Review


It all started a few months ago when I was at a CD shop. They were using the Sennheiser HD202 headphones, and I was surprised at how musically involving those headphones were. I know we are all into high-end, high fidelity, audiophile, exotic, expensive headphones, and a $30 cans is the last thing we’ll look at when building a system. However, once in a while, a good cheap headphone can be fun.

We all know how picky high end headphones can be. Reading the review on the HD650, K701, and DT880 confirms that. As the level of fidelity goes up, somehow those headphones get more picky on the song they like and not like. Not to mention that the higher resolution reveals how crappy your favorite band’s recordings are, and that you can no longer listen to the Top 40 because most of the recordings have compressed dynamic range and overly bright treble. Then comes the requirements with the amps, which we all know is something our wallets hate. Last but not least, is the necessity to babysit your headphone, perhaps even more than your own baby daughter (if you have one)! Crap, that sounds like a world I don’t want to live in!

This is where headphones like the HD202 comes in. So while listening to it at the CD shop, I noticed that it was really good, even playing different genres of music. It can tell it was a true Sennheiser in the sense that it has a relatively smooth and laid back sound, and with a good low end. It is not as “heavy” (as in slow-paced) as the HD650, but it was pretty nimble and it still works really well with the faster Rock stuff. Of course, it’s not as fast and PRaTty HD25-1, but again, the HD202 does have a wider genre bandwith than the $200 HD25-1. This headphone can take on a lot of different music, and come up with an 8/10 presentation for every one of them, including Rock, Pop, Top40, Jazz, or even Classical.

It actually looks good on a black, silhouetty picture. Had the lighting been brighter, you’d notice that the headphone looks really cheap and plasticky.

One day, I felt like wanting to buy a new headphone but I didn’t want to spend $300 on it, so I went out and got the HD202. I got home, listened to it, and everything was as good as I remembered it to be on the CD shop. Of course mine was better since the one on the CD shop had old tattered pads that felt uncomfortable to wear. I also owned the HD201, and think it’s better to spend a little bit extra to get the HD202, mainly due to the added low end and better acoustics from the different housing design (the HD201 had more reverb issues, so it sucks for classical and jazz). And while the HD201 has a more neutral tone, the added low end body on the HD202 puts just the proper amount of weight to the music, while still quite far from a bassy headphone definition.

The laid back stance didn’t feel as dark as a HD650 either, most probably because the HD202 didn’t have as much bottom end as the HD650. And within the laid back stance, you get a surprisingly good treble presence, but toned in such a way that they don’t become intrusive on mainstream recordings. The midrange area is quite full bodied and smooth (something you wouldn’t expect for a $30 headphone). Though the vocal, strangely, can be a little backward on some recordings. You would never find the bass presence to be lacking (if you do, then let me certify you a true basshead), although the punch is not as good as I would like it to be (aka, a little weak). The bass is also a tad boomy, though I certainly don’t mind given the price point.


Continue to the next page…

Sennheiser HD-202 Review
4.22 (84.44%) 18 votes

  • EmZvr

    Everything I wanted to know is in this article even the comparison between hd202 and px100-2. Thanks a lot !

    • Anonymous


  • Rx

    Just bought a HD 202 (not 202-II), thank you for your recommendation. It fits me well, sounds good too. I think for $30, it’s hard not to choose HD 202.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks, glad you like it.

    • Anonymous

      You’re welcome. It is quite a headphone for only $30.

      And the HD202 is the same headphone as the HD202-II.

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  • Anonymous

    Yes, Mike.  I agreed with you. But for note, the HD202 is a closed-back, hence won’t give you the ‘open’ & vibrance as the big brother.

    All my friend tested HD202 and give two thumbs. At 30$ price definitely unbeatable.
    King of 30$ closed cans, perhaps.

    The HD558 also like HD650 than HD600.
    Perhaps HD5x5 series more like to HD600 sound signature, since HD650 launched later.

    I just curious about HD518, almost no respectable review about it.Have you tried it?

    • Anonymous

      Yes, agree with everything you say.

      And yes, the 558 is like the HD650, though the 555 is a bit different. The 518 sounds identical to the 558 but with less bass body.

      • Anonymous

        uhm, just read another (perhaps the only) HD518 review from trusted reviews here

        isn’t HD558 sacrifice bass area a bit for more mids & trebles (including clarity & separations)?
        which make 558 sounds more ‘hifi’ than bass-oriented 518.

        historically sennheiser low-end series tend to be less ‘hifi’

        cross-check, please?

        • Anonymous

          I listened to the HD518 and I thought it has no strong point in comparison to the 558 and 598 as it was simply a bass-less 558 (I had all three 518-558-598 with me then). 

          I also don’t think that it does midrange and treble better. Hence I didn’t think it was worth doing a review on. But I don’t know, I may be wrong. It was just a short listening time. 

          • Anonymous

            in here, mentioned that 558 trade some of the bass thickness for more superior separation and dynamics, and more robust mids.  which is true?

            >from my sight, 558 should be the one for more serious listening, simply more comfy, more refined and a bit classy (dull grill) black appearance. 

            taken from

            “As an at-home pair though, they’re utterly brilliant. With a detailed, smooth and balanced sound, they can take on all genres of music and delight the ear. They trade away some of the bass thickness of the cheaper HD 518 set, but in return provide superior separation and dynamics, and a more robust mid-range. Complicated musical arrangements remain coherent, and this stepping-away from a more low-end focused approach makes even better use of the airiness offered by an open-back design. The treble is detailed and refined, only the bass could do with a bit of a tightening-up.”

            >but, (perhaps) we shall not underweight all-arounder 518 with ‘unique grill’ for an entry level audiophiler that cost ~65$ less, they said it even beat Monster Beat.
            bad name, Monster Beaten? LoL

            “Rich, detailed and balanced, the Sennheiser HD 518 make for an excellent all-round home headphone. They’re more measured and less bassy than the popular Monster Beats range, but still provide a full-bodied and warm sound that’s remarkably versatile – suiting music and movies alike. If you need an all-purpose headphone to take on duties once the sun goes down and housemates/parents/partners start to nod off to sleep, you can’t go wrong here. ”

            gosh! so much temptation from sennheiser

            • Anonymous

              I don’t get it, so that review says that the HD518 has more bass thickness? It should be the opposite.

              • Anonymous

                if not ‘thickness’ maybe more boomy, bloated , less controlled bass. people use varies words to describe things.

                is it correct to say that to ‘thickness’and controlled bass usually referred to thinness?

                similar to comparison between HD218 vs 238? whre 218 had ‘bass thickness’ ?

                just my thought

    • Anonymous

      So it looks like you’re becoming a big Sennheiser fan? 😉

      • Anonymous

        how to say? 

        mostly sennheiser pleases me. with its dark presentation. most friends also agreed with me.

        another time, when bright presentation needed some AKG pleases me.

        its a long journey to go…

  • Dkov70

    Thank you for your review! Could you compare the HD202 to same price range
    Sony MDR-ZX300? TIA

    • Anonymous

      Sorry, no experience with the ZX300.

    • Damage

      Avoid the MDR-ZX300.  Actually, avoid the ZX line until you hit the ZX700.

      I can tell you right out that the HD202’s are superior to the ZX300.  I don’t know what it is, but the HD202’s are more balanced compared to the ZXs, though I don’t quite recall them as being grainy in the mids and trebles as the HDs are sounding right out of the box.

      • Thanks for sharing!

      • Thanks for sharing that.

  • So. HD 201 or 202?

    • Anonymous

      HD201 is more linear, HD202 has more bass.

  • Spirit of 76

    How much do I like the HD 202? I own three pairs. One I leave at the office, one at home and on the go and a spare pair. I’ve tried the K 518 DJ. Nice, shorter cord, but the sound really doesn’t do anything for me and it was nowhere near as comfortable. Sony XB500 has roughly comparable bass and good comfort, but 202 seems tougher. Replaceable ear cushions are a big plus, although sometimes 202s go on sale for such a low price ($20 at Newegg or Musician’s Friend) that it’s worth it to pay a few extra bucks and get a whole new set instead of just $15 cushions.

    If only Sennheiser would stop putting such a long cord on it and stop being stuck on straight plugs rather than right angle, I’d buy a few more pairs.

    • Anonymous

      Three pairs of HD202s! Amazing!

      They are really fun headphones, aren’t they? And I agree, the cord is waay too long, Sennheiser should update them with shorter cords.

      • Spirit of 76

        Shorter and with right-angle plugs. Especially with portable equipment, long Sennheiser straight plugs can put too much stress on the jack if there’s any lateral force at all. Sony, AKG and Koss put right-angle plugs on their models for portable use. I don’t know why Sennheiser finds them so repugnant. Actually, if I had the skill, I’d love to re-cable a set of 202 with the short, right-angle, tangle-resistant flat cable from some Sony XB300 donor phones and get the best of both worlds. Those would definitely be my favorite portable cans.

        • Anonymous

          I agree that there are many less ideal designs/components with the HD202. However, I think at the moment the HD202 is just another low-model headphone that the guys at Sennheiser probably don’t bother tinkering too much with. I mean they have a new line up with the HD2x8 and HD4x8 models and those are the models that they are pushing to the consumers.

          • Duna21

            Since u mentioned hd2x8, how do they compare with the 202 ? ( I also own 202)

            • Anonymous

              Well aside from the fit issues, you have the usual differences between small supra aural and bigger circumaural headphones. The HD202 has a bigger sound chamber and will give you a bigger soundstage and a bigger sound. The HD238 on the contrast smaller and also sound smaller. Frequency response wise I think the HD238 is less dark, while still remain generally good and smooth throughout the frequencies. The HD202 is darker, more relaxed and more laid back. I think the HD202 is simply a case of the classic HD650 sound put into an entry level version, where the HD238 is a more “pop”, more lively, more engaging headphone. While I think the HD238 is a fine headphone, it lacks a little personality that makes the HD202 so unique (and somehow has a larger enthusiast base compared to the HD238).

          • Spirit of 76

            Even those newer ones don’t have right-angle plugs. Why does Sennheiser hate them? I’ve never seen one on any Sennheiser product. It makes no sense. 3.5mm jacks are small and fragile and can’t take much stress, unlike the old 1/4″ jacks. Look at all the iPods on eBay with broken jacks. And once a jack is broken, you basically have to throw the device away. Having a plug housing stick out an inch or more on a portable device is just too much of a risk. Oh, well.

  • Anonymous

    hi, how do you do?

    what do you think of HD408? since its OPEN and also BASS DRIVEN beast. maybe also more fun with trance things.
    for ultraportables perhaps HD228 closer to the HD202 than the “pop” HD238 that focus heavily on trebles and details?

    • Anonymous

      Wow, unfortunately I absolutely have no experience with the HD408.

      As for the HD228, if you’re looking for an ultraportable, I think the PX100-II also has that laid back HD650 sound.

      • Anonymous

        yes, its a pity that some type kinda abandoned in marketing & review department by sennheiser.  btw, the 200 and 400 series got new refresh. namely 219 229 239 and 429 439 449. 

        • Anonymous

          Yes, I wanted to do a review on them. May be a good time to do it since they just go updated.

          • Anonymous

            it’s interesting to see if their model update also bring sound refinement update on them. back on this page, wondering when will HD202 got minor or major overhaul…?

            • Anonymous

              The HD202, I don’t know if they will ever overhaul that. I think it’s a fine headphone for what it is. Cheap entry level headphone that happens to be enjoyable. I’ve tried the HD203 which is a higher up model, and although the technicalities are a little better (the bass is less loose), overall the sound is not as fun as the HD202. So, personally I would just leave the HD202 as it is.
              But back on the HD2xx and HD4xx models. Very interesting. Will try to review them.

  • Anonymous

    the meaning of overhaul much like refresh of PX100 to PX100-II, more refinement.

    on HD203 cases, what the meaning of ‘altough technicalities wins but not so fun’? 
    is it much like HD215 vs HD205?
    as i knew, HD215 less fun than HD205, though the HD215 more superior in everything (less bass, but deeper & tighter). 

    • Anonymous

      Oh yes, a PX100-II style upgrade would be a very good thing for the HD202. But if they do that (which will improve the resolution of the drivers) then I really think that the HD202 would threaten the higher up Sennheiser line.
      The HD203 had a more forward sound and less loose bass. By superior technicalities I was just referring to the bass which is more controlled. As a whole though the sound is not so fun.

      • Anonymous

        isnt more forward (perhaps, engaging) and more controlled bass , just like HD598 which is more fun headphone compared to veiled 558?

        sometimes cosmetics upgrade also will do, depends on competitor though, if no competitor , these cans wont be as advanced as today’s products

  • crazypolar

    Hello Mike, Where do you live now?
    Actually, i want to make my HD 202 single cabeled like yours.
    Now i live in Surabaya, did you know a place for modify my cans??
    thanks for the helps.

    • Teun

      You can click out one of the speakers and mount it upside-down. USing some tape and/or tie-wrap, route the cable across your headphone. Done

  • Hi Mike. 

    Which one is better for Jazz, Classical, Pop; HD 202 or ATH SJ55? 
    On the higher end, ESW9 or ATH M50?


    • Ignatius,
      Jazz and Classical: HD202. Pop, HD202 and SJ55 both are pretty good. The ESW9 is generally a more musical headphone than the M50.

      • So, if I get ESW-9 instead of HD202 or V-Jays, will the improvement be significant? 

        How about Superlux HD660 compared to those three?

        • Well the ESW9 is like $300, obviously the improvement would be significant.

          • Actually I’m more drawn into the design and build quality of ESW9. 😀

            Thanks, Mike..

            • Yes it’s better built too, but the hinge area is a little fragile so be careful with it.

          • One last question,

            Which has the least sibilance? HD202, Superlux HD660, or V-Jays?

  • Kevin

    Hello Mike!

    First, great site!

    Second, hoping I can get a nudge in one way or the other.  I’m struggling with my new headphone purchase.  I’ve been using the HD202 for a few months since my trusty HD485 stopped working.  I really liked the sound of the HD485.  Bass was pretty thick but not overbearing and the overall sound was pretty ‘warm.’  Would I get a similar sound with the HD518, HD558, HD598?  I’m hesitant to switch away from Sennheiser as I think my ears are so used to that sound.


  • I switch from my TV to my computer as connections for both are easy with my set up.  I’m a late-nigher that enjoys music with some volume.   I find these quite comfortable and enjoy my opera as well as movies or TV programs.  My son tried them out today and was quite satisfied and his acoustic demands are quite similar.  I just purchased a set for him.  Surprise Steven…

  • raz

    Surprised there’s no mention of how these compare to their close relation the HD212 Pro? Do you have any experience with these Mike? I think theyre a bit of a basshead version of the 202’s

    • Hi Raz,
      Sorry but the HD212 is not available anywhere around here. Senn surely made a lot of variants of this headphone.

  • ishank gulati

    Hey mike,
    can you tell me which headphone will be better b/w hd 201 and sony mdr xd-200.I am really confused.

    • Sorry I have no experience with the XD-200. 

      The HD201 is a more neutral headphone, while the HD202 is bassier though not extremely bassy. 

  • ishank gulati

    Hey mike,
    can you tell me which headphone will be better b/w hd 201 and sony mdr xd-200.I am really confused.

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  • Cieran Brown

    Hi Mike,

    I’m torn between getting these or Golding DR150’s. Which would you recommend?

    Thanks in advance for your help.

    • Technically the DR150 is a more technically competent headphone, but both are fun sounding.
      I don’t understand why you’re comparing the HD202 to the DR150 though. Isn’t the price difference quite big?

      • Cieran Brown

        I have the option to buy some Golding DR150’s from a friend for the same price as the HD 202’s, which is why i am undecided….

        I previously bought some Grado SR80’s which although I could appreciate for being very detailed I just found them a little harsh for my ears. My only other experience of decent headphones before that was Senn PX100-ii’s which sounded lovely and smooth!

        • Based on that comment I think you should get the HD202. 

          See what the hype is all about. 🙂 

  • Hey Mike, I’m about to order these headphones, but I really want to know the difference between the HD 202’s, and the HD 202 II’s. I’ve been told the only real difference in the packaging. Is this true?? Please respond ASAP, as I want to order these in the next few hours, so I can have these babies by Thursday or so.

    • L.

       Mike’s busy building cracks and won’t be online today. That being said, have you read the review? Your question would have been answered

      • Yes, I read the review. He said he didn’t know much about the new 202 II’s, but maybe now that its been a while he’s found out a bit more information that may be helpful.

        • L.

          Sorry if I was a bit harsh, I googled it for you and it seems they are the same only the II doesn’t play as loud, output was restricted a bit apparently

          • I asked the guys at Jaben about this before, and they say it’s only a matter of packaging. Same headphone and everything.

  • After much deliberation on which headset to buy that comes cheap and highly functional, I must add that the Sennheiser HD 202’s are the closest thing to my very antique HD 414’s (if you’re old enough to remember them?) AND, yes, the 3m cable is just great for diverse usage. This model comes with a belt clipped winder to tow-in the extra cable for those on the move, so, no problem there. Obviously the sound is above average, considering that it’s a Sennheiser…even at this price!

    • Yes I still remember the 414s! Was offered one for sale the other day, BNIB!

  • Thank you for the review. It is very informative.
    Well, I am a little confused between this one (Sennheiser HD202 II) and Sony MDR-MA100. Which one would you recommend?

    • Sorry Huy, but I have no idea how the MA100 sounds.

  • good quality headphones but as others said realyyyyyy long cord,mine got tangled that it kind of tore and now it’s partially damaged ,also they are not really comfortable..i mean they aren’t bad but at times i feel discomfort…overall they are a really nice pair of headphones 🙂

    • Agree. 😉

      • yeah…im thinking of buying a new one ..i want ath m30’s but it’s not available in my country :/

  • Patricio Granelli

    Hi! I am looking to get my first “big” head phones, and until now this is my first choice, but between this one and the 203? I don’t entirely understand the difference in the Bass that you told to someone before. And around this budget, you have any other preference? As newbie as I am I think I won’t realize the difference between both but I would like for you to help me.
    Thank you.

    • I think the 202 is easier to enjoy, without getting too much into the sound discussion.

      • Patricio Granelli

        Thank you, for some reason the 203 are cheaper (50) than the 202 (70) thank you again for your day answer.

        • You’re welcome Patricio

          • Patricio Granelli

            Hi! Sorry to bother you again, there is an offer today for a monster diesel vektr, do you know something about this ones? They are near the price of the 202 today. Thank you.

            • Sorry Patricio, I can’t help you with that one.

      • Patricio Granelli

        Mike, sorry to bother you again, I just found a AKG K 142 HD at almost the same price of the 202´s, do you know anything about this ones? I´m trying to find reviews about this

  • mike

    Hi yes these are great headphones, sound and build is quality as you would expect but i prefer the sony zx300 which look more modern and sleek

  • Rawr

    These are indeed great headphones and actually very durable. I simply just throw them in the couch or bed (just watch out for the long wires). The sound is great given the price and sounds better than the much more expensive ath-xs5. I would recommend this as a headphone to those who want to explore the world of headphones. Thanks for the great review.

    • Thank you too, Rawr.

      The HD202 are quite special indeed.

  • Seth

    Hey Mike,

    Could you detail how you shortened the cable for the dumb ones? I have a pair of these, and the cable is by far the biggest problem.

    • Seth,
      1. Cut the cable
      2. Desolder the old cable from the driver.
      3. Solder the new short cable to the driver.

      Beware of frying your driver on step 2, 3. If you can, do the solder/desoldering part in 1 second max to avoid frying the driver. If you fail to make a solid connection, wait a few minutes so everything cools down, then try again.

  • BurgerKingDiamond

    After reading this review, I bought a pair of these for myself, as I wanted a smallish pair of closed cans I could use on the bus ride to school. For only 25 bucks I am very impressed with how great they sound. I compared them to my hd 280 pros and though not as detailed and clear in the highs and upper mids, the hd 202s have a warmth and smoothness that makes them more enjoyable to listen to overall. Also the bass response really lets the kick drums come through, which is great for all the rock and metal I listen to. Thanks for the recommendation!

    • You’re welcome! Glad to hear you’re enjoying it.

  • I’ve owned and enjoyed these for over a decade. A couple of days ago, I ripped out the cable accidentally. Since then, I’ve tried to find a successor. I’m somewhat fixed on the Focal Spirit Classic now, but after your review, I’m tempted to simply get the 202s again. Or even fix mine, why don’t I. 🙂