Ultra Portable Shootout: PX100, PX200, PortaPro, K404, V-Jays, Tracks, Oldskool, and HD238
The Supercharged Ultra-Portable: Sennheiser HD238
Now for the finale, the supercharged ultra portable headphone from Sennheiser. Clearly, the HD238 belongs to a different league, technically, compared to all the other entries here. Well, it sorts of cheated by using a bigger housing and probably bigger drivers as well. I really wouldn’t classify the HD238 on the same group as the ultra-portables here, but I just wanted to see how the bigger Sennheiser HD-line compares to the PX-line and its friends.
Technically, the HD238 driver has better resolution, top and down extension that betters all the other ultra portables here. Tonal balance wise, it’s very good and can be seen as somewhat a joint venture of the PX100-II and the PX200-II. It’s not as dark as the PX100-II and not as bass shy as the PX200-II, but it has the best of both headphones. Good bass, good treble, and quite a full mids as well. If I can object to one thing, it’s probably the treble area, where the HD238 has more upper treble presence than anything else here. Perhaps Sennheiser tuned it that way to make the HD238 sound noticeably more “Hi-Fi” in the ears of the average Joe. Yet, despite the technical superiority, I do still prefer the V-Jays’ overall presentation, as I think it has just the perfect treble amount and a more engaging midrange. Plus, the open design of the V-Jays has a better timbre than the HD238, which I feel need a better designed housing.
I find the build quality of the HD238 to be a bit short than even the PX100/200 models. Somehow, the housing feels hollow and fragile, and the entire build doesn’t inspire confidence for rough handling on the outdoors. This is one of the biggest complain I have over the HD238, as I expect to take these headphones outdoors, throw them in bags and such.
I’ve listened to the HD238 in many other occassion before this, and everytime, though it has a great technicality, the sound still fails to win me over.
Here is the verdict of the shootout:
Best all rounder: Jays V-Jays
2nd Tier: PX100-II (If you love the traditional Sennheiser house sound), AIAIAI Tracks (musical and fun, punchy bass), PX200-II (mature and balanced sound)
Best for bright recordings: AKG K404
Best for Grado Lovers: Fischer Oldskool