This is my second take on a wireless headphone, and like the RS180, this one is also a Sennheiser. With the recent abundance of Sennheiser articles on Headfonia (and on the upcoming ultra-portables shootout, there’ll be three Sennheiser models), you must wonder if they pay me a lot of money for writing their articles. I know that some local friends, Hadi included, often called me a Sennheiser fanboy. I sure wish that Sennheiser was paying me money, unfortunately that is not happening. And as I’ve said previously, this is just a matter of product availability. I’d love to try out Bluetooth headphones from the other manufacturers, but just I haven’t seen them around that much.
Being mostly an audiophile who enjoys big complicated set ups for a rewarding music experience, press releases of Bluetooth based headphones don’t really excite me (Who does, anyway?). One day, Tino, a local Sennheiser guy showed me the PX210BT, and I listened to it just to be polite. I was totally floored! I had compared nine of the most popular closed headphones a few months ago, and at that time was working on a comparison of ultra portable headphones, so I know what the competition in the wired world is like. The PX210BT still comes out as a very strong contender, even neglecting its wireless handicap. I told him that the PX210BT sounds really great, and that it’s a pity that it’s not getting the attention it deserves among the enthusiasts — probably mainly due to the wireless status. “Someone needs to write about this headphone!”, I told him.
I contacted a friend at Sennheiser Singapore, but he ran out of sample units (he probably didn’t expect an enthusiast site like this to be interested in a portable bluetooth headphone). Thanks to my buddy, Sem for the PX210BT loaner. Free promotion for Sennheiser, but what the heck, it’s a great product!
When I wrote the RS180 article, I was quite surprised to hear how the wireless full size headphone from Sennheiser had a sound that’s more fun than any of the wired full sized ones, including the HD650 and the HD800. Although still inferior in the technicalities, the RS180 had a far more engaging sound than any of the wired models. It was the most perfect balance between the traditional laid back Sennheiser sound and yet with a forward and engaging midrange. Now, I don’t know what Sennheiser’s strategy is, because they also had endowed the PX210BT with one of the best tonal balance I’ve ever heard on any portable headphones. Don’t even compare this with the PX100-II or the PX200-II, or even the HD238, because the PX210BT is more than that. Instead, take some of the more serious wired portables like the HD25-1, the ATH M-50, ATH ESW-9, or the Beyerdynamic T50p and the PX210BT is still a very strong contender in that group (even discounting the wireless capabilities).
For instance, take the HD25-1, which has always been a crowd favorite. The PX210BT is able to stand up to the HD25-1’s audio performance, and even better it in some ways. A fuller midrange, a fuller bottom end, still the same engaging sound, smoother and more refined than the HD25-1’s outdated driver. The HD25-1 still has a stronger bass punch and better PRaT, but other than that, the PX210BT does everything better than the HD25-1, even top and bottom frequency extension. And the PX210BT has quite a punchy bass too, just not as much as the HD25-1.
Next, take the T50p from Beyerdynamic. Yes, the Tesla driver from the T50p still has a superior edge in technicalities and resolution, but I really had problems with the midrange areas and the bass areas. Midrange transition was quite abrupt and a little recessed, and I can’t seem to get a good low bass performance out of the T50p. The PX210BT, on the other hand, has a much more full midrange and low bass, resulting in a much more musical sound. I also need to add that the PX210BT fits much better than the T50p did on my head! (And I’m still not talking one word about its wireless capabilities here)
The PX210BT shares some similarity in terms of tonal balance with the ATH M-50, which is still my favorite all rounder closed headphone. The PX210BT can’t match the M-50’s soundstage size, and I also suspect that the M-50 is still superior on the frequency extension. But the PX210BT is more forward and engaging in the midrange, while not losing the treble and bass balance. Bass punch is also tighter in the PX210BT than it does in the M-50. So, despite being a wireless model, we do have quite a contender here. The technicalities, soundstage, and separation of the PX210BT is surprisingly very good. Although, being stuck with a mediocre source, I couldn’t really see how well the PX210BT does with better quality source.
Seriously, the only problem that I have with the PX210BT is the quality of the Blackberry phone I use as a source (especially after weeks with the HM-602 Hifiman).