The Best Evolution Yet: HD 25 ALUMINIUM

When Rosmadi @Sennheiser handed over the HD 25 ALUMINIUM to me, he specifically mentioned that this is just a minor update Anniversary Edition, and that though there is an improvement gained from applying the Aluminum housing, the difference is marginal. Well that was to be expected, given the fact that everything else is the same except for the application of Aluminium for the housing material — following the footsteps of the Amperior. Based on his comment, I told him right there that I probably can’t write much about the headphone as I don’t think that there is much to be talked about and he understood and gave me the nod.

I still think that this should be a short article but that doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t let my excitement show. The excitement right from the first time I listened to the 25 ALU, it’s like first love to the HD25 all over again. Yes the difference is slight, but boy, the improvement produces the legendary HD25-1 sound and makes it even better. For those of you familiar with the DT770 LE review, this review is pretty much going to take on the same tone. There is more to this anniversary editions, it seems, and I wouldn’t be surprised if like Beyerdynamic, Sennheiser suddenly decided to make this a standard, non limited product on their line up.

Bass is now fuller and hits lower. Midrange is more refined, and while the HD25-1 treble has sounded a bit harsh compared to the newer headphones, the ALU makes a big improvement on that. I’ve been raving about the Vmoda M100, but it seems that the ALU is Sennheiser’s answer to the M100. I don’t even think they know they have such a big winner in their hands here, as I don’t hear them talking that much about the ALU.

square_louped_HD_25_Aluminium-sq-01-sennheiser square_louped_HD_25_Aluminium-sq-02-sennheiser

The pace is still fast and aggressive, though less than the original 25 but still ahead of the Amperior. And unlike the newer Sennheiser portable closed backs, the HD25 ALU belongs to that camp of classic Sennheisers that has that gutsy, punchy bass for guaranteed toe tapping. For some reason, the background is also blacker on the ALU and the overall sound is cleaner and less grainy (the HD25-1 is quite grainy). The sound stage is still narrow and focused, but I think that’s part of the HD25’s character and strength (to focus the music). However among the improvements are a slightly improved sound stage and instrument separation.

The HD25 ALU may look like an attempt to put the Amperior (now discontinued) in a different packaging but it really is quite a different headphone. Tonally, the two are more alike to each other than to the original HD25-1, but that’s where the similarities stop. Sound quality is a step up from the Amperior and HD25-1 couple. And while I’ve always considered the Amperior sort of a side-step rather than an upgrade to the HD25-1, the ALU is definitely the version to get from the entire HD25-1 line up. I only wish for two things: black color finish on the Aluminums and actually if they could bring the weight down to the HD25-1 level, that would’ve been better.

Notable design decisions include the return of the sturdy steel cable which far beats the flimsy cables of the Amperior. The pads are also very much improved. Rather than the soft but brittle alcantara soft leather, Sennheiser now uses a much better quality, softer faux leather than the one found in the standard HD25-1. Likewise the headband pads also use the same leather.

I think Sennheiser has got a winner in their hands with this headphone, though the $329 MSRP is a little steep since everyone by now knows that Amazon sells the HD25-1 II for $199. It’s a bit tricky though as I definitely think it can compete with the best $300 portable headphones in the market (and that I’d happily take the 25 ALU rather than the M100), but it’s just that we’ve been so used to seeing the HD25-1 II at $199 that it becomes difficult to justify the 60% increase just for an aluminum cup (though the sound improvement is a totally different matter). Good thing that right now Amazon has them for $263.

The Best Evolution Yet: HD 25 ALUMINIUM
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71 Comments

  • Reply November 27, 2013

    Benjamin Benito

    How does the HD 25 Aluminium compare with the Fidelio L2?

    • Reply November 27, 2013

      Mike

      Well it’s very different. One is still a HD25 sound, the L2 is a semi-open headphone with a bigger, more spacious sound.

  • Reply November 27, 2013

    Joe Ramos

    Alright Mike, bit of a continuation of my questions in the L2 review. For someone who wants a best in class, portable, detailed headphone with realistic dynamic impact…eq’d L2, M-100, Momentum, or HD25 Aluminum?

    • Reply November 27, 2013

      Mike

      Between these three: M-100, HD25 ALU or the Aedle VK-1.

  • Reply November 27, 2013

    Anthony

    so you actually like this better than the m100? thats a surprise, how about comparing this to the new t51p mike ? I think they are both extremely comparable to each other as an on ear headphone at this price range

    • Reply November 27, 2013

      Mike

      Yes I like the 25 very much, always been a fan. I think the Vmoda still has the widest genre bandwith but personally I like the 25, maybe its the senn sound.

    • Reply November 27, 2013

      Mike

      T51 is more detailed, more resolving. The 25 has beefier and weightier bass, darker tonal.

      • Reply November 28, 2013

        Anthony

        I would have to agree based on how I compared the hd25 and the dt1350 , so they are actually still following their house sound ? I think i would want the HD 25 alu instead of the t51p based on your description

        • Reply November 28, 2013

          Mike

          Yes they’re still following the house sound.. The T51 is just more refined and more linear top to bottom so you get less dips and peaks. Also bass hits lower than the 1350.

          • Reply December 5, 2013

            Anthony

            Thanks for the answer mike, I tried to give it a listen at your store , the thing is extremely awesome, I like it so much that it might as well be my next target

            • Reply December 5, 2013

              Mike

              The Aedle or the akg?

              • Reply December 5, 2013

                Anthony

                no mike, i tried the hd25 alu , I haven’t listened to the Aedle

      • Reply February 9, 2014

        Viet Anh Pham

        The finicky fit of the dt1350 spoiled the fun.
        Is the T51 better in this regard? Which one is better is better for hiphop and electronics? Thanks for your impressions!

  • Reply November 27, 2013

    R12wan

    Hi Mike. Would you say that the HD25 ALU is better than the Amperior for iPhone/ipod use without additional amping?

  • Reply November 28, 2013

    George Lai

    Herr Sennheiser, could you consider renaming the phones as HD26, HD27? It’s hard to keep track.

    • Reply November 29, 2013

      dalethorn

      That’s a great suggestion.

  • Reply November 29, 2013

    Fabio_Rocks

    Hi Mike. As an Amperior owner I am a little upset with Sennheiser after reading your review. If I upgrade from the Amperior to the ALU what I get more? Thanks

    • Reply November 29, 2013

      dalethorn

      Just imagine what would happen if Sennheiser released everything they have in their labs. In a way I would like to see more things, but then it would get crazy.

  • Reply November 30, 2013

    BGZ

    I recently bought HD 25, what do you consider to be the best DAC to my headphone. Normally i listen to my headphone through Macbook pro 2011

    • Reply November 30, 2013

      Mike

      There are a lot of good DACs.

      Try the fiios for starters

  • Reply December 1, 2013

    MAMPH

    Hi Mike,

    I wish to ask for advice. I read your review on the Aedle headphones and I’m very interested in purchasing a pair, however I’m cnsidering the AKG K3003, have you tried these? How would the Aedle compare to the AKG’s? I’m new to audio and need all the advice I can get, I’m looking to truly make a good investment in quality.

    Thanks!

    • Reply December 2, 2013

      Mike

      Well those two are very different, both very good. I am not a fan of the BA-dynamic mix on the 3003 but it’s a popular IEM.
      I think if you’re new to headphones, the K3003 is probably going to be easier to appreciate than the Aedle.

      • Reply December 2, 2013

        MAMPH

        Thank you for your advice. But can the Aedle compete with K3003 quality wise? I know that K3003 do cost. How do you mean easier to appreciate? I also wonder what you would recommend otherwise, as well as if I should invest in IEM or headphones? I mainly listen to classical as well as opera, jazz, acoustic and old folk. From Philip Glass, Steve Reich to Billie Holiday and Moving Star Hall Singers. Thanks again MIke, I’m sorry to bother you with all of these questions.

        • Reply December 2, 2013

          Mike

          I think most newcomers would hear the akg as being more impressive, having more treble detail etc. The Aedle is not so spacious and is relatively darker compared to the akg, harder to appreciate.

  • Reply December 3, 2013

    Marc

    Hey Mike,

    How would these compared to the V-Moda M-80 and the ATH-ES10 in terms of bass and speed/PRaT?

    Rather out of the topic of the Sennheiser, how does the ATH-ES10 fare against the Beyerdynamic DT770 AE?? I’m looking for something to contrast my L2 for genres such as Hip-Hop instead of just buying a dark amplifier. I guess I understand your “more headphones = better” philosophy more now.

    Cheers,
    Marc

    • Reply December 4, 2013

      Evan_Beezy

      vs the ath-es700

  • Reply December 7, 2013

    AllahModeEngage

    Which pair of closed portable cans best compliment the HD25 ALU?

    • Reply December 7, 2013

      dalethorn

      What feature or features are you looking to complement?

      • Reply December 7, 2013

        AllahModeEngage

        I just want something that can cover the genres that the HD25 ALU isn’t so good at, such as having a better soundstage and a warmer sound. I have already tried the NAD HP50 and they didn’t work for me because of comfort issues.

        • Reply December 7, 2013

          dalethorn

          I hope your budget is good – it really improves your choices. The closed designs are best for isolation of course, but a good soundstage narrows the choices for closed types.

          • Reply December 7, 2013

            AllahModeEngage

            Yes, my budget is good enough for me to consider the B&W P7 and Sony Z1000

            • Reply December 7, 2013

              dalethorn

              I’m thinking of 4 headphones – the B&O H6, the ATH ESW9a, the Beyer DT1350 (refresh), and possibly the Philips L2. Portability is a bit nebulous, but for me it’s just a matter of convenience rather than a specific function. The H6 has a great sound and is very portable, but the midrange color or tonal balance you’ll have to hear to know for sure. The ESW9a is my wife’s favorite and is very portable, has a very nice warm bass and perfect mids, with a soft treble. Not very rugged though. The DT1350 refresh I haven’t heard, but I owned 2 DT1350s before that, and if you were good with the new signature (somewhat analytical) it may be a great choice, and is very portable and rugged. The L2 may be a little too warm or bassy, so that’s to keep in mind. I think the B&W P7 is good, but rather bulky and the bass is loose or boomy.

              • Reply December 7, 2013

                AllahModeEngage

                Would the VK-1 be a good choice? I don’t need a particularly big soundstage, just a reasonably-sized one and the VK-1 seems to provide that.

                • Reply December 7, 2013

                  dalethorn

                  I haven’t heard it, but the review here and the comments are pretty thorough, so I think you can rely on that.

                  • Reply December 7, 2013

                    AllahModeEngage

                    Alright thanks for your help.

                • Reply December 9, 2013

                  Mike

                  The VK-1 is not a soundstage headphone.

                  • Reply December 9, 2013

                    AllahModeEngage

                    That’s ok because I’m finally getting used to my HP50’s fit and it’s soundstage is fabulous.

    • Reply December 7, 2013

      Markus Köhner

      i think the momentum might be a good choice if you are looking for a more relaxed sounding headphone that is comfortable to wear. i dont think i found a closed can with better comfort than the momentum so far. also the soundstage for a closed can is pretty good.

      • Reply December 8, 2013

        AllahModeEngage

        Tried the momentum, was alright but preferred the HD25 ALU over it. Thanks for the suggestion though.

        • Reply December 9, 2013

          Mike

          Well maybe you’re not really looking for something to complement it since that would mean a totally different sound from the HD25 ALU.
          You should try the VK-1. I compared the ALU to it and found that it makes the ALU sounds light and hollow. Nasty comparison.

          • Reply December 9, 2013

            AllahModeEngage

            I just pulled the trigger on the VK-1 yesterday so I will have a chance to do this comparison when they arrive. Perhaps it’s not the best idea to ABX them after reading what you put!

    • Reply December 9, 2013

      Mike

      Momentum or B&O H6.

  • Reply December 8, 2013

    Fabio_Rocks

    I just sent a facebook message to Sennheiser. Basically I want to know if i can swap the Amperior drivers with the ALU drivers, and get the ALU sound. And of course the cost for that.

  • Reply January 1, 2014

    DrForBin

    hello,

    if these came with the carrying case in the box, is there a Sennheiser part number for the case? (my standard HD-25’s like to come along with me, 🙂 )

  • Reply January 26, 2014

    Alex

    would the Aune T1 pair well with this headphone?

  • Reply January 26, 2014

    Alex

    would this pair well with the Aune T1?

  • Reply March 6, 2014

    kucki

    Hi Mike,

    Just wondering do you think some of the differences you have pointed out between the HD 25 ALUMINIUM and the Amperior could be as a result of the different ear pads?

    • Reply March 6, 2014

      L.

      It’s a possibility, the pads have a big impact on the sound

      • Reply March 6, 2014

        kucki

        Well I guess I got to go with the Amperior and buy the original pads because the HD 25 is like 100$ more expensive in my country 🙁

        Also getting a remote with these which I can use for my iPhone which would also cost 40$.

        • Reply March 7, 2014

          dalethorn

          $100 for such improvements isn’t bad, if you’re going to keep it for a long time.

          • Reply March 7, 2014

            kucki

            Would these 70Ω impendance on the HD 25 drive as good as the Amperior on my iPhone or do I have to buy an amp for that?

            • Reply March 7, 2014

              L.

              70ohm is certainly do-able but of course the result would be much better with a small amp

              • Reply March 8, 2014

                kucki

                Thanks for helping me out but I think I go for the Amperiors as a head-fi newbie I won’t hear the differences anyway + I get a smart remote for my iPhone which I really like 🙂

  • Reply April 4, 2014

    Anouk Radix

    Hi Mike,
    I am looking for a new headphone (preferrably small portable and closed) to use with my iphone and laptop.
    I am thinking of the beyerdynamic t51p, the hd25alu or the hd28pro.
    Are you thinking of reviewing that last one? I would love to know the differences in sound between these two and there is not much available on them as of yet.t
    I have not heard any of beyerdynamkcs portable models. I know the original hd25 and i liked it although the treble could be a bit aggressive and the sound a bit congested and narrow. Also, after a while those cups would hurt on the head.
    Greetings, Anouk,

    • Reply April 4, 2014

      dalethorn

      I can’t find anything on HD28 Pro, but there is a HD26 Pro, which I’m ordering for myself.

    • Reply April 4, 2014

      L.

      Anouk. I would recommend the t51p. Its a great headphone and I prefer It over the hd25. I dont have any plans to review the new senn pro yet. Maybe in a few months

      • Reply October 2, 2014

        SoundEskimoo

        Hi, L
        aside of technicality, which one is more fun & bassier?
        T51p abit more ‘laid back’ and didnt do EDM quite well

        • Reply October 2, 2014

          dalethorn

          I wouldn’t describe the T51p as fun, unless fun means enjoying music with an intimate presentation. It doesn’t have the punchy bass or sparkly highs, but it is a Tesla, so when you relax and listen closely you hear that Beyer/Tesla detail. But some people won’t like that anyway since it doesn’t have the big excitement factor.

          • Reply October 6, 2014

            SoundEskimoo

            T51p play very safe , warmer, the vocal abit laid back (vocal less shining than dt1350), the trebles very tame, more bass.
            the last Tesla i liked is DT1350 (more trebles which i felt too bright but great vocal & deep bass)

            • Reply October 6, 2014

              dalethorn

              I put T51p earpads on my DT1350’s, so now I have most of the T51p warmth, and a better treble – all around it’s better than the stock T51p and either of the DT1350 versions.

        • Reply October 2, 2014

          Headfonia_L.

          I will take the t51p over the hd25 anytime. It is technically better and sounds more fun to me. And comfort is akot better

          • Reply October 6, 2014

            SoundEskimoo

            the driver on HD25 really old-tech isnt it?
            I already demoed T51p , what I feel is T51p not quite all arounder?

            • Reply October 6, 2014

              dalethorn

              The T51p is definitely not all-around. The HD25 is more all-around. But as per my other comment, try the DT1350 with T51p earpads – it’s the best of all these.

  • Reply April 6, 2014

    Anouk Radix

    Thanks for your replies,
    Sorry i did indeed mean the hd26pro.
    Greetings, Anouk,

    • Reply April 6, 2014

      dalethorn

      I ordered the HD26 Pro, but it will be 2 to 3 weeks. I’ll post an impression here then.

  • Reply August 11, 2014

    Pedro Oliveira

    Hi mike…

    Hows the bass of the h25 alu compared with the hd25 but specially with the amperior? Is it much fuller and hard hitting? The objective is edm…. 🙂

  • Reply September 18, 2014

    Eugen

    Between the Amperior and the ALU, which one has cleaner bass? Would you say the ALU completely cures the HD25 brightness?

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  • Reply June 6, 2015

    Yaroslav

    Mike, would you say these are the best portable headphones for electronic music so far? TMAs, M-100, other DJ headphones seem to be direct competitors, as are Ampeior and old 25s. M-100 seems to have a much wider soundstage, at least.

    Is it the top pick for somebody who drowns in Trance/EDM at day and IDM/Ambient an night?

    Thanks in advance

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