Sennheiser HD 56 Headphones
Words and Photos: Marcus
Model: Amanda (and one photo of Shannon)
Amanda's site is at http://amandaswisten.com/
Sennheiser is known for its high-quality audio equipment (this is one company I truly love). What happens when you can afford the Company's best and are forced to buy one of their lower models? $29.95 will buy you a terrific pair of low-priced headphones from Sennheiser. The HD 56 is the top-of-the-line of the low range price conscious headphone from Sennheiser.
As far the look goes, you can see in the pictures that they looked like standard Walkman style headphones. Sennheiser did put in a number of features to make their product standout in the market. The 1/8 inch headphone jack is of the 90 degree type so that it is a little more robust when connected to a Walkman in a case of some sort. The headphone jacks that stick straight out suffer more damage in day-to-day use. In addition to that, the audio cable that connects the jack to the headphones only goes in one side. This means that there is half the chance of catching the wire on some obstruction and ripping the headphones off your head. (Something that I still regularly do.)
As far the design goes, they are a very boring (but high-quality) gray plastic. The foam ear pads -- while being thick and comfortable -- are very cheap looking with a very poorly fused seem connecting the two halves. Checkout it out for yourself in the pictures.
The sound quality of the HD 56 (which is the real question isn't it?) is very good. Now of course they aren't going to be as good as a $500 pair of headphones, but as far as a back-to-back comparison with the quality headphones that ship with various MiniDisc products that I been testing lately they are definitely superior. In fact, I will go as far to say that these are the best small headphones I've heard. As far as loudness goes, other small headphones are louder, but none of them delivered the clarity that the HD 56 do. Because of their small size and high-quality, I've decided to actually purchase a pair of the HD 56 for myself to use on airplanes. My full-size headphones take up for too much space in my carry on bag.
There you have it, they looked cheap, but they sound great so go get a pair. If you're really pinching pennies, go to the Sennheiser web site www.sennheiserusa.com and by these headphones refurbished for an even lower price. Or you can buy brand-new ones at Tweeter, Sound Track, and Virgin megastores.