Today I’m taking a look at the Sennheiser HD206 which is the newer version of the HD201 from 10 years ago. Have they improved at all?
In the box
With the 206 you get the headphones and a 6.3mm adapter and that is pretty much it.
Design and Build
I did have the 201 way back in 2010 and also a pair more recently in 2015 and its safe to say that not much has changed at all. The new 206 look pretty much the exact same as the 201, apart from the 206 replacing the 201 on the headband. It would have been nice to see some design elements changed to keep in touch with the times but Sennheiser, well haven’t.
You still get the same Silver and Black colour scheme, the same logo placement, same cable design and pretty much you guessed it, the same headband style. So really nothing at all has changed apart from like I said the number on the headband. So if you liked the design of the HD201 then you’re in for a treat.
Sadly another thing that hasn’t improved is the build quality. Now its been over 10 years and things have progressed a lot, materials are better, cheaper and look nicer but again Sennheiser hasn’t really paid that much attention and stuck with the same cheap feeling plastics as before. If it were 10 years ago this would have been okay, but now the Chinese OEM brands and other brands have stepped up their game in the budget market and offer much higher quality build products.
To show you how much things have moved on a quick browse on Amazon and I found two sets of Bluetooth headphones that cost around the same and look much better in terms of design, build and features. These are Sephia S6 and the Mpow Bluetooth headphones.
Back to the 206 and the material used on the headband and earcups remain the same too, its coarse, rough and looks very cheap. Okay so maybe I’m being a bit tough on them but considering they are £24 I would have expected a little better.
Another section that could have done with some metal or better quality plastic is the headband adjustment. Again like the 201 its all plastic and not the highest grade, its understandable somewhat, but given these areas fail quite often it would have been nice to see it made more robust.
Finally to the cable and its just as long as it was before and comes in at 3m. This makes them ideal for being at your PC but for taking them on the go its a bit of a hassle to have to manage all that cable. The quality is not great, its a little thin and does feel quite frail. Strain relief is solid and plentiful though.
To be fair they do feel cheap in terms of materials chosen but actually the way they are put together is pretty solid. This sounds counter intuitive but they’ve taken these cheaper plastics and fixed them in a way that makes them feel quite durable, yes they have flex but they don’t creak and they feel like they could withstand a knock or two. So even though I said they feel cheap (material choice) the construction isn’t half bad.
Overall things in this department haven’t changed at all since the 201, in a way I get that Sennheiser have stuck to what they’ve known and that works for them. For us the consumer, we have basically got the same headphones as the 201 but with a 206 in its place. Yes the 201 is a decent looking and averagely made set of headphones, but after all this time I would have expected to have seen some improvements made from the last outing.
This again is a bit of a downer, like previously mentioned the material finish is one of the big culprits. Its not nice at all, it causes quite a lot of fatigue and chafing around the ear. The padding is also extremely thin but reasonably soft. This usually wouldn’t be that much of an issue if the inside was padded but its not and my ears often rub against the plastic that protects the drivers. Usually over ears are my preferred choice for comfort but these are just not. Normally I can listen to them for hours on end, these I need to take off after only 30 minutes.
On the plus side the interior is quite large, so if you have bigger ears they should fit nicely. The top and bottom may make contact with your ears though and could possibly introduce new areas of fatigue. Those of you with smaller ears should be fine though.
The headband padding is finished in the same material as the earcups and its not as bad as the earcups, if you have hair to cushion the material from your head. Its reasonably soft and does a decent job of distributing the 215g weight.
Clamping force is nicely judged though and they aren’t overly tight. Plus there is plenty of give meaning that they can stretch to accommodate larger/wider heads. They also have a slight degree of swivel movement meaning getting them into an ideal position is a bit easier.
But as a whole these are really not that comfortable at all and rank some of the worse that I have tested.
Noise isolation and Leak
This again is another area where the 206 don’t perform very well. This is in part to the earcup padding not creating a great seal and the material choice. On my bus test with no music on I could still hear everything clearly and they offered little in the way of isolation. This means that they will solely block out noise using the volume of your music. Testing them at my usual 65% did yield a not so good performance. I could still hear quite a fair amount of background noise, especially the engine and tyre noise. I could even catch brief moments of louder conversation too. So its safe to say that if you want to block out external noise, these are not good.
Leak is again pretty poor and noise leak is quite prevalent. At 65% the amount of leak is quite noticeable. Again this is due to the issues I mentioned early. So when on public transport you may want to reign in the volume to avoid your music leaking. Also this makes them pretty bad in quieter situations too. So if you study in a College/University library then again you’ll need to keep check on the volume levels.
So far the 206 have failed to impress, so can the sound be a redeeming feature? Well with specs like the 24 ohm impedance, frequency response of 21 – 18000Hz, SPL of 108dB and a THD of <0,7 % its not looking that promising. In all fairness specs only tell part of the story, so how do they sound? Well pretty decent actually. The get fairly loud with pretty much no distortion at all.
Bass is solid, is well rounded, quite deep and packs a decent punch. There is a bit of struggle down low as they run out of steam early on. So if you are a lover of deep bass, these might not be right for you. On the plus side the bass is clean, clear and solidly detailed. Its quite well controlled too and although it might lack a massive punch, its a nice well produced bass.
The mids are pretty prominent and very overly present, they like to take center stage and are a little loud. Sometimes in a really mid heavy track they can overwhelm the bass a little and cause some tracks to sound a bit thin. The mids are really clear though and detail is strong. Soundstage is quite wide and open. One downside is that the mids are often over bright and can be touch grating at at times.
Vocals are pleasant if lacking a little depth. They are again very clear, detailed with nice tonal quality. They again are prominent in the sound and are honestly pretty nice. If you like a strong vocal these might not be for you, but I like them a little more like this. My only criticism is the lack of depth, Rag N Bones vocals don’t have that tone that they should and the sound seems to suit female vocals better,
Highs again can be a touch bright and a little bit on the sharp side, but usually at the price point this area is often a feature glossed over.
Overall the sound is pretty impressive, usually at the price point hedphones are bass heavy and a bit murky, these are open and clear and are pretty good. I get that this sound signature might not suit all but its still good that they aren’t plagued with sound traits that other headphones often fall to.
If you want hear the sound tests of these then click here www.limitlesstech.co.uk/sennheiser-hd206-sound-tests
If you want to see the YouTube video of these then you can do so
As a whole the 206 are not that great. The only redeeming feature is the sound. The rest of the headphones are not that good at all. Yes they are fairly well made but the design is dated, they are uncomfortable, have poor isolation performance and leak pretty bad too. So should you buy some. Well if you want some impressive sounding headphones that offer an clean and open sound then they are good. But if you want a great all round set of headphones these just don’t deliver.
Pick up a pair here via Amazon UK
Sennheiser HD 206 Headphone