As geeks go, we're a sporty bunch, taking the stairs instead of the lift at least once or twice a year. That means we're well qualified to assess the Sennheiser HD 25-1-II Adidas Originals headphones.
We expected the Adidas branding to inflate the price, and it does -- the non-branded version of these cans costs about £40 less. But, for £200, we still expected a slick pair of headphones. Unfortunately, they're absolutely horrible in every respect besides sound quality.
Build quality is an extremely important factor with all gadgets. You don't want to splash out on something that's going to fall apart, cause you discomfort, or just hang about the place looking cheap. Alas, these headphones tick all of those hateful boxes.
Indeed, the build quality of these headphones is among the worst we've ever encountered. Rough and sharp plastic edges abound, and they even look plasticky and naff. We passed them around the office and asked our colleagues to guess the price. The general consensus was that they'd cost no more than £80, but that they felt like they should cost about £20.
We were actually astonished by how poorly made they are. A key feature is that one earcup rotates upwards by 45 degrees, so you can listen to music with just one King Lear when you're getting your DJ on. We were unable to flip the earcup up with just one hand, though, because the hinge attaching it to the headband was so stiff. We ended up tugging the other earcup away from our lughole in the process. We're no mix masters, but we'd guess that's not ideal.
The ratchet mechanism for adjusting the headphones to fit your noggin also feels incredibly cheap, making an unpleasant, plasticky clicking sound when fiddled with.
The headband itself can be split down the middle into two segments, which could have been a welcome aesthetic bonus. But the two parts don't separate with the smooth, comfortable action we'd expect for £200. Also, some cabling sits in a shallow inset channel on the inside of one part of the headband. Splitting the headband is liable to cause this cable to spring loose from its bed. Then, when you close the headband again, you'll find its two parts cutting into the cable. At an early stage in our testing, we noticed that the cable was becoming damaged. It's all very shonky.
While the blue Adidas highlights don't look too bad, they're hardly exciting, and they certainly don't justify adding £40 to the price tag. The Adidas-branded version of these headphones should add some desirable features. Instead, all you get is a respray. There's not even any indication as to which earcup delivers the left or right channel. That in itself is a nigh-on unforgivable omission.
The horror! The horror!
These headphones aren't even comfortable to wear. Good-quality cans should make you almost forget you're wearing them, so you can focus on the music. These headphones will never escape your notice, since they press uncomfortably against the side of your bonce. Wearing them for any longer than a few minutes will probably cause you discomfort.
A feast for your lugholes
The fact that these headphones are so poorly built and uncomfortable is doubly disappointing, since they sound brilliant. They really showcase Sennheiser's decades of audio expertise, delivering a clear, balanced, natural sound, and rendering tunes with great fidelity.
The headphones sound great across a range of genres. Rocking hard to Kyuss' Green Machine, the powerful bass and guitar lines almost shook our eardrums to dust, but we could still pick out the more delicate cymbal sounds, thanks to their impressive clarity. The mix stayed pleasingly separated, and we never heard it reduced to a muddy mess.
Similarly, during pop tunes like Gwen Stefani's The Sweet Escape, we could hear the deep bass line all the way through. It was never obscured by the multitude of higher-end synth sounds and squeaky guitars.
The Sennheiser HD 25-1-II Adidas Originals headphones offer great sound quality, but are heinous in every other respect. As such, we can't recommend them. If you can stretch to an extra £50, you'll be able to afford the shockingly beautiful and well-crafted Bowers & Wilkins P5s. If you can't afford those, check out the bass-heavy Monster Beats by Dr Dre Solos instead. They're available for around £150.
Edited by Charles Kloet