Old Lyme, CT â€“August 3, 2010:Â In a consumer environment crowded with mediocre headphone products, Sennheiser stands above the competition as the artists’ preferred choice. Sennheiser, which has been manufacturing superior professional audio products for decades, has always strived to reproduce music as the artist intended it to be heard. This is not only true for its wireless transmitters and receivers, studio monitors and legendary microphones, but also with its entire range of consumer headsets.
Brian Hardgroove, a musician in the group Public Enemy and a producer at New York City’s renowned Manhattan Center Studios, knows the difference between ‘authentic sound’ and ‘sensationalized sound.’ With decades of recording experience on both sides of the glass, he insists on Sennheiser headphones: whether he is in the studio, on a plane or just out for a morning walk.
How does Brian
Hardgroove use headphones?
I use headphones in just about every way that someone could possibly use them. As a touring artist with Public Enemy, I travel consistently and I don’t necessarily use the same headphones in every stage of my travel. For example, if I am in an airplane, I’ll use noise-cancelling headphones. If I am exercising or walking, I will typically use earbuds. If I am a hotel room, I often want to listen to music loud but don’t want to disturb others in the next room–so I will use an on the ear or over the ear headphone. As a traveler, I use headphones for many different applications.
As a musician and producer, you have to be extremely astute when it comes to sonic quality. How does this effect the way you look at consumer products?
I am used to listening in a very pristine environment, so I need a listening apparatus that will give me as much of that as possible. A lot of other headphone products on the market today might sound good initially, but they are actually hyping certain frequencies. So while it may sound exciting, these headphones set a false sonic impression and are typically not accurate–it can be pretty frustrating, especially once I leave the studio and am looking forward to hearing a project I’ve just completed work on.
When I compared one of the lower priced Sennheiser headphones to the hyped up headphones from another manufacturer, I realized these ‘hyped up’ headphones were robbing me of frequency response. I remember listening to one of my favorite records, “Fire” by the Ohio Players, which has a lot of big brass. When I put Sennheiser’s MM450s on, I heard the horn section in the room. I put the same song on with the other headphones, and the horn parts were all hyped up. I put the Sennheiser’s back on and said, “That’s the record I grew up with!”
What is your overall expectation of Sennheiser?
I grew up with the Sennheiser brand all around me, so I have a major expectation for quality–this isn’t the case with other manufacturers. In my studio, I have used Sennheiser’s pro audio products extensively, and I have had a chance to A/B them against many other products on a routine basis–they always excel. Recently, I have had a chance to try some of Sennheiser consumer headphones, and I have been very impressed at their quality all around.
What was your overall impression of the Sennheiser CX 680 sport headphones?
Well, let me start by saying that until now, I had never found a set of earbuds that work for me. Mainly because the bass response was never there and they would never stay put in your ear. With Sennheiser’s ‘ear-fin’ technology however, the CX 680s felt secure in my ear and the frequencies were all there. Many other earbuds sound hollow, forced or really boxy but these are a winner– now I use them all the time. One of the smart things is the volume knob, which clips on and separates, protecting the life of the connections. A lot of thought and care went into the design of these earbuds.
Shifting gears, how did you feel about the MM450 noise-cancelling headset?
Anyone who has been on an airplane knows it is an incessantly loud environment, with a constant rumbling and grinding sound. Noise cancelling technology never really worked for me on other headphones, because once you kick in the noise cancelling function, other headphones tend to cut out key frequencies in the music; honestly, I’d rather have earplugs than have to do that. Once again, Sennheiser came to the rescue; a company with sound in its culture figured out how to reduce the low rumble without sacrificing sound quality. The MM450s fold up very neatly and are padded very well, so they are comfortable for long hauls; plus, the battery life is great. Once again, these are very well thought out and most important of all, the sound quality is there.
What about the on the ear HD 238s? How do these compare and where do they it in the mix?
I use the HD 238 when I am in a hotel room and don’t want to disturb anyone in the next room when I listen to music loud on a small iPod system. I A/B’d these against another manufacturer who is making hyped up headphones and played The Ohio Players’ ‘Fire’ on these, which has very big horns. The excitement of the record really jumped out at me. The 238s presented the original sounds that I remember hearing this record as a kid; in fact, I could actually hear the room that the horns were recorded in and could hear the sonic dimension of the record. Like the MM450s, they have a lot of padding and were very comfortable.
All in all, the 238 was able to deliver the excitement that was in the album to begin with, which is all I ask of a headphone. This was a relief, and I asked myself, “Why doesn’t any other manufacturer do that?” And I remembered that if you want quality and you want to really enjoy your music, you’ve got to go with Sennheiser.