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Sennheiser HD 25 review: Wired wonders

Our Rating :
£129.00 from
Price when reviewed : £129
inc. VAT

With a bombproof design and detailed, balanced sound, the Sennheiser HD 25 are difficult to not fall in love with


  • Engrossing, neutral sound
  • Sleek, modular design
  • Excellent passive isolation


  • Extended use may cause discomfort

Originally launched in 1988, the Sennheiser HD 25 have become a staple choice for DJs and audio professionals over the past 35 years. There have been a number of different iterations during that time, and the 2023 model is the most refined yet.

Sennheiser’s iconic DJ headphones may look simple, but they’re built to last and deliver crisp, well-balanced audio. If you’re after wired on-ear headphones, it’s difficult to argue against the new Sennheiser HD 25 being the best-value option around.

Sennheiser HD 25 review: What do you get for the money?

The Sennheiser HD 25 can be picked up from various retailers for £129. They’re lightweight at just 140g and sport a split headband with one rotatable earcup (the left one; the right earcup, delineated by red cabling, is fixed). They connect to audio sources via a 1.5m cable that terminates in a 3.5mm jack or 6.3mm stereo plug if you install the screw-on adapter that’s included in the box.

If you’re willing to spend an extra £50 you can pick up the Sennheiser HD 25 Plus, which come with additional accessories including a set of velvet ear pads, an extra cable and a carry bag. The Sennheiser HD 25 Light, meanwhile, are lighter than the base model but have a two-sided cable and lack the adjustable headband and rotating earcup.

The Aiaiai TMA-2 are similarly designed alternatives that add greater prominence to bass frequencies as well as Bluetooth support, and are available for £159. You could also try out the Marshall Major IV, which can be bought for similar money to the Sennheiser HD 25.

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Sennheiser HD 25 review: What do we like?

The Sennheiser HD 25 are extremely robustly built, which ensures they can endure some real punishment without breaking. The plastic frame is sturdy, the adjustable headband rugged, and the earcups are both hard-wearing and scratch resistant. The headband can be contorted to unnatural positions and still spring back into its default shape thanks to its strong clamping force.

The design itself isn’t particularly inspiring but is sleek, functional and perfectly suitable for the professional use the HD 25 were made for. Many of the components can be replaced and repaired, too. For instance, you can unscrew the cable on the right-hand side, as well as parts of the earcup, to replace them entirely. You can also switch the wiring around should you want the audio cable to run from the opposite ear cup. This modular aspect to the design helps enhance the HD 25’s longevity and is something I’d like to see more manufacturers start offering. 

The clamping force of the HD 25’s earcups is very strong, and this creates a fit that stays put no matter what you’re doing. It also sees the HD 25 deliver some of the best passive noise isolation I’ve experienced from a pair of on-ear headphones – I could wear them in the office with the volume at 30% and feel suitably protected from the noisy environment, while sound leakage was minimal, too.

Audio quality is similarly impressive. The HD 25 are precise, well balanced and reveal a substantial amount of detail without colouring the sound to any notable degree. The glistening distortion of KMRU and Aho Ssan’s overdriven ambient track Rebirth was suitably crisp at the high end of the frequency spectrum, while the lows were tight and punchy. As a fan of gutteral bass I’d have liked the bass response to be a little more pronounced, but there’s just enough there to do bouncy, beat-driven tracks such as DJ Paypal’s edit of Drake’s My Chargie justice.

Mid-range frequency reproduction is engaging, and I was particularly struck by how intimate the mids sounded on Hyd’s Skin 2 Skin. The soundstage could do with being a little wider, but instrument separation and stereo imaging are effective nonetheless. Overall, despite their general neutrality, the tuning is far from dull and the HD 25 have all the sonic credentials to make great daily drivers.

Sennheiser HD 25 review: What could be improved?

The HD 25’s clamping force is superb at keeping the headphones on your head but may cause comfort issues depending on your head shape. My ears began aching a little after an hour or so of continual use and I found myself having to lift the pads off my ears occasionally to ease the pressure.   

This pressure can also result in rather sweaty ears, particularly if you find yourself on the London Underground during a September heatwave. Using the velvet pads, which are only included with the HD 25 Plus, improved matters, so it’s worth considering paying slightly more for those or exploring third-party earpad options. 

Sennheiser HD 25 review: Should you buy them?

It’s easy to see why the Sennheiser HD 25’s popularity has endured over more than three decades. Any music you throw at them sounds great and is without overzealous flavouring, while the design is adaptable to various user preferences.

The strong clamping force is something of a double-edged sword, helping keep the headphones in place and external sound at bay effectively but causing aches after using the HD 25 for prolonged periods. As such, over-ear headphones would be a better choice for those planning epic listening sessions.

But if you’re a DJ whose sets typically only last an hour or so, or you’re simply after great-sounding on-ear headphones for casual use, you’ll struggle to find a better wired option for less money.

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