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‘Made in Germany’ is considered by many audiophiles as tantamount to excellence in regard to the audio quality of headphones. Their reputation is arguably spearheaded by two single corporations: Beyerdynamic and Sennheiser. Sennheiser has maintained its household name in recent years thanks to bestselling models like the HD598, a very popular entry level pair of headphones for those breaking into the audiophile world. They also have a reputation for creating very expensive headphones like the Orpheus or the HD800s.
Beyerdynamic is a company that doesn’t have as much a reputation among newcomers to the world of high fidelity audio, but they do have a strong name that is backed by many knowledgeable enthusiasts the world over. Both of these companies are absolute titans when it comes to delivering some of the best headphones ever made, period.
We felt it was appropriate to put these two German kings head to head and compare a pair of their most recent products: Beyerdynamics Aventho Wireless and the Sennheiser HD1s. Similar in price range, power and style, these are brands that are aiming at the same audience, more or less. But which is better, for specific purposes and in general?
Like any curious audiophile, you’re probably wondering how they compare on a technical level, so let’s get that out of the way. Both of these headphones are in the same price range, so they’re virtually identical when it comes to that. Both are closed-back headphones, meaning that the sound will not bleed through the casing. Closed-back headphones provide better isolation from external noise, though typically have less accurate or less authentic soundstage (the quality of emulating the position of instruments relative to your ear).
When it comes to impedance, both are in the same ballpark. Impedance is measured in ohms, and is an indication of a headphones’ power. The higher the impedance is, the more amplification it will require to function at optimal levels, though higher impedance is heavily correlated with better sound quality. All of the best reviewed and expensive headphones often have impedances ranging from 200 to 600 ohms.
The Aventho scores at 32 ohms, and the HD1 scores at 18. Theoretically, the Aventho is the more powerful pair but generally speaking the difference between 18 and 32 is negligible and probably isn’t even noticeable at all. 16-32 ohms is the common range and anything under 50 ohms can be easily powered by any simple portable device like a smartphone, requiring no external amplification. On paper, the Aventho wins by a small amount, but the difference is so minor that it may not even count in the end.
These headphones are very similar in aesthetics and appearance. The Aventho comes in two colors and the HD1 comes in a few, but they all go for the same kind of faux-leather look with muted, calm colors like brown, beige and black. Think of expensive sofas or the interior of luxury vehicles, these things often act as the influence for a lot of stylish looking headphones these days.
Both headphones have the velour faux-leather headband that splits into the adjustable metal bars that connect to the speakers. The pads themselves are the same color and fabric as the headbands. The combination of thin steel and velour gives them a very particular look, one that says they are half modern, half old fashioned, which is very likely a deliberate choice.
It was a hard pick as they both look quite similar but the HD1 wins when it comes to looks. The headband features stitching that gives it just a slight edge when it comes to character, and the metal pieces are more attractive and shinier looking, plus they sport the Sennheiser logo as a holographic symbol.
Comfort is a very important factor when it comes to just about any headphones. You are potentially going to have these things on your head for hours at a time, be that for music sessions, movies or gaming. The Sennheiser HD1s are the clear winner of this category.
The Aventho’s, like some of Beyerdynamic’s other brand, namely the DT1350, are a little too tight on the head. It’s ironic because these headphones are very adjustable and can fit any sized head and even feature swiveling ear cups. But they start to get too tight after a couple of hours. The earcups themselves are also supra-aural or on-the ear, meaning they push against your ears instead of completely enveloping them.
Here we go; this is arguably the only category that matters for some of you. The Sennheiser HD1s feature very good bass and mid-range frequencies, but are a little muddy on the high end trebles and soprano ranges. This might be a deal breaker if you listen to music that heavily relies on such ranges, like metal music or even some classical. Virtually every other genre of music sounds great, and if you have a very analytical way of listening to music and want to notice every minute detail, these headphones will satisfy your needs.
The Beyerdynamic Aventho is of course a wireless headphone, and often wireless headphones sacrifice quality for this extra convenience. That is not the case with the Aventhos so we have to give extra points to Beyerdynamic for that. All ranges of frequencies, low, mid and high, are represented quite nicely. The bass and the treble never seem to be inadequate and are always discernible and noticeable. The problem here is that they can’t handle heavy instrumentation. Pop and hip hop for example will be fine, but any tracks with lots of instruments (classical or big band) will suffer a bit. These headphones struggle at multitasking several different sounds and textures.
We’ve said this before, but it was a hard one to decide. In most respects, these headphones have a lot in common but ultimately we have to go with the HD1s. They are our winner for both sound quality and are overall the better headphones, even if only slightly. While the high end could be a little more crisp and clear, they are more analytical in their presentation and are better at exposing details. The nail in the coffin of the Aventhos was their lack of handling multiple instruments at once well enough.Check Current Price / Sennheiser HD1s Check Current Price / Beyerdynamic Aventho