Brief: The second incarnation of Sennheiser’s closed ultraportable, the PX200-II excels where its predecessor failed
MSRP: $89.95 (manufacturer’s page); $109.95 for PX200-IIi w/mic & 3-button remote (manufacturer’s page)
Current Price: $70 from Amazon.com for PX200-II; $75 from Amazon.com for PX200-IIi
Build Quality (7.5/10): It should come as no surprise that the build of the PX200 II is quite similar to that of my old PX100s. The plastics are thicker all around and the metal headband has been widened by about 1/16” but the overall design and feel of the structure are very reminiscent of the previous PX headphones. The pleather pads seem identical to the old PX200 pads and are approximately the same size as the pads on my other small portables. The 4-foot single-sided cable features a volume control with a belt clip about halfway down. Strain reliefs seem excessively hard and worry me a bit, especially considering that the volume control/belt clip on the cord may lead to an increased chance of snags. A soft carrying pouch is included with the PX200 II in place of the hard plastic case included with the PX100.
Comfort (7.5/10): As with the PX100, the swiveling earcups provide a compliant fit. The padding on the headband looks miniscule but gets the job done without making your head sweat. However, the pleather earpads heat up more than the foam pads use by the PX100 and the whole assembly is heavier and clamps quite a bit harder making the PX200-II substantially less comfortable for prolonged use.
Isolation (6.5/10): The swiveling earcups provide a good fit and the pleather pads can create a seal despite the diminutive cup size. As a result, the isolation they provide when positioned properly over the ear is surprisingly good, beating all of the similarly-sized supraaurals and even the circumaural CAL!.
Sound: (7/10): Despite being a closed headphone, the PX200-II does not sound closed-in but instead rather spacious, not unlike the Panasonic Slimz. Though the soundstage isn’t any wider than that of the PX100s, the overall presentation is less intimate and better spaced. The sound is cooler and brighter than the PX100 – far closer to being tonally neutral. At the low end of the frequency spectrum the PX200-II provides a tight punch that makes the PX100 sound very muddy in comparison. The mids and treble not as strikingly smooth as the PX100 due to the PX200-II being far less warm, but clarity is greatly improved. The high end is fairly extended but doesn’t boast much sparkle (may be a good thing for some). Instrumental separation is good, helped significantly by the clarity and the more evenly distributed soundstaging. The resolution and fine detailing are not quite on par with some of the pricier phones here but for such a small and convenient portable it’s all really quite impressive. On a final note, I found that the PX200-II benefits less from dedicated amplification than did the old PX100, likely because there’s not as much room for improvement at the low end.
Value (7.5/10): Unlike the original PX200, which had little going for it besides being small and closed, the Mk II is a surprisingly competent all-rounder. Well-built, reasonably comfortable, and offering a good amount of isolation, the PX200-II is the headphone that the old PX200 should have been and finally offers serious competition for the likes of the AKG K81DJ. Die-hard bassheads will probably be happier with the old PX100 but for the rest of us the far more balanced and neutral PX200-II offers more faithful sound reproduction. The sacrifice in comfort for better passive noise reduction is rather unfortunate but potentially of more value to those actually using the headphones on the move. The PX200-II therefore has all the hallmarks of a critical and commercial success – usability, excellent sonic characteristics, and a respected name to back it all up – and will likely become more popular than the famed PX100 in the near future.
Frequency Response:10-21,000 Hz
Sensitivity:115 dB SPL/1mW
Cord:3.94ft (1.2m), single-sided; Straight Plug
Space-Saving Mechanism:Flat-folding, collapsible