EAV Classics - 001.
Every year there are huge waves of new equipment for musicians. Each new product and idea claiming to change the way that we will make music, the way we interact with music or the way it sounds. Every now and then a product will fulfil those promises and genuinely change things but sometimes no matter how many times an idea is jazzed up and rebranded there could still be a product from decades ago that just does it better.
In this series of blogs we want to look at a few innovations that we believe have achieved that classic status and maybe even gone on to become landmarks of design in their field. Designs that have been imitated and copied but never surpassed.
First up in this series is something of an ugly duckling in a market saturated with flashy designs and gimmicks. A product built on simplicity, that has just one job to do and it does well... really well! The instantly recognisable Sennheiser HD25s.
With a design that’s now over a quarter of a century old the HD25’s went from a purely functional headset aimed at the broadcast and aerospace industry to a standard in just about any market that needed a pair of headphones for absolutely anything.
The HD25s are everything that you need in a pair of headphones: They’re incredibly lightweight, comfortable, well designed and sound great. Their thin plastic headband may look as though it may snap if you so much as look at it the wrong way. But that’s not the case. Many HD25 owners will tell you they’ve had their set for years. Anyone who owns a pair will tell you they can be dropped, thrown, trodden on, yanked, squashed, stretched and all manor of ill treatment that would leave most headphones and broken wreck.
They were once described as the AK-47 of headphones and that couldn’t be truer. Which brings me to another feature of the HD25s, a feature that no other set of headphones can match:
Every single last part of them is replaceable and very easily replaceable at that. If you blow one of the cups then you can buy another one and it can be swapped out in less than a minute. If you break the cable a new one can be brought and swapped out in the blink of an eye.
They’re close to indestructible anyway but if you should break anything there’s no need to fork out for another pair you can just replace the part.
But this is all well and good and all the features, build quality and reputation in the world means nothing for a pair of headphones if they don’t sound very good, does it? Well luckily for the HD25s they do sound rather good. We would class them as monitors. These don’t flatter the sound like your shiny high street headphones and there’s no fancy circuity making the music sound better or enhancing the bass or any such nonsense. But they’re not reference headphones either. For example they won’t hold their own against Sennheiser’s own, equally legendary, HD800s. But then with that in mind you wouldn’t want to throw a pair of HD800s into my rucksack in a hurry, and you wouldn’t feel comfortable wearing a pair of HD800s in the rain. So the HD25s give you a solid and trustworthy reproduction of whatever sound you need to hear. If you’re listening through them for extended periods of time they won’t tire out your ears and they weigh so little they won’t leave a dent in your skull.
They will go loud! They will go loud and they will stay clear. You have to push these headphones to a point where their volume is pretty much dangerous to get them to distort.
But some people think they’re ugly, which is understandable when so many headphones now have shiny this and flashy that. We think that looks was never really part of their design. Adidas tried their hand at jazzing up the design with the sleek blue cable, pads and Adidas logo.
There was even an anniversary edition with aluminium ear cups:
Even British Airways thought they were good enough to install into Concorde for the passengers to listen to.
This will go some of the way to explaining why they’ve been so widely adopted in so many industries. They’re comfortable and trustworthy, discreet and functional which is why we chose the Sennheiser HD25 as the first part of our Classics series.