Sennheiser HD1 Review: Can Great Sound Save Neckbands?

Let me start this off by saying that I’m not a big fan of in-ear earphones, but I do understand and appreciate their purpose and benefits. I still use them from time to time, but you’re more likely to catch me wearing a pair of over-ear headphones instead. Sennheiser recently released their HD1 In-Ear earphones, and knowing the sound and build quality of their headphones, I was excited to try these out. I won’t say they disappointed me, but they have obvious pros and cons. So, let’s dive into the Sennheiser HD1 In-ear (HD1).

When you first buy the HD1, you get a familiar red and black box with a carrying case inside containing your earbuds, reading materials, and charger. The case is hard to protect the earbuds and has Sennheiser signature red trim. It’s worth noting that the reading material isn’t as optional as other headphones due to the possible button combinations that you’ll want to use. Lastly, the charger is a simple micro-USB charger and there are additional ear tips available for sizing.

Once you open the case, you’ll see that it is molded specifically for the HD1’s — which is nice. There’s also an open spot in the middle for your cable and earbuds to be placed in without having to wrap the cable or carry additional bags. The interior is made from a soft felt material that goes great with the included velcro organizing straps.
Now to the HD1 themselves, they are what I like to categorize as “neckband earbuds.” These are the ones that the LG Tone series popularized a few years back (which fell off for a bit) and have been revived lately. Instead of getting just wireless earbuds, you have this stiff neckband that rests on the nape of your neck and contains the battery, button, and earbud cords. Having a whole band for the earbuds lets manufacturers do cool things that normal wireless earbuds can’t do. This includes much longer battery life, more buttons, and better mics.

The HD1 neckband is made of fake leather material for the back part of the band and plastic for the front half that rests on your chest. There’s some red stitching on the top part of the neckband, which reinforces the leather aesthetic and matches the earbuds’ cords. All buttons are on the left band, with FCC icons outfitting the right. The buttons aren’t as tactile and clicky as I’d like, so it took some time for me to press the correct button and generally remember the layout for the band. The included buttons are power, rewind, play/pause, and fast forward.
The fit on your neck isn’t actually all that bad as the faux leather makes the HD1s quite comfortable, while the plastic keeps them light. The only issue I have with wearing the HD1 is they tend to shift. I will occasionally look down and see that one band is much farther inward than the other — this could be due to my hair as well. Either way, this is annoying to have to deal with all the time. Also, make sure you try out the different tips for the earbuds, I had to change them and ended up having two different sizes on the buds for them to stay in properly.

Before we get to how these sound, let’s check out what the HD1’s have inside them. The main things to note about the sound are frequency response at 15Hz – 22KHz and (what I assume to be sensitivity) sound pressure level at 112 dB. Battery life is stated to be around 10 hours, which without using every second of every day, seemingly lasts forever. You can also fast charge this device in an hour and a half, to achieve 60% battery.

Most importantly, however, is the sound. The HD1 will provide a warm and open sound which isn’t typical of in-ear buds. Instead of being heavy with highs and vocals, they provide great detail in the lows and bass. Now, you won’t get the same amount of bass as in on or over-ear headphones (OBVIOUSLY) but way more than your typical AirPods or Pixelbuds.

Another feature to take note of is the soundstage that comes with the HD1’s. You’ll be pressed to listen to tracks that do a lot with stereo mixing so that you can really appreciate the separation of channels on Sennheiser’s buds. You get an accurate but also colorful sound and some slight passive isolation in this unsuspecting package.

The HD1 are available in a variety of markets for only $200. That may seem steep for the type of headphones you’re getting but you have to realize the brand name and signature sound that comes with these. Sennheiser is not known for having the cheapest products around. Even with the higher price, I do think the HD1’s are worth it if you’re into this sort of style. Although, if you just want wireless earbuds without the neckband, Sennheiser also has their HD1 Free.

Ultimately if you’re always on the go but don’t want sizeable cans on your head or if you often take your earbuds in and out, then the HD1 In-Ear is for you. The sound is incredible and the battery won’t have you hunting for the charger at the end of the workday. The fact that the buds don’t retract isn’t that big of an issue. I enjoyed my time with the HD1’s and I’m sure anyone else would as well. Let me know in the comments below if the HD1 is on your radar.

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