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Sennheiser Amperior review
What is it?
Portable-friendly headphones optimised for Apple devices
Gorgeous, clean sound at low, mid and high range; lightweight, solid fit; suits most music tastes; in-line remote for Apple devices
Detachable cables don't plug directly into the phones; noise leaks out at higher volumes; eye-wateringly expensive; bass not as heavy as you might expect
The bottom line
An excellent pair of audiophile-friendly headphones that's let down by a few tiny niggles, but ultimately delivers exceptional sound quality - as you'd expect at this price point.
The headphones you pair with your portable media device are often more important than the device itself. If you want proof of that, try Sennheiser's new Amperior phones. While they'll work with any portable media player, Sennheiser has specifically engineered them for the iPod, iPhone or iPad, and as you'd expect at this high price point, they beautiful, crisp sound without sacrificing detail at low or high ends.
The Amperior describes itself as "inspired by DJs, designed for the streets", but that's doing them a disservice. For the £250 outlay, you'd expect them to cover most bases, and the sound quality certainly backs that up, equally adept at delivering classical as well as club.
The unit oozes quality from the moment you ease it from its large padded box. The aluminium cups, available in a choice of blue or silver, mirror the design of Sennheiser's HD 25 headphones for DJs, fit snugly around the ears and cut out a fair bit of ambient noise, meaning you'll be able to relax in whatever company you find yourself. One of the cups even rotates for wannabe DJ use.
Unfortunately, while they cut out a lot of exterior noise, they're less effective at shielding your fellow commuters from your questionable music tastes. While they sound better and better the louder you crank them up, there's a fair amount of leakage at even modestly high volumes, despite the snug fit. And while it's comfortable and secure - thanks largely to the lightweight construction and adjustable split headband design - the cups can also start to wear on your ears after an hour or two's listening.
The phones come with a choice of detachable cables, one with inline remote functions and one without. Rather annoyingly these don't connect direct to the phones themselves, but a short length of cable that protrudes to shoulder level. The inline smart remote sports three buttons: volume up and down, and the "smart" middle button, which controls play/pause or switches tracks depending on how many times it's pressed. Each detachable cable has a clip for attaching to somewhere around your chest or shoulder, presumably to protect the cable while in use.
And so to the crucial bit: sound quality. The good news is that - with one small caveat - we were blown away. In the past, switching EQ settings on our iPod touch produced underwhelming results compared to more audiophile-friendly players, but here the Amperior reacts perfectly, positively encouraging you to adjust your quality settings depending on the music you're listening to. It also provides an excellent blend of low, mid and high-end sounds, delivering rich, warm tones without muddying the top end notes. Sadly, there is one minor blemish - despite the club-friendly design, the low end may not go deep enough for bass-loving dub-step and hip-hop fans.
On the whole, however, there's plenty of bass for most people's music tastes - you would never accuse the Amperior of sounding tinny - and the overall balance and clarity will reassure you that the hefty premium being charged is at least justifiable. Aside from a few other minor niggles - that short cable for one, the sound leakage for another - the Amperior is the choice for the Apple audiophile looking to pair their iPod or iPhone with the best possible headphones.
Transducer principle: dynamic, closed
Frequency response: 16 Hz-22 KHz
Sensitivity: 120dB SPL at 1kHz
Impedance: 18 ohm
Plug: 3.5mm jack, straight
Cable length: 1.2m (including 0.96m detachable cable with remote control)