The HD 4.20 S rather tidy dimensions make it seem like it could be either a larger 'on-ear' headphone or a small 'over-ear' can. Sennheiser officially calls it an over-ear style but it almost blurs the line between the two with its fully collapsible headband and extremely lightweight frame design. The HD4.20S strong flexible build and beefy folding hinges are built to withstand years of on-the-go use and portable listening. The Sennheiser HD 4.20 is a headphone that is equally comfortable working at the office, hitting the books, or just jamming out on the long commute home.
In every situation, the Sennheiser HD 420 S is an amazingly comfortable headphone wearing experience due in no small part to its oversize deep-well ear cushions that softly envelop the entire ears on most wearers. For most of our headphone.com testers, the Sennheiser HD 4.20 ear cushions tended to rest on the outer part of the earlobes, but the deep, soft pad material (did we say these are some really soft pads?) conformed to the shape of the ears and nicely minimized ambient noise intrusion, providing impressive isolation and great listening privacy.
The Sennheiser HD 4 20 S sound is solidly presented and even-toned with some mild emphasis heard on the bottom-end as is typical for most headset-oriented headphones looking to warm up smartphone jams. Fortunately, that rich bass tone doesn't mean the mids and treble ranges are muddied in any sense and the vocals/voice intelligibility seems particularly well-focused in the HD 4.20 S overall presentation - a nice plus for speech clarity during your phone calls.
Also as is to be expected from Sennheiser, their classic signature smoothness is plainly audible in the slightly rolled-off HD 4.20 S upper highs that trade incisive sharpness for a more mellow, rounded tonality. The treble extension is still wonderfully present and well-detailed but with just a hint of that mild reticence we sometimes hear even with much more pricey Sennheiser cans - .i.e., the infamous Sennheiser "veil" as it is sometimes known.
However, our own take is that's likely something of an unfair criticism in this instance. Not only is the Sennheiser HD 4.20 S among one the better-sounding full-size headphone headsets we've heard under $100 bucks, we think it directly competes with many non-microphone 'audio-only' headphones out there offering more limited feature sets and way less stringent build quality.
Having said that, we also appreciate the understatedly workman-like yet sleek looks of the HD 4.20 S which seems to downplay trendy cosmetic flash in favor of what's actually under the hood. As serious headphone geeks, we could not be more stoked to witness the reassertion of straightforward high-performance headphones at affordable prices that deliver genuine value to music lovers. The Sennheiser HD 4.20 S is prepared to take on all comers from that tired, beat-y land of pricey craptastic headphones and soundly beat 'em at their own game.
The Sennheiser HD 4.20 S over-ear headphones come with a 1-button mic'd cable that extends about 4.5ft and terminates to a right-angled 3.5mm mini-plug. Simply hit the button to activate your smartphone mic for phone calls, no muss, no fuss. The HD 4.20 S headband sizing adjustability is accomplished via a detented earcup slider mechanism that feels solid and a breeze to fit for a wide variety of head sizes. The headband folds and neatly collapses down for storage or transit and the hinges appear beefy and durable for a lifetime of headphone hauling.
The HD 4.20 are rated at 18 Ohms and 118 dB sensitivity so they'll play loud and proud from any smartphone or other audio device without a headphone amp needed. The strong 2-year manufacturer's 'repair or replace' product warranty covers you in case of any issues only when proof-purchased from true authorized Sennheiser headphone dealers - like us right here at headphone.com since 1995!