January 23, 2017

In our head-to-head comparison, we have two very popular budget headphones, the Sennheiser HD 202 and the Sony MDR-XB450.

A lot has been said about the two headphones packing a solid amount of bass, rendering great comfort and more. The HD 202 has been lauded for its great sonic quality and is of the most popular headphones from Sennheiser. The MDR-XB450 boasts of a very well-built sleek design and carries on Sony's Extra Bass legacy. Hotly debated among consumers as well as audiophiles, let's see who comes on the top!


"If you are looking for headphones with detailed sound and great clarity, that is primarily to be used indoors, then the Sennheiser HD 202 II is your pick.

If you love that bass and wish to use your headphones primarily with your mobile phone, then the Sony MDR-XB450 should undoubtedly be on your wish list."

-Raghav Somani

Sennheiser HD 202 II


Not Available
Sony MDR-XB450




The Sennheiser HD 202 II is clearly marketed towards people wishing to get their hands on headphones that are a perfect substitute for expensive studio monitors.

One glance and the first thing that'll strike you is how the HD 202 II is not very different from most conventional headphones. It has a charm in its simplicity and comes in a single black-grey colour. Unlike the MDR-XB450, these don't fold flat, thereby making storage and portability inconvenient. You should probably consider putting them on a headphone stand.

Although built from plastic, the materials used are robust and durable. One of our favourite party tricks is to bend the HD 202 II's headband flat, the headphones still do not break. The branding is pretty understated, just the matt grey plastic earcups flaunting the proud German brand.  

The headband features soft cushioning covered with leatherette, while being generously padded. It sits comfortably without exerting too much pressure on the head. The band is semi-flexible enough to adjust to any head size. Again, the earpads are padded but tend to heat after long hours of listening. One of our favourite things about the HD 202 II is that the earpads are replaceable. Whenever the earpads seem to be worn out, you can simply snap on a new pair of ear pads. With no extra frill, the overall design is durable and further backed by Sennheiser's 2-year warranty.

Sony has taken a diagonally opposite direction. The Sony MDR-XB450 has been designed for a younger audience who wish to flaunt eye-catching cans on the go.

The Sony MDR-XB450 proudly sports a sleek stylish looking metallic earcup housing. The swivel folding design allows for easy storage in your bag or briefcase. The earpads are softly foam padded, but the headband does not feature any kind of padding and may thus not be feasible for long listening hours. Do keep in mind, unlike the HD 202 II, the MDR-XB450's earpads are not replaceable.

The MDR-XB450 lets you make a style statement and you can choose from 5 bold colours i.e. black, blue, red, yellow and white. However, if you shy away from unnecessary attention, you'll probably want to stick to black.

The Sennheiser HD 202 II features earcups that are large and comfortably fit over your ears. Keep in mind that the headphones are not designed to look slim, so the extra width may take some time to get used to.

Covered with leather, they are stuffed with heavy cushioning. It feels very similar to the material the headband is made of, though not quite as soft. It, however, does have the same amount of give and feel. This makes them comfortable to wear even during long hours, although you might feel a slight warmth after using them for a while.

This because there is an increase in comfort and they allow your ears to breathe some more. If noise isolation is your aim, these headphones are your best bet. You must keep in mind that the HD 202 II has been designed to be used by studio professionals for many years. You'll be hard pressed to find any noise that'll hamper your listening experience.

Perhaps the best feature of the  Sennheiser HD 202 II is that it comes with a long 3-meter straight cable.These are great if you want to use them while playing musical instruments or while connected to a DSLR camera. When out and about, you can wind your cable around the included cable winder and clip it to your belt. Using it with your mobile phone can be inconvenient because the cable is long and likely to get tangled. Keep in mind, however that the HD 202 II does not come with an inbuilt mic, so you can't take calls when connected to your mobile.

The XB450 is definitely not as comfortable as the Sennheiser HD 202 II. Like all on-ear headphones, there will be fatigue felt on the ears after long periods of use and noise isolation is less effective than the HD 202 II's over-ear design.

The biggest advantage over the HD 202 II is, of course, the flat-type cable that the Sony MDR-XB450 employs. The serrated cord is tangle-free, keeping the annoyance miles away. Perfect for on-the-go use with your mobile phone.

Most importantly, the MDR-XB450 comes with a variant—the Sony MDR-XB450AP that has a mic and remote specifically to take calls when used with a mobile phone. You can pick the microphone and remote variantif you wish to use your headphones with your mobile phone.


The Sennheiser HD 202 II carries a great amount of tonal balance.The lows are punchy and clean but never go overboard or overdone. The bass is punchy but with just enough power so as to not overpower other frequencies. The vocals can be heard crystal clear, and separated from the tunes really well.

The sound has a really nice sense of space. The harmonies and details only amplify your listening experience. Sennheiser's HD 202 II lets you access more instruments and beats that would otherwise get buried with another headset in this range. At times you feel can feel the bass like it is surrounding you or as if you were listening to a large stereo system. The sub-bass is quite low and rumbles but can be a bit on the weaker side on certain tracks.

The headphones do render their own sheen here and there, but just enough as to not adulterate the details. You may find that the pair sometimes gets a little bright in some loud genres, especially with busy tracks, but as a package, the HD 202 II gives just all you need.

The soundstage is very impressive for a pair of closed-back headphones so your music in the true sense does come to life while wearing these. To an extent, it lends you the pleasure that is as close as listening to music from a stereo surround and is usually hard to get at this price point.

The Sony MDR-XB450 headphones have been tuned to sound fun and entertaining without paying too much attention to detail and clarity. 

Very clear from its name, the MDR-XB450 stands for extra bass and it delivers just that. Put them on and you will find that they feature sound that is overwhelming, loud and punchy staying true to the characteristics of the XB series. Vocals have a good deal of texture, but the mids are recessed. A little bit of clarity would help the treble sparkle—as it feels a little overshadowed by the overpowering bass. There’s liveliness and it makes for a superbly entertaining listen.

Unlike the Sennheiser HD 202 II, tonally, the Sony MDR XB450 aren’t quite balanced; they lean completely towards the low end. A great feature, the MDR-XB450 has high endurance and does not crack up even at the highest volume levels. If you are looking at a warm controlled sound signature, you are not in to get anything close from these. That being said the sound is smooth and avoids any kind of undesirable roughness. These headphones really shine through energetic genre's like hip-hop and EDM, but disappoint on melodic songs.

The imperfections come in with the lack of tonal balance. Sony is proudly unashamed of the same.

Just like the Sennheiser HD 202 II, the Sony MDR-XB450 also has an impressively wide soundstage. Not as good as the former, but enough to immerse yourself.

If you are an audiophile in the making, you'd better keep away.



  • Over The Ear Design
  • Traditional Matte Design
  • Unbreakable Headband
  • Will Not Fold Flat For Storage
  • 3m Long Cable With Cord Winder
  • Balanced Sound Signature 
  • No Option For Microphone And Remote 
SONY - MDR XB450  

  • On The Ear Design
  • Classy Metallic Finish Earcups
  • Not The Most Durable 
  • Folds Flat For Convenient Carrying
  • 1.2m Flat Serrated Cable
  • Sony MDR-XB450AP Comes With Microphone And Remote


How different is the Sony MDR-XB450 from the Sennheiser HD 202 II? This is a very clear choice. 

If you are looking for budget Studio headphones with balanced sonic quality to be used typically at home or at the studio, we would recommend that you go for the Sennheiser HD 202 II. 

If you want to experience sound that leans towards the lower end and arguably produces the most entertaining tone, then you should go for the Sony MDR-XB450.

Consult an Expert Now
Still confused? Book a time of your preference and let us guide you through other options, discuss sound and help you make the right choice. Allow us to introduce you to the choicest of products at your leisure. 


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