Pros:Good sound quality, fit, and sound isolation; great for airplanes.
Cons:Irritating cord noise when active.
The Bottom Line: Use these high quality but affordable earphones to enjoy your music at rest or on the airplane, but find a different pair for the gym.
I have a problem.
Recommend this product?
I enjoy listening to my music and want my earphones to provide decent fidelity and reasonable bass response. That's not too much to ask, is it? And I want them to fit well and minimize external noise. That's reasonable, right? The problem is that I want all this, but I'm limited by one principle - I'm cheap.
Interestingly, after experimenting with a few different, er, inexpensive sets of earphones (see my other review), I had not quite found the right pair yet. It was time to get a new pair. Despite an increasing degree of desperation, I am a man who sticks to his guns, so my price point is not moving much. And that's what brings me to the Sennheisers.
A cursory internet search reveals the following about these headphones:
- they are made by a company with a history of producing high-quality audio equipment for professional use
- they are Sennheiser's initial foray into the consumer in-ear headphone market
A more detailed search of audiophile forums reveals specifically:
- the headphones compare favorably against other brand models priced $50-100 more
- they are usually included among the lists of the best models with a MSRP around $100
I've owned my pair for a few weeks now, and I've been able to test them working out at the gym, fidgeting in the claustrophobic coach class of a plane, and lazing about the house. And I am pleased to report that they are, in fact, quite excellent. Sound quality is superb and very adequate for my needs, and I get plenty of bass from my mostly rock music collection.
With respect to the fit, they come with three different sizes of silicone plugs, so they should be able to fit just about everyone, and I find them very comfortable for long stretches of time. They are very secure once placed and do not dislodge easily.
Noise isolation is quite good, working as well as, if not better than, my wife's active noise-canceling headphones on the airplane. My ears would get so accommodated to a decreased noise level that whenever I removed a bud to hear an in-flight announcement, I often found the announcement almost painfully loud. Keep in mind, this level of isolation could actually be a negative quality when the ability to hear unusual sounds is important, i.e. crossing a street, walking down a dark alley, etc.
However, it's not all wine and roses. One complaint I have read about in-ear monitors, and that I have personally experienced with these, is transmission of movement noise through the cord. While I am not quite certain of the physics of the phenomenon, it gets real annoying once you notice it. Movement of the cord leads to an irritating, low-frequency thrum. Similarly, you can hear a whistling sound when you move briskly, probably a manifestation of the same phenomenon. As a result, I resort to a different pair of headphones when jogging or cycling.
The cord configuration deserves some mention as well. The cord is offset meaning that one channel (right) has a longer cord than the other. Ostensibly, this allows you to pass the right channel cord behind your neck, but it can also lead to asymmetry in the tension your auditory canals feel when the cord hangs. Not a big problem for most, but I know of folks for whom this is a deal-breaker.
Finally, the price. MSRP is something around $100, but you can get new headphones from a certain internet auction site for much, much cheaper, thus allowing me to maintain my principles. Just be careful - apparently, some dealers sell knock-off fakes, so check the seller's ratings.
P.S. The Creative EP-630 headphones look exactly like the Sennheisers but are cheaper, leading many to think that they are getting the same product for a bargain (or overpaying for the Sennheiser name), but multiple comparisons between the two demonstrate the Sennheisers to be far superior.