I had been more than satisfied with my Phillips SHE-9500 earbuds when the inevitable happened: I caught the cord in my car door and shorted out the cable. It just so happened that when this event took place, Sennheiser was offering a trade-in deal through Newegg.com that, along with a discount through Newegg, reduced the Sennheiser headphones on their set by as much as $70. These earbuds had a street price of about $80, but after all of the deals, they came in at under $25, so I decided to give them a shot. I definitely got my money's worth in the deal! I'll divide this review into two areas: construction and sound.
Recommend this product?
Looking at the earbuds, they don't seem as solidly constructed as I expected. The Sennheiser name is one of those bigger names in quality audio products, so I assumed these things would look indesctructable. Instead, the cords are a bit thin and the earbuds themselves are constructed of a combination of plastic and aluminum, appearing no different than other earbuds.
The earbuds are much more durable than they appear though. I made the mistake of stepping on one of the earbuds accidentally (and by "stepped on" I mean applied a fair amount of my body weight on the earbud). I expected to look down and see a cracked open earbud hanging from the cable. Instead, I found a completely intact, albeit slightly scratched, earbud that worked perfectly fine.
The cabling is a little tacky, although not as tacky as the SHE-9500 cable. What it does tend to do is to "remember" if it has been twisted, and it can take a while to work those twists out of the cable. As a result, sometimes I put the earbuds in and then have to take one out to untwist the cables, since at first glance they appear untwisted. Not a huge issue, but something to be aware of.
The cabling is also a bit thinner than I expected it to be. My hope is that all of the junctions and connections in there are well attached, so the chances of creating a break in the line (especially with the slightly tacky cord) are reduced. They were smart enough to include a L-shaped audio jack instead of a straight line jack, as I find those tend to help reduce stress on the cable and extend the life of the headset/ earbuds (the force of a pull gets dissipated a little by that bend).
The styling of the earbuds is pretty basic. They come in three colors, black, silver, and white, and from what I can tell, each color still has a silver band basically in the middle of the earbud where the aluminum is at. There is nothing special though about that color scheme; they look more like unimposing, cheap earbuds than they do expensive ones.
Final verdict- I guess that's a sign of a higher-end product: it looks much like it's cheaper cousins, yet is stronger and more durable. Would I have paid $80-90 for that? Probably not, but I'll take it at the $30 price point. It would have been nice though if you could physically see that the earbuds are more durable than most. Grade: B+
Let me start by posting the specifications from Sennheiser's website:
Frequency response: 18Hz - 21kHz
Impedance: 16 Ohm
Sound pressure level: 112 bd (1 kHz, 1 Vrms)
Transducer principle: dynamic, open
Cable length: asymmetrical; left: 170mm, right: 510mm, 850mm divider to plug
Jack plug: 3.5mm stereo (angled)
Nothing exceptional stands out for me other than the frequency response isn't as good as the SHE-9500 earbuds. Comparing the two though, I can only detect slightly better sound quality from the Sennheisers; the sound feels a little richer out of these than the SHE-9500. What's nice about earbuds though is that you do get some reduction in background sound, so you can listen at lower sound volumes than over the ear headphones. I rarely turn my iPod up past 25% when wering these earbuds.
With that block of background noise comes some penalties. It is hard to hear anything going on, even if there is no audio being played, because the earbuds are so effective at blocking ambient noise. At work, I often just wear one earbud so that I can hear what is going on, as wearing both regularly "shuts me out" of the real world. Also, getting the earbuds in and out can be tricky if you've got your hands full. I usually have no trouble putting the earbud for the left ear in with my left hand and vice versa, but I can't easily put the left earbud in with my right hand. Maybe it's just me and my ear/ hand combination, but because there's kind of a twist involved in putting the earbuds in, I just can't get the right angle when using the arm on the side of my body opposite the ear I am putting the earbud into.
Final verdict- great sound, although not substantially better than the under $40 SHE-9500 earbuds. Grade: B+
As I mentioned earlier, at the $30 price point, these are great earbuds. Move up to the $100 area though, and I can't really see what the extra $60-70 is going towards other than name recognition. if you can get these earbuds at that low price, I would grab a set. If not, I would consider other brands before putting out the extra money for Sennheiser's CX300 earbuds.
Final grade- B
Read all comments (2)