With the advent of
the iPod and other portable MP3 players, there has been an explosion of
earphones to go with them.
Problem is that the
average person just uses the $5 phones that come with the player.
Well, if you spent
several hundred dollars on the player, why put up with the degradation in
sound that results from those cheap earphones, when good earphones will make
I suspect that many
of us are put off by the high price tag on some of the earphones, and you
figure that the inexpensive ones are not significantly better than the
phones that came with the player.
Well, it's just not
Sennheiser is a name
familiar to anyone who has ever shopped for headphones. They go way back.
So, when the iPod
generation came along, they put their expertise into making appropriately
The CX-500s have an MSRP of $129.95, but I have seen
them on the Internet for less than $90.
When I got the
review pair, I was very surprised after I connected them to my iPod and put on
Finally, enough bass
to satisfy anyone, and a clear midrange that was not too edgy. Part of this
is the very light weight of the phones and the fact that they fit tightly in
the ear canal.
Usually, I have to
add significant EQ to the iPod menu in order to get deep bass, but with the
CX-500s, I ended up with "Flat". First time I have been satisfied with that
EQ menu selection.
One funny thing was
that I had mistakenly thought these were a $499 model - not having looked at
all the spec sheet info yet - and when I listened to them, I concluded these
were really worth that price. Shocked I was, when I saw that they were
available for less than $90 street price.
At 1 kHz, only 0.1%
THD+N. There is only a second order harmonic (no third), which gives the
phones a smooth midrange.
At 10 kHz, still
very low distortion. Again, only a second order harmonic (no third).
IMD is almost
non-existent. If there were significant IMD, there would be a mass of small
peaks around the base of the 2 kHz peak, appearing like a pyramid.
The THD+N vs.
Frequency test shows that even at 10 Hz, distortion is less than 5% at 108
dB (taken from the frequency response curve, shown below). This is
superb performance. Secrets is the first consumer A/V publication to publish
graphs like this for subwoofers and full range speakers, so you won't find
such data elsewhere on similar products for comparison, unfortunately.
Perhaps that will change over time now that we have started doing it,
because such graphs are extremely informative.
response shows why I heard such great bass. These phones are designed to
really put it out. If you don't like that much bass, you can always EQ it
down in the MP3 player menu. The point is, it's there if you want it.
For $129.95 MSRP and
less than $90 street price, the Sennheiser CX-500 earphones are an
incredible value. Nice clean sound, and deep, deep bass. This is a holiday
season gift just waiting to be given.
- John E. Johnson, Jr. -