Sennheiser (CX) Buyers’ Guide: The best in-ear headphones reviewed
There are a number of Sennheiser earphones in the CX line, but the range is so wide it can be tricky to select the best model. Today we’ll look at three types and weigh up the best option: standard earphones, headsets (with mic and remote) and sports earphones. The following models will be considered: CX 1.00, 2.00i, 3.00, 5.00G, 275S, 686G and newly released 7.00 BT. The CX range includes budget earphones that are designed for easy use on the go. In terms of audio response they are consumer-grade designs rather than audiophile quality. The series is marketed as having a “superior bass response” but the actual balance of each model varies significantly. For the purpose of this review we are focusing on the current generation of CX Sennheiser earphones.
New release: CX 7.00 BT neckband design
The new kid on the block is the CX 7.00 BT, and it seems Sennheiser have kept the best to last. The wireless neckband design is the priciest entry for the series at $150 USD. Most earphones are designed for convenience rather than audio fidelity, but Sennheiser have really tuned these to perfection. They have a boosted bass and treble sound which retains balance and clarity throughout the frequency range (17Hz – 21,000Hz). You get a fairly standard 10-hours of battery life, and the rigid neckband will stay put fairly well while you’re out and about. Included in the package is four comfortable ear-tip options, a charging cable and a soft pouch.
CX 686G sports in-ear headphones are on offer
The sole sports earphone currently offered in the line is the Sennheiser CX 686G. You can pick them up for $62 on Amazon currently. The earphones have a mic and three-button remote with volume controls. The model is intended for use with Android, Windows Mobile and Blackberry devices. iOS users will have to look elsewhere. Sennheiser offer the earphones in a distinct bright green colour. They have ear hooks that comfortably hold the earpieces in place. They are water and sweat resistant and have an anti-microbial coating to prevent bad smells. Sennheiser claim the CX 686G has a tangle-proof cable. However in reality their design doesn’t prevent tangles all that well. The earphones have a limited frequency response of 18 – 20,000 Hz. The audio performance is not particularly notable. The lack of satisfying bass response is the biggest issue. The CX 686G is one of the less impressive models in the line.
Standard Sennheiser earphones
The no-frills models are Sennheiser CX 1.00 and the CX 3.00, which share a number of similarities. If you are looking for cheap earphones, these basic designs will be good for a replacement of stock headphone accessories.
CX 1.00 cheap in-ear headphones
At $29.95 the CX 1.00 is the cheapest model in the line. They are your stock-standard set of earphones. The only extra feature you get is four sizes of rubber eartips. There’s no remote, protective pouch or any extras. If you liked the older models like the CX 300 II you’ll probably like these as the design hasn’t changed that much. They have a plastic and rubber build and are light and comfortable. The CX 1.00 has a frequency response of 17Hz – 20kHz. For the price-point, they have a reasonably balanced response. The bass isn’t as prominent on this model as the more expensive models in the line.
Comfortable CX 3.00 in-ear headphones
The Sennheiser CX 3.00 is also a fairly standard set of earphones. They are priced at $54.95 so naturally you get improved build quality and some new design features. The sennheiser earbuds have a slightly angled design which helps them fit naturally and comfortably into the ear. The outside of the earpiece is plastic but the eartip holders have a metal build, enhancing the durability of the model. The CX 3.00 has an elliptical 1.2m cable which is both durable and tangle-resistant. Sennheiser ship a hard protective case with the earphones. It works well to protect the earphones but the cable-management system is a little fiddly. The frequency response is 17Hz – 21kHz, which is broader than both the CX 1.00 and CX 2.00. The bass of the CX 3.00 is quite prominent, while the mids are a little reined in. The highs are clear and aren’t fatiguing. If you don’t mind a bass-heavy pair of earphones, there’s a lot to like about this model.
Sennheiser earphones with mic and volume control (headsets)
The next set of models we’ll look at is the headsets, which include the Sennheiser CX 2.00i, CX 5.00G and CX 275S. The CX 2.00 in many ways is the budget version of the CX 5.00. They both feature a mic and three-button remote and both come in versions specifically designed for iOS (iPhone) or Android (Galaxy) devices. This is denoted by either “i” or “G” after the model name. The CX 275S is a slightly older model that is designed for “universal” use with devices that run any operating system. The mic and single-button remote model is not completely universal though, as we’ll discuss later.
Budget CX 2.00 in-ear headphones
The Sennheiser CX 2.00i comes with a $54.95 price tag. Apart from the mic and remote, the model is light on features. All you get in the box is the earphones and four eartip sizes. The earpieces are slightly angled to help provide a comfortable fit and proper seal in the ear. The CX 2.00i weighs in at 15g and the weight of the remote can make them a little unwieldy for sports-like applications. This is something all the headset CX models can be prone to. The earphones have a frequency response of 17Hz – 20kHz. Like the CX 1.00, they are a light on the bass frequencies. They offer a clear and present response throughout the mid and high frequencies.
Balanced, more stylish CX 5.00G in-ear headphones
At $75, the Sennheiser CX 5.00G is the second-most expensive product we’re looking at today. You get a lot of features and a thoroughly modern design for the outlay though. The cheapest Sennheiser earphones look a little generic but the CX 5.00G definitely has a stylish look. The earphones have a metal build that both looks good and provides durability. The remote and mic are also sturdy. There’s an elliptical cable that is blessedly tangle-free. There’s a hardcase to protect your investment, although like the CX 3.00’s case, it’s not that user-friendly. You get the widest frequency response available from the range: 16Hz – 22kHz. Sennheiser have also provided the CX 5.00G with a balanced response. It’s not hardcore audiophile territory but as far as the CX range goes, it’s fairly flat.
Heightened compatibility with the CX 275S in-ear headphones
The Sennheiser CX 275S doesn’t stack up very well against the two previous headsets we’ve looked at. The model can be picked up for $49.90. It has a plastic and rubber design. The thin cables are prone to breakage and tangling. The headset has a mic and single-button remote. The lack of volume controls seems intended to maximise the compatibility of the device. However as far as modern headsets go, it seems pretty limited not to include those controls. The one advantage the model has that it’s compatible with iOS or Android devices. However, it doesn’t have universal compatibility, and there are some Android devices which don’t work with the CX 275S. The headphones have a broad frequency response of 17 – 23,000 Hz. They are reasonably balanced overall, although there’s a bit of a boost to the low frequencies. Due to the single-button remote and durability issues it’s hard to recommend them unless you require a single headset that works on multiple devices with different operating systems.
What (CX) Sennheiser headphones are the best?
Out of the standard Sennheiser earphones considered, the CX 1.00 and the CX 3.00 are quite similar and mainly separated by price and the accompanying quality boost. The CX 1.00 is a pretty regular pair of earphones that can be picked up for a small outlay. They are a good upgrade from your stock phone earphones but don’t expect too much more from them. The CX 3.00 earphones have better quality components, greater durability, a wider frequency response and more pronounced bass frequencies. If you can afford the $54.95 asking price and don’t mind the prominent bass, they are worth the outlay.
Headsets/earphones with mic for phone calls
Moving onto the headsets, the CX 2.00i and CX 5.00G are both good entries, while the CX 275S has a limited appeal.
- The CX 275S has good audio performance but has a flimsy build and only a single button remote paired with its mic. It’s only really worth getting if you want to use a single headset with devices that run different operating systems.
- The CX 686G doesn’t have particularly impressive audio performance, although its sports credentials stack up well. The model is light, comfortable and is sweat and water resistant. The so-called tangle-proof cable doesn’t deliver as promised, nevertheless it will be okay for phone calls.
- The CX 2.00i is your basic headset, with mic and three-button remote, but not too much else in the way of features apart from angled earpieces.
- The CX 5.00G is quite an impressive model, although at $75 it’s also more expensive. The headset has a high quality construction, classy looks and has a broad, balanced response. If you want an included mic and remote and don’t mind the expense, the Sennheiser CX 5.00G is an excellent choice.
New CX 7.00 in-ear headphones deliver best audio results
The Sennheiser CX 7.00 BT is a neckband design, which delivers superb audio results. It’s easy to use and wear, although the rigid neckband is a bit heavier than some other lightweight competitors. It’s quite an addition to the range and with such punchy audio, the high price tag isn’t too big a barrier. The big upside is that if your portable audio device is supportive of Bluetooth, there is unlikely to be any issues with compatibility. However, do read the CX 7.00 manual because it talks about support your device needs for it to work flawlessly.