Sennheiser CX550 Style II In-ear headphones review

I am currently in a position where I’m commuting to my job in London from the far away countryside of Hampshire. It’s a 2-3 month thing… And so far I’ve quite enjoyed it. More than anything it gives me a good 2 hours a day to listen solidly to music, whereas if I try and listen at work I get a lot of interruptions.

I had my Sony Fontopia MDR-EX71 in-ear headphones for at least 3 years and they had served me well; pretty good sound, quite bassy and comfortable. But as I was listening more and more I thought I would treat my ears, having a gift certificate for Amazon leftover from Christmas and them being in stock at a 40% reduction of the RRP. (Link goes to Amazon)

Enough rambling more reviewing. The box is very nice, and comes with a really nice carry case which I actually decided to use, a cable extension (also in use; far too short for me otherwise), a clip (not used yet) and 6 pairs of ear buds. The last item is the most confusing; I was familiar with the fact that in-ear headphones have the best sound when they have a perfect fit. However, the only instructions (printed on the back of the box) merely suggesting  that you should pick the buds that fit; they did NOT indicate what the difference between the two types of buds are. One set of 3 sizes are a standard rubbery dome, the other set are the same but with a ridge halfway down. I couldn’t work out what this was for, so I’ve settled for the non ridged variety. In the end I started with the smallest pair, which ended up being a tad small, so I moved onto the medium… Which are a tad big, but fit fairly well. I couldn’t tell any difference in sound quality between the two.

Let’s move on to the pressing matter of how they sound. I read so many reviews of in-ear headphones and which were the best for my budget, and it just made me terrified whether it was worth it at all! But in my opinion, it was totally worth it. I have a set of full size Sennheiser headphones at work, and the EQ set on my media player accordingly. I like bass. A lot. I plugged in these instead of my full size cans, and my ear drums almost exploded with bass! It sounded absolutely awful! With the EQ disabled things sounded… Perfect. (Röyksopp – Happy Up Here)

First train journey home and into the iPod (Classic), the main device these things will be powered by, and the first thing I noticed was the volume level.. Previously, I quite often had the volume turned up very close to all the way or all the way; with these I can only hit 3/4 before my ears start to hurt. This of course means a lot less distortion coming from the iPod (I still use the EQ on there to get the desired amount of bass) as it doesn’t clip.

Bass is impressive: I’ve had a mainly electronic week since purchasing simply because it sounds so great, full, deep, powerful. Kosheen, The Crystal Method, Goldfrapp, Leftfield, all sounding wonderfully full and bassy, with absolutely no distortion; the high frequencies still clear and crisp, without being harsh and thrashy. On the rockier side of things, Muse were sounding great too; beautifully balanced and once again providing equal volume without having to turn it down because of overly tinny cymbals. I haven’t found something that I didn’t enjoy to listen to yet, and having the extra volume is a plus since I have some tracks that were previously ripped at a low volume which I couldn’t enjoy listening to before because they were so quiet.

In terms of isolation, they work as expected; loud train announcements are 95% gone, everything else is a distant blur, fantastic for switching off. Actually, it freaks me out a bit much and I don’t use them all that much when walking around because I find the lack of sound a bit disconcerting, but that’s standard with these type of headphones.

Another thing that commonly harms in-ear headphones is the cable noise. A lot of the reviews of the Sennheiser CX95 (the predecessor of these) were put off by the cable noise; I personally don’t see that much of a problem when I’ve walked around with them, perhaps I listen to music louder than others; you do get a shirt clip included though, which some reviewers noted fixes the problem.

There is one other thing that lets these down; For some reason they do hurt my ears a bit after 45-50 minutes of use, which never happened with my Sony’s. This doesn’t happen every time, so I think it’s because they’re longer and you can wear them at different angles. Something to experient with. It’s the plastic hurting the exterior of my ears rather than the rubber parts inside the ear, so I think it’s probably my problem rather than the headphones.

It’s a real shame the nature of these type of earphones means you can’t really try before you buy; at least in this case the packaging could probably be resealed in a way that made them look unopened (none of that horrible plastic stuff here), but I wouldn’t want to receive a pair of headphones that someone had already had in their ears!

I would definitely recommend these to someone who was looking to purchase some headphones. Whether it’s worth upgrading from a pair worth £30-40? I wouldn’t call myself an expert, and there is no scientific test here; but I think they’re worth it. 4.5/5

Any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments.

If you’re considering buying this product, and I can recommend Amazon for their excellent service, please use the link below.

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