Pros: Excellent Passive Isolation, Lively Lows, Solid Construction, Featherweights, Easy to Drive, Collapsible
Cons: Firm Clamping Force, Puny Cable, Small Cups, Strange Highs
Usually before writing a review, I give a little background to give the reader an idea of my perspective and experience so the evaluator can best utilize the information provided. I also start out with a small disclaimer, saying that any analysis regarding sound is of subjective nature, and other ears may disagree with my findings. Despite the subject nature, I try and provide a fair analysis with objective notes. I am also open to respectful criticism and responses as well. Enjoy!
My entrance to the audio world began as a child. My family is scattered with audio enthusiasts, so it is only natural that I was exposed to hi-fi at a young age. This early exposure has forever ruined my tolerance for the abundance of subpar audio equipment that other non audio loving people may find themselves enjoying. Now a college student, I find myself having to remove myself from the room when someone decides to play music through their laptop speakers, or are satisfied with the stock speakers while watching a movie on their television. It is not in disgust that I leave... the shrill noises honestly make me uneasy and can give me a headache. Call me a snob, but I blame the folks :) My teenage years brought along a niche for car audio, and I wound up educating myself, talking to others, joining forums, and eventually moving into DIY projects and eventually constructed a fairly extensive system as a final project. I won't be touching it for awhile. I know it's easy to think "Kid with a knack for car audio, must be one of those who likes giant muddy lows, shrill highs, and has no care for the mids". I'll inform you that's far from the case - I built the car system with a home audio spirit in mind. Anyways, maybe that'll serve enough for the background.... on to what you came here for - The Sennheiser PX 360.
Comfort: I have some mixed feelings with the comfort here, but that being said... they certainly aren't uncomfortable. The headband is padded quite effectively, and are very lightweight on the head. The only real concern about comfort here is their firm fit on the head. Some may find the fit too firm, while others may describe it as secure. I am somewhere in between, acknowledging both. I appreciate the firm fit for traveling purposes, because if I decide to lean my head back against a headrest it won't push the cups around on my ear... but a firm fit certainly loses that pillow-like feel that is ideal for multi-hour listening sessions. I will say the adjustment settings will fit anyone, from pinhead to giant dome. I will also mention that the ear cups are the smallest on a set of circumaural headphones that I have seen. I have average sized ears and they just fit - it takes a little bit of strategy to fit my ears inside the cups, but once I do the comfort is fine. I find the comfort of these headphones difficult to judge, so I will have to rate it as "mediocre".
Durability: The build quality of these headphones is solid. Don't let the lightweight nature of these headphones fool you, these guys are meant to withstand some hours at the bottom of a full bag. The headband is reinforced with metal and wrapped in a nice pleather material - etched with a slick "Sennheiser" branding on top. The rest of this headphone is plastic, but not the cheapo kind. The cups are made of a very sturdy plastic, and the joints are a hybrid of plastic and metal hinges. Quite honestly, either something intentional or unusual would have to happen to break these headphones. Really the only point of weakness is the puny cable, which I am sure was in an effort to maximize portability. While the cable is ultra thin, it isn't like the termination at the cup is going to get stripped out without some effort. They're solid while remaining lightweight... the end.
Sound Quality: Arguably the most important aspect of the review, I will break it up into the logical three sections - the highs, mids, and lows and talk about each. I'll preface by reminding you of my background, and also letting you know that I can be somewhat harsh at times with what I expect. At the same time, I will keep things in perspective (like price) and attempt to give an objective-esque analysis while still acknowledging the subjective nature of sound perception.
The Highs: My initial impressions of the highs were not good, but this may have been due to break in (or psychological "getting used to"...whatever you may or may not believe in) or just the semi-strange nature of them. The presence of the highs are definitely more substantial than in other Sennheiser models I have heard (HD 428, 438, 448, 595, 280, 380, 238, 228). The symbols are still controlled in all types of music, yet the highs seem to have a very particular emphasis in a specific frequency range. This emphasis lies in the low-highs or high-mids...more so in the vocal ranges than anything else. This gives these headphones a bright type of feel. While I do not necessarily mind a bright sound, I do have a problem with it if it does not offer up the upper ranged detail many bright setups do. I'm okay with bright IF the brightness is subtle and it carries a fat vocal range, lots of detail, and has a nimble sound to it (much like my SP-1). The detail in the highs of the PX 360 is mediocre at best, and the vocal sweet spot on these headphones is extremely narrow and this causes an effect that is twofold in my opinion. Firstly, the treble ranges are much more alive and exciting, maybe too exciting in a very specific range. This emphasized sub-highhat treble can really be for the better in certain tracks, especially those that target giant perceptions in the dynamic ranges of vocals to reach "piercing" levels with purpose... but for those tracks that target a more laid back vocal range the PX 360 tend to try and give it extra life which may hinder the overall effect of the relaxed sound. I would also say the transitions within the highs are almost a little sluggish and certainly not as smooth as I am used to.... maybe even a tad choppy. The spacial resolution of the highs are just fine despite the aforementioned oddly specific emphasis. With female vocals, I find a very bimodal effect with this emphasis. Certain female vocalists are extremely controlled while still retaining body and life, and certainly unstranded and not overly lightweight and airy. Other times, I find certain female vocal ranges to be way overdone, almost harsh sounding, and uncontrolled. It really just depends on whether or not her voice falls within that strange vocal "bump" in the sound Sennheiser packed into the PX 360.
The Mids: Speaking of vocals, when the lyrics start diving down into the mids they clean up real nicely. They suddenly smooth out and remain true to the intention of the artist, whether that be alive or more relaxed. The space in the middle ranges is also much larger, adding more space to the music despite being a (very) closed setup. The midranges are a little colder than I prefer, and maybe just a little too empty. The mids are usually the strongest aspect of a Sennheiser headphone (with my experience) and I must say these do not live up to the rich Sennheiser midrange I am accustomed to. Regardless, I wouldn't say the mids are bad. The detail exists in the wider space of the midrange, and everything sounds a bit more uncolored. Unfortunately, I feel the mids to be a bit recessed, and that is the opposite of what I prefer. Some argue an emphasis on the mids slows the music down a bit and that emphasizing the lows and highs makes for a more exciting sound. I would have to agree with them, but with that same breath mention that present midranges make the music more enveloping, natural, and real. Whether these midranges be rich and silky smooth or lean and accurate, their presence is an important aspect to quality sound... and I'm afraid that the PX 360's mids do not have enough life for me despite some of the positives within this frequency range I recognize.
The Lows: Just when you thought I was hating on this headphone, I come bursting in with some good news: the lows in this headphone are superb. These have the richest low end of the Sennheisers I have heard, and have a more preferable low end response to me than the beloved ATH-M50, Ultrasone HFI-580, 680, and 780 (from the limited experience I have had with these headphones). The lows are definitely emphasized here, and while I am usually against it, it adds a great foundation to the music in this case. The semi-hollow mids and overdone highs are at least complimented with solid low end. Ideally I could take the low end in these headphones and give them to my HD 448 - that would make a real nice sound. As always, the lows aren't perfect by any means. Without amplification I find the bass a little bloated and "loose", but I really realized the potential of these drivers once I amped them with first the e7 (decent results) and furthermore the e9 (good results!). Even with the e7 the bass recovered much faster, packing a punch and then withdrawing when needed. The bass is much different than my HD 448 in that the response is not very tonal, but alive and punchy. It makes for a good partner to any type of music that is proud of its lower frequencies. Additionally, the PX 360's lows are very sensitive to a bass boost function or EQ adjustments meaning you can play around with the lows a lot and tune them to how you like. These might fringe on the edge with bassheads as far as having enough impact, but I wouldn't be surprised if you could juice them enough to get there without sacrificing the rest of the spectrum this headphone offers. I will say the robust bass as opposed to tonal bass means it is bulkier in both volume and speed... just something to keep in mind... the lows are not nimble.
Additional Notes: The isolation on this set is quite impressive for a passive system. They have little to no leakage and do a great job of keeping unwanted noises out. I really feel like these headphones are built for the frequent traveler, and more specifically the frequent flier. The bag they fold up into is a soft case and stows away while taking up minimal space - really nice for packing around on a bus, train, plane, or even just to the library.
These headphones are easy to drive like their ohm rating suggests. I say this because my experience with other 32 ohm headphones (DT770, HD448) have suggested differently. The PX 360 barely benefited except in the lows a bit (tightened up) when moving from DAP to e7 to e9. If you're looking for a solid portable set without having to drop more cash on an amp, these sound close to their potential without an amp.
These terminate on the RIGHT earcup.
The small L-plug makes for a nice termination in regards to space.
Nutshell: While these have some strange sonic characters, outside of the sonics they have a lot to offer as far as functionality is concerned. These are great for flying, especially since they take up very little space when traveling and isolate quite well. They may not sound as silky smooth as some other sets, but they certainly have the impact and lively type sound.... so the question is this: are you looking for a smooth, rich, natural sounding set or a punchy, alive and exciting set? Don't let my tastes turn you away if the robust lows and accentuated highs are what you're looking for, these have it, no amp necessary.