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Sennheiser CX250: Brief Impressions

post #1 of 32
Thread Starter 

[UPDATE 11/29] Well, after listening to the CX250 for the past several days, I've come to a slightly different conclusion than I did during my initial impressions. I'm not sure if it's burn-in or further acclimation to the sound, or perhaps more likely, better fit with the included silicon tips. Needless to say, I find the CX250 very interesting indeed. I'll add my latest evaluation after the first impression comments below.

[UPDATE 12/27] Here's kurtzi's impressions on the CX150, which appears to be a volume control-less version of the CX250. Also, for those interested, here are the links to Sennheiser's descriptions of the CX150 and CX250.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS
I am not exactly sure what compelled me to purchase these little-known budget Sennheisers, but now that I've had a listen I thought I'd briefly share some first impressions.

After wrestling with the earphones out of the oddly packaged box, I was surprised at just how tiny these canalphones are. Indeed they appear to be smaller than even the CX300. The volume attenuator however is quite large. (Anyone who has had experience with any of Sennheiser's volume control-equipped Street series earbuds knows what I'm talking about.) The cables used on the CX250 much more robust than the CX300 but unfortunately just as microphonic. The package also includes a nice durable cloth pouch for storage.

Honestly, when I first put these canalphones in my ear, I was expecting nothing but big bass bloat with no mids or highs. That's not to say that the CX250 isn't bassy, because they certainly are. What I didn't expect was a decent midrange that seems to be more transparent and more detailed than the CX300's, perhaps because of the CX250's comparatively lessened midbass quantity. The mids do tend to be slightly grainy and can still be a tad distant at times, but it's acceptable. The upper mids however can be sibilant and downright shrill at times, though I'm hoping that some burn-in will lessen the pain a little. The treble seems to be more articulate than the CX300 as well. Soundstage is smallish (mostly vertical) and lacks depth but is tolerable. Overall, I actually prefer the CX250 to the CX300 as the former sounds far clearer though it can also be more fatiguing.

After about 20 hours of use, I'm still unsure of whether I like them or not. Really, at about $22 shipped, it's hard for me to complain, though it's also hard to recommend without reservation. But what struck me as significant are the differences in presentation between the CX250 and CX300. A refinement of the sound signature of the CX250 -- removing some of the spikes in the frequency range, smoothing out the midrange, lessening the sibilance, and widening the soundstage -- could result in some interesting products down the line.

FINAL THOUGHTS 11/29
As I wrote earlier, it seems that the CX250s are finally putting out a more likable sound. Firstly, I have become quite impressed with the amount of detail these put out, particularly in the midrange and treble. There seems to be quite a bit of speed and an overall lack of decay compared to the typical Sennheiser canalphone, which quite honestly continues to confuse me. This makes the CX250 seem far more articulate than even my beloved CX550. Of course, this general lack of decay (and lack of midbass warmth) also amounts to a leaner sound than most CX-series earphones. This, combined with fit issues, probably accounted for the thinness that I was experiencing earlier. I should also note that there is a bit of an upper mid spike, which creates a bit of brightness and also a slight amount of sibilance and harshness.

The bass is very interesting in nature since, as discussed in the first impressions, it seems to stay out of the way for the most part. It is not bloated in the sense that it bleeds into the mids, and about 85% of the time it isn't too excessive. However, if a track calls for any amount of bass at around, say 30Hz, suddenly a large invisible subwoofer that wasn't in the room prior starts spitting out a ridiculous amount of low frequency impact that usually results in headache and fatigue. It's really odd but also strangely amusing.

I have written before that the soundstage of the CX250 is rather smallish with and mostly vertical in nature, but I've since figured out that it was mainly due to an improper fit. Now that I have the fit straightened out, I have to say that while the stage is still a bit small, the imaging is actually quite impressive for such an inexpensive phone. Within the small confined space, instruments seem to line up rather accurately from left to right, and any individual part can be followed with relative ease.

The CX250 is just a strange canalphone. According to Sennheiser nomenclature it should be inferior to the CX300 yet it offers a sound that is cleaner and more detailed than the "greater" CX model. To my ears, if it wasn't for the sometimes excessive bass, I believe that it may come close to the CX550, the successor to the German company's former in-ear flagship. The fact that it sounds nothing like a Sennheiser CX and that it somehow emits a sound that is both analytical and bassy equates to a product that seems slightly misguided. But that's probably why I like it.

If you don't mind trying something a little different and enjoy detail, speed, and bass, the $22 CX250 may be worth a try.
post #2 of 32
Hi,
Are you sure it is a legit one?
I can't find any information about it in Sennheiser website..
What I could find is only Sennheiser CX200
post #3 of 32
These were a successor to the CX200 but I think the CX300s were already around by then and gained popularity very quickly. Packaging is typical sennheiser. Overabundance of features is too. I do like the pouch though .

Thanks for the impressions
post #4 of 32
if the box was unfathomably complicated then thats how you can tell its genuine
post #5 of 32
Thread Starter 
Well, after some additional listening, I think I've finally become acclimated to the sound signature. It can't be said enough that these sound nothing like the CX300. These are just so much more detailed and not nearly as laid back (though perhaps too aggressive for my taste).

Through added burn-in, the bass seems to have calmed down some, revealing a nice albeit dry texture that's surprisingly detailed for the price. The midrange has also become a bit fuller although it's still slightly pinched back. It really is too bad that the sibilance and occasionally savage treble has not been dialed back, because otherwise these would be a great value for the money.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lazy student View Post
Hi,
Are you sure it is a legit one?
I can't find any information about it in Sennheiser website..
What I could find is only Sennheiser CX200
Strangely, there are several models that apparently "don't exist" yet are for sale in specific regions including the PX80, CX180, CX250 (the earphone featured here), and the CX299. I'm quite sure these are legit since I purchased them from JR.com, an authorized dealer here in the U.S.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ljokerl View Post
These were a successor to the CX200 but I think the CX300s were already around by then and gained popularity very quickly. Packaging is typical sennheiser. Overabundance of features is too. I do like the pouch though .

Thanks for the impressions
Oddly enough, the CX250 was first listed on Amazon and JR.com some time in October, with the latter website having them readily available since the beginning of this month. I'm not exactly sure why Sennheiser continues to populate the CX range as it seems plenty crowded already. However, if they all seem to exhibit different sonic characteristics like this CX250 versus other products in the line, I guess there's reason for them to exist.

And yes, the pouch is quite excellent.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mark2410 View Post
if the box was unfathomably complicated then thats how you can tell its genuine
..that is until the counterfeiters figure it out.
post #6 of 32
How about to the MX760?
post #7 of 32
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DeusEx View Post
How about to the MX760?
To put it succinctly, the MX760 is airy, full-bodied, and relaxed, while the CX250 is sterile, focused, and aggressive. The CX250 may be slightly more detailed but it is also thinner and more fatiguing. The soundstage of the CX250 is far smaller and less three-dimensional (in fact, almost vertically linear). They are almost complete opposites and it is quite surprising that they are produced by the same company.

EDIT: Now that I finally have a better fit with the CX250, I should revise that previous description. The CX250 is certainly focused with its smaller soundstage, but I would no longer call it sterile or aggressive. It's very detailed and articulate particularly in the higher frequencies. I would still say they are more fatiguing than the MX760 due to its more analytical nature and the massive lower bass response.
post #8 of 32
Thread Starter 
I updated the OP with some additional thoughts as I've finally gotten a good grasp of these phones. Needless to say, this is a very "interesting" earphone. :P
post #9 of 32
I think the CX200 is the same as the CX250 except for color and no volume control. Correct me if I'm wrong. Funny, the CX200 is $40 at JR.

The CX250 being thinner sounding should work well with foams like Comply's etc. They should be able to be tuned a bit with certain tips. Also, adding impedance works well with thinner sounding dynamic drivers adding some refinement/detail/extension and a bit more meat on the sound. Maybe a bit more soundstage size too. Not so with warmer dynamics that tend to bloat.

I definitely would rather have the tighter, fast, detailed phones that I can work with more than one that is muddy or slow.

With the RE2, Cyclone PR1 Pro, the CX250's and some others, we are seeing some cheap Chinese made drivers that are showing some real tightness, detail, speed, clarity, and other solid traits instead of the plodding, bloated, boomfest types that have infested the under $30 segment. The newer Senns seem to be reflecting this being more balanced and having more tightness, clarity and detail.

I think they are just making them better now. I have a cheap freebie earphones that costs probably $2 to make packaging and all. Opened them up, popped the screen off from in front of the driver and like that it went from boomfest to making the PR1 Pro sound like it has a veil.

I look forward to the newer models from Sennheiser, esp. the second generation IE's. Might try out a CX200 II sometime if it is $20 for real one.
post #10 of 32
Thread Starter 
I find the pricing on the CX200 vs. the CX250 to be really odd. Also, even though I originally thought that the two Senns were identical outside of the volume control, it appears that most people who have tried the CX200 have said they were muddy, an attribute that does not describe what I hear with the CX250. (The CX250s are certainly bassy though.) Since the CX250 is fairly new compared to the CX200, there may be the possibility that it's using an entirely different driver.

For the price, the only thing I can really fault the CX250 on is its overabundance of lower bass which can get fatiguing. They also seem to be very fit dependent. Lack of seal equates to really bright and harsh sound.
post #11 of 32
Perhaps there are a CX200 and CX200 II. Might explain the price which being new the II would be full price while the CX250 has dropped.

The II do all sound better also, FWIR. Might be the case which might mean the older muddy 200 is similar to the old muddier 300. Not sure. Would be nice for Senn to differentiate since they have the same specs and are 2XX series. It really should be that 500's>400's>300's>200's>100's but the same SQ in each level. It just gets more confusing with the II's and different numbers on each level.
post #12 of 32
Thread Starter 
I could be wrong, but I thought that the 'II' just denoted that it is the part of the second generation of Street line earphones. So the full official name of the CX200 is the "CX 200 Street II" or something of that nature. Your MX65 would similarly be the "MX 65 VC Street II." The MX65 is actually the successor to the MX55.

What's worse is that, off the top of my head, there are numerous CX series canalphones: CX180, CX200, CX250, CX299, CX300, CX300-II, CX350 (Street II), CX380 (Sport II), CX400, CX400-II, CX500, and finally the CX550 (Style II). I'm pretty sure I'm missing a couple, not including replaced models like the CX55 and CX95.

It does seem to be true about the 'II's being better than their predecessors. Some who have tried the CX300-II for example say that it's much clearer particularly in the midrange compared to the older CX300.
post #13 of 32
I remember reading that Sennheiser simply stepped the CX models down one for the mkII generation, i.e. that the CX300-II is actually the old CX400, the CX400-II is the old CX500, etc.
post #14 of 32
Thread Starter 
I've read that elsewhere as well. If that is indeed true, then I can go ahead and skip those without too much thought. Based on the reviews I've seen of the CX400 and 500, I'd probably prefer these CX250s to the 2nd gen Classic CXs.
post #15 of 32
Thread Starter 
I must say that I continue to be impressed by the detail and speed of these Senns. I have noticed however that the CX250s aren't the most isolating. This is probably due to the venting/porting of the housing: there are three small holes near the base of the nozzle, and it appears that there is an intentional gap between the two parts of the housing to let air escape (not unlike the Denon C350/351 and the Sennheiser CX95+550). The venting probably contributes much to the behavior of the CX250's bass.

In other news, I hate Head-Fi! I just pulled the trigger on a pair of FXC50s. Even though I'm not to fond of the Marshmallows anymore, I've always been attracted to the FXC50 and its tiny dynamic driver. Hopefully if I'm not too lazy I'll post some brief impressions for the three people who are interested.
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