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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. The Story of the Sennheiser MX880 Premium Earphones

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Hi All,

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly has been used before. Even in product reviews. It really does seem to fit for this new offering from Sennheiser. Getting right into it with a short summary...

THE GOOD
1) Price: Currently these can be had for $60 shipped in the states and that should head down to $50 and even below before too long.

2) Ergonomics: The design gives an excellent fit. The Y split, right angle plug, and volume control are well designed to be small, light, and unobtrusive.

3) Sound: Well balanced, detailed, nice separation and imaging, large open sound. More to follow below.

THE BAD
1) No case. Pictures on some sites show them with a case. "Premium" earbuds should come with a case. Only two pair of foams and a clip are included.

2) Volume control. It seems more people around these parts don't want them. It also does not work seamlessly on mine. Smooth and even through the first 3/4 of volume increase then a sudden jump near the top. Right after this noticeable jump in volume there is a channel imbalance.

3) Cabling. Rubbery and it wants to braid up. Also holds bends/resists straightening. No strain relief on the Y-split or RA plug. No cord slider. Still built well but I prefer the cable on my MX471 by a fair margin.

THE UGLY
While I might think they look fine and better than the Yuin generic look, I am willing to bet many will find them fairly unattractive. No real consistency in the design; the plug is gray rubber without grooves while the VC and earpieces are a different gray plastic with hairline grooves. The Y split is a dull metallic silver with no grooves(it does match the clip though, lol). The earpieces have a clear plastic coat while the VC does not so they don't totally match either. It is kinda all over the place. Nothing totally matches but just sort of "goes together".

A Few Pics...

What you see is what you get. 2 pair of foams and a clip(though a fancy one). Oh, and an instruction manual.


The volume control is two and one-eighth inches(53mm). The earpieces are one and three quarters inches long(45mm).


The design team responsible for the XX1 series surely did not design these !





2 TIPS/FINDINGS
1) Comparing foams between the MX471 and MX880 reveals the MX880 having thicker foam pads. Similar to the well known Radio Shack foams that were thicker and purchased by Head-fiers' to get a warmer sound for their buds. It works the same way. The MX880 do have more bass than the MX471 but this is the reason for about half of the increase. So, the tip would be to adjust the sound with either no pads, normal pads, or the thick pads. The least bass and most detail is heard sans foams while the warmest sound with some smoothing over of finer details is found with the stock pads. I find a nice balance in between with normal thickness pads coupled along with keeping a nice stable fit.

2) The volume control does seem to work well at lower levels. Dynamics are not lost and frequency balance is consistent. This makes the VC a workable impedance adapter similar to the Ety P->S. Unamped, if your player has a sweet spot higher on the volume curve, it can be found using the control. I have found more bass extension and sparkle on the top end/detail this way. Can be quite useful with Cowon players with bass roll-off issues.

SOUND QUALITY
I wrote the tips/findings section first debating how I should give sound quality impressions. Fit is key with buds so which is right? Stock foams, non-foams, or use the standard foams as a good middle ground of the two.

Suffice to say it can vary some depending on the fit. So, It is a bit of a range more than just what I hear any one way.

Signature: The MX880 have a very balanced sound with ever so slightly forward mids. The bass is slightly warm and the treble is crisp and precise. Well extended in both directions. Stage is large and has a medium depth. The most warmth and depth come with the thicker foams at the expense of some detail and clarity. The tone and timbre are more toward the accurate side and consistent through the range.

Better than buds like the PK2, PK3, MX471 in most respects including extension, detail, soundstage, imaging.

They build on what the MX471 brings being a bit clearer, bigger sounding, and detailed. At this point though I am not hearing that big of a jump. Unless they need IE8 amounts of burn in time to blossom, I might say they did not really meet the expectations brought by the MX471.

They are my best sounding bud but not by a very large margin. They are a better fit, price and SQ than the PK2. They just don't seem to be that special. You get your money's worth but nothing more.

THE GOAL
Some times we just try cans/buds out. Sometimes we have a goal or place they will fit into. The goal was be as good as the PX200-II in an even more portable form.

I would say they fall a bit short. They are clearly related and extremely close sounding. If a bit more resolved and clear they would match the PX-200-II. A bit more bass and slightly less forward in the mids version. Close but no cigar.

I don't think these are a great step up from the lower models that is well worth the added expense. I also don't think they will be a great deal giving you a great percentage of top level earbud while saving you some $$$.

I will give them another hundred hours of run in on the off chance of more improvement. Right now the performance is right in the middle between happy/disappointing.









__________________________________________________ _____________________________________________
post #2 of 12
Man, you nailed the ugly part. I was just looking at the new Senn buds 20 mins ago and decided the MX680 looks better than the MX880 and the whole expression line. I think the pricier ones are actually metal, which would make the design more uniform and less cheap-looking.
post #3 of 12
Well, I certainly expected a much more coherent and elegant design from the likes of BMW Designworks. Maybe Sennheiser should have designed these in-house to save some money and include a pouch or case instead? I do like the look of the adidas Sport Line, however.

Anyway, it's really the sound that counts. Eagerly awaiting further impressions!

EDIT:
Quote:
MX 880: Flowing lines, rich textures and faceted surfaces convey its power and sophistication, creating an instantly recognizable icon
I hate PR speak.
post #4 of 12
Thank you jant71 for the first impressions on the Sen's MX 880.
It would be great to read the detailed sound review of these new headset. I would like to know your expert opinion between AKG 319 sound quality and the Sennheiser MX880. Thank you in advance
post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 
I have only heard some AKG fullsize phones. So, I have not heard the K319.

I might say that according to the chart in Kostalex's thread...http://www.head-fi.org/forums/f103/e...-cm700-371235/ that they seem to belong near the same level.

I would say from his description the MX880 would seem to be warmer, less transparent, and have less in the way of speed/separation/openness.
post #6 of 12
If only Senn would make Apple earbuds..

kjk1281, did you get a pair? How'd it compare to the MX760?
post #7 of 12
Thanks for the update! It appears that Sennheiser is reverting to what they seemed to have done with the 64-ohm models: source one particular driver for the entire lineup, then differentiate the sound using diverse housings and tunings. Somewhat disappointing, but at least it makes for good-performing entry-level products.

@DeusEx: My purchasing of the MX880 was/is reliant on jant's impressions. I'll probably still grab a pair if/when the price drops further, but perhaps not anytime soon (at least not until I sell off some stuff). I do however own the MX580, which is quite a bit different than the MX760. Should have a review/impressions thread up within the next week or so.
post #8 of 12
nice impression
so the sound signature is on the warm side like other senns ?
post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 
Yeah, I would try to give a better idea of what the sound signature is like. It is the warmest Senn bud I have heard. Warmer than the recent MX471 and PX200-II. If you are familiar with them, their signature is like an RX700 with a bit less bass, a KSC75 with a notch taken off the bass and treble amounts, or the first generation G2(pre-G2A) warmer signature. Pretty rich sounding with enough treble to not say they are rolled off.

kjk1281, they do sound like the same driver with a fuller sound but the driver hasn't behaved the same way so far. I think we both had clarity and transparency in the mids that spreads out towards the bass and treble. The bass fill out some and the stage gets larger. Most of this happens in the first 48 hours.

These have changed less in 150 hours than the others seem to in the first 48. The bass/mids/treble have all had similar amounts of clarity from the beginning and change seems slow and steady and in unison. Soundstage also hasn't changed much at all.

I did mention that maybe they could use more run in and I am currently doing that. I will give them plenty of burn-in to make sure, then see if I want to keep them. If I feel the MX471 is still not to far behind I might be fine with just those as I use buds a smaller part of the time. I can return them or might sell them if someone is interested; especially if I will lose 15% restocking fee( I have to check that out).



_
post #10 of 12

I really like them

I bough the Sennheiser MX 880 two days ago and I must admit that I like them quite a lot :-)

At the moment they are my favourite earbud from all that I own.
Now waiting for my ordered MX 980 to see how big is the difference between them.

The only thing I really not like on the MX 880 is the volume control. It is exactly as described in the initial post of this thread. This is ugly for me, not the way they look which I more like than dislike. This obvious jump and imbalance in the volume control makes me not using the volume control at all. However I am in general not at all a friend of in line volume controls.

It is important to give the MX 880 some time to burn in. The bass improves and the response gets significant better (you need less power to drive them after burn in).

Most important for headphones is the sound and I really like it.
Though still hope that the MX 980 will add something here :-)

Anyone out there already heared the 980?
post #11 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by jant71 View Post

Hi All,

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly has been used before. Even in product reviews. It really does seem to fit for this new offering from Sennheiser. Getting right into it with a short summary...

THE GOOD
1) Price: Currently these can be had for $60 shipped in the states and that should head down to $50 and even below before too long.

2) Ergonomics: The design gives an excellent fit. The Y split, right angle plug, and volume control are well designed to be small, light, and unobtrusive.

3) Sound: Well balanced, detailed, nice separation and imaging, large open sound. More to follow below.

THE BAD
1) No case. Pictures on some sites show them with a case. "Premium" earbuds should come with a case. Only two pair of foams and a clip are included.

2) Volume control. It seems more people around these parts don't want them. It also does not work seamlessly on mine. Smooth and even through the first 3/4 of volume increase then a sudden jump near the top. Right after this noticeable jump in volume there is a channel imbalance.

3) Cabling. Rubbery and it wants to braid up. Also holds bends/resists straightening. No strain relief on the Y-split or RA plug. No cord slider. Still built well but I prefer the cable on my MX471 by a fair margin.

THE UGLY
While I might think they look fine and better than the Yuin generic look, I am willing to bet many will find them fairly unattractive. No real consistency in the design; the plug is gray rubber without grooves while the VC and earpieces are a different gray plastic with hairline grooves. The Y split is a dull metallic silver with no grooves(it does match the clip though, lol). The earpieces have a clear plastic coat while the VC does not so they don't totally match either. It is kinda all over the place. Nothing totally matches but just sort of "goes together".

A Few Pics...

What you see is what you get. 2 pair of foams and a clip(though a fancy one). Oh, and an instruction manual.


The volume control is two and one-eighth inches(53mm). The earpieces are one and three quarters inches long(45mm).


The design team responsible for the XX1 series surely did not design these !





2 TIPS/FINDINGS
1) Comparing foams between the MX471 and MX880 reveals the MX880 having thicker foam pads. Similar to the well known Radio Shack foams that were thicker and purchased by Head-fiers' to get a warmer sound for their buds. It works the same way. The MX880 do have more bass than the MX471 but this is the reason for about half of the increase. So, the tip would be to adjust the sound with either no pads, normal pads, or the thick pads. The least bass and most detail is heard sans foams while the warmest sound with some smoothing over of finer details is found with the stock pads. I find a nice balance in between with normal thickness pads coupled along with keeping a nice stable fit.

2) The volume control does seem to work well at lower levels. Dynamics are not lost and frequency balance is consistent. This makes the VC a workable impedance adapter similar to the Ety P->S. Unamped, if your player has a sweet spot higher on the volume curve, it can be found using the control. I have found more bass extension and sparkle on the top end/detail this way. Can be quite useful with Cowon players with bass roll-off issues.

SOUND QUALITY
I wrote the tips/findings section first debating how I should give sound quality impressions. Fit is key with buds so which is right? Stock foams, non-foams, or use the standard foams as a good middle ground of the two.

Suffice to say it can vary some depending on the fit. So, It is a bit of a range more than just what I hear any one way.

Signature: The MX880 have a very balanced sound with ever so slightly forward mids. The bass is slightly warm and the treble is crisp and precise. Well extended in both directions. Stage is large and has a medium depth. The most warmth and depth come with the thicker foams at the expense of some detail and clarity. The tone and timbre are more toward the accurate side and consistent through the range.

Better than buds like the PK2, PK3, MX471 in most respects including extension, detail, soundstage, imaging.

They build on what the MX471 brings being a bit clearer, bigger sounding, and detailed. At this point though I am not hearing that big of a jump. Unless they need IE8 amounts of burn in time to blossom, I might say they did not really meet the expectations brought by the MX471.

They are my best sounding bud but not by a very large margin. They are a better fit, price and SQ than the PK2. They just don't seem to be that special. You get your money's worth but nothing more.

THE GOAL
Some times we just try cans/buds out. Sometimes we have a goal or place they will fit into. The goal was be as good as the PX200-II in an even more portable form.

I would say they fall a bit short. They are clearly related and extremely close sounding. If a bit more resolved and clear they would match the PX-200-II. A bit more bass and slightly less forward in the mids version. Close but no cigar.

I don't think these are a great step up from the lower models that is well worth the added expense. I also don't think they will be a great deal giving you a great percentage of top level earbud while saving you some $$$.

I will give them another hundred hours of run in on the off chance of more improvement. Right now the performance is right in the middle between happy/disappointing.









__________________________________________________ _____________________________________________


So,so far,do you please with the sound quality for this ear-bud?

And I want to know how the use the volume knob,it looks strange

post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 

The price went up since I bought them for $50, they are now usually $70. I don't think I'd recommend them over the HSA PAA-1 Pro or M2C which are right around $50 but don't have volume controls. Sometimes the Senn drivers have good synergy with certain sources. At times some have put them up very close to the MX980 in performance but I can't guarantee what you will find with regards to fit/source synergy and their overall performance. I might say wait as Senn has started putting the new models out( a couple already) or get the MX880 if you find them at a cheap price.

 

The VC is a knob you have to spin. The VC is overall bad design. Too big, unattractive, ergonomically harder to adjust with one hand than some other designs, and mine gave an imbalance at certain levels. 

 

 

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Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Portable Headphones, Earphones and In-Ear Monitors › The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. The Story of the Sennheiser MX880 Premium Earphones