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...
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.
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.
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 !
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.
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.
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.