A few days ago I posted my thoughts on the Sennheiser MX series and Yuin Series earbuds in a topic here on head-fi. Due to the massive volume of interest ( i counted 18 different people asking for a more detailed review ) I will post my thoughts in detail.
Lets start off with the gear. I am using a Sansa Fuze as well as my desktop PC as my source via Altec Lansing speakers. They are very warm and powerful sounding speakers and drive my other powerful and demanding headphones very well. The Sansa Fuze itself is a power house, In my opinion its one of the most powerful mp3 players you can buy as its internal amp is a beast. I will also be testing umpamped and amped via the Desktop and my Ibasso D3
Guthrie Govan, my favorite guitar player is always my standard for testing. If my new headphones make Mr. Govans music sound anything less than acceptable, I immediately return them. His music is a great testing surface, low lows, great highs, beautiful and powerful guitar at its very best.
Lets start of with the cheapest.
Yuin Pk3 - Retail $30-40 ( more like 20$ here on head fi currently in 2010 )
Yuins PK3 is an immensely popular earbud here on headfi and it regarded as one of the best you can get for around 30$. They are immensely comfortable. The box is pretty cool, and it comes with two types of pads, holed and covered. I suppose one is meant to emphasize bass and the other who allow more of a focus on the mids and highs while maintaining comfort and fit.
It's sound quality is not bad, at least a huge leap upward from the Apple Ipod stock earbuds and similar brands. It's got a noticeable screen to the music, that haze all cheap earbuds and headphones have. Separation is not so good, but for the price I suppose its understandable. It's got some kick to it when amped well via an Ibasso D3. It's sparkle factor is only barely present. What does that mean exactly? Well, I would suppose it means the clarity and accuracy of the notes in music. It does a pretty good job, but I never felt it special. Via the unamped Sansa Fuze, the sound produced is subpar at least to my ears. It sounds flat and not enjoyable, warmess and sparkle is lost and replaced with "the keshhhhhhhhhhh" screen sound when you really listen to the background notes like the electric bass. Music bleeds together and feels recessed. However, when it is properly amped, it sounds as I said "more sparkly", more present. It's soundstage is capable of good things, its decently wide I guess. Much more than I originally thought it would be when I first got them. This bud has almost no bass at all. I feel people are confusing good amping KICK FACTOR in the lows with Bass, I feel this two things to not be the same. There is no deepness, no rumble. Just a kick and weak thump. This set is forward sounding and bordering warm.
Final Verdict - Sound Quality in Highs and Mids - 5/10
Bass SQ - 3/10
Value - 6/10
Sennheiser MX580 - retail $30 from B&H photo with free shipping sometimes
Well, I feel this to be Sennheisers response to the Yuin Series. Not just the response to the Yuin PK3 which is similarly priced...but more of a "Oh yea, Yuin? Well, check this out!" type thing.
The MX580 feels a lot like the Pk3, but it only comes with 1 set of pads and one set of rubber rings to help fit larger ears. It boasts an impressive 18-21,000hz and has a dedicated volume knob on the mid area of the cord, not a wheel scroll, but an elongated slider piece. It is very accurate and purposely makes you apply some force to get it exactly where you want it to be. This set is LOUD. It is not as forward sounding as the Yuin Series, it is noticeably and slightly more distant and airy sounding. When unamped, it still performs on a grand scale. It can be driven via only the sansa fuze to unlistenable volume, too loud to listen to without going def. This is a GREAT thing because at lower volumes on the Fuze you can save battery power and still have a well amped and loud experience.
Separation is pretty great with amped with a D3 or my speakers that act like an amp. Highs are fantastic, mids need some work...but the Bass is present and can rumble slightly. I am going to keep this review short, and those who made it to this point in the review are not going to like what I am about to say. So prepare yourself.......The MX580 sounds near identical to the Yuin PK1. Yes...the expensive version of the Yuin series that I will review last in this thread. It is virtually identical in highs mids, only slightly less bass and clarity. I was stunned and almost fell right off my chair when they arrived and were fully burnt in.
They are a carbon copy of the Yuin Pk1 minus a bit of bass and noticeably clarity. Everything about then is very much the same, presence, overall location and separation when amped. The normal person who is not an audiophile wont be able to tell the difference. Not a joke, fully burnt in with a correct EQ setting and a good amp, its like the Yuin Pk1s little brother. This specific set of MX580s does not boast the SENNHEISER SOUND. It is very Yuin in its delivery. To sum this set up, its slightly less forward, equally as warm, equal in everything but a slight clarity and bass experience than the Yuin Pk1 ( retail $150.00 )
SQ highs and mids 7/10
Overall value - 9/10
( I apologize to those who wish to not accept this )
Next up is the Yuin Pk2 - Retail 75$ or so
I will also keep this short because its only slightly better than different than the Pk3. It's the same design and housing i think, but different drivers. It's got an improved clarity but when I side by side comparison them to their little brother the Pk3, I find the difference In value and cost to not be worth it. They are near identical to the Pk3 but as I said just slightly better in everything. Warmness and location, separation are all very similar so I cant give a good review on it without repeating myself.
SQ Highs and Mids - 6/10
Bass - 4/10
Overall Value - 5/10
Sennheiser MX880 - $80
Well, what to say about this without upsetting people? How do I gently put this. They are better than the Yuin Pk1 and then some. They are advertised as powerful bass driven headphones and they are just that. That thump and rumble is pretty epic for a non inner ear bud. They do everything much nicer than the Yuin Pk1. Separation is noticeably more spaced and its sparkle factor is just awesome. When unamped with the Sansa Fuze i find it lacking a lot, maybe because their impedance is more than the MX580 and others. It's just a more powerful than than any listed in this review thus far. The mids and lows are fantastic, even unamped they sound pretty great. However, when amped sufficiently they pull a 180 on you and turn into a different set completely. Maybe it has to do with that "sennheiser sound". It's spacious and airy. Anyone ever use the Sennheiser HD485 ? It's very similar in presence and warmness. It is vastly superior and more accurate than any earbud that isnt inner ear that I've ever used. It and adds a warmness that is to my liking. To sum this set up, its a better version of the Yuin Pk1 but with a sennheiser sound of airyness and open separation.
SQ highs and mids - 7/10
SQ Bass - 5.5/10
Overall Value - 9/10
Yuin Pk1 - $150
Well, I by this point I am sure you are all very upset and think Im crazy. So I'll try to keep it brief on the Pk1. They were considered to be the best buds you can get, regarded highly here on head fi as king. Perhaps even boarder lined audiophile grade? Maybe.
Their sound and signature is very warm and forward. It is undeniably the clearest set of the Yuin series, and equally as clear as the MX880. Its sparkle factor is fantastic. It's got the signature I want and have lusted for, for years. Forward, warm, good separation and very clear ( again, all but clarity and bass are similar in the Sennheiser Mx580 ) they come with a vast array of pads and replacements. Two different types with replacement for each. Still love that box so much :)
Getting down to the sound qualities itself. When unamped on the fuze it sounds like its heavily lacking. Separation is only slightly noticeable. Bass and kick factor are boring and dull. However, when fully amped it sounds very acceptable. Personally I think the Separation factor on this set is prime, it does a FANTASTIC job of mimicking larger full sized headphones. Sometimes when I use them I feel like I have a larger set on and forget these are earbuds. They are not a loud and powerful set at all, even when amped. It's not in a different league from the Pk2 as people say. Mine are fully burnt in and doubling the price from the Pk2 is not at all worth it.
Bass is unique on this set and Ive said before that it is similar to the MX580 in power and kick. It is. Its just this set is more clear, and with that the bass is more noticeable. It's a trick of the ears, you will mistake the PK1s in having more bass than the Mx580 when it doesnt, it is just more clear and not blurred so you get all of it. Bass on both sets is virtually the same. And again, the MX880s bass is equally as clear as the PK1 and deeper, more rich sounding.
Sadly, this set is not even close to worth its price. It's the worst value you can get, but that doesnt mean they suck. They are GREAT! Easily the second or third best you can get in this type of bud. Its just sennheiser did a much nicer job with newer technology.
Overall Highs and mids - 7.5/10
Bass - 5/10
Overall value - 3/10
Sennheiser MX980 - $180
Well folks, if you have made it this far with out X'ing out of the page and flaming me for putting Yuin down, I applaud you.
The Mx980 is a god send. This is entry level audiophile bliss and a scarily amazing audio experience. You wont expect this type of sound to come out of these. They have a really weird design that forces the cable away form your ears. It takes some getting used to but its not at all uncomfortable. Its very much the opposite. They are made of STAINLESS STEEL and immensely tough and durable. ( all the yuins are made of plastic )
Where to start on this...the highs are what set this set apart from any other set I've ever used including expensive sets. They are in one word "stunning". Immensely clear as a bell, I can't hear ANY hiss at all on FLAC loseless tracks. Separation is prime and unlike any other the other 5 sets listed here. Its a huge HUGE leap from the MX880. This set focuses on the highs and is not advertised as a powerful bass heavy set, although when you first listen you will forget about the bass completely because the highs are just that incredible.
What you will soon thereafter realize, after you get off the floor after having fallen over from amazing quality and sound, is that the bass on this is the best bass out of all the yuins and MX series. I totally forget that there is a huge thumping deep and rich bass experience going on. Again, those highs are just insane. Its not masking, its just that I found my ears to want to focus on the highs at the start of my experience with the MX980. After a few hours I starting playing other bass heavy songs and i fell off my chair again. I compared to the MX880 which thus far had the best and most powerful bass...its a good sized step up from that. Not too much, but more rich and vibrant in a sense.
This set is simply stunning and has become my absolute favorite set including all my over the ear full sized. This set is a love child of the Shure 840s elegance that does not exaggerate anything, The Grado 225is presence and location, and the typical sennheiser airy spacious sound. It is not a warm set IMO, its noticeably less warm than the MX880 or any of the yuins. This is a reference set. Entry level audiophile cans IMO
However, the down side to the MX980 is that they really need an amp even with the Fuze. Although things still sound great, and better than any of the other unamped, the difference between amping and not amping is immense. It really needs it.
SQ highs and mids - 9/10
SQ Bass - 7/10
Overall value - 9/10
I'd pay double this price for the MX980 and I would still be happy and feel I got a deal.
Fhew, please dont flame me. :[ The yuin series is still great but its outdated. Sennheisers MX lineup is brand new and using much newer technology and sturdier metals in their buds. Hope this helped, feel free to ask any questions if you have any.
Edited by swbf2cheater - 5/19/10 at 5:49pm