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REVIEW Sennheiser OMX 980 clip on ear buds - UPDATED 1.9.11

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 


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Review of Sennheiser 0MX 980


Sennheiser’s top ear bud - with ear clips


Reviewed with iPod touch 4g with EQu parametric eq, clip+ rockboxed, and win64 computer with wasapi foobar.  All lossless music.

I tried every genre under the sun.


First of all I bought these hoping they would meet some pretty rigorous criteria.  I could never find a single headphone that could meet all of these...


-I hike every day, sometimes I end up running a bit, or hauling some branches, or chasing the dog through the woods.  I’m constantly in and out of the house – coat on, coat off, hat on, hat off, up stairs down stairs.  - I don’t want to have to keep messing with my headphones in order to keep listening.  I don’t want them falling off if the cord gets snagged or tugged.  I don’t want them suddenly sounding crappy if they get nudged a little


-I like to listen to music sometimes when I eat.  If I use ear buds I can’t hear the music anymore when I chew…


-I  need to be able to wear them year round which means they don’t make me hot,  are not affected by sweat, they don’t inhibit use of sunglasses, or a winter had or hood or all at once  8-)


I need to be able to hear someone talking to me without removing them


…and of course, they need to sound good.


I figured they ought to sound at least as good as my sennheiser px100’s which cost about ¼ of the price and are what I consider a sort of benchmark for pretty good sound for a low price.

Though comparing buds, to px100’s, even with the price difference, is a bit of a tall order.  The difference in speaker size has influence. 


Comfort: 9/10

Lighter than I thought.. I don’t feel the weight of them at all at all.


Hooks rotate, but not too easily which is good.  Hooks are stiff but rubbery - perfect.

I thought they would be hard plastic. Rubbery is better - this makes for an extra snug yet soft fit.

Most hook buds I’ve owned have had hooks that were uncomfortable, or flopped around easy.

These simply do not move... They are softly snugly locked down.


The metal gets cold when it’s cold out but not so much against the skin. It has been below freezing the last few days I’ve worn them for over an hour outside, and I have has no discomfort from the cold


The actual buds really are too big like others have pointed out.

This feature was what caused me to pull, and rethink this entire review.  At first they were bothering me. They hurt, and they never seemed to settle into a sweet spot.  They felt like they only sounded good when I held them in place.  Finally I gave in and just put them on snugly and ignored them. I did this for a few days of use-   Refusing to adjust or reposition them.  After all this is what I wanted anyway.  What I found was that I got used to the way they felt, and in fact they were not uncomfortable in the least, and they did sound good even if I didn’t have them absolutely perfectly positioned.

The discomfort and finicky sound came from having new things hooked to my ears and futzing with them way too much.


Fit: 9/10

I’ve owned many hook style phones, and overall these fit best hands down.


Overall now that I have settled into wearing these things for long periods throughout the day – and I mean several hours at a time, I can say there is slight pressure (not to be confused with discomfort) where the buds lie, but that’s about it. In every other way they fit exceptionally comfortably, and actually stay in place better than anything I’ve tried... and I’ve tried many portables.   I have certainly put them through their paces, and I can happily report I literally never have to touch them once they are on.  This makes me very pleased ;-)


I do wonder though how these would have fit if it weren't for the clips... for me personally i cant imagine they would have stayed in at all.


Could they fit a little better, and be a little more comfortable – yes, they could have made special ear bud molds just for me... ;-)


Build quality:  10/10

Feels and looks very sturdy.

Cable seems sturdy too.  It’s a little stiff, but still completely flexible.  It’s a bit kinked up b/c of sennheiser’s absolutely overdone packaging but it is slowly straightening out. Yeah!


Metal piece where wires split, and volume control are very light bit sturdy... was afraid they’d be too heavy.  Can’t even tell they are there- this is good J

Volume slide works... doesn’t go to 0 volume though.

I do wish though that it was up by the neck like the apple buds.  I always tuck the cord under my clothes to avoid snagging since I use these when active which makes its position about mid chest useless.  If it was on the neck I really would use it as I have to turn my music up and down quickly very often.  It would also help if it was a bit grippier. It’s pretty slick, and round so it sometimes takes 2 hands to use it. 




I eq all my headphones.  I use a sine wave and equalizer to make all frequencies the same volume.

Since I always do this, and then a/b back and forth from eq’d flat to natural headphone sound, the imbalances of the headphones stick out like a sore thumb.  So take that into account when I mention imbalances – I may be drawing them out more than most would.  That said…

Amazingly, these buds sound almost flat with no eq.  They have a few imbalances and slight sibilance, but it’s all very minor and these are one of the few headphones that I could really tolerate with no eq.  That is not something I have ever said about headphones.  If you never tried them eq’d you may not notice anything off at all.


Ill review the sound both eq’d and not eq’d


No eq:


Bass 8/10

Extension and amount is exceptional – definitely impressive for ear buds.   I should mention I am a bit of a bass head.  The bass is powerful if a little thin.  The low mids are a bit stuffy which in turn make the bass a bit boomy also, but these traits are actually minor.  For ear buds, I’m impressed.


Mids 7/10

Well my last rig was orthos so what can I say.  For ear buds they’re great.  And actually they’re pretty good regardless.  A bit of “hands cupped around ears” sound due to a high mid imbalance which may also come from the buds being too big and creating gap for air to move. .  Overall voices come out good. They are a bit lacking in fullness, and sound a little muffled.  I’d say most people will be content given these are ear buds. 


Highs:  6/10

Good extension, a little thin and muffled, and a little sibilance due to a spike around 6k.  Not a lot of sparkle.  A little flat.


With EQ:


Bass 9/10

Pretty big improvement with little adjustment. It was more about taming other frequencies which gave the bass room to breathe.  Overall for ear buds the bass is phenomenal.  With a good eq you can get surprising amounts of quality bass... yet it’s not quite as full compared to say px100’s.  Simply put, its ear bud bass but really good ear bud - certainly pushing the limits therein, still nothing like bigger cans.


Mids 9/10

Area of most improvement, and again... they’re not orthos, but the mids are very smoothed out. Voices really clear up and open up.  They actually sound quite natural.  A bit thin overall, but for ear buds – darn good


Highs 9/10

Again definitely improve with EQ.   Again a bit thin, but much more smooth, full, and open.   They definitely gain a sparkle and liveliness.


Regardless of EQ:


Speed and recovery: 8/10

These buds get a little bogged with fast metal, such as tools ticks and leeches or generally full multi-instrument bands like Dave Matthews band.  Yes, I listen to both Tool and Dave Matthews Band.   Somewhere out there a disgruntled youth just blew a fuse.     


Overall Sound: 8.5/10

 I have to keep reminding myself that I’m expecting too much from ear buds.  These buds have amazing extension from top to bottom.   I would easily say they are the best ear buds I’ve ever heard, MUCH better than say, the yuin ok. These buds really are impressive, especially eq’d.   It’s just that the sound quality overall is well... earbudy. What else can I say?   Its thin, it’s small, and the overall sound is just lacking some fullness, smoothness and texture.  However for ear buds, you can’t ask for much more...

When you go from an $1800 thunderpants ortho rig to ear buds, you have to give a little I guess. 


I would go as far to say that they sound a little better than the px100’s in almost every way, but the px100 have a smoother, fuller sound, and bass. Albeit a lot darker. .  I would expect this from the sheer fact that the speaker size is probably 6x the size of the ear bud speaker.   The 980’s have more forward and sparkly mids and highs though


Value for the money:

Bah humbug.   These things average at $265.  Too much.  But I would say that about a lot of stuff, headphones and beyond.  For that much money I expect more, even from ear buds.


Miscellaneous Debris: 

When the wind blows, they do not whoosh like some buds... this is good


The cables do not cause noise when the rub on stuff… this is good


The jack can be straight, or twist into an angle... this is all well and good, but it’s a bit long either way. It sticks out pretty far from my clip+, but does it really matter... no.  It has not interfered in any way yet.  I’m spoiled though as I have a very teeny jack on some of my other phones.


If an amp could improve the sound of these, and I’m told it does... well they may really shine.


Overall Rating: 9/10

I can truly say these buds meet all my criteria, which is actually astounding.

I’m probably being a bit hard on their imbalances.  I am an EQ Nazi, what can I say.

If you are willing to eq them you’re truly in for an ear bud treat.

I believe most folks who are into ear budswill find thesesome of thebest around.

Edited by Br777 - 1/12/11 at 5:17pm
post #2 of 13
Great review im glad you enjoy them
post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 

i figured you'd be the first comment.  thanks.  i tried to give it my best.  now if i could only get my hands on a pair of yamaha yh-5m to compare them to.  wink_face.gif


post #4 of 13

heh, me too, but i wish i could send out samples of the 9wave for you to compare to as well :[


post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 

as do I ;-)

Originally Posted by swbf2cheater View Post

heh, me too, but i wish i could send out samples of the 9wave for you to compare to as well :[



post #6 of 13

Thanks for putting up the review again!beerchug.gif I appreciate it. I will probably not be getting these any time soon, but they are something to think about.

post #7 of 13

Thank you so much for this review.


I saw that this headphone sounds much better with EQ.


Could you please guide me about your EQ settings (in detail) in your rockboxed Clip+ and also in your EQu app?


I will try to follow your settings and hopefully will get most benefit from my new OMX 980.


Thanks again :)



post #8 of 13

Im going to have to look into these now. They look so plain but seem to get the job done

post #9 of 13

Any detail on EQ settings?

post #10 of 13

These are unbelievable.  Not the greatest technical abilities but by far the most natural sounding of an iem, earbud I've tried thus far; D7/P4 stack.

post #11 of 13

Nice review, they appear to be the MX980 transplanted into earhooks. I suppose the earhooks would make them fit better as I found the MX980 to have a mediocre fit. The price is quite high though, I hope these normalize and go below $200 as the MX980 is around that price on Amazon currently.

post #12 of 13

Thanks trip 7, excellent review. I'm pretty much looking for something with the same capabilities/qualities. I appreciate your taking the time to post.L3000.gif I do alot of skiing and mountain biking with the kids and can't afford ear canal type isolation. Maybe I will order these from Amazon and try them for a month. I especially appreciate the fact that you seemed to really give these things a chance to work, initially a forced accommodation, but one that eventually paid dividends. That's maturity and reality that you usually don't see in reviews.

post #13 of 13

Hi, Br777,


an interesting review, the detail helped in chosing these earhooks.

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