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Sennheiser MX985 Review: Relive the Experience

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

Look what arrived biggrin.gif

 

 

The box

 

Security tab

 

 

A magnetic latch keeps the display box sealed

 

 

A fake leather texture case

 

 

A sharper image

 

 

Sennheiser logo on case, notice the stitching on the edges

 

 

Flight adaptor

 

 

Elastic latch for the case

 

 

Included accessories, foam pads and a cable clip

 

 

The convertible plug

 

The converted L-angle plug

 

The in-line volume control

 

The face of the buds

 

Closer view

 

 

Adjustable cable length slider

 

 

You can't forget what earphones you're wearing, a gentle reminder.

 

vs. my current king of earbuds, the Audio Technica ATH-CM7Ti

 

Sexy audio technica grill

 

but.. I've had them so long that they are oxidising...

 

The plugs compared

 

 

Audio technica's J-split junction

 

 

Aesthetic

Overall I think the MX985 are a pair of great looking earbuds. Much attention has been paid to detail on the earpieces, the volume control and the plug itself. I find the innovative plug to be a very useful addition, not only does it look good, but it has a purpose depending on whether you are at home or leave your DAP in your pants etc. The angle of the stem of the earbuds is such that it angles to the front of your head and then straight down, avoiding your ear, very comfortable.

 

The cables are non-glossy and made of the exact same material as the cable on the Audio Technica CM7Ti, offering excellent tangle resistance.

 

The case is well designed, with the earbuds resting in a central location and the cable wrapping around the rectangular guide. A airplane adaptor clips onto the inside of the case. Whilst offering protection, I feel that hard cases of this sort will never be as portable as a simple pouch that can compress and be placed in clothing pockets.

 

The cable clip... well that is another story. Who has time to place the wires into the guide that is odd shaped? The cable clip works as intended, but the ease of use is nowhere near the simplicity of the standard shirt/cable clip.

 

Build Quality

 

Very well built. Construction of the earpieces themselves are a combination of metal, plastic and rubber. The stem is made of metal, the back of the earbud is plastic, and the lining for your ear is rubber. Strain relief is made of rubber.

 

In-line volume control is made completely of metal (you have me fooled if it isn't tongue.gif). The volume control itself has a decent amount of resistance to it, so this isn't going to move unless you use your hand.

 

The convertible plug is made of a hard metal (seems like steel) and some plastic. Strain relief is short and of stiff metal (this is a concern compared to conventional strain reliefs made of a flexible material such as rubber)

 

The cable is made of a plastic-rubber like material, my favorite type of cable because of its flexibility, durability and tangle resistance (Of all things I own, only the MX985 and CM7Ti use this material for the cable). The cable is of a reasonable thickness to ensure it does not break/snap easily.

 

The case is sturdy, looks and feels like it can take a good bit of abuse.

 

Flight adaptor is also sturdy, made of thick plastic and can be angled for added ergonomics.

 

 

Test Method

iPhone 4S > Sennheiser MX985 (without foam pads)

iPhone 4S > Sennheiser MX985 (with foam pads)

iPhone 4S > Audio Technica ATH-CM7Ti (without foam pads)

iPhone 4S > Audio Technica ATH-CM7Ti (with foam pads)

 

Subjectively level matched (17 iterations A/B) in a quiet room ( < 25dB)

 

 

Sound Quality and Impressions

 

Without foamies

 

The attribute that strikes me first when I listen to the MX985, is the full-range sound. I normally do not expect any bass from earbuds without the foam pads, but the MX985 has a decent amount of mid-bass (at the earbud level). The sound is fairly balanced with mid-range not being too upfront, or distant. The treble presence is the only problematic area on my listening session. It has sharpness and detail, but is not well controlled. Therefore the presentation is harsh and can be sibilant at times (expect sore ears if you listen at loud volumes)

 

The earbuds are detailed and overall presentation is slightly forward, tight and clean. The signature is slightly warm.

 

The only other earbud that is a worthy competitor in my collection is the ATH-CM7Ti, at that time the earbud cost me an arm and a leg (cost even more than the MX985, ~10 years ago), but it was good sound. Upon listening to the CM7Ti, a different sonic signature is immediately noticed. The CM7Ti has less prominent mid-bass without foamies, and has upfront midrange, boosting vocals and instruments operating in this domain. The treble is however very very well controlled, good sharpness, endless extension and hyper-detailed.

 

Compared with the MX985, the presentation of the CM7Ti is more airy, more pleasing with well controlled treble and a signature that is neutral-slightly cold. The midrange is upfront, this may initially seem like the CM7Ti has a thicker sound (less clean) compared to the MX985, but your ears eventually settle in and the CM7Ti is a very detailed earbud with superior treble presentation.

 

If I had to categorise.....

 

Bass extension: MX985 = CM7Ti

Bass quantity: MX985 > CM7Ti

Bass detail: MX985 = CM7Ti

Midrange detail: MX985 = CM7Ti

Midrange distance: MX985: neutral - slight forward, CM7Ti: forward

Midrange overall: MX985 > CM7Ti (personal preference)

Treble detail: CM7Ti > MX985

Treble extension: CM7Ti > MX985

Treble control: CM7Ti > MX985

Treble overall: CM7Ti > MX985

Soundstage: MX985 larger than CM7Ti, however CM7Ti can make it feel like a singer is singing right in front of you, for you.

Female vocals: MX985 = CM7Ti

 

Fun factor: < what the hell is this?

 

 

With foamies

 

Based on my experience, foamies add a substantial amount of mid-bass to earbuds and alter the sound to be more warm. And this experience is also true with the MX985. Putting on the foamies improves the sound of the MX985 to the point where I no longer hear anything wrong with them. The trebles are tamed, no longer harsh or sibilant and the sound is warmer. Most notably, the sound is brought forward more and the vocals just pop! (technically this is my perceived increase in bass, midbass and midrange). 

 

Similarly, with the CM7Ti, a noticeable increase in warmth can be heard with increases in the bass spectrum. The midrange appears to not be brought forward at all in contrast to the MX985. However, with the increase in bass, this draws attention away from the great treble of the CM7Ti, and the hyper-details are lost as a result.

 

Overall I feel that foamies provide a noticeable improvement to the MX985 and less so on the CM7Ti, depending on what your tastes are.

 

The resulting changes with foamies:

 

Bass extension: MX985 = CM7Ti

Bass quantity: MX985 > CM7Ti

Bass detail: MX985 = CM7Ti

Midrange detail: MX985 > CM7Ti

Midrange distance: MX985: moderately forward, CM7Ti: forward

Midrange overall: MX985 > CM7Ti (personal preference)

Treble detail: CM7Ti = MX985

Treble extension: CM7Ti > MX985

Treble control: CM7Ti = MX985

Treble overall: CM7Ti = MX985

Soundstage: MX985 still larger than CM7Ti

Female vocals: MX985 > CM7Ti

 

 

Overall Impressions and Conclusion

 

All in all, I believe Sennheiser has produced an astounding earbud given this (portable) generation where the focus is more on canalphones and in ear monitors. With the price starting at ~140 - 200 AUD, it is well priced, considering the fact that I had bought my CM7Ti ages past for ~240AUD. Its nice to see Sennheiser as one of the few companies that continue to produce quality earbuds (with some level of innovation!) and I hope they continue to do so in the future.

 

The MX985 is a well rounded earbud that can certainly hold its own against an old flagship and the majority of buds out there. The sound is relatively balanced and enjoyable straight out of any portable MP3 player.


Edited by blazer78 - 7/11/13 at 3:05am
post #2 of 24
Thread Starter 

Reserved.

post #3 of 24
Thanks for the informative and detailed review. Does the integrated volume control work with your iPhone 4s?
post #4 of 24
Thread Starter 
It works with any source as it isn't controlling the music app but is a resistor type (physical) control.
post #5 of 24

I would love a pair of these since canal type don't fit me but I haven't got enough money...frown.gif

post #6 of 24
Thread Starter 

Yea, they are quite pricey for an earbud. I suppose part of the cost comes from the brand name, flagship status and also portability. Its quite easy to see a disparity between cost-performance ratio when you compare say a IEM to a full size headphone, and again, a full size headphone to a good bookshelf speaker.

post #7 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by BlacLord View Post

I would love a pair of these since canal type don't fit me but I haven't got enough money...frown.gif

I'm with you.  Saving up to buy the MX985 here:

http://www.accessoryjack.com/sennheiser-mx985-earphones-with-3-button-remote-for-iphone-ipad-ipod-black.html

post #8 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by thx1000 View Post

I'm with you.  Saving up to buy the MX985 here:

http://www.accessoryjack.com/sennheiser-mx985-earphones-with-3-button-remote-for-iphone-ipad-ipod-black.html

Thank you for sharing that link! I thought I was going to have to pay over £90 to get them, now they're somewhat more in reach :)

post #9 of 24
You're welcome. Just helping out a fellow head-fi's wallet wink.gif
post #10 of 24

hey i saw some other guy posting in a thread called earbud guide that this where the superior ones on the market ! but it was the (mx 980) but that they where the least comfortable ones! becouse of being to big in size . is the 985 the same size or smaller?becouse the reason i am looking for earbuds in the first place is becouse of comfortability issues with  iems,

 

 Bose ie2 seems very comfortable with out having to go into the ear to mouch they are not 100% earbuds but something half half! have anyone of you tried them ? and how would a pair of 200 dollar earbuds compare with a pair of 200 dollar iems becouse there are no 500 dollar earbuds right? so the audio technology seems to be going somwhere else.

 

 .. becouse iems you insert in your ear canal right? and earpods rest in the eardrum ? so i am saying things right.

post #11 of 24

it is good

post #12 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by fredrikhasth View Post
 

hey i saw some other guy posting in a thread called earbud guide that this where the superior ones on the market ! but it was the (mx 980) but that they where the least comfortable ones! becouse of being to big in size . is the 985 the same size or smaller?becouse the reason i am looking for earbuds in the first place is becouse of comfortability issues with  iems,

 

 Bose ie2 seems very comfortable with out having to go into the ear to mouch they are not 100% earbuds but something half half! have anyone of you tried them ? and how would a pair of 200 dollar earbuds compare with a pair of 200 dollar iems becouse there are no 500 dollar earbuds right? so the audio technology seems to be going somwhere else.

 

 .. becouse iems you insert in your ear canal right? and earpods rest in the eardrum ? so i am saying things right.

 

1) I do not own the mx980, so cannot comment on the size difference compared to the mx985. I will say however, everyones ears are different sized, what may seem uncomfortable to one, will be perfectly fine for another.

 

2) Never tried the ie2's. 200 dollar earbuds compare unfavorably with their equivalent, because IEMs isolate significantly better, you will not have any problems with the bass response.

 

3) Earpods (I presume you mean earbuds) most certainly do not rest in/on your eardrum. :basshead:

post #13 of 24

Im also looking for a earbud after trying out an IEM for the first time and not enjoying it unfortunately (loved the song but I was not able to fit it with any tip).

How is MX985 in terms of comfortability compared to the Blox ones?

And is there a way to isolate outside noise or it is impossible unless you use an IEM?

post #14 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by userrname View Post
 

Im also looking for a earbud after trying out an IEM for the first time and not enjoying it unfortunately (loved the song but I was not able to fit it with any tip).

How is MX985 in terms of comfortability compared to the Blox ones?

And is there a way to isolate outside noise or it is impossible unless you use an IEM?

 

The only way to "isolate" outside noise is to turn up the volume on the earbuds to drown out the ambient noise (not recommended for hearing safety).

post #15 of 24

I can't believe not many headfies talk bout this wonderful earbuds. 

Build quality, sound quality and portability all are ticked in this good looking audio instrument.

Oh and what a comfort earbuds set, very comfort indeed. And I don't think I have big ears.

 

Glad I get these instead of Yuin PK1.

 

 

PS: Sorry for bring up this old thread.


Edited by bahamot - 6/5/14 at 9:02am
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