Pros - Cheap, good bass, nice clarity, good sound stage
Cons - Not too fashionable, limited volume control
First of all this is my first review as a member of Head Fi,
I've gone through countless in-ear headphones and ear buds over the past few years and I have not been more satisfied with any purchase to date, value wise.
I got these CX 280s online for a mere $26.95 including shipping in a bulk eBay seller, so it came without retail packaging but at almost half the price. No carry pouch though (not needed since I have an old CX 300 carry pouch) but it came with S, M and L ear tips.
At first use, these sounded great, been using a Klipsch S4a (~$120) before so the SQ was surprisingly good. The clarity was instant, the bass was strong and the sound stage was pretty good as well. I could easily describe the sound quality very similar to an Audio Technica M50 but just a tad more dull due to the in ear design and smaller drivers. I tested the headphones with a variety of music, electronic, hip hop, RnB, modern pop, rock, even some Adele. Through of that I was very impressed.
Small let down would be the lack of control with the volume slider which limits the volume, say you were on the maximum you could go on the slider and you were also at full volume on your music player, lowering the slider all the way would only decrease the volume by a small amount but not make it silent. Other than that small issue, the headphones are great for the price. Highly recommend (even over my old CX 300s which broke).
Pros - Incredibly expansive soundstage, light, great case.
Cons - Very plastic, rubbery microphonic cable, needs burn-in, average build quality.
Wasn't impressed by the packaging or the build quality, though it was cheap, I still expect Sennheiser to have some kind of standard. A lot more went into the nice fake leather case which fits many but the biggest of iPods very nicely.
The volume control is quite fluid in motion and won't move easily on accident, but both it and the Y-split are very cheap and plastic looking/feeling. Especially the clear plastic over the CX280 label.
But the reliefs on each earpiece is sturdy with a slight give and the gold-plated right-angle 3.5mm plug has survived many a knock and many a sit on.
The cable is a bit tangly, being rubberised, friction is quite high and the cable is microphonic at a decent touch.
Earpieces come in the standard single flanged three sizes.
Sound, though, is extremely suprising. The soundstage is amazingly broad and deep, something expected of maybe a 200ish dollar headphone/IEM. Quite V shaped in it's EQ, but they still sound better than $150 Shures.
Mid-bass is not boomy, (even a little lacking sometimes), but listening to John Mayer's: Where The Light Is, Steve Jordan's kit sounds amazing. The snare is tight and cracking, the kick is powerful and punchy and never bloated, the ride and the crash send tingles up my spine, Palladino's bass really drives the mix and Mayer's voice could be right there, live in front of you if you closed your eyes. It does get quite harsh if you really push the volume, but I love listening to classical and falling asleep with these on because it's so light, clear and airy that it doesn't seem like anything's actually inside my head and I don't have to worry about breaking them because they're so cheap!
These are really ideal if you listen to live recordings and want to experience to moment again.
Not so much pop/hip-hop, but you'll be amazed at the sound of Mtislav Rostropovich's Bach Cello Suite through these.
Sennheiser has really put a budget competitor out there to beat.
Burn-in takes a good 24-hours. Well worth the wait and the insanity freq sweeps bring.
I recently got a new music player (Sansa Clip+) and the old portable headphones I had were shorting out... I was out and about and decided to purchase a new one on a whim.
I've been listening to them for a few hours now, going through my music collection and overall I am impressed.
I find that the bass is not muddy and the highs are not too bright. Mids are just okay. I found the cable quality to be very durable, although the cable is a tad short. The silicone ear pieces are comfortable; came with 3 sizes. Also came with a carrying pouch (which happens to also fit my new sansa clip...)
Overall I'm impressed with these canal phones and would recommend them for someone looking for a midrange pair.