As some of you may know, i already have the MX880's. Personally i think they were great, but some aspects could be made to improve on. Thats why i bought these MX980s, or more specifically the new improved version the MX985.
packaging: superb, everydetail is thought out, opens the way a beats by dre box would open up. fortunately they dont sound ANYTHING like the beats.
accesories: They come w/ 2 sets of earpads, airplane adaptor, shirt clip and a case. the case looks quite nice but due the possibility of the cables glitching i didnt bother with it. ohwell
build: the build is FANTASTIC i tell you, stems are made of metal and looks frigging sexy. the housings are probably plastic but has a smoky, graphite look to them. new improved volume control is great, integrate with the y-splitter. the plug is also really nice, unlike the old mx980s were it was too bulky and long.
comfort/fit: i was worried that i wouldnt find a good fit to them, as many people on here also say that. surprising, they actually fit me really well, no discomfort and they wdoulnt fall out. they are angled so they sit flush to your ear.
isolation: terrible, same as all the other earbuds there is.
microphonics: none, like all other earbuds
now on to the make or break aspectof and earphone: the sound
Highs: sparkling, detailed, and not rolled off inthe very least. i like to listen to a7x and the guitars sound heavenly on these.
mids: BEAUTIFUL vocals so natural and clear. inteligiblity is awesome and the voices have no nasaility to them. VERY cohesive sounding.
bass: amazing bass for earbuds, but never sounds bloated or muddy. the bass is transparent and clear and is well weighted, extension well don't expect too much its a pair of earbuds afterall.
soundstage: massively wide and tall, sometimes im feeling like im wearing fullsize headphones but NO it's an earbud.
presentation/separation: amazing sepeartion qualities. this earphone reminds me alot of the Radius DDM in that its sound is very blended and refined, but still the details can all be heard. again, very cohesive sound. the presentation is typical sennheiser, reminds me a bit of hd650 or ie8, very very airy and spacious, if a bit distant sounding, again as with a lot of sennheiser.
clarity: obviously it doesn't have the microdetail of BA 'phones, but the clarity of these buds impress me every time. details is mindboggling for an earbud
value; given the build and the sound and the looks and the pacaging, at 125 its a steal. even at 250 i would pay for these. amazing value.
Conclusion: simply the best earbuds ever. the yuin pk1 has great sound but looks generic and boring. b&o a8 has great design and build, but to my ears sounds merely average. and more. combine the sound, looks and everything else that the mx980 has and a new king is born.
this is the FIRST IMPRESSION ON THIS EARBUD, BELOW DOWN IS THE FINAL REVIEW...
sennheiser mx980 is the top of the line in the mx series.
all released this year including the mx880, a downgrade series for $79, an earbud considered to have a good bass.
i love earbuds.
it doesnt make my ears itch in hours of use. and i hear everything around me.
unlike in iems, it blocks all the noise, and sometimes makes my ears itch.
hearing it all doesnt make me feel like stupid.
i enjoy my music, and i can still hear everything around me.
or its just me.
this review is base only on the first impression or first use.
please be reminded that i didnt have the mental burn in yet...so consider this is a BETA.
the mx980 is built with metal, stainless steel.
the tip that holds the wire and the phones is an angled steel to make the wires stay off.
the end plug can be straightened or angled depending on your choice of style.
everything seems new here, compared to the ordinary and plastic pk2.
the mx980 seems to be a winner in build department.
it is well thought product.
with materials that you can count on.
what i do hate in this earbud is the volume control.
it is useless in a sense wherein it is a sliding style volume control...
anytime you might accidentally brush it and its either you lose the overall volume or it changes to max that might make the earbud scream at your ears...
well, its bad.
no microphonic on the wires, nice one!
overall: a well built earbud with an ugly and useless (SLIDING)volume control.
this is the most important part.
from a 10minute audition and first listen, i think it is totally a very different upgrade to the pk2.
the highs, the most popular signature of this earbud is closer/tending to be sibilant.
but not at all sibilant. almost. or i can say it reaches to the peak of its spark/brilliancy but not ear-fatiguing at all.
it is very good on the highs...if you love the highs like me.
most of my gears has sparkling highs.
among them the ue700. and it has it.
the mids, is so clear.
its like nothing is veiled. the mids is crystal clear. a clarity that i didnt find in my pk2.
it is making the music closer to you. it can be compared to my ue700...
it is so clear.
not warm at all.
bright signature, i call it.
the lows, well...
its there but not as low and not as defined as others may say.
it hits, but not as hard as an iem.
its only a natural bass that hits simply, down.
tried playing MJ's (Michael Jackson's) tracks....and i hear no deep bass.
it has bass but not deep.
it is not as far as everyone would think.
its not as mind blowing, or im just lets say expecting too much on this earbud?
hmmm... its nice. its fine. and nothing worth mentioning.
not bad at all. just good. and not the best.
where the mx980 trumps in all earbud brand you can give.
i think, compared to the pk2, the mx980 has the best definition, resolution and refinement.
the pk2 is not as refined as the mx980.
include there the clarity, well the mx980 wins, hands down.
no questions asked.
here, i hear a very very refined and detailed earbuds ever.
even the ue700 was beaten in the resolution. this has more refinement than the ue700.
the highs helped a lot in making the sound more detailed....its like the ue700 can make 3 layers of details at the same time but the mx980, the mx980 can do it 5x more! a very impressive one indeed!
the echo is present in my track, and its there, and its there naturally.
the guitar, is great here as well.
tried playing some acoustic track, LOVE MOVES IN MYSTERIOUS WAYS, by NINA, there is a soul in the music. the surrounding is captured nicely. the audience's claps are defined very very well depending on their location.
if this is a camera, i can consider this the NIKON D3S...a hi end SLR.
it is fast, it is accurate and it capture very very well...at its best!
that is one of the many reasons why you will buy this earbud.
USING THE FOAM:
true to its nature, when foam is used the sound changes dramatically.
from bright it becomes a bit veiled but not muddy and not bad at all, a bit warm in overall sound.
theres so much energy in this earbud.
it is like a powerful version of my ue700, with the muscles in it. it can perform very very well on any tracks, and can compete or much better than the resolution overall of my panasonic hje900.
you knew well that the panny is one heck of an iem when it comes to details.
well, this is much better, trust me.
and its not dreamy at all.
actually, this is my kind of signature.
if its either bright, it is warm that i want.
and that is depending on my taste and mood.
i cannot recommend this during sleep. it wont make you sleepy in any sense.
it will wake the blood in you, and make you curse the night you wore this!
but for some serious listening and detail peeping, well, its a better choice.
this will provide you good results... good definition to your music.
and looking back, i have totally forgotten that it is an earbud im using, not an iem...
and not at all a headphone!
what a joy to own this earbud.
this doesnt beat the pk2, in my opinion.
i respect pk2's own strength.
the pk2 sounds a bit more enjoyable overall. and considering the price, cheap!
here, all you hear is details, full definition in every angle.
it is a lot smoother than any of my iems.
pk2 is good enough but it cant compete to the definition of the mx980...it is miles away.
however, what i do like in pk2 is the sweet sound of the mids, of the warmth.
the deep bass that is ultimately artificially but enjoyable.
here, i call it a critical listening.
the mx980 is like the SON GOKU SUPER SAIYAN. while the pk2 is like the natural GOKU.
sometimes, i like the look of GOKU's hair when its black.
but want to go SUPER SAIYAN? well, its more when you want something more.
is it worth an upgrade?
well, honestly it depends to the user.
the pk2 can provide you already the so called "FUN" and "ENJOYMENT" but why settle for more?
well for those who want something more, like BA DETAIL, or the PANNY HJE900 DETAIL, well this is the final goal of that earbud.
this earbud is so boring in a way. it has no specific signature.
and my ears cant taste this yet due to the fact that this earbud hasnt gave me mental burn in yet.
but, very nice overall...
did you know that this time:
yeah, this time, its 1:14PM at 95% of remaining battery of my macbook pro, this earbud is the SINGLE BEST SOUNDING EARBUD/IEM I EVER HAD?
that is the power of this ultimate earbud.
finally to make this a so called beautiful review, it has to have a right ending...
how do you want me to end this?
its new yeah...
but i dont want to prove here that its worth it.
its just me, it just beats all of my gears overall, even the panny hje, my previous winner in details...here, the details is breathing naturally.
its like its created to by a genius, and created to be supreme to everything of my gears.
the sound is not particularly enjoyable, yep, but it is beautiful in his own ways.
the firs thing to notice is the highs, then the details, the clarity, and you forgot its bit weakness - the bass.
well, naturally, i never would imagine something so small would sound so good as a headphone...much better in pk2 in many ways.
but it all comes with a price.
those who enjoy their pk2, stay there...search no more.
you already got something in your ears that you will enjoy in the rest of your life.
for those who want to spend more, and reach the darkest of your nightmare, or for those who want their dreams to come true...well all will be realized upon hearing the ultimate mx980.
i call it ultimate coz i beats all of my gears sound sig.
it has no particular signature, just like what i said...
and it wont make you feel fatigue with its beautiful highs.
i can sell all my gears now that i have the mx980.
im sure, i wont miss any of it.
miles davis is waiting for me.
where are you miles???
Pros - Very good SQ overall, natural soundstage, excellent design and range of accessory
Cons - Fit, might require an Amp to drive at full potential, Expensive ( price matches however to the range of accesories)
Sennheiser released all new 980-series of earphones which all share some basic design elements (and might be the sound signature as well). The design of the new 980-series was taken care by BMW design department in USA. Since I live in Munich, Germany, I feel the familiar touch of BMW ideas everywhere over the whole package of this MX 980.
I personally own Sennheiser HD-800 and HD-650 and am quite familiar with its house-sound, also the built and finishing quality of the Sennheiser. Their implementation in each ear/headphone are quite unique. I am happy to see these important and renowned factors are transfered to MX 980 really well.
In this review, I test the MX 980 with all of my gears available and intentionally accross its category. I know it is not professional but I got my point doing this. Listening was done using Meier-Audio Symphony to drive all the headphones and Marantz CD5003 as source via coaxial.
Design and Fit
The MX 980 is quoted by Sennheiser as a "High-Fidelity Metal Crafted Headphone". In my opinion, the High-Fidelity should not applied to the sound quality alone but also the whole, overall feeling of headphone. I have been enjoying the MX 980 not just only the initial sonic perspective but also each individual accessory. There are evidences everywhere of their well-thought which conveyed to the whole package.
Like the quote, MX 980 is finished with brushed aluminium alloy which host a large black plastic speaker housing. On the left alloy part, serial-number is laser-engraved on it. The cables run from each side of earphones to the splitter. There is a collar here similar to the SHUREs which adjusts the cable length from the splitter to earphones for a better fit. In the middle of the cable there is a volume adjust. Ok, I believe some of you will stop reading here. I am not a fan of volume control too. I have heard that the use of such thing is fobidden in the Hi-Fi territory. But surprisingly, I feel it is just right for MX 980 ( I will come back to this later in listening part). The cable is terminated to an excellent 3.5mm plug. The plug is finished with the same alloy used on the earphones. MX 980 is one of the most beautiful earphones I have ever seen. The feeling of quality alone might worth the price tag of 110 EURO.
The accessories are generously included. You get an in-flight adapter, a cable clip, a leather carrying case with a hard plastic to properly keep your MX 980. All accessories are designed to match the MX 980 well. The packaging itself is also well done and attractive. For the look alone, it is hard to surpress the price of MX 980 below 100 EURO. It does look exclusive and special. It weight considerably more than the usual earphones but not too much for you to feel uncomfortable.
The lastest earphones I own is SONY MDR-E888. I like it a lot for its sound quality and the acceptable fit. I have less problem to keep it stable on my ears than MX 980. I feel the fit of MX 980 is not that right. Due to the round and large black speaker housing, it does not fit on my ears well. It drops often. As usual for an earphones (earpads) the right fit is extremly critical. This affects the sound quality specially in mid and low. I leave MX 980 at home since listening on the go is not at all practical. I rely on SHURE SE530 or SONY MDR-E888 on this matter. MX 980 due to improper fit, performs relatively disappointing to block the outside noise. But whenever, you have the right fit, you will be tremendously rewarded (like I do right now typing this review for you guys).
Sennheiser says (in the advertisment) this earphones is balanced and preicsely reproduces the sound. I might have to agree with them. MX 980 prefroms very well. After burn-in for a week, it shines and claim the place as one of the best earphones (non-IEM) I have ever owned or experienced.
Its mid is very smooth with a bit touch of warmer side. The high is extended well not exaggerately sparkling but neutral. If you get the rigth fit, you will have a extended bass. Powerful yet laid back but not that extended. MX 980 has wide soundstage mostly horizontal. The soundstage is considerably huge and fairly spartial for the earphone this size.
Kelly Sweet sings her latest hit "Raincoat" sweetly. Her voice matches the smoothness of MX 980. Arne Domnerus's "Limehouse Blues" from Jazz at the Pawnshop is lively. Saxophone is smooth and positioned well. The imaging of each individual instruments are placed quite clearly though not spartially. They group together in the middle with some impreceptible depth difference. The new album of Sol Gabetta, ELGAR Cello Concerto, "Track 1 - Concerto for cello and orchestra in E minor, op. 85" has the same lovely mid to high exhibited in those mentioned tracks. The positioning of instrument is though exceptable is not that precised.
Compare to SONY MDR-E888, the mid of MX 980 is a lot smoother but no extended high of E888. Together with that extended bass, where E888 fails considerably, the MX 980 outperforms E888 for its mid and low. I compared it to SHURE SE530 as well. Although SE530 is a lot better in every areas especially fit and comfort, MX 980 does not lack the inspiring sonic experience at all. In a quite listening environment, MX 980 is enjoyable and laid back yet fun to listen for its overall sound quality.
Something worth to mention is that MX 980 might require an Amp to drive it to its full potential. I amped it to Meier-Audio Symphony in low-gain mode. Though Sennheiser claims its 120 dB sensitivity, I find it lacks some of its smoothness and impack in the low region when used with my COWON A3.
Note: volume control
As mentioned earlier, MX 980 comes with non detachable volume control in the middle between cable spliter and 3.5mm plug. This is however not a conventional volume control which set turn the volume totally off and zero position. MX 980's implementation is a bit different since it does not completely turn the volume down but set it at low but audible level. This implementation might be very useful is you are on the go and use MX 980 with your phone or mp3-players. I am kind of like it.
Before I jump to conclusion, I was convinced to test MX 980 with HD-650. Because of its sound very Sennheiser to my ears. I came to conclusion that MX 980 reminds me a lot of HD-650. It is warm and smooth mid to high similarly to HD-650 with relatively extended low. Of course I don't mean MX 980 is comparable to HD-650. It is just a feeling that you can have a Sennheiser HD-650's house-sound in this little package. That alone might worth for anyone who likes HD-650 and would like to have it on the go.