Sennheiser CX 985

General Information

From the manufacturer:

Never one to cease evolving, Sennheiser has improved upon the highly regarded CX 980 with the brand new CX 985. Featuring a real metal alloy housing and Sennheiser's impeccable miniature dynamic transducers, the CX 985 sounds as good as it feels in the hand.

The dynamic transducer has been re-tuned for absolute precision audio; effortless bass, realistic mid-range and soaring treble response without sounding unnatural or harsh. It gets better with ultra-low total harmonic distortion which delivers the source audio and nothing else.

A redesigned audio plug works for you with a completely unique variable array: choose a straight configuration or use it at a 90 degree angle to minimize strain on your audio player's jack plug. The ergonomics do not stop there thanks to an ultra-rugged "Y" style cable that is tangle-resistant and reduces weight and can be anchored to the user's clothing with the included cable clip. A bulit-in volume control keeps your tunes at your fingertips.

– More balanced sound quality over its predecessor the CX 980
– Aggressive noise isolation means you can listen at safer levels without sacrificing detail
– Swiveling plug lets use it in a straight pin or right-angled configuration
– Fit kit lets you dial in the perfect fit for optimum frequency response and noise isolation; a 2nd set with enhanced bass is included
– Real metal construction; strong, durable, classic
– Storage pouch keeps your earphones safe during storage/transport
– Cable clip anchors the cable to your clothing for a seamless fit
– Included airline adapter lets you plug in at a safe volume level

Latest reviews

Pros: These exude substance and quality. Jack and Volume slider. Can change the bass with the different tips.
Cons: You pay for its premium feel, it’s pretty V shaped acoustically.
Sennheiser CX985 Quick Review
Thanks to Sennheiser for the sample
Full review here
Brief:  Sennheiser proves it can out engineer everyone
Price:  £120 (or US$160 in the US)
Specification:  Frequency response 16 - 24000 Hz, Sound pressure level (SPL) 115 dB, Impedance 32 Ω, THD, total harmonic distortion < 0.1 %, Cable length 1.2 m, Weight 338g (note a lot of that weight is jack so you don’t notice it)
Accessories:  7 pairs of tips, plane adapter, case, cleaning bits and cool shirt clip.
Build Quality:  Nothing short of excellent, there is no finer manufactured IEM.
Isolation:  Depends on the tips.  Goes from pretty good for a dynamic to really good for a dynamic.  Neither is what I’d want for a long flight but both easily enough to get you run over if you’re not looking.
Comfort/Fit:  Great, no bother with either aspect even wearing them up.  The weight figure is misleading as lots of the weight is in the jack.  Also wearing up means the ear supports them rather than just the fit of then in your ear.  They sit shallow so should be comfy for all I’d think.
Aesthetics:  Quite impressive.  The use of metal looks not only pleasant but looks quality.  The metal volume control for instance, you can see this a premium product.  Very Teutonic.
Sound:  Pretty darn good.  Not the greatest you can find at the price but it’s no slouch.  It’s pretty V shaped so the mids lack in quantity but they are beautifully open sounding.  The bass is big, or really big if you use the magenta tips, but still taut.  The high are good but a little too edgy and crispy.  With a bright and really good DAP it was too much, so aim for warmer or weirdly my phone (galaxy Nexus) worked really well with it.  The highs were crisp but not abrasively so.  What shone though was the soundstage and imaging.  The soundstage was good but the imaging was alarmingly holographic!  Just outstandingly impressive and so clearly defined, even besting the IE8.  The 3D image they could create is probably the best and most clear I’ve heard in an IEM, really top class stuff.  Still it’s all pretty V shaped sounding so great for pop stuff but for big mid fans like myself its maybe not best suited even if its mids are very open and expressive, they are just too far back.
Value:  On sound alone good, I’d been afraid these would be much more expensive than they are.  They stand out more if you care that they feel and look so premium too.  These look like you’ve spent some cash on them and are insanely engineered.  The volume control and jack are just superb things to behold.
Pro’s:   These exude substance and quality.  Jack and Volume slider. Can change the bass with the different tips.
Con’s:  You pay for its premium feel, it’s pretty V shaped acoustically. 

Why this kolaveri di?
if you mean why posting it now, it dates from just before i was posting the quick reviews in the headgear section.  it was brought to my attention so i added it.
Pros: Warm midrange, spacious, unoffensive sound sig
Cons: Treble can get harsh, a little bit of bass bleed, cable is a bit thin
[size=12.0pt]Sennheiser is the first “legit” headphone company most people hear of and are generally praised unabashedly by people that lack experience. Well at least that’s what I’ve gotten from in my years in the internet. I’d never been the biggest fan of Sennheiser, mostly because I’d never tried anything in their line above the HD25. Everything under the HD25, to me, performed a bit lackadaisical at retail price, so I thought these hardcore supporters were just uninformed. I was hoping the CX985 would cause a change of heart for my opinion of Sennheiser. Well to put to it simply, the HD600 is next on my ever-changing to-buy list.[/size]
[size=12.0pt]The CX985’s packaging is quite nice, not only at its price range, but nice period. It’s reminiscent to Monster’s Turbine Pro packaging with the magnetic flip for the front of the box, but there’s a nice section that allows the buyer to see the CX985’s really pretty housings along with the overengineered volume control. Inside, there’s a nice case, a really cool clip, replacement filters, and two different types of tips, which I will elaborate on later.[/size]
[size=12.0pt]The CX985’s themselves are completely made of plastic (I know, metal would have been so much nicer, but considering how much they cost, something had to give), but they definitely feel nice. Their design, in my opinion, is fantastic because they bend around my earlobe so I know which ear to put which IEM in. The cable admittedly isn’t the best I’ve come across; I’ve had much cheaper IEMs with nicer cables. The cable retains a bit of memory and is kind of thin. The volume control, which I mentioned earlier, almost looks out of place in the cable; it’s almost comically large. However, it’s magnificent in its own right. It’s completely made of metal, fantastic to hold, and works quite well. I’ve actually repurposed it as a way to hear when someone wants to talk to me because at its lowest setting, music is basically silent at my normal levels. The plug, though, is probably Sennheiser’s most ingenious feat of engineering on the CX985’s cable. It has the ability to switch between a right angle and a straight plug because of the swivel mechanism on the plug. It’s probably not all that useful and probably puts some strain on the cable if swiveled too much, but it’s really cool to look at.[/size]
[size=12.0pt]The CX985 sounds rather interesting. When I first used them, I passed them off as just another V-shaped sound sigged IEM—the type that has lotsa bass, lotsa treble, and really bad mids. The bass was a tiny bit bloated, the treble was almost harsh, and the mids were, well, pretty recessed. Then I started really listening to them.[/size]
[size=12.0pt]True, the CX985 has a lot of bass with even the balanced-sound tips (again, more on that later), but it’s not as bloated as I initially thought. It lacks a little bit of control to my ears, bleeding a tiny bit into the midrange, but it has a good bit of separation. I usually use Hallucinogen’s Mi-Loony-Um as a bass test to test both relative lows (it goes down to around 40hz) and separation. There was a little bit of blurring, but it was actually catching up to my modded Fostex T50RP, which is a pretty high compliment. For a mid-range IEM, it’s pretty impressive. [/size]
[size=12.0pt]The midrange is probably going to be where I slam the CX985 the most. Not to say it’s bad, it’s just not fantastic. It’s kind of like the Audio Technica ESW9’s midrange in a sense; it’s smooth and inviting (not nearly as smooth or tube-y though), warmed up by the bass, but for a lot of singers, there’s a very noticeable dip in the upper midrange that makes vocals sound very hollow and off. Ingrid Michaelson was the first singer with whom I noticed the recession. It’s almost infuriating, because other than that one flaw, they’re pretty good for a sound signature that inherently recesses the midrange. I’m usually quite against a V-shaped sound signature, but the CX985 seems to do it in a very pleasing way. [/size]
[size=12.0pt]The treble can get a little bit harsh for my tastes. I’m really not sure why, because the Sony SA5000 is one of my favorite headphones and those are lambasted for their brightness. There are a few random peaks that can make me flinch a bit (that’s probably why; I can deal with a consistent bright sound signature, but the CX985 isn’t quite as linearly bright), but other than that, I’m quite pleased. It’s slightly grainy, but it also extends more than I thought it would. It dropped off at the extent of my hearing, which is…average for an 18 year old. Avoiding songs with too much treble would be ideal with the CX985 though.[/size]
[size=12.0pt]One trait that I definitely didn’t expect the CX985 to excel in was in its general spatial abilities. Classical music was actually quite nice to listen to. While they certainly don’t live up to any of my full sized headphones, they definitely can hold their own against any other IEM I’ve ever tried, including the Hifiman RE272 (from memory anyway).[/size]
[size=12.0pt]Now about those tips: Sennheiser was gracious enough to design two different types of tips for the CX985. There’s a balanced pair, which have white cores, and a bass enhanced pair, which have extended, purple/magenta cores. The bass enhanced tips are longer, which allows for extra bass because science (if anyone actually wants an explanation just ask). I found the magenta tips to be a little too bass heavy for my tastes to extensively test, but from the limited time I used them, the bass seemed to be much more prominent at the expense of some blurring and further recession of the midrange and harsher treble. I don’t really advise using them unless bass is more important than anything at that particular moment. I used Phutureprimitive’s Kinetik album to test the magenta tips and while there seemed to be a slightly airier sound, the bass was simply too much for me. Regardless, I think Sennheiser is especially nice for giving people the option.[/size]
[size=12.0pt]Basically, the general sound signature of the CX985 is slightly prominent, but mostly controlled bass, warm, sometimes recessed midrange, and both smooth and strident treble. But somehow, for 95% of my music, it still sounds really, really nice.[/size]
[size=12.0pt]While I’ve been a bit mean to the CX985, I really do like it. It’s just that it gets so close to perfect for my tastes that I get a little upset, and I hope that my attempts prod Sennheiser to fix them. Compared to other IEMs in the CX985’s price range that I’ve heard, I’d certainly pick it over the B2 (too bright for me) and maybe even the Monster Turbine Pro Gold. If the treble was a little calmer and the midrange fixed, I’d tell everyone to buy a pair regardless of price. But even with their flaws, at $160, I can’t think of a better IEM for someone looking for a relaxing sound signature. Just use EQ if the treble is too harsh. And yes, if these little IEMs are any indicator of what Sennheiser can really do, I may find myself unboxing a pair of HD600s soon.[/size]


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