Sennheiser/Adidas PMX 680 review
Ok, so due to some weird circumstances involving my now ex-gf, I ended up selling/ giving away all my 'beater' IEMs and open headphones, which left me high and dry with regards to my running/ gym needs. After getting a few 'rebounds' (don't ask ) and some money-saving later, I decided to get some sport focused 'phones. One of my friends had the Senn MX 85 covered here, but after auditioning them for a few days (with different earpads) I decided that they weren't for me cause they kept falling out even with the twist to fit and I couldn't be bothered putting them back in all the time. After looking around a few websites and forums, I decided to get the Senn PMX 680 as most of the places I read described them as the best sport headphones money could currently buy. After using them exclusively for the past 8 weeks, do I agree with them? Read on then to find out.
PICS Sorry for not taking pics personally, I don't have a good camera ATM
TECH SPECS From the official Sennheiser Website
Frequency response: 18- 20,000
Cable length: Single sided 1.64 ft w/ 2.3 ft extension + volume control
Sound pressure level (SPL): 120 dB
Ear coupling: Vertical Earbud w/ neckband
Impedance: 16 ohms
Connector: 1/8 inch (3.5mm)
Total harmonic distortion (THD): <0.5%
Weight w/o cable: 0.63 ounces
Warranty: 2 year Sennheiser warranty
The PMX 680 comes with a nice water and dust resistant drawstring pouch/ sack, a shirt clip (although the clip on the volume control makes this very unnecessary) and a pair of foam earpads.
DESIGN, BUILD, COMFORT
When I first laid my eyes on these, I thought these would make me look like a goof, but the black and yellow styling has kinda grown on me and the yellow cable does give a good contrast on my all black gym-wear.
The neckband build is a bit different to what i've experienced previously with this particular form factor: made of a highly flexible but tough plastic, it has a reflective strip on the back for safer outdoor night running and the arches which curve to sit on top of the ears are made of flexible rubber, making it very versatile and practical for day to day/night use. Since it has no folding joints, it is very tough to break and should last for quite a few years.
Sennheiser's DuPont Kevlar reinforced cable is water and sweat resistant and has good strength and reliability (as attested by my best friend's Pug who tried to eat the cables). The Sennheiser/Adidas logos are on each of the earbud and and the cable loops in and out of the neckband for added security. As a single sided entry with a volume control and clip, I didn't expect these to be microphonic and they aren't. Stress reliefs on the neckband and the right angle 3.5mm gold plated plug seem a tiny bit wobbly but shouldn't cause too many problems. However, I find the split cable and the volume control to be a bit of a hassle. To each his own, but I really feel that this was a very unnecessary inclusion. Anyway, I just got a cheap arm band for my clip+ and use the shorter cable, which is perfectly adequate for this purpose, without the extension and volume control.
Comfort-wise, right out of the box with the plastic ear-pads, my first thought was to return these! However, replacing the plastic pads with the foam pads, these were actually wearable and after fiddling around with the fit of the band and ear-bud positioning, these are the one of the most comfortable earphones I've ever had! Being very light and being eardbuds, the PMX 680 feels comfortable and unobtrusive, more so than any IEM which go deep in the ear canal to get a secure seal and fit. I've used these for several 10-mile jogs without feeling any ear discomfort.
The PMX 680 sound very open, almost like my Koss Portapros but with less emphasis on bass and slightly brighter treble. Due to the neckband, these avoid the most common weakness of most earbuds- you don't have to push them too far in to get a good position. Like I mentioned above, getting the right positioning with these is very important as it not only affects comfort, but also the tonal balance between lows and highs allowing you to adjust the bass/ treble ratio.
The fact that these buds have any bass at all was a very pleasant surprise (proud basshead here ). Although not earth-shattering or very deep, it is full bodied and punchy. I'm guessing the foam earpads help a bit as i've not tried the plastic pads, but I dont think it'd make a day/night difference, the sound sig would probably lean a bit away from the bass and more towards treble.
Mids are fairly engaging though hardly 'liquid' with a nice, 'sparkly' treble which can get tinny and harsh on some complex tracks. Word of advice, do NOT and I mean DO NOT listen to Opeth with these- I shed a tear when I heard the butchering
However, to be very honest, in most of the cases that I've been using these, critical listening is not the first thing on my mind and for what the PMX 680 have been designed, they do provide a very fun and engaging sound with a fairly good balance of lows, mids and highs and although the soundstage falls way short of any of my full sized cans, it flat out kicks the bottoms of any IEMs I currently own.
As a dedicated fitness freak and long distance runner, I've tried several headphones including clip-ons, IEMs, open back portables for the gym and outdoor running, yet none of them came close to the balance between form and function that the Sennheiser PMX 680 offer. Superb build quality, above average SQ and fairly stylish, I can think of very few reasons for fitness fanatics considering a new headphone to not buy the PMX 680. The split cable and volume control is an irritation (or a blessing depending on how you want to use these), but like I mentioned, there is a fairly easy workaround to make the PMX 680 more appealing. For anyone wearing glasses or Ray-Bans, you're SOL with these, try the MX 85 mentioned earlier if you can find them and get them to fit. The Senn/Adidas line also includes the CX 680 or the MX 680 with new ear fin systems (similar to the twist to fit on MX 85). For everyone else looking for a sport focused headphone, I wholeheartedly recommend the PMX 680.
And as always, Thank you for reading!!
Sources: Cowon S916gb|Sansa Clip+*24gb+16gb|Sansa Fuze4gb+32gb|Sony E4534gb
Cans: Denon D1100|AKG K518LE|Senn HD201,PX100ii
IEMs: Hippo VB|Denon AH-C551|Klipsch S4
"After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music."
Last edited by illusion; 05-11-2011 at 10:55 AM.
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