Sennheiser CX 880i review: Sennheiser CX 880i

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Typical Price: $249.95
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3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Integrated microphone and play controls. Good sound for those who are patient.

The Bad Hard to get a good fit. Can be too shrill or too bassy. iPhone only.

The Bottom Line The Sennheiser CX 880i are iPhone headphones which sound great but take a lot of perseverance to achieve a good fit.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

7.0 Overall

As smartphones proliferate, the demand for standalone MP3 players diminishes. The convenience of combining a telephone and music player in a device like the iPhone is very tempting for many people. But why should you have to use the freebie iPhone headphones?

Sennheiser offers a range of iPhone-specific headsets which includes the MM 80 and MM 50with the CX880i sitting at the top.

The CX 880i look like the Sennheiser in-ears of yore with a chunky, easy-to-handle body which comes in a silver and black colour scheme. The two earpieces are capped with interchangeable ear sleeves which also protect the internal speakers from damage. About 10 centimetres down the left ear piece hangs an iPhone microphone and volume control. While we were able to use the mic and 'Play' button successfully with an Android phone, the volume only works with Apple devices. The microphone was able to pick up our voice quite successfully during calls.

Before we get to the sound quality of these headphones we wanted to make this observation: they are hard to fit properly. While the phones do come with three different sleeves, we were never able to get a good seal with the CX 880is. You may find yourself, as we did, constantly adjusting the earpieces to make them fit. When on the move we could never get it to sit properly. And as a result, these aren't a 'set-and-forget' option.

This creates issues for sound quality as well. If you don't get a good seal, you'll find that the sound is overly forward. And while it sounds crisp, it can get tiring — you'll also experience plenty of outside noise leakage. Persevere too long and you may find the sound to be overly bassy. If you do achieve that Goldilocks moment you'll find that the Sennheisers are possibly the most exciting headphones for the price. There is a greater sense of vocal presence than other in-ears and the bass supports the music rather than dominates it. It's just a pity that it takes so long each and every time you wear them to achieve this result.

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