If you're going to spend AU$1000 on a new iPhone, you're probably in the market for an excellent pair of headphones as well. The iPhone is, after all, probably the best music-playing phone around and the bundled headphones aren't much chop. Sennheiser has played in this space over the last few years, with the affordable MM 50 speakerphone set among its list of headphones. The MM 80s is the latest addition and is basically more of the same with a price tag that suggest at least a better sound.
Design and features
At first glance, the MM 80 is bigger than its predecessor. Designed to loop over your ears, the earpiece is a largish silver disc with the ear-canal speakers angled to fit in most ears. In the box with the headphones you'll find two alternative rubber ear buds and plastic ear hooks, though we found it more comfortable when we wore the MM 80s without the hooks. Overall, we found the ear buds comfortable, though a couple of the editors here at CNET didn't like the fit of the rubber buds, preferring a foam ear-bud found on some of the competition.
One feature we all agreed we didn't like was the detachable hands-free microphone. The MM 80 comes in two parts: the earphones on a 50cm cable; and a speakerphone microphone on a 1 metre cable, with a 3.5mm connection in the middle. In total, the cable from end to end is a sufficient length, but you could comfortably use the earphones only — the cable would go as far as your shirt pocket. Having the cable in two parts suggests a choice that doesn't exist, you either use the hands-free attachment, or you don't use the headphones. With this being the case, we'd much prefer the unit to have been integrated into one unified piece.
The MM 80s advertise in-flight use on the tin, but offers only noise reduction, not true noise cancellation. We haven't had a chance to test the MM 80s on a trans-Pacific flight as yet, but we do feel the phones do a decent job of blocking out ambient sound in the various places we tested them on the ground. Sennheiser also wisely include an in-flight adapter so you can get stereo sound on a plane.