Sennheiser tries to beat Beats with new design for CX headphones

Sennheiser has redesigned its in-ear headphones with the CX range, including red cables that might look familiar...

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Sennheiser is looking to beat Beats with new red headphones. Sennheiser

Sennheiser hasn't forgotten about Dre, taking a leaf out of the playbook of rival Beats by focusing on a more recognisable design for its new CX headphones.

German manufacturer Sennheiser is well-known among audiophiles for the audio quality of its kit, but in the last couple of years, like all headphone manufacturers, it's been left behind by Beats in terms of popularity and visibility.

Co-founded by rapper Dr Dre and recently snapped up by Apple for billions of dollars, Beats is derided by audiophiles, but has carved out an unbeatable brand identity thanks to its instantly recognisable design and the magic touch of celebrities from rappers to World Cup football stars.

Speaking exclusively to CNET last year about the challenge from Beats fashion 'phones, Sennheiser scion Daniel Sennheiser admitted the firm had been "complacent" -- but it's clear with the CX in-ears it's learned its lesson.

Following the example of Beats, Sennheiser has rethought its design -- specifically, to make sure that people wearing Sennheisers can be seen to be wearing Sennheisers. The new CX headphones have a new signature oblong design on the outside of the earbuds, and the cables come in white, black and red -- which just happen to be Beats' signature colours.

Perhaps that's a sort of audiophile honeytrap, so when the less-informed music lover says, "Cool, are they Beats?", the audiophile can sneer, "Ac-tually, they're Senn-heiser," before dropping the mic and high-fiving everyone in the organic record store.

The new Sennheiser CX series is made up of four slightly different models of ear-canal headphones: CX 1.00, CX 2.00, CX 3.00 and CX 5.00. Full prices and availability are yet to be confirmed, but Sennheiser has told us that the CX 3.00s will cost £45 in the UK. That converts to $75 or AU$80.

The CX 2.00 and CX 5.00 have an attached inline remote control for playing, pausing and skipping tracks, and a hands-free microphone for taking calls without taking out your headphones. The remotes are compatible with the Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy devices, although Sennheiser hasn't confirmed it'll work with other makes of phone or tablet.

The CX 1.00 and CX 3.00 are just headphones without the hands-free or remote. The CX 3.00 and CX 5.00 headphones also come with a hard plastic carry case that you can wind your headphones into so they don't tangle.

All the headphones in the range come with four sizes of ear sleeve to fit lugholes of all shapes and sizes. The drivers have also been angled differently to direct sound into the ear better. They go deeper too, with 17Hz bass instead of the 19Hz of previous models.

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Sennheiser will also show off a wacky new device next week called Mogees. Mogees combines a vibration sensor and a mobile app to detect and analyse the acoustic properties of any physical object and turn it into a unique musical instrument.

We'll see this crazy-sounding musical marvel at next week's IFA trade show in Berlin, where the great and the good of the technology industry gather to show off their wares for the rest of the year. We'll be there to bring you photos, videos and hands-on first impressions of everything from the expected Samsung Galaxy Note 4 to the wackier stuff like this Mogees thingy -- so keep it CNET.

 

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