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Computer Accessories

Sennheiser's sports headphones get hot and sweaty

Sennheiser's new sports headphones look the business (if you can live with the lime green), but can they survive the sweat test? Crave puts them through their paces

Sennheiser's new sports headphones take their design cues from the Oriental whip snake, which is long, thin and lime green. Crave would happily wrap a snake around our neck, but we wouldn't grab its head and tail and stick them in our ears, not least because the Oriental whip snake has a mildly venomous bite.

Snake fetishes aside, lime green is an odd colour for sports headphones. If you're the sort of person who goes red in the face when you exercise, lime green makes it more obvious; or if you get pale and nauseous, the all-over lime-green look is going to make you look even worse. Of course, you might be one of those mysterious beings who manages to wear designer sports gear, but never actually breaks into a sweat, in which case you should be okay.

Moving on from the colour, our next concern is whether the Sennheisers reduce the pain of exercising. There's no substitute for a proper sweat test, so we laced up our trainers, stretched our hamstrings and ran 5km with the PMX 70, LX 70 and MXL 70 VC (pictured above) headphones.

Model: PMX 70 (£30)
Style: Earbuds with neckband
Special sporty features: Rugged design, sweat resistant, single-sided cable, cable clip
Secure? Yes, stayed in place for the entire 5km
Comfortable? Not really. Although the neckband hooks over your ears, it isn't adjustable and didn't sit right on our head -- the headphones only stayed on because the springy neckband was forcing the buds into our ears. It's like wearing a giant green C-clamp around your head. But it might fit your head better.
Tester's comments: The main advantage of the PMX 70s is their rugged simplicity: one cable, one springy neckband, two earbuds. If they fit you, they're a good bet -- but after 5km, the discomfort in our ears outweighed the pain in our lungs and legs.
Would be better if... they had a much shorter cable, for all the joggers who wear their MP3 players on their biceps, plus an extension cable, for those who'd rather clip their players to their waists.
Paula Radcliffe factor: Like coming fourth in the 10,000m. -ML

Model: LX 70 (£25)
Style: Earbuds with flexible overhead band
Special sporty features: Flexible design, sweat resistant, single-sided cable, cable clip
Secure? Yes, stayed in place for the entire 5km
Comfortable? No. The flexible overhead band does keep the headphones in place but you need a small head to get a comfortable fit. The band was digging into our head after the first kilometre.
Tester's comments: Using a band to secure the earbuds is a good idea, but in practice the LX70s don't deliver the performance you need while doing sport. They don't feel comfortable and are rather ungainly.
Would be better if... the overhead band was adjustable, because heads come in many sizes.
Paula Radcliffe factor: Like coming 8th in the 10,000m after you tripped in the final 100m. -AL

Model: MXL 70 VC (£30)
Style: Earbuds with lanyard
Special sporty features: Lanyard with volume control, magnetic surfaces, loop for attaching your MP3 player, cable clip, extension cable, extra rubber covers to change the size of the earbuds, triangular neoprene case
Secure? They feel as if they might fall out of your ears, but they didn't
Comfortable? Yes, although the earbuds are relatively large
Tester's comments: Getting ready for a run takes twice as long when you have to untangle the MXL 70 VC earbuds from the lanyard, arrange everything around your neck, clip on the volume control and route the cable. You can dangle your MP3 player from the loop at the bottom of the volume control, but if you're into anything more active than darts, it'll bounce around on your chest like a demented yoyo. Once you're wired up, however, the clip on the back of the volume control secures it to your shirt, the chunky dial lets you crank up the volume without breaking stride, and the magnetic surfaces let you stick the earbuds to the volume control -- or each other -- when you aren't using them. The clear winners, in our opinion.
Would be better if… the lanyard had a wipe-clean rubber cover instead of a sweat- and grease-absorbing woven one. And they could be black or grey, not lime green.
Paula Radcliffe factor: Could win the marathon at the next Olympics. -ML