The Sennheiser PX 100-IIi headphones are a modern update to the PX 100 that builds on the classic circumaural (ear-covering) design with a tougher headband, a three-button in-line remote to control your digital music player, and a single wire attached to the left earpiece. The $89 PX 100-IIi continues to exhibit top-shelf sound quality for the price, and the majority of listeners will appreciate its low-end force, although the heavy midbass can overpower harmonies in jazz and classical tracks. These headphones are the ideal marriage of lightweight comfort, travel-friendly design, and a rich sound with Sennheiser's two-year warranty to back them up, so we can think of little reason not to give the PX-100-IIi our full recommendation.
Design and features
The PX 100-IIi headphones retain the same shape as the previous version, but with an all-black profile for a more reserved look than the original's silver-and-black palette. And instead of a star-shaped pattern on the outside of the dual earcups, the PX 100-IIis pare down to a simple horizontal bar supported by the steel-reinforced plastic headband. The soft foam earpads are securely fastened to each earpiece, and we didn't notice any tangible movement, even during active use. Our only critique of the design is that the PX 100-IIi's 4-foot wire terminates in a vertical plug--we prefer an L-shaped plug that tends to last longer since you're not constantly pulling directly on the cord connection point.
The joints where the earpads connect to the band are also supported by a thin plastic protrusion that appears to be the most likely location of future breakage, although Sennheiser backs the headphones with a two-year warranty that will cover such hardware failure. Regardless, we're impressed with the physical improvements to the design that ensure a long life, provided you keep them folded up, clipped together, and protected by the soft vinyl bag included.
To make things even easier on the listener, Sennheiser switches the PX100 series over to a single 4-foot wire in this generation to keep it organized and easy to wrap around the headband while packed away. The single-sided cabling also cuts down on annoying tangles and includes a three-button remote several inches down from the left earcup that you can use to navigate your music on an iOS device.
The headphone remote doubles as a microphone for hands-free calling on a compatible smartphone, and similar to most headphone remotes, you can also double-click the middle button to advance a track on your music player--we should also note that the two volume buttons won't work on any iPhone released before the 3GS, a symptom of Apple's hardware, not Sennheiser. We also had off-and-on success using it with an Android-powered smartphone, so your mileage may vary with non-iOS devices. If you don't own an Apple iPhone, however, you can save $20 buying the remoteless version instead, called the PX 100-II.
Having tested and owned the PX-100 headphones, we're thankful Sennheiser didn't stray too far from the original's sound quality. The sub-$100 price point seems to be the limit for what most consumers are willing to spend on aftermarket headphones, and the PX-100IIi's won't disappoint.
The headphones employ dynamic drivers and neodymium magnets to actuate the audio current and create a warm sound profile that sways heavily toward the low end. Light jazz and classical listeners may want to consider an alternative over-ear headphone, perhaps the Koss Porta Pros. The majority of listeners, but especially rock, R&B, and hip-hop fans, will find the extra bass push a welcome addition to the sonic profile, adding a sprinkling of richness to the already detailed definition.
We compared the PX 100-IIis with the Koss Porta Pros, an even cheaper over-ear headphone that began production in 1984 and have since become a favorite among audiophiles for their range and depth. We used Michael Jackson's seminal "Off the Wall" album produced by Quincy Jones as a litmus test, and the Koss PortaPro represents a more natural, brighter sound with a longer frequency range from 15,000-25,000 Hz for clearer instrument separation than that of the PX 100-IIis.
That said, the Sennheiser PX100-Iii is no slouch--not even a bit. They just provide more resounding bass, whereas the Porta-Pros are crisper and slightly more defined. You won't feel shortchanged no matter which model you choose, so the buying decision may come down to a matter of aesthetics or price, as the Porta-Pros can be had for as low as $30 online with a lifetime warranty.
The Sennheiser PX-100IIi is an ideal fit for nearly any type of music lover, and its beefed-up acoustics add another dimension to music with a heavy bass track. Their simple, fold-up design makes for easy, safe transportation, and the new remote adds even more functionality to an already compelling offering. Finally, the two-year warranty is generous for a headphone manufacturer, and although it doesn't outshine Koss' lifetime support policy, the PX-100IIis stand head to head with the PortaPros and may appeal even more to those who favor a modern aesthetic.