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Sennheiser PMX 680 Sports Earbud Headphones Review

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I bought the Sennheiser PMX 680 headphones from Amazon.com for $36 about two years ago. The PMX680 is co-branded between Senneheiser and Adidas and is designed to be and is advertised as workout headphones. Amazon says that the PMX 680s have been replaced by the PMX685i, however the 685i are quite expensive at the current price of $75 for a pair. I chose 680s headphones because I like Sennheiser, I have a pair of PX250s at my desk that I’ve used daily for almost 6 years. Aside from the foam around the earbuds getting a little loose, the PXC250s are still going strong. Well maybe not so strong, the noise cancelling module also died a few years ago.

Fit and Finish
My PMX680s have stood up well over the last two years. I tend to baby them because they feel fragile, they are very light and the cord seems delicate. Despite the lightness the Kevlar lined cord is tough and can withstand a good jerk. The place where the cord enters the headphones seems unprotected and likely to pull out – there is a picture on the Amazon page where this has happened to a buyer. The headband wraps around my head and doesn’t get in the way. There is a small reflective stripe for visibility on the back for those that prefer outdoor activities on public roadways while wearing dark clothing.

PMX680

The headphones are not perfect. The single cord comes out of the headphones at a weird angle and ends up being annoying. It rubs against my chin requiring the use of the collar clip. The volume control module bumps back and forth against me when I run forcing me to run it under my shirt, the module is detachable but the headphone cord without the module isn’t long enough to reach my pocket where I keep my mp3 player. I think Sennheiser believes that we need volume control if we are going to put our music player in our pocket – as if sound normalization technology doesn’t exist. These two things, the cord and the volume module, make the headphones annoying to use and are a distraction in the gym.

Sound
The sound is typical Sennheiser – flat with good reproduction. There is no detectable excessive base like Bose or high trebles like Polk. The speaker sound is not full and has a slightly tinny quality, this is probably because of the small speakers. I’m guessing the speaker size is constrained by the size of the earbuds which have to fit inside the average person’s ear. Making the headphones in the traditional style where they cup or go over the year would help with the tinny sound except that this would make the headphones annoying and prone to shifting. I think that the sound quality could have been improved by using stronger magnets or better magnets but they were probably nixed to save money.

Durability
I’ve had no issues as I mentioned earlier. The PMX680 is advertised as sweat and water resistant and it has lived up to that promise. Unlike my previous pair of headphones which died due to excessive sweatiness, the 680s are still going strong. The foam around the speakers is starting to show wear but that is expected from regular use. I tend to baby them which may account for them still working. I try to keep them dry and carry them separately instead of just throwing them into my gym bag. However these headphones are rated 3.6 out of 5 on Amazon’s page with many of the reviews noting that they stop working after a while and that the volume control knob is annoying.

Summary
Overall these are decent headphones with ok sound. The tinny quality of the sound, the cord rubbing against my chin, and the volume module are annoying. And the headphones are not very durable as reviews on Amazon indicate. I wouldn’t buy these headphones again – there is a lot of competition in this space and I feel that we are paying more than necessary for much less quality for the Sennheiser-Adidas brand.
Another annoyance is that you have to purchase the headphones from an authorized retailer in order to get the “generous” 2-year Sennheiser guarantee. Naturally these authorized retailers charge more so if you care about the warranty then you’ll end up paying more. What bothers me is that ‘non-authorized’ dealers are also selling the same headphones. If they are not authorized then how do they get this headphones? My guess is that we end up paying for the guarantee thorugh the higher prices that the ‘authorized’ retailers charge.
While we are on the topic of annoyances, the price of the PMX680s (a.k.a the PMX680i) with the microphone is $65! Really another $30 for a microphone?!

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Sennheiser PMX-680 High Resolution

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Written by M Kapoor

April 1, 2013 at 11:59 pm

Posted in review

Tagged with , ,

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