This is a review of Sennheiser CX 985 headphones with a volume slider. Sennheiser CX 985 Headphone Headset - Smart Phones, Mobile, Travel - high-fidelity audio experience
If someone would ask me to describe CX 985 headphones in two words, I would not hesitate to use "German Engineering". I was very impressed with design details of recently reviewed MM70s from Sennheiser, but this model tops it off. In the last few months I have reviewed a number of headphones in different price ranges going all the way to hundreds of dollars, and after awhile you get used to expecting a higher quality as you cross audiophile threshold. In this case you get audiophile quality built and design details with a very unique sound signature and the big surprise is a current sales price of $127 on Amazon. I still trying to focus on value of the products I review, therefore I think price is a very important factor in this review. Let's take a closer look at my test results.
You probably going to think I'm repeating myself from MM70s review, but with CX 985 taking a tour of the box outside was equally educational. Also, there is no mistake you are dealing with a premium quality product and the company really believes in it by offering 2 year warranty, which is double of typical warranty offered by other brands. When you take these in-ear headphones out, referred by Sennheiser as ear-canal phones, you notice right away the weight of the alloy metal design - at 20g these are not your typical feather light headphones. Chrome metal touches are everywhere from earpieces to in-line volume slider with chin-slider piece and very unique folding 3.5mm plug. You also get a lot of high quality accessories. Starting with a hard case you get a soft leather exterior finish with a distinct white stitching, a unique storage compartment that holds airline adapter with 90-degree folding 3.5mm connector and enough room to store headphones and extra eartips. The inner part of the case designed as a spool to wrap around the cable with earbuds and connector being stored inside, and the case closure flap with an elastic band to keep the cover closed. You also get a bonus cleaning tool and 2 pairs of diaphragm guards that go inside of headphone stem, sort of like earwax/dust filters. You also get a special cable clip functionality of which I tried to capture in a number of detailed pictures below. I can't comment on how practical it is, but I can tell you for sure you have never seen anything like this before. And to top it all you get a very healthy selection of eartips with white stack set (S/M/L) which intended for more natural sound, another magenta stack set (S/M/L) for a bass heavier sound, and a pair of foam tips in one size, similar to comply foam. It is quite brilliant how they designed white vs magenta eartips where the inner tube part has a slightly different length and tighter fit to control sound isolation and close off the output port in order to bring up low frequency content. This is not a gimmick, it actually works really well with a significant change in bass enhancement. For my sound test I was using only magenta tips.
Looking at the headphones itself, they have a very unique shape design reflecting the reverse "Z" which signifies S of Sennheiser logo. There is a short solid strain relief rubber boot, but between that and the headphone enclosure you have alloy metal piece which is cleverly designed to fit in your ear with a wire down or wire up. Although R/L letter are very hard to see, the L one has a small bump on the rubber boot so you can feel it. Despite the additional weight, it was very comfortable to wear these wired down, and when I tried it wire up - it made more sense to switch Left and Right since the reverse Z-shape felt more natural pointing the other way when you flip it. The y-splitter with in-line volume control had a very precise volume slider that actually comes handy if you want to turn the volume down when someone is talking to you, especially considering a very good passive noise isolation these headphones provide. Even so I was able to use volume slider with one hand, I would still recommend using two hands for this operation. As an extension of y-splitter there is also a sliding chin piece which controls y-split of the cable. From there down through a tangle free cable with what seems like kevlar reinforced jacket (a bit on a stiff side), another star of this design is the actual 3.5mm plug. Made out of the same alloy metal chrome material, it has a unique structure to work as a straight connector or bent to 90-degrees or anywhere in between with each side having a torque screw to lighten the rotation - German engineering at it's best! Without a doubt, these headphones have a style from the top to the bottom without a need for any rap star endorsement
Of course, a pretty style without a sound content behind it will mean nothing, so the next part of my test was sound quality. Although I ran my typical burn-in test, with this type of neodymium magnets drivers the improvement was very small. As I started to notice, burn in test does wonders for armature in-ear drivers, while in this case the improvements were minimum. This is actually an interesting point since those who are shopping in the actual store will have a chance to preview it's sound quality right in the store rather then after extensive burn-in period. OK, so the sound test. I know Sennheiser refers to these neodymium drivers as having a balanced audio reproduction which mean an even frequency response across the whole band of 16Hz-24kHz (very impressive wide range), but in actuality I found these to have a very distinct V-shaped sound with a deep cut in mids. The bass is big, warm, and clean. You can still hear it with white stack eartips, but when going to magenta ones you can actually hear and feel it a lot better. Keep in mind, you are in control and can "adjust" the amount simply by switching between white or magenta stack eartips. Mids are very clear as well, but pushed back and not as dominant which is especially noticeable with vocals and some other instruments occupying that frequency space. Everything is still there but not as much upfront. Highs/treble are super crisp and very detailed. It's especially fun to listen to since these headphones have a great soundstage presence with a very accurate placement of the sound in 3D space and despite V-shaped EQ you can still place clearly where the lows, mids, and highs are coming at you. I know I'm putting a lot of emphasis on "V-shape" which might be not everyone's cup of tea, but those who crave this sound signature (just go to your smartphone and select "dance" EQ preset which going to dial automatically v-shape) - you will be on cloud 9!
Overall, I found Sennheiser CX 985 to offer an outstanding value and quality, both in terms of build, design, and signature sound! You definitely going to stand out from a crowd wearing these, their built quality is bullet proof and backed by 2 year warranty, and if you don't mind sharp V-shape sound (mids will be recessed) - for $127 this is an outstanding value.
Here are the pictures.