Upgrading the earphones that come with your MP3 player needn't cost the earth. Companies like Sennheiser provide options that'll save you from selling off your grandmother's precious heirlooms to afford a terrific set of 'phones.
Sennheiser's new CX 95s are a stylish addition to the company's sound-isolating range of earphones, and can be picked up for about £55. But has style been put in front of performance?
A range of silicon tips help make these snazzy canalphones immediately comfortable. The small metal enclosures are less intrusive than similar metallic models, and sit gently inside the ear without applying any noticeable pressure to the ear. They're light, too; unlike Denon's well-performing, yet substantial metal competitors, the 'phones can be almost forgotten about when fitted properly.
Decent comfort and sound isolation are essential prerequisites for commuter earphones, and we're happy to say that it's not just great comfort on offer here. Get the correct silicon tips in place and external noise is nicely reduced, letting you enjoy music at lower volumes and better protecting your ears. Silicon isn't as effective as foam for blocking out sound, and you'll still hear muffled keyboards and voices, but it's an excellent compromise of non-intrusive comfort and isolation.
The CX 95s offer a very balanced sound quality for their price point, with no single area of the audible spectrum favoured too greatly. Listening to Amy MacDonald's 'A Wish For Something More' showed off the earphones' decent overall tone. Bass wasn't overpowering and mids were punchy. Although highs were more than acceptable, they were just slightly dipping in performance compared to the rest of the spectrum.
The low-frequency bass on Pendulum's new track 'Granite' highlighted the excellent bass capabilities of the CX 95s. For their price point, this performance is doubtlessly pleasing, and their decent sensitivity helps them reach the kind of volumes you'll need if you're looking to melt your mind from the inside out.
It's hard to pick out any significant downfall for these 'phones, as they're comfy, affordable and capable of a decent performance. Perhaps as we noted above, the high-end could be tweaked to highlight the more crystalline properties of some songs, but this is certainly something that will only annoy someone who has the money to buy something more expensive but chose the CX 95s.
We would love to have seen foam tips offered as an alternative to the provided silicon. Foam would have given even better sound isolation and given more choice to the listener.
For this price, we have no problem recommending these earphones. With good sound isolation, great performance and comfort for even the pickiest ears, the CX 95s stand as an absolute must-hear option.
Denon's C551 earphones also isolate sound but for the extra £15 or so offer an even more impressive sound quality. We suggest hearing both if you're looking to spend within the £55-£70 range.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Shannon Doubleday