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Sennheiser CX300 Review

11


Reviewed Apr 2010

Details: Sennheiser’s aging mid-range model, quite possibly more popular than any other IEM currently in production
Current Price: N/A (discontinued) (MSRP: $49.95)
Specs: Driver: Dynamic | Imp: 16 Ω | Sens: 112 dB | Freq: 18-21k Hz | Cable: 3.3’ L-plug, j-cord
Nozzle Size: 5.5mm | Preferred tips: Stock single flanges
Wear Style: Over-the-ear or straight down

Accessories (1/5) – Silicone single-flange tips (3 sizes)
Build Quality (3/5) – Plasticky housings with rubber strain reliefs all-around. The relief on the 3.5mm L-plug is not molded but at least the cables are rubberized and not too thin
Isolation (3/5) – Very shallow insertion leads to average isolation
Microphonics (2.5/5) – Quite poor when worn cord-down; just passable otherwise
Comfort (4/5) – Short housings with short nozzles mean that deep insertion is difficult with stock tips. J-cord configuration can also make over-the-ear wear awkward

Sound (4.8/10) – The CX300s are known around here mostly for their bass, which is usually cast in a negative light. The low end does offer a whole lot of grunt but lacks in detail and rolls off steeply below 35Hz. There is some mid-range bleed, coloring the sound and obscuring lower-midrange detail. The lack of definition also causes drums to sound ‘hollow’ at times. But there are upsides: compared to a lot of bottom-tier offerings the sound of the CX300s is dimensional and well-spaced. Clarity is quite decent in the rest of the range. The midrange isn’t recessed and the treble boasts decent extension; there’s just not enough of it. The overall balance is very reminiscent of the Lenntek Sonix Micro, with a slightly better sense of space but also poorer bass control. The sound is very pleasant for pop, rap, and soft rock, though it starts deteriorating on fast and dense tracks.

Value (4/10) – The pricing of earphones such as the Lenntek Sonix Micro and the “younger sibling” CX250 render the CX300 somewhat mediocre in today’s crowded marketplace. Their popularity is easy to explain – the powerful bass works well with the dimensionality and clarity of the rest of the range. Plus the CX300s were one of the only IEMs in their price range upon release, building up fame and a loyal following rather quickly. I do think that much of the distaste for the CX300 around the forum is exaggerated – they really aren’t offensive to my ears. But as a whole package, this one is best left to the history books.

Pros: Lightweight and comfortable, decent build quality
Cons: Microphonic, j-corded, lacks bass control and treble presence


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About Author

Living in the fast-paced city of Los Angeles, ljokerl has been using portable audio gear to deal with lengthy commutes for the better part of a decade. He spends much of his time listening to music and occasionally writes portable audio reviews across several enthusiast sites, focusing mostly on in-ear earphones.

11 Comments

  1. encee on

    joker
    thanks alot for your response.Meybe i could have got fake jvc xtreme xplosive i cant tell….However i recieved my cx300ii and they aint dat bad.i think the issues with these r the highs,they sound like some cheap eabuds,the bass is average though and ok i must..Also not as much on the jvc but i think cx300 bass was more alive…I bought the Narmoo s1 and am waiting for them to be shipped…if i dont like them i will try yamaha Eph 100 hope some day i find what am looking for.

  2. Encee on

    hey joker,
    Iv read a couple of your reviews and i bought the SM E10,JVC FXIX,i really dint like any of these headsets though..the jvc xtreme xplosive jst had bass which dint appeal to me and not enough for me.the sound magic e10 where clear but lucked bass and the sound signature never appeal to me..bought the cx300 on ebay which is in transit now since there no available stores with these products…am looking to buy Brainwavs r1 or narmoo s1..which has more bass between the two..am realy a down hard bass fanatic.Or anything u can recomend in this price range meybe. am writing from zambia,africa.t

    • ljokerl on

      If the JVC Xtreme Xplosives didn’t have enough bass I don’t really have anything to recommend. Everything I’ve tried from Brainwavz and Narmoo has less bass than those. Same goes for the Soundmagic E10.

  3. Alan Z on

    Hi joker,

    you need to review the CX300-II before they become extinct. I’ve owned a pair for 2 years and think they would get a much better rating for sound than 4.8/10 and their durability is awesome. I carry them around in my pocket most days and they still work, even after my 3 year old daughter has beaten them up. Thanks for all your hard work!

    • ljokerl on

      The CX300-II is supposed to be much improved by all accounts.

      I really doubt Sennheiser is going to discontinue such a popular line of product any time soon 🙂

  4. john on

    Hello,
    Dammit ljokerl, so many earphones you had and didnt tried CX300-II 🙂 I could use that info for understanding how others phones should sound which you are rating using CX300-II as an example, because its the only one i had.

    btw a little bit off topic; well i was CX300-II owner but recently after two years of using they finally got broken (I was pretty happy with them). Now im reading a lot of yours reviews, other people reviews and trying to find in-ear phones which gives nice DEEP (LOW) BASS + nice sound overall + nice build quality that wont break when i fall asleep with them. Im mostly listening deep house, chillstep, progressive house, minimal, electronic, indie and really love ; how i shoud say ; ?deep? bass. For example i divide BASS to high (which can be heard in pop songs) and deep low BASS (which can be heard in my music styles (I really hope you have heard some of them)) and for example CX300-II was providing “high bass” way more better than “deep low” bass which i actually want. So, after all those reviews i picked these three in-ear headphones: Brainwavz M2 (first place), Audio-Technica ATH-CKS55, beyerdynamic dtx 101 ie, but im afraid its not what i really want. Maybe they will provide nice bass but not that one which i want. So maybe you have something to suggest me in the same price class as these three i wrote or maybe one of them is actually what im searching for?

    Thanks for reply!

    • ljokerl on

      Yes, somehow the CX300-II has eluded me. I keep thinking that any day now Sennheiser is going to discontinue it – after all it’s an evolution of a design from 2004(!).

      I agree with making a distinction between sub-bass (what you call low bass) and mid-bass (what you call high bass). They relate to different elements of a music track and there are many products that prioritize one over the other. In the case of the CX300 reviewed above mid-bass is what draws the most attention. This is also true for many popular headphones like Beats by Dre. There is one additional issue – mid-bass has a tendency to “mask” deep bass response. In the case of many in-ears, they actually do have extended deep bass in addition to heavy mid-bass, but you can’t tell at that point. The sets that tend to have the most impressive deep bass response are those that also have less mid-bass. Those used to Beats by Dre type sound may actually not find them sufficiently bassy but the best examples of this are the FutureSonics Atrios (http://theheadphonelist.com/headphone_review/future-sonics-atrio-mg7/) and the HiSoundAudio Wooduo 2 (http://theheadphonelist.com/headphone_review/hisoundaudio-wooduo-2/)

      I do listen to a good bit of Electronic music, maybe not the same exact subgenres but enough to know what sounds good to me. The sound you want is one where the deep bass remains unmasked, but the presence is good across all low frequencies. For me the ideal case is that of the Yamaha EPH-100 http://theheadphonelist.com/headphone_review/yamaha-eph-100/ but if you want to spend less there are some other options. The Sony MH1C is very good – not as bassy as the EPH-100, but very clean and extended. It’s a fantastic value. The Nuforce NE-700X (and event he cheaper NE-600X) has a sound that is a little more dominated by mid-bass but still do a good job of producing subbass. The RHA MA350 is even more reasonably-priced and likewise has strong deep bass.

      If you’re going to sleep in them that might eliminate some options that are too large but I think those are the ones you’ll want to take a look at.

      • Mike on

        Hi Joker,

        Any feedback on the CX 300-II? I’m trying to decide between CX 300-II and MH1C. Mind the price, I’ve found both of them at roughly $30 shipped (within EU).

        I’ve had the original CX 300 but the cable broke after a while. I found them being quite nice, but the low end was a bit “thumpy” and loose. Just like John was mentioning, I’m looking for a relatively cheap and well rounded IEM with nice and balanced sound with a bit of emphasis on the sub-bass.

        Thanks.

        • ljokerl on

          No hands-on time with the CX300 mkII but the MH1C does what you want. Other than the craptastic cable it’s actually a fantastic IEM for the price.

    • ljokerl on

      They were supposed to be a major upgrade, not sure why I never got my hands on them. Will keep them in mind.

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