Is it worth ditching the earphones that came with your iPod for something a bit pricier? Mikey Moran checks out Sennheiser’s £25 MX500.
So you’ve finally bowed to peer pressure and bought yourself an iPod, and it sounds okay. But you’re wondering if a replacement pair of headphones might overcome the combination of radical data compression and indifferent bundled earbuds. The answer to that perfectly reasonable question is to be found in your genetic makeup: Do you have ‘freaky ears’?
There are two basic philosophies to mobile headphone design – to screw or not to screw. Etymotic, Turbosound, and the premium Apple offerings all screw into the ear canal, creating a seal between your nervous system and the outside world. Most other products – for example these Sennheiser buds, rest in the outer vestibule of the ear, relying on the friction of the little foamy covering to hold the unit in place. Whether or not this more common approach works for you depends on whether you are one of those special individuals with freaky ears. As long as you were moderately comfortable with the ‘phones that came with your player in the first place, the Sennheisers will be a step up.
Treble response is open and clear, and bass is deep and powerful without overwhelming the midrange. In the belief that the white iPod headphone is a status symbol in itself, the MX500 has been reissued in white to match the default MP3 box of choice. As a bonus Sennheiser have included a discreet little volume slider half-hidden in the cord which although fairly shallow in travel would serve to attenuate the audio level from ‘on the train’ to ‘oh, someone’s talking to me’.
The final touch of brilliance in the package is a little carry case which incorporates a rotating inner shell enabling you to coil the wires neatly without the in-bag tangle that we’re all far too familiar with. At a hair under £25 they’re the ideal choice as a replacement headphone for any iPod owner that’s looking for more frequency response out of their headphones – or any iPod owner that’s been looking for their original headphones for too long. Except me, I’ve got freaky ears.