It's no small achievement being one of the highest selling audio products in India, and the Sennheiser CX180 is just that. It's such a successful model and sells in such huge volumes that Sennheiser actually rations supplies to dealers all over the country. A noted online retailer recently told us that he receives not more than 100 units of the CX180 at the beginning of every month, and these are usually sold out within a week. What is it that makes the CX180 so popular? We find out in our review.
Specifications, design and comfort
The Sennheiser CX180 is an in-ear canalphone-style headset, and has a frequency response range of 20-20,000Hz. It also has an impedance rating of 16Ohms and a sensitivity of 110dB. The headset does not have an in-line microphone and remote, and has a standard 1.2m cable. The sales package includes three sets of ear-tips in different sizes.
On the design front, the Sennheiser CX180 is simple and functional. Made entirely of plastic, the earphones have a glossy finish on the front and a dull finish on the back, which has been designed in such a way that it's possible to grip each earphone between your finger and thumb for insertion and removal. It's also incredibly light and comfortable, which ensures ease of use over long periods. The only flaw is the cable, which is thin, tangle-prone, and extremely susceptible to cable noise.
The Sennheiser CX180 is an entry-level headset that is expected to be used primarily with mobile devices. The majority of our testing was done using an Android smartphone, but we also tried it with our reference Fiio X1 and a Windows laptop. Focus tracks were Zomboy's Nuclear, Bonobo's Days To Come, and Gotye's State Of The Art.
Starting with Nuclear, an aggressive dubstep track, we noticed just how bass-oriented the CX180 headphones are. There is a clear boost in the bass, and this is done to appease the majority of buyers in this price range who look for bass and attack. Although the bass is far from refined and doesn't have the same level of quality as the SoundMagic E10S, it's certainly aggressive enough for the price. The vibrations from the bass can definitely be felt, without getting excessive.
Moving on to Days To Come, we went into the quality of the tone and imaging. While the tone and detail isn't fantastic, it certainly isn't bad either. Once again, the focus on the bass tends to drown out any scope for the mids and highs to stand out, and the upper ranges fall short in sparkle and detail as a result. However, the imaging doesn't suffer immensely, and still has enough in it for you to enjoy the music.
Finally, with State Of The Art, we studied the soundstaging and vocal quality of the CX180. There is no soundstaging to speak of, with the sound appearing two dimensional and simplified. Where better headphones succeed in creating an image in your head, the CX180 has you feeling as though the sound is originating from a single location, or at best a narrow zone. Vocals don't quite have as much power, but are certainly able to work themselves over the boosted bass.
The Sennheiser CX180 has a lot going for it. It comes from a popular stable with a solid distribution network all over the country, and is among the most recognisable names in personal audio. It sells in huge numbers and has been doing so for a while now. A lot of this is because it strikes all the right chords for a product in its category. It's inexpensive, well designed for the price, and has a sonic signature that appeals to the masses. While it certainly doesn't sound better than it costs, it gets everything else right. If you're looking for a simple, comfortable and bass-driven pair of in-ear headphones, consider the Sennheiser CX180.
Price (MRP): Rs. 990
- Good design and comfort
- Bass-driven sound
- Mids and highs are muted
- No microphone and in-line remote
Ratings (Out of 5)
- Design: 3.5
- Performance: 3
- Value for money: 4
- Overall: 3.5