Monday, August 31, 2009

Review -- Sennheiser Headphones -- Great for Boy Scouts

As I have previously mentioned, I buy a lot of running gear. Shoes, socks, shirts, iPods, watches and headphones.  One thing I have not found is the perfect set of headphones. I have purchased maybe 10 pair of them, so much so that my 8 year old daughter commented "Daddy you always have the cooooolest headphones!"  I also have several opinions. First and foremost, the "bud" type headphones generally do not stay in my ear when I run. That is the kind of headphones that comes with an iPod, and they just don't work for me. Second, my headphones have to be able to survive wetness. I sweat alot when I run, and my headphones get wet. Real wet. Sound quality is really not that important...I am running, not listening to a jazz. But, that being said, better sound is better. I honestly didn't notice sound quality differences in headphones until I had two pair of headphones that I liked and alternated. One pair was a cheap ($12) Koss pair, and the other was a pair of Sennheiser. The sound difference was both undeniable and incredible (the Sennheiser was maybe 50 times better). So my criteria are: fit and stay put-ness; durability; sound; and value.

The quest for the perfect headphone seems to endlessly continue, but my current favorites are the Sennheiser MX 85 Sport. Sennheiser is a generally upscale headphone manufacturer that also manufactures a sport line of headphones. They generally retail for around $50. They all sound noticeably better that bud type headphones, and are more expensive. Sennheiser's sport models come with distinctive colored cords: neon green and bright orange. They also have several headphone types: over the ear, ear plugs, around the neck (which I have not tried), and buds that "twist in place." My current favorites are the SX 85, orange cord, twist in place. Here is a picture:

The twist in place system really works. The headphones don't move around and stay put. And they are quite comfortable. They also have the best sound of the headphones I have tried and can notice. I sometimes run to military running cadences (Run to Navy Seals, if anyone listens) where an F16 flies over the recruits as they are singing. If you have ever experienced a flyover at a sporting event, you know this is an ear splitting, booming noise. The sound moves from left to right, and it never ceases to scare me, make me duck and I can feel it. The recruits are chanting "I wanna be a Navy Seal.." and then CRASHHHH BOOOOOM -- this massive sonic boom comes crashing through, in stereo, from left to right. It is pretty cool. Again, this is not an acoustic review of head phones, just what I perceive while running. The Sennheisers make me feel it.

Other Senneheiser thoughts. First, the orange cord version is a huge improvement over the green cord. The green cord came precoiled and never uncoiled -- it was like a big green slinky. A massive inconvenience. The orange cord is better.

The cord will tangle. Period. Dig out your Boy Scout manual because you will become a knot expert. There is nothing you can do about it. Nothing.  If you set them down, massive tangle; put them in a gym bag, massive tangle; speak badly about them, massive tangle; look at them, massive tangle.  But, once untangled, they stay in your ear and sound good. Durability is OK. I suppose I should wash them, dry them, etc. but they are headphones, and I don't want high maintenance there.

Other headphones I like:  V Moda Bass Freq Earbuds; Philips Ear Buds (Bass)


  1. Headphones for running is one of those things that baffles me. I've been using the Nike Flight ($20-$25) behind the neck ones in the warmer months and the standard ipod headphones in the winter when a tighter winter cap helps keep them in the ears.

    What gets me is none of these headphones lasts very long. I'm happy if I can get through 1 year with a pair. I don't know if it's the sweat or poor workmanship, or what, but I realized not too long ago that I've spent a lot more money on headphones than I have on the iPod! I've seen the Sennheisers and thought about trying them, I'd be interested to know how long they hold up.

  2. I have the same issues with the ear buds falling out as well as I sweat and I seem to ruin the ear phones. I have been using a cheap (Nike) over the ear headphones I bought at Target for $10. I bout a bunch of them because I seem to go through them every 6 months or so. I definitely will check out the Sennheisers, thanks for the info.

  3. I never run with headphones, but I do use sennheisers when i use my ipod. Sound quality is so good, much better than anything else I've tried.

  4. Thanks for the nice thoughts on my site... I have never had a low leg temporal tendon problem either... until now.

    You pretty much convinced me that maybe I should try some Sennheisers. I use the IPOD buds that come with the device and they stay in OK, but the sound is pretty lousy. Actually, I should buy my wife a pair first as she can't use buds because like you, they fall out of her ears when she runs.

    Take care and congrats on all the progress you are making.

  5. Thanks so much for the suggestion on headphones.

    I've used everything from cheap Verizon skype models to $100 Sonys, and they all end up falling out during hot weather training. So frustrating, especially on the longer runs.

    I think I'll give the Sennheisers a try- thanks again for pointing me in the right direction!


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