The Sennheiser CX 275s is an earphone pair geared towards the bass lover on a modest budget. At $69.95 (direct), it’s neither cheap nor over-priced, and offers solid, distortion-free audio performance. The boosted lows will scare away purists, and even bass fiends might find the highs, which are boosted and tweaked in peculiar spots, occasionally tinny or harsh. An inline remote control and microphone add value to the CX 275s, but the remote lacks volume controls, which is a bit of a bummer. Overall, the CX 275s is a powerful pair with a lot to love, but they reside in a crowded field with plenty of worthy competition.
The CX 275s features a simple, lightweight design, with dark, metallic gray earpieces and black, ridged accents. A Sennheiser logo graces both earpieces, and the thin black cable has an inline remote and microphone that descend from the left ear’s cable, hanging just below the chin. As far as fit, the CX 275s feels quite secure—the earpieces are so lightweight and tiny, they’re almost difficult to put in at first, but once they seal off the canal, they stay put.
The inline remote is of the single-button variety. Depending on how many times you tap the button, you can play or pause, navigate tracks, or answer calls. Unfortunately, there is no volume control on the remote. A few years ago, this wouldn’t be an issue on such an affordable pair, but these days, there are plenty of even less expensive models than the CX 275s with remotes featuring full volume controls. It’s one of the more useful controls there is, and it’s annoying to go without it. True, this means the remote will work with a wider variety of devices, but it would be nice to see dedicated options for each type of phone, with volume controls, rather than a universal remote with none. Call clarity through the inline mic is decent; your call partner will understand you just fine.
The CX 275s ships with three pairs of black silicone ear tips, a cable adapter for Nokia-type phone connections, and a small black carrying pouch.
On tracks with serious sub-bass content, like the Knife’s “Silent Shout,” the CX 275s provides ample low frequency boom, and does so without distorting, even at top volumes. In this price range, that alone is a feat, but the CX 275s manages to maintain a decent balance between lows and highs as well.
Bill Callahan’s vocals on “Drover” are graced with an extra dose of low frequency richness, enhancing his baritone delivery, but they also receive just enough treble edge to help them stand out in the mix. The drums on this track also receive some serious bass boosting, which has the potential to make things muddy or too bass-heavy overall, but the high-mid tweaking gives the guitar strumming, and Callahan’s voice, enough presence so that they’re not overwhelmed by the lows.
There is a strange high-mid to high boosting happening here—you can hear it on the Knife track, too. The highs are so boosted, in specific areas, strange mix elements stand out dramatically—in this track, the tape hiss in the background is brought to the forefront. On “Silent Shout,” certain electronic percussive sounds can seem far too bright, even a bit harsh or tinny.
On Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church in the Wild,” the kick drum loop’s attack is slightly duller than it is on a pair that gives a full boost to the high mids. This is made up for by the bass-boosted sustain of the loop, which sound quite powerful, along with the sub-bass synth hits. The highest highs are boosted, which makes vocals on this track sound like they have more sibilance than body—the same mid-to-high-mid range that is host to the crunchy kick drum attack also adds definition to vocals, and both seem slightly deprived here. The presentation is intelligible, however, and is basically designed for bass lovers.
On classical tracks like John Adams’ “The Chairman Dances,” the sub-bass boosting adds some richness to the lower register strings, but the higher register strings and brass remain crisp and in the forefront. This is a nice sound—not for purists, but it gives the typically transparent classical mix a little film score-style drama, without ever letting things get muddy or too bright.
If you want earphones in this price range that boost the bass slightly less than the CX 275s, the NuForce NE-650M is a solid option. If you have a bit more money to spend, the TDK EB950 is another nicely balanced pair, while the Sennheiser MM 70s has similarly-boosted bass, but also features a full remote control. And if all of these options are out of your budget, the RHA MA150 is the cheapest option we currently recommend. For $70, the CX 275s is a solid, fair-priced option for bass lovers, but the occasionally tinny highs and limited inline remote hold it back from a higher rating.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc