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Sennheiser CX Sport by Aaron Lai

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> " ... there are really no true objective measurements for speaker sound quality ... "

The designers of these expensive items would of course disagree with you.  Many specialist third party agencies have millions invested in these hardware testing rigs, over the years.

My interest is in the lower cost "knock-offs".  Most other designers & manufacturers will use these brand-name status objects to create their own lower cost "copies".  My cheapies from East Asia have similar appearances.  But the battery & connection warnings are missing, not in English, etc.  Battery level are also hard to notice, before, during or after usage.

The other ear parts are often available in different sizes as well as the "medium" sizes, colors, hardness, etc.  So surprised that this brand-name item did not offer these choices.  These ad-ons often becoming damaged, or lost, over time. 

Generally I find most (all?) wireless connections poor, compared to cable connections.  The latest bluetooth standards are supposedly better than the older ones.  Could these have been tested?  In particular, connecting more than one transmitter to the unit, or more than one receiver to the unit.  

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Welcome to APH gregzeng! Thanks for the post. You make some interesting points, so I wouldn't mind sharing a few things.

20 hours ago, gregzeng said:

> " ... there are really no true objective measurements for speaker sound quality ... "

The designers of these expensive items would of course disagree with you.  Many specialist third party agencies have millions invested in these hardware testing rigs, over the years.

This is fair to say that there is a lot of hardware testing rigs to test speaker sound quality, but I think it's also fair to say you wouldn't necessarily know if you like a certain speaker because of the output from these rigs. Obviously we don't have this sort of equipment to do testing to that extent, but my point here is more to say that sound signature preferences are very much a preference. Of course we do make statements in places where we can say one pair of headphones may provide better detail than another, but overall a lot of headphones still come down to a sort of preference thing.

20 hours ago, gregzeng said:

My interest is in the lower cost "knock-offs".  Most other designers & manufacturers will use these brand-name status objects to create their own lower cost "copies".  My cheapies from East Asia have similar appearances.  But the battery & connection warnings are missing, not in English, etc.  Battery level are also hard to notice, before, during or after usage.

The other ear parts are often available in different sizes as well as the "medium" sizes, colors, hardness, etc.  So surprised that this brand-name item did not offer these choices.  These ad-ons often becoming damaged, or lost, over time. 

Completely fair points. More unknown brands may offer similar features like "water-resistance" and a certain battery life, but we also lose some niceties. And brand recognition is a big thing in North American markets.

I think a lot of known brand products do not come with more choices, such as Comply foam ear tips, is probably just due to the fact the have enough of these different tips or fins to fit majority of their customers. They want to make money in as many places as possible, so I mean it is unsurprising they cut these things. I personally am fine with the set that was provided with the CX Sport, because this is on par with known competitive products. Like you said, a lot of the "knock-offs" have other tradeoffs, so which ones you buy is just up to what you value more.

I would also be interested in reviewing these headphones from other manufacturers, but all in due time :)

20 hours ago, gregzeng said:

Generally I find most (all?) wireless connections poor, compared to cable connections.  The latest bluetooth standards are supposedly better than the older ones.  Could these have been tested?  In particular, connecting more than one transmitter to the unit, or more than one receiver to the unit.  

Agreed, I still enjoy wired connections more. This is why I'm sad more phones are dropping the 3.5mm jack :( I will keep this in mind with future reviews, but I can say that the CX Sport works with up to two devices remembered by the unit, but not transmitting and receiving to both devices. 

Again, thanks for the comments!

Edited by aeroLai

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Great review Aaron although this is a different color CX 6.00 if I'm not mistaken?

 

On ‎9‎/‎9‎/‎2018 at 12:03 AM, gregzeng said:

> " ... there are really no true objective measurements for speaker sound quality ... "

The designers of these expensive items would of course disagree with you.  Many specialist third party agencies have millions invested in these hardware testing rigs, over the years.

My interest is in the lower cost "knock-offs".  Most other designers & manufacturers will use these brand-name status objects to create their own lower cost "copies".  My cheapies from East Asia have similar appearances.  But the battery & connection warnings are missing, not in English, etc.  Battery level are also hard to notice, before, during or after usage.

The other ear parts are often available in different sizes as well as the "medium" sizes, colors, hardness, etc.  So surprised that this brand-name item did not offer these choices.  These ad-ons often becoming damaged, or lost, over time. 

Generally I find most (all?) wireless connections poor, compared to cable connections.  The latest bluetooth standards are supposedly better than the older ones.  Could these have been tested?  In particular, connecting more than one transmitter to the unit, or more than one receiver to the unit.  

The testing rigs test some objective measurements like frequency response but ultimately the tuning is up the engineer and preference of the listener. It's like there's no objective measurement for ride quality and handling of a car on the road.

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Yeah, you can't really benchmark sound unfortunately. There are objective elements to it, but you can't measure a lot of acoustical properties using numbers.

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On 9/10/2018 at 9:24 PM, TL6MT said:

Great review Aaron although this is a different color CX 6.00 if I'm not mistaken?

Thanks TL! Yeah you could say that. The water resistance is another physical difference, though it is not as visible haha.

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I sort of wonder what is the significance of water resistance. At the end of the day, you can't swim with it, and even if I were to run in the rain regular earphones is probably water resistant enough.

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On ‎9‎/‎16‎/‎2018 at 3:02 PM, chconline said:

I sort of wonder what is the significance of water resistance. At the end of the day, you can't swim with it, and even if I were to run in the rain regular earphones is probably water resistant enough.

That's an Interesting point. What about people who Sweat a lot?

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On ‎9‎/‎18‎/‎2018 at 11:33 AM, Big Bang said:

That's an Interesting point. What about people who Sweat a lot?

A bit of sweat has never killed any earphones.

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On 9/16/2018 at 3:02 PM, chconline said:

I sort of wonder what is the significance of water resistance. At the end of the day, you can't swim with it, and even if I were to run in the rain regular earphones is probably water resistant enough.

Fair point. I know I had a pair of headphones that started crapping out on me after using them for mowing the lawn and I sweated a bit haha. 

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FWIW - would be nice to see comparison of same headphones using an iPhone to see how AAC might perform. Publishing a review based on a test on only one device and one codec may miss out on a different result on the other device and codec - not saying one is better than another, but for a device that supports different codecs, I think its important to review all including performance using a device that only offers SBC.

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Welcome to APH twm53! 

3 hours ago, twm53 said:

FWIW - would be nice to see comparison of same headphones using an iPhone to see how AAC might perform. Publishing a review based on a test on only one device and one codec may miss out on a different result on the other device and codec - not saying one is better than another, but for a device that supports different codecs, I think its important to review all including performance using a device that only offers SBC.

Interesting. You bring up some fair points, including a larger idea of how different codecs may affect the wireless music listening experience overall -- but I think this is an idea for another article altogether.

As for this particular review, we take the approach of testing headphones with a device that can provide the best experience possible, as a way not to "bottleneck" or hamper the performance of the headphones. The Sony Xperia X supports a variety of codecs, including aptX, AAC, and aptX HD, so I think it is a fair choice to use it for testing.

Edited by aeroLai

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Didn’t think any phones used AAC other than iPhones so I learned something. Main reason I mention the codec issue is because I had just read an earlier review from you guys of the CX 6.00BT that does not have AAC, at least per sennheiser literature, but was reviewed using an  iPhone X which does not have aptX. So it’s maybe difficult to compare “apples to apples” as they say. My interest is just that I was able to get a CX 6.00BT for some expiring airline points but I use iPhones so been trying to figure out if I’m better off selling it and getting a model that supports AAC. Even worse is that I’ve read other reviews that say the CX6.00BT includes AAC but I’ll can’t find a mention of it anywhere in the sennheiser lit. 

Edited by twm53
Minor info edit

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I think you make some fair points with regards to the comparisons. The reason why we don't implement that as part of the tests is because the performance difference isn't that significant to write about. I used to actually test it on both platforms for aptX and AAC for products do support both, but I found it to be mostly a waste of time. You can pretty much just expect very slightly cleaner sound and extremely minor improvements in dynamic range (emphasis on VERY slightly and EXTREMELY minor).

Most people can't even tell the difference going from wired to wireless -- and for people who claim they can, I've tried it out and you will have to pay very close attention -- that in the end, the difference between codecs doesn't really affect the final score and analysis so much that it changes the performance grade.

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So the take away from you guys is that aptX or AAC is insignificant - SBC on any device will be nearly identical for the average listener.

Interestingly,  Shure 215 are a moderately priced competitive model that is modular so same earpieces can be wired or wireless. Plus can be basic SBC BT1 or codec supporting BT2. Seems like an ideal platform for a critical review but have not seen any other than some reader comments in some forums.

Read one review for the BT1 version that suggested the only loss was a slight drop at the high end which they said was typical of all music over Bluetooth. This seems to be reasonable in light of how certain things become overhyped by marketing these days.  I read one by you guys for the BT2 which sadly never really discussed the sound. Anecdotal evidence via a reader suggested the BT1 was “abysmal” compared to wired. I have a hard time believing it was abysmal - I think some people vastly over rate their audio capabilities. But then I know mine is not great after decades of industrial noise exposure.

I finally saw one discussion of a higher end Shure wired vs both BT which showed a chart that showed all 3 cases graphed, BT drop off around 10-12k with the wired maybe closer to 12-15k but both BT were very close - log scale made it hard to see exactly with no minor grid from 10-20k. But SBC was only slightly lower. 

Intersting that shure never mentions AAC for the BT1 while one reader found a FCC report showing the chip used indeed supports AAC. Similar to the conflicting sennheiser info. Possibly AAC is not mentioned in slightly older literature since it is free and does not require licensing from Qualcomm.

Anyway, getting back to the takeaway from all this is that if the originating tracks are a respectably high quality, then SBC will be hard to detect as being significantly different than aptX or AAC. The bigger influence is how the device profiles the sound and the clarity of the drivers.  

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Yep, of course aptX is better and as you have pointed out, it does have an objective positive effect on sound quality. The frequency response charts you are referencing is reflective of what I've experienced in my tests, but I 100% agree most people vastly overstate their listening capabilities. It is certainly not "abysmal" compared to wired in most cases.

However, I think it is important to point out that wired versus wireless has more variables than you would think. If I run my headphones with a high end amplifier and DAC compared to Bluetooth with the integrated DAC unamped on the headphones itself, then I don't think that's an apples to apples comparison either. Of course, one would ask what is an "average" DAC and source, amplified or not? Also, some headphones have better integrated DACs than others, which is not entirely based on the wireless compression algorithm either. It's a tricky business and you're going to see more variance between products than you think.

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Wireless definitely adds complexity as did going from vinyl/cd to electronic formats. It’s like each new phase piles on more and more to what was a rather straightforward process. Now far more factors involved. Ultimately it is what sounds pleasing to each person that’s important. Over/on ear are easy enough to test out at local retailers. But in ear types are difficult to try - hit or miss buying is far too expensive for me. Fit makes a big difference as well. I guess as an engineer who loves data and specs, it’s a little frustrating. But I am noticing, that from most reviews, the generally positive models turn up in multiple reviews with often confirming results - not too many conflicts out there.  

Fwiw, I emailed sennheiser support last week asking about AAC support in the CX 6.00BT due to the conflicting info I had read and I have yet to get an answer, not impressed by the lack of reply.

 

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