Page 3 - Subjective Audio Analysis
Reviewing audio devices require extensively trained ears and lots of experience. Even for audiophiles, it may prove challenging at times to obtain an accurate evaluation of a product without a thoroughly familiar product to use as a simultaneous reference. While I am not going to even try to claim that I am the only trustworthy or best reviewer for sound, it is fact that most computer review sites have editors who are insufficiently trained in reviewing audio equipment. Give them practically anything and all you will read about goes along the line of "good bass, nice midrange, awesome treble, really clear sound, 10/10". While there are many knowledgeable audio reviewers at various respected online media outlets, they are by far the minority.
As I have mentioned in my past audio reviews, there are really no true objective measurements for speaker sound quality. As the reviewer, however, I will put it through a series of subjective tests to try to come up with the most objective rating possible. Yes, it is quite a paradox haha. Tests were conducted primarily wirelessly via Bluetooth. I mainly used a Sony Xperia X, which has support for aptX. After over 40 hours of break-in time -- well above typically required period -- we put the Sennheiser CX Sport to the tests. All tracks were uncompressed CDs, FLAC, or LAME encoded MP3s at 192kbps or higher.
As always, we start at the lowest end of the frequency spectrum with the Sennheiser CX Sport. The low end had a good fullness to it, with a deep, defined, and rounded out sound. However, there was a slight discomfort to it. This could be due to its slightly boosted nature in this region. This is not to say it was uncontrollable, but it was definitely more emphasized. On its own, I think the CX Sport has ample amounts of good bass with good characteristics. However, when we add in the rest of the frequencies, this bass emphasized a negative in the midrange region.
Speaking of which, the middle of the graph was not the most pleasant to listen to. Voices and instruments in this region were clear and was distinguishable. However, it lacked the depth and thickness I would have liked. With such a great foundation built from the bottom, it is not followed with a rich middle. Voices sounded slightly dry here and felt uncomfortable. The V-shape sound signature of the Sennheiser CX Sport was becoming clearer. In isolation, there was nothing really apparently bad or good about the midrange, but rather it was average. Once again, when we added the other frequencies in, I think Sennheiser could have made this area a bit warmer and thicker.
Finally, at the top of the frequency range, the Sennheiser CX Sport shows off more of its V-shaped nature. The trebles were placed very forward, allowing listeners to hear the sharp and bright nature of higher instruments like violins, flutes, and high hats. However, this sharpness was sometimes a bit uncomfortable. The forwardness of the trebles were pushed to the point where users could hear the deficiencies of this range, making them a drawback. The same dryness we heard in the vocals were also found here. The depth of this treble was also lacking, which is disappointing to say the least. Thus, the three frequencies have the V-shaped frequency distribution I would normally expect. However, the slight deficiencies and imbalance in and throughout the regions made these headphones not as comfortable as I would have liked.
In terms of imaging and soundstaging, I think it is fair to say in-ear monitors have a tougher time in this department. Due to its lacking physical size and small drivers, there is only so much space it can work with. Even so, I think Sennheiser could improve in its soundstaging capabilities in making a deeper and wider sound. The emphasized bass and vocals felt like they were on a narrow platform. I think the V-MODA Zn is one pair of IEMs that I have tried that showed the physical size is not necessarily a limitation. Sure, the two earphones are in separate markets and price points, but it goes to show there is room for improvement.
As for layering and frequency separation, there were some more things to point out. In terms of layering, you could easily distinguish the different frequency spectrums, but almost too easily. This translated into a slightly disjointed whole, as the overall sound did not seem to fit too well together. This in turn also affected the cleanness and smoothness of the Sennheiser CX Sport, especially in the transitions between layers. The dryness and slight clash or sharpness we heard in the trebles probably did not help this cause either.
In my day to day usage, I found the Sennheiser CX Sport to be physically comfortable to use. Its integration with its ear hooks and sleeves meant for a snug fit that did not fall out easily. The microphone was also good for typical use like during calls. The wireless range was pretty good, as I never noticed any random drops from the CX Sport. Sennheiser mentions a maximum range of 10m, and I was able to get several floors away from my devices before I would notice some skipping. Sennheiser also mentions a battery life of six hours, but I think this is a bit underestimated. At around 30% volume, I was easily able to get a full workday use of eight hours even while adjusting buttons. The fast charging feature was also a nice thing to see and it performed as expected.
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Hardware
3. Subjective Audio Analysis