Sennheiser PMX-680: Surprisingly a lot of fun!

My constant search for good products found me a unique neckband style headphone from Sennheiser. After the noise cancelling earphones, the IEMs, the custom IEMs, the ultraportables, and millions of other things, I’ve finally found a fairly unique solution for listening to music in the Sennheiser-Adidas sports earbuds series. Finally, for the first time I can have a great design to help me enjoy music on the go, and yet without having to go anti-social like I do with IEMs.

The old earbuds design have been around forever, and while it’s mostly okay, one of the biggest problems that I have with earbuds is that they never stay put on the ears. When I moved to IEMs, they were much better in that regard, as most IEMs are stuck in fairly deep in the canals. However, recently I’ve begin to notice that wearing an IEM in the gym sort of makes me an anti-social kind of guy. There is no way you can have a proper conversation going with an IEM stuck in the ear, and taking the IEM in and out every time someone wants to talk to you is a big nuisance. This is where earbuds do better than IEMs, as they block no noise whatsoever and you can listen to people talking while keeping the music on. Sure, they are built and are designed for different things, and sometimes you’d wish for an IEM that will block all ambient noise. But back to the gym, and other social places that I go to, I’m beginning to look for options that’ll let me enjoy my music and yet still able to hear things people say to me.

The neckband design is highly versatile for day to day use. Not only is the build very light and comfortable, it’s also very flexible and rugged. It’s more rugged than probably all of the ultra portable headphones I’ve tried.

 

The Sennheiser PMX-680 is a product with some Adidas branding on it. And although it’s not the first neckband style headphone (I believe Sony was the first), it’s one of the neckbands that happens to have a perfect fit (at least on my head). The headphone feels light and unobtrusive, even compared to ultra portables like the PX100. It feels like wearing a glasses in the way that it’s very light and comfortable. You can feel that it’s there, and that you’re wearing it, but you can wear it for hours without feeling any discomfort. It’s very easy to wear, and the fact that it’s an earbuds make it easier on my ears, more than any IEM I’ve ever tried. And having a band means that the PMX680 will happily hang around your neck — something that I can’t do with IEMs unless I was wearing them on the back.

The neckband material is made from a very flexible and yet tough plastic, and so the whole thing is pretty tough in terms of build. The overall headphone assembly is also free from any folding joints, so you don’t have any fear of breaking any joint like on ultra portable headphones like the PX100. The headphone is very light, and again, lighter even from an ultra portable, and since you don’t have any pads pressing against your ears, the PMX680 is far more comfortable than any ultra portables that I know (and I have 7 highly popular ultra portables headphone in front of me at the moment). I also find the cable length to be perfect, and that the addition of a volume control to be very useful. I used to worry about possible signal degradations from having a volume control on the cable, but now I really think that “possible signal degradations” are simply placebos considering that the drivers on these portables are never that resolving anyway. Hence I welcome the addition of volume controls on the cables for every portable headphones as it makes life so much easier. Lastly, Sennheiser also adds that the DuPont™ Kevlar® cable has superior strength and reliability, adding to the toughness factor of the PMX680. These are mostly ergonomic reasons, but they really make using the PMX680 a joy.

Volume control and L-angled connector scores a perfect 10 on ease of use.


  • Jose

    Hi Mike,

    Great review as always. How did you find the mid bass of these? is it as obtrusive as with the PX100-II?

    Jose.

    PS: There were a few grammatical errors across the article, like in this sentence that I could not completely understand: "The problem with regular shaped earbuds don’t exist with this neckband, as you don’t have to shove the earbuds deep into your ears to get a good hold." Otherwise great report, I will try them tomorrow.

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Hi Jose, thanks for the correction.

      Mmm… the PMX-680 (I'm sure you'll know by know, as you've heard it yourself) changes the tonal balance quite a lot depending on your positioning on the ears, and if you use the foam or not. Changing the positioning can add bass & mid body, or take a way from it. At one point, you can really make the mid body to be overly thick, which some people may prefer, but I don't really like. Likewise adding the foam, I like the presentation without the foam better.

      The overall sound is really nice. I have to admit it's not as smooth as the PX100-II, but as you've said, it has something refreshing about the sound, even when compared to the other ultra portable headphones (another article that I'm working on at the moment). I've been rarely using the V-Jays ever since I got the PMX-680. It's so much fun!

      I see you've gotten the PMX680. It's awesome isn't it?

  • Jose

    I just had my first run with these, they are amazing! The sound is even better than the flabby PX 100 II, very light and solid (both sound and construction). This is the perfect solution for my portable listening, I might even sell the customs. The only complaint I have is that the 1/8 connector and earphone joints are a little to feeble, but still, amazing, I think it'll withstand the test of time and usage. I might also end up buying an iPod Shuffle, or even one of those new Nanos given that the cable length would be perfect for those.

  • http://www.sporthitech.com Eric Stoggs

    Have you seen the Sennheiser Adidas MX-680's? If you don't like the neckband, then these might work for you. I also find you get better audio quality becuase you don't have the vertical earbud issue.

    http://www.sporthitech.com/products/Sennheiser-Ad

    Eric

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Hi Eric, yes I've tried the MX-680s as well.

      What you said is true, the quality is better, but one of the point that makes me like the PMX-680 is the practicalities that I get from the neckband design, including the bigger sound leakage due to the vertical earbud design.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Mike,

    I purchased one of these on your recommendation and I just came here to say thank you. These delivered on design, build quality, and comfort (I can barely feel them on my head). Actually, I own a pair of omx80 and pmx80 from the previous line, but the fit on these is better (sound quality is about the same). Also, though the previous models were water resistant and washable (you should mention that in the review, you can run these under running water to clean) like these pmx680, they had a metal screen and exposed parts around the driver housing that would eventually rust.

    In the end, the pmx680 is not as detailed as my go-to portable px-200-II (and honestly, a far cry from my hd280pro/hd-25) but I prefer them to my original px-100. The sound is typical Sennheiser, darkish, very pleasant, and non-fatiguing (just what you would want for long runs).

    For the $27 USD I paid, these are a steal. I paid close to retail for the omx80 and pmx80 back in 2008 ($50-$70 USD), so it’s nice that the street price on the 680 line is low. I’ve tried the competition from Sony, but it’s clear that for purpose built headphones for sports/exercise, Sennheiser is tops.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks Lazuline. You’re right, I didn’t realize that these models are
      water washable.

      I think the main point about the PMX-680 is about convenience factor,
      and yes the PX200-II and even the PX100-II still betters it in terms of
      sound, but sometimes I just want background music and the PMX-680 is
      enough for that.

  • Dave

    Currently I have a pair of Koss KSC75 which I wear for sports but they’re ugly and too bulky, but I think they sound great.

    How do these sound in comparison?

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Dave,
      Not as balanced as the KSC75, brighter and less bass.

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