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 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.