Product Review

Sennheiser CX-500 In-Ear Earphones

November, 2007

John E. Johnson, Jr.



● Design: In-Ear
● Drivers: Dynamic
● MFR: 17 Hz - 22 kHz
● Nominal Impedance: 16 Ohms
● Sensitivity: 113 dB/1 mw @ 1 kHz
● Volume Control on Cable
● Weight: 0.5 Ounce
● MSRP: $129.95 USA



With the advent of the iPod and other portable MP3 players, there has been an explosion of earphones to go with them.

Problem is that the average person just uses the $5 phones that come with the player.

Well, if you spent several hundred dollars on the player, why put up with the degradation in sound that results from those cheap earphones, when good earphones will make a difference?

I suspect that many of us are put off by the high price tag on some of the earphones, and you figure that the inexpensive ones are not significantly better than the phones that came with the player.

Well, it's just not so.

The CX-500s

Sennheiser is a name familiar to anyone who has ever shopped for headphones. They go way back.

So, when the iPod generation came along, they put their expertise into making appropriately sized earphones.

The CX-500s have an MSRP of $129.95, but I have seen them on the Internet for less than $90.

When I got the review pair, I was very surprised after I connected them to my iPod and put on the music.

Finally, enough bass to satisfy anyone, and a clear midrange that was not too edgy. Part of this is the very light weight of the phones and the fact that they fit tightly in the ear canal.

Usually, I have to add significant EQ to the iPod menu in order to get deep bass, but with the CX-500s, I ended up with "Flat". First time I have been satisfied with that EQ menu selection.

One funny thing was that I had mistakenly thought these were a $499 model - not having looked at all the spec sheet info yet - and when I listened to them, I concluded these were really worth that price. Shocked I was, when I saw that they were available for less than $90 street price.

On the Bench

At 1 kHz, only 0.1% THD+N. There is only a second order harmonic (no third), which gives the phones a smooth midrange.

At 10 kHz, still very low distortion. Again, only a second order harmonic (no third).

IMD is almost non-existent. If there were significant IMD, there would be a mass of small peaks around the base of the 2 kHz peak, appearing like a pyramid.

The THD+N vs. Frequency test shows that even at 10 Hz, distortion is less than 5% at 108 dB (taken from the frequency response curve, shown below). This is superb performance. Secrets is the first consumer A/V publication to publish graphs like this for subwoofers and full range speakers, so you won't find such data elsewhere on similar products for comparison, unfortunately. Perhaps that will change over time now that we have started doing it, because such graphs are extremely informative.

The frequency response shows why I heard such great bass. These phones are designed to really put it out. If you don't like that much bass, you can always EQ it down in the MP3 player menu. The point is, it's there if you want it.


For $129.95 MSRP and less than $90 street price, the Sennheiser CX-500 earphones are an incredible value. Nice clean sound, and deep, deep bass. This is a holiday season gift just waiting to be given.

- John E. Johnson, Jr. -

Copyright 2007 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity

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