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I make it a rule to have actual experience in using a product before casting judgement and sharing that opinion with others, and one such item I can feel that way about are the Sennheiser MX560s - what are surely the best all-round earphones you can get with a great result in style, quality, durability and price.
Sennheiser are a brand more akin to high-end pricey audio equipment but they do still turn their hand to the lower-priced end of the market. This line, the MX560s, seem to have been going for a long time now, and having owned a pair for a few years now I can see why they work.
The first comment I feel that has to be put to you is of durability; these have them in spades. My pair have survived loads of accidental impacts, coil binding, etc. Every other day the wire is tightly wound around the device it accompanies and bunged in a bag or pocket. There've been countless times where I've accidentally whipped them off a door frame or caught the cord with my hand or a table corner through my own carelessness, but it hasn't left a scratch. The wire has been in all sorts of shapes and knots as you will get with pocket audio, but there is zero sign of fraying or splitting rubber. Numerous times I've fell asleep with these things in my ears and awoken led on top of them or tangled around my wrist or scrunched up at the bottom of the sheets. Previous earphones have shattered, broken or split by now - I can only imagine that it's owing to the structurally tough shape and quality of components that the MX560s keep going, even better when you consider that they are not just rough-edged, unrefined electronics as you'll discover below.
The sound quality produced by the MX560s is definitely above average. The spacial positioning of sound is starkly opened up and brought to life - music sounds bigger, more ephereal. Bass and mid-low output is very soothing and present, whilst improving vastly on the high-end clarity and clearness compared to what might have been chucked in free with your phone/MP3 player. Certainly when stood side-by-side with sony earphones of a similar price, for example, the victor is clearly the Sennheisers. In a noisy environment, the powerful mid and high sound range that these earphones pack is handy, yet in the silence of a late-night chillout the way they expand your sound and bring all ranges to bear is a great acheivement from such a small package. They are fit for purpose in almost any situation and for almost any variety of music.
As for extra accessories, Sennheiser throw in a small 'carry purse', presumably for storing the earphones when not in use to protect them. However it's a bit of a redundant accessory as the very nature of portable audio doesn't lend itself to meticulous care of your belongings. Despite me never using my super-duper carry purse, longevity has in no way been affected, but it shows they do take things seriously at Sennheiser HQ.
Foam earbud covers are included aswell to make wearing a little more comfortable, to try and take the slight sensation of plastic in your ears away from impeding on your listening, but because they are not embedded in the earphone (show me any other pair which are, after all) they are a little too easy to lose when not wearing them. It only takes an errant grip to strip the foam clean off and onto the floor somewhere, never to be found. Regardless, I've been soldiering on just fine without any cushioning for many, many months now so I can safely say they are not an essential, though easily replaceable.
If you can indeed get them for £15 or under, they are a steal. I bought mine a good while back for £30 and I have had my money's worth, believe me.
Sennheiser MX 560
You have them in almost every price range. They start with a few pounds and sometimes even for just one pound, and some are even up to 200 or more! Earphones for your MP3 player. Are you a big music fan then you probably buy the expensive ones. Otherwise you are probably more satisfied with the budget range of 20 pounds or so. An audio freak breaks out in tears of sadness when listening to headphones under 100 pounds, while the majority of people are satisfied with just cheap ones.
This Sennheiser MX 560 is the perfect average when it comes to the price. For around 5.99 pounds you will be able to get them. Also in terms of built and design it's exactly what you would expect for what you spend. The caps are plastic and there is only a few cotton balls supplied as an accessory. You do not get much, only what you really need.
The bass and treble are slightly less in quality but good when it comes to earphones in this price range. But when I say that "at that price range" it doesn't mean that it's bad. The bass can always be better, but it's often not sufficiently present and that's something you can say about other earphones in this price range. The highs may sound a bit shrill at times, but overall it's nice to listen to the music and you can mask the treble somewhat in the equalizer on your MP3 player.
For the price it's one of the best of its kind. The Sennheiser MX 560 is ideal for most music lovers among us. But music freak listeners who only want the best of the best will probably think otherwise, but are you someone who is happy with just good sound quality then this Sennheiser is really more than good enough. The bass is definitely there and good to hear, while the highs are well within limits when using your equalizer. All in all really good earphones.
I recently purchased these as a replacement for the standard iPod earphones. These earphones are the more traditional style of earphone where they rest in your ear rather push in like the newer styles (Skull Candy etc.) I deliberately chose this style as I have had ear problems recently (infection) and didn't want to it aggravate again.
They are lightweight but are bigger than other earphones I've had. Because of this size and weight, they do feel quite fragile and 'plasticy'. The earphone casing is, of course, plastic, partially dull grey with a shiny silver coloured part on the back. They also come with foam pads to increase the bass whilst listening. The wire is about 1.5m long.
The earphones come with a leather styled pouch to store them, and also a tool to wind the cable round. The former is very useful for looking after the earphones whereas the latter, although good for looking after the earphones themselves, is not so good at looking after the wire. The wire can become quite twisted after using it.
Onto the sound. These earphones don't offer external noise reduction but can perform well to a high volume. The sound is well balanced with a powerful bass that is equivalent to listening to full studio headphones. I listen to dance music and these earphones are perfect for the driving basslines and melodies I listen to. In terms of sound quality, these are the best earphones I've probably had.