Sennheiser MX550 Headphones Review

About a month or two ago, Proporta started carrying a limited selection of Sennheiser’s headphones. Most available come in the form of earbuds that are meant for travel, iPods, or on-the-go gadgets. Nothing special, but you don’t go buying a Sony-brand toothbrush without expecting it to be nothing short of an amazing tooth-cleaning experience.

Here’s the issue though. These headphones suck. You want me to be a little more kind and compassionate towards a company known for making decent headphones? Tough. I’ve never been so appalled by a pair of headphones that I feel compelled to alert the public about how terrible music sounds coming out of these. Right now, I’m using them while writing this review. Why? ‘Cause I’m stuck on a train and my iPod is dead.

I can’t blame Proporta for this though. They usually offer pretty decent accessories for gadgets. Never really had anything to complain about for the most part. For this mistake, I’ll just assume someone in the company was sniffing glue. Sennheiser are the real culprits to blame anyway.

Allow me to enlighten you as to why the MX550s straight up suck so bad. I have to crank the volume on my iPod and Macbook to maximum loudness just to listen to a song normally. Last I checked, I shouldn’t need to buy a portable headphone amp for a cheap-ass pair of earbuds. Even the free earbuds US Air and Delta give you are louder than these.

To boot, they don’t really fit too well in my ear, let alone comfortably. It kind of feels like I’m taking acorns and shoving them into my ear canal. Not fun. These feel like the plastic is extra-hard, which adds to my discomfort. Companies like JBL, Sony, and every OEM-manufacturer know that music is a part of everyone’s life and thus, make headphones and earbuds that are comfortable to wear. If only Sennheiser took a page from the “Making Your Customers Happy” playbook.

Then there’s the length of the cord. I’m 6’1″ and I throw my iPod in my pocket, hoping the cable will reach. With these Sennheiser earbuds, I struggle to move around without yanking the jack out of my iPod accidentally. For my Macbook, the length of the cord is fine, but not everyone uses a laptop for music. I certainly don’t have all my tunes on mine. God forbid Sennheiser added an extra six inches to the total length of the cord. Maybe then we’d be in business.

As far as bass goes, hope you don’t listen to any music with it. Right now I’m listening to The Promise Ring (some dumb indie band from the nineties) and although the vocals and guitar are OK, the drums are severely lacking. Bass? Nonexistent. If you think that is bad, imagine how I felt on the subway when I was trying to read the paper and jam out to a DJ mix or three. My iPod cranked at full volume, I could barely follow the bassline, let alone “groove out” to it. Don’t even think about using these in public transit. Your music will just fade into the surrounding noise.

Oh! Cool, the next song just came on. I really like this track. Too bad it sounds like a squirrel trying to have sex with a retarded cat. The drums are muddy as hell, even when I crank down the volume a notch, just to keep the music from distorting. I’m shoving these earbuds into my ear canals, wincing in pain for the sole purpose of increasing my volume by .00001 decibels. Guess what? No luck. I’m pretty sure a boxer with cauliflower-ear would have an easier time rocking out.

Overall, I’d have to not recommend purchasing, owning, or even walking within 10-feet of the MX550s. Sennheiser, your reputation as a “respected” audio company has just been revoked.

If you’re looking for some great earbuds, especially if you like techno, house, trance, or anything with bass, check out the JBL Reference 220s. They come with multiple sets of earbuds, a longer cord, and they also sound fantastic to boot. Those of you on a budget should just grab a $30 pair of Apple’s iPod headphones. They do the job for the price. Sony also makes some ~$20 earbuds that sound and feel decent. As far as over-the-ear-style ‘phones, go with Grado or Sony. You really can’t go wrong with offerings from either of those companies.

Just make sure you don’t see the terrifying “S E N N..” on your packaging and you’ll be fine.