I think it is helpful to know what kind of gadgets a reviewer has because it allows you to judge whether or not you might have the same taste /opinions as the reviewer about gizmos. It also allows one to gauge the reviewer’s experience with gadgets. So to start, I have a pair of Shure E2cs (no longer in production by Shure and have been replaced by the SE110) which I use with my Creative Z Vision M after giving my Sennheiser CX300s to my mother who developed a taste…..errr….or rather the hearing for them.
I am not a professional musician or audiophile-nut but I am very fussy about my gadgets and what I actually get for the money I pay for them. I consider myself an Average Joe / Everyday Guy On The Street reviewer with the hope of giving you a non-professional opinion because I find “official” reviews often biased or coloured. I also find that “official” reviewers do not often tell you about the “little things” that matter when you have to live with the gadget. With that in mind, I will give you my opinion on the Sennheiser CX300 bearing in mind that I am now able to compare it with a SUPPOSEDLY better pair of Shure E2cs.
I bought my old CX300s from Amazon at about £15 about 2 years ago (Beware of EXTREMELY cheap CX300s). You can still get a pair now for about £16-£20 (approximately USD 30-40). PERSONALLY, I would encourage you to buy from a proper online shop as opposed to from an eBay shop/seller. You run the risk of buying a pair of fakes on eBay (especially if the price is unrealistic). I do not believe you can get a genuine product for a ridiculously low price.
The CX300s come in either white, black or grey with 3 pairs of soft rubber/silicone earpieces to fit each persons ear which brings me to my first point.
First thing to say is that the CX300s are EARBUDS or IN-EAR phones. They are also termed SOUND ISOLATING earphones (not be confused with NOISE CANCELLING). Some of you (me included before I bought them) may not have used such earphones before but basically they form a snug/tight fit INSIDE your ear as opposed to the “conventional” earphones which just rest/sit in the cup of your ear. It is absolutely CRUCIAL that you stuff them right inside your ear until a seal is formed otherwise they will be the worst pair of earphones you have ever used and the sound will be tiny.
The advantage of in-ear phones is that you get better sound and (most) ambient noise is blocked out (office chatter, on the plane, traffic noise! etc.). To get an idea of how much better sound can get (if you own standard earphones), try pressing your hands over your ears when wearing standard EARphones. This actually simulates the effects of HEADphones but will still give you a feel of how music can improve if in-earphones fit snugly and outside noise is blocked out.
The disadvantage of such in-ear phones is that SOME people can find it uncomfortable and even painful but this really should not be a problem if you fit the right sized earpiece for yourself. You also get used to them after a few uses when the skin in the ear learns to cope with it.
The other disadvantage is that the sound isolation properties mean that sometimes you cannot hear things that you should e.g. a car that is about to run you over, your boss shouting your name, your girlfriend talking to you (can be a good thing).
Another disadvantage with the CX300 is that you can hear the wires of the earphones rubbing against your clothes very clearly because of the sound isolating properties and also because the wires are thinner (this is where the Shure is better because it has thicker wires). This is a disadvantage of ALL in-ear phones but how bad it is depends on how thick the wires are. This therefore can make listening unpleasant if you intend to wear them whilst jogging for example. The Shures are also better in terms of fit and security of fit because the wires go up and over your ears so the earphones tend not to get dragged down by gravity or fall out.
In my opinion though, the much improved sound quality is well worth it. And I do not jog.
In terms of sound quality, the CX300s are worth the money you pay for them. Comparing them with the supposedly better and ridiculously pricier Shures (~£60!!!), the CX300s come rather close. Maybe I had forgotten what the CX300s sound like by the time I started using my Shures but the fact that I did not go “WOW!” when I started using my “better” Shures goes to show that it was not a big improvement over the CX300s. In other words the CX300 comes close!
Yes, there were differences in that the mid-range, voice and treble of the Shures were clearer but an average person would be hard pressed to tell the difference I would think. Even then, I may WANT to think the sound is a little better simply because of the price I had to pay for the Shures (actually got them discounted otherwise I would never buy Shures).
What IS NOTICABLE (and this is generally mentioned in user reviews) is that the bass in the CX300s are DEFINITELY better than the Shures. It is not to say that the Shures do not have bass but it is no where as powerful and forceful as the CX300s. Although the average user might not pick up what I think is a subtle improvement in treble of the Shures, I think an average user will EASILY be able to tell the difference in bass. I have to say I find the Shures bass very slightly lacking for MY TASTE (significantly lacking compared to the CX300) but I am not a big style bass-head.
So the CX300s are excellent if you like your bass-heavy dance, rave, techno, pop and R&B producing good head thumping bass but if you prefer classical or less bass heavy music you MIGHT just find the bass overpowering although I think it is easier to turn bass down with the equaliser than turn it up. Shures sound slightly sharper. The overall sound of the CX300 is rather good for the money you pay and you will never again put up with standard earphones supplied with your MP3 player.
The Sennheiser CX300s seem to be well made with a good finish. Do not expect them to look ultra sexy. They just do what they are supposed to do and that is to produce good sound. The wires are thin (only in comparison with the Shures), yes, but so are all other earphones in the similar price range. The 2 year guarantee supplied is also reassuring. Even with the thicker wires of the Shure E2c, I have read of consumers having trouble with the wires of the Shure rotting at vulnerable points and also complaints of general product faults although these are usually promptly replaced.
In summary, it is my opinion that the Sennheiser CX300s are a good investment for the money asked. OK, it will still be pricey to some (it might cost half or a third of the MP3 player you want to buy!) but I would say they are still worth it especially if you really like to listen to music properly. I think they are very good value for money ESPECIALLY when compared to a pair of Shures which cost an INSANE two to three times more but do not produce two to three times more of an improvement in sound quality. I love my Shures but would ALWAYS buy the CX300s over the Shures if not for the significant discount (resulted in a £10 difference) on the Shures and a moment of weakness on my part.
Do not just take my word for it. These things can be very individual. Ask to try it at the shops before you buy. Take your MP3 player with you so you can listen to a song you know well and hear the absolute improvement.