• Sennheiser CX495
Our Verdict 
Sennheiser’s done it again – if you’re after a pair of upgrade earphones for your portable, these are a brilliant bargain
For 
Refined yet punchy sound
well balanced tonally
compact and comfy
Against 
Might be a little too controlled for some
Reviewed on

These are the successors to Sennheiser’s multi-Award-winning CX300 series earphones – so while they look damn-near identical to those old favourites, it goes without saying that we plug them into our ears with high hopes. No pressure, Sennheiser…

In use they’re every bit as good as the earphones they replace. They have a fine balance all the way across the frequency range: nothing is overblown, everything nestles comfortably in its own sonic space, and instruments rarely if ever blur into each other.

Open-sounding performanceThe stereo image is more expansive than most rivals, too, which makes for an open-sounding performance that’s shot through with detail and finesse. This also means the CX495s are easy to listen to for long periods – ideal for when you’re caught on the train by the wrong type of leaves on the line, then.

Play something upbeat such as Bonobo’s frenetic Flutter, and the Sennheisers respond as you’d hope, picking up rhythms and handling them in a precise, punchy and purposeful way – but without sacrificing subtlety.

Go downtempo to The Camera by Lemongrass and that iron grip remains, but the CX495s still let the louche nature of the track amble along musically.

More after the break

VerdictSo, it’s the full-five stars, then. But with one qualification: for all these earphones exhibit the kind of deftness we’d expect at double the price, they might retain a little too much control over proceedings for some listeners.

That’s not necessarily a minus point, but if you like a little more new-puppy-style enthusiasm, you might want to listen to the SoundMagic E10s before you part with your cash…

MORE: Best in-ear headphones to buy in 2014

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