Sennheiser CX495 review

A fine successor to the multi-award-winning CX300 series Tested at £35

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

Sennheiser’s done it again – if you’re after a pair of upgrade earphones for your portable, these are a brilliant bargain


  • +

    Refined yet punchy sound

  • +

    well balanced tonally

  • +

    compact and comfy


  • -

    Might be a little too controlled for some

Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.

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 performance
The 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.

So, 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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What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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