What better way to sell sports headphones than to team-up with one of the biggest global sportswear brands?
That's what Sennheiser has done; in collaboration with Adidas, it’s produced a five-strong sports in-ear range, with these ‘middle child’ PMX 685i Sports, the pricier of its two neckband-style models.
Build and design
The band won’t be ideal for all exercise – it might get in the way during floor work, gym-goers – but otherwise, does the job it’s cut out for: keeping the buds stable and secure on your head. It’s conveniently light and flexible for a universal fit, and the old-school plastic buds spring into your ears with little encouragement.
The Sennheisers are comfortable for the most part, though we found the buds’ minimal rubber coating a little hard on the ears an hour into a workout. Not everyone will be convinced that they look their price: the plastic frame is rather plain and embellishment doesn’t go beyond a tiny Adidas logo (they’re certainly a far cry from reflecting their original £60 price tag).
Yet, we don’t mind when the performance is so good. It’s hard to pick holes in their sound; a rich, weighty presentation is rare at this price, but the Sennheisers pull it off.
Play Kanye West’s Stronger and the robotic vocals bear a solidity that’s unmatched among its rivals. There’s plenty of low-end brunt to hand as the bass-line thumps through with depth and drive.
Detailed and precise, too, the synth-laden effects come in right on cue behind the vocals, the Sennheisers getting right under the track’s subtleties. And if you use music for motivation, their punch, pace and energy will see you through the toughest training session.
The downside? You may find that a lot of head movement causes the sound to change slightly as the buds shift around in your ears.
The single-sided 1.2m cable is practical for not getting caught up in wires, but less so is the layout of the 3-button in-line remote: the buttons are squashed closely together, so it’s hard to differentiate between them without looking – once mounted, the remote is too close to your ear to see the buttons. Puzzling.
You’re best learning the functions (the main ones being press the middle-button once to play/pause, twice to skip forward a track, thrice to go back) before use. You can also fast-forward and rewind through a song, and achieve simple call operations.
The shiny plastic Adidas-branded velcro-bag (much like the drawstring sports bags of the 90s) is a useful bonus for keeping them protected between training sessions.
Picture your gym routine. If it involves a lot of floor work, perhaps look elsewhere. Otherwise, these great-sounding headphones make a great fitness buddy.