Sennheiser has got just about every possible application and environment covered when it comes to headphones and has recently expanded its range further with five new additions to its Sport Line.
The CX 380 Sport II on test is a new in-ear model and carries similar benefits to the rest of the range. It's water-resistant, sweat-resistant, performs in temperatures down to -10 degrees - useful if you're into winter-sports - and utilises a "sport-optimised secure fit" to prevent them falling out.
The design is undoubtedly "sporty", mainly due to the fact that the cable and earpieces are finished in a rather luminescent orange. The cable itself measures a lengthy 1.5m, a choice we're assuming is intentional to offer more flexibility and prevent a player from being yanked out of a pocket during strenuous activity.
This is a bit of a double-edged sword however, since aside from looking a little untidy there's more chance of something this long getting caught if not properly secured; perhaps an optional extension cable, as favoured by Sony, would have been a better choice.
Aside from the aforementioned colour scheme and waterproof design the CX 380 Sport II doesn't offer any particular bells and whistles, but assuming Sennheiser can maintain its excellent standards for audio quality this should be enough to appeal.
The first thing we noted, after experimenting with the three sets of supplied silicone ear-tips to find the optimal fit, was that the lightweight, balanced design is indeed quite effective in terms of keeping them in place. Despite some fairly frantic running and jumping about the earphones held firm and rarely needed realigning, which is certainly not something that can be said for in-ear ‘phones as a whole.
The design is optimised for use with portable players such as mobile phones and iPods and we were predictably impressed by the well-balanced sound on offer, with distinctive bass and clear separation of high- and mid-tones making for an enjoyable experience. They're perhaps not as dedicated as some of the high-end alternatives on offer from rivals like Shure and we've heard deeper, more rounded bass from rivals, but as solid all-rounders there's not a lot to complain about in terms of clarity.
Supplied with the earphones are the additional eartips, a rubber carry-case with a magnetic clasp, presumably to make it easy to get at them in a hurry or while wearing gloves, and a clip to help keep the cable tucked away.
The CX 380 Sport II are at the top-end of the in-ear range from the sports line yet considering the advantages on offer are still quite reasonably priced. Despite some minor design issues, if you're in the market for something that will last and are concerned about the effects of water, sweat and temperature these should certainly put your mind at rest.