(Pocket-lint) - Increasingly often the supplied headphones that come with your new gadget are not worth listening too. Sennheiser think they have the solution with their CX 400 headphone. But are they worth an upgrade? We get listening to find out.

The CX 400 are of the in-ear type headphones, which are small enough to be fairly discreet in the ear. In the box you get a choice of three rubber cups to ensure a good seal in the ear canal. This seal is all important because it serves a multitude of functions: firstly to keep the bud in your ear, and secondly to block out external noise and ensure the best quality reproduction of sound, especially at the bass end of the range.

The sound quality is good as you’d expect from a company with audio pedigree like Sennheiser, but they are not the best, unfortunately. Whilst mid and high ranges seem to be reproduced fairly well, the bass did seem to be a little on the weak side. For general pop music there was no problem, but in more demanding tracks at higher volumes, we were a little disappointed. There is no question though, they are head and shoulders above most supplied headsets.

The thing that sets the CX 400 a part from just a normal set of headphones, is the cable length. The ear buds are attached to a cable only 60cm long. The intention here is to connect into a remote control or handsfree kit, such as those found on some mobile phones, like the Sony Ericsson W960i for example. However, if you are not going to do this, then you’ll need to use the 1m extension cable, unless your MP3 player is in your top pocket, or tucked into your cleavage.

Using the extension cable means you have an additional plug, which is fairly weighty increasing swing on the cable, unless you use the supplied clip. If you are someone that likes to have your music player in your hip pocket, or even your jacket pocket, then this is something of an inconvenience, as you then have excess cable to stuff in your pocket.

Also in the pack you get the cable clip already mentioned, a very special leatherette case, and a rubber cable winder to keep your ‘phones tidy.


Overall, the CX 400 are inconvenient for use as a straight-up headphone replacement – having to use the extension cable is an unnecessary faff. The sound quality is good, better than your default bundled headphones, but we found them to struggle in more demanding conditions.

Where the headphones come into their own is if you want to upgrade your mobile phone handsfree kit headphones, or music player remote, where you can plug straight into an existing extension unit. With that in mind, the CX 400 should be considered for this purpose, rather than a direct swap out, for example, for your iPod headphones.

Writing by Chris Hall.