There is always a need for specialised products meant for those who perform sports or vigorous activities; and this is exactly what Sennheiser has to offer from its Sports series of earphones. We look at the Sennheiser PMX 686G today.
Sennheiser's nomenclature is really confusing, when searching online you’ll see many varied prices as well as different models of the 686 sports line, thankfully visiting the official site clears up the confusion. There are basically four variants in the 686 sports line, MX 686, CX 686, OCX 686 and the PMX 686 which we are reviewing today. Each has a “G” and an “I” variant, “G” is for Android devices and “I” for iOS compatibility. All look almost the same with same colour scheme but have differences essentially in fit and design.
Build and Design: 7.5/10
These earphones are designed for only one thing in mind, to never fall off during vigorous sports activities. The neckband style with uniquely shaped ear buds that push against the ear ensure that they never do.
Personally though, I found them quite uncomfortable after more than 10 minutes of use, depending on the shape of your head your mileage would vary. Interestingly, this wasn’t just my complain but also my sister’s who took them out for a jog. I believe the clamp force is strong which would loosen a bit over a period of time.
The neckband is quite thoughtfully made; it is of stretchable plastic and has plenty of room for twisting and adjustment. It is also designed in a way that it doesn’t slowly slide down one’s hair. What I really like is that Sennheiser has placed a reflector at the back of the neckband, a nice touch when it comes to running in the night to warn motorists.
The earphones aren’t your suction cup style, so they don’t completely cover your ears, therefore when running you’ll tend to hear a little whizzing sound coming through the small gap. On the upside, this adds to situational awareness when running on the street with traffic passing by.
The earphones cable is also smartly designed; first it hangs from only one side therefore not coming in the way of sports activities, second the cord is tangle-free, third due to the nature of “Para-aramid-reinforcement”, the cable is strong and has a stretchable nature to it, fourth there is lesser cord noise than many earphones when running and fifth, the L-shaped connector is great for connecting devices in the pocket or arm like FiiO M3 player.
Interestingly, the PMX 686G earphones are water and sweat resistant. The operative word being “resistant”, meaning don’t dive into the pool with these earphones and expect them to survive, however these can certainly withstand light to medium rain.
Sweat on the other hand is a different beast; it doesn’t have the same consistency of rain water. The PMX 686G certainly takes all this into consideration and doesn’t let any of the sweat enter into the earphones openings. So confident is Sennheiser that they recommend one to wash these earphones under tap water to clean them out after a particularly hard workout.
Despite this, every electronic item has some limits, some users online have reported a few problems such as the anti-bacterial ear buds coming off and the included cable-clip rusted after less than four months of use, all supposedly due to excessive sweating. Thankfully with the 2-years warranty, customer support was quick to respond to these grievances.
The audio performance of these earphones is good. Around the similar price point however, I’ve heard better earphones with much better clarity than these, Brainwavz S3’s come to mind. I’ve generally noticed Sennheiser earphones around this price range to have a typical “Sennheiser pronounced highs”, which surprisingly these earphones do not.
The bass is good in these earphones and not overpowering unlike Sennhieser’s CX 3.00. I had to make a few adjustments to get the ear phones to sit right into my ears for better bass performance. However, as mentioned before these earphones were not comfortable to wear to the point where I was constantly adjusting the earphones to lessen the pain and therefore losing bass response in the bargain.
The mids and the highs are well balanced too, but sound doesn’t really standout. There’s no real power to the snare drums nor would you feel crispness of sound. This of course is in comparison to non-sports class earphones as mentioned above. Honestly, these earphones are not meant to impress the audio enthusiast, they are meant to give a good sound with an excellently developed package around sports activities which Sennheiser has managed to do.
Call Quality: 7.5/10
The call quality is good, loud and clear. For the person on the opposite end, there was no difficulty listening to my call, all thanks to the mic which is close to the left ear. This is an omni-directional mic, so in traffic it will pick up background noise as well.
Verdict and Price in India
So would I recommend the Sennheiser PMX 686G Sports earphones? Yes, to those who need sturdy earphones for sports activities. This is a really well thought out package and does the job well. I wouldn’t recommend these to those who’d want the most out of their music in this price point.
Coming to price point, Rs 6,880 (approx. street price) is quite a bit to shell out on these earphones. From the sound standpoint, these earphones aren’t worth in this price point but the entire package put together might just be. I say might, as it typically depends on your priorities and comfort level. You’ll find Sennheiser’s old PMX 80 II itself for half the price but that is a review for another day.
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