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Sennheiser PMX 686G Sports Earbud Neckband

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Introduction

Sennheiser recently rounded off its sports line-up with mid-range earbuds acclaimed for their design, stability and quality of sound, the PMX 686G. Promoted mainly for its design and build merits, the headset is ideal for runners and other sportsmen, particularly in rainier climates, as it boasts waterproof and greaseproof capabilities.The look and feel of the earbuds gets this review off on the right track, even though Apple fans may be disappointed to hear that they were designed for Android devices, and so compatibility levels for iPods and iPhones are low. With this headset, what you see is what you get: a rigid, one-size neckband that some say can be uncomfortable at times, but the quality of the sound delivered balances out this setback splendidly, by all accounts.

Build Quality & Design

The headset is stable enough to allow you to work out and enjoy your music to the full. As you’d expect of earbuds, they drown out the noise and they don’t slide on your hair, however much you may be bouncing about. It features an inline smart remote with buttons that are not quite flush with the casing, but not too obtrusive, either. The vertical, in-ear design ensures greater awareness of your surroundings than bulkier, on-ear or over-ear headsets, which ultimately means you’re safer. The single cord is also far more convenient than a standard double cord, eliminating those awkward moments when you need to unwind your wires, and you need it yesterday.

The earbuds feature durable plastics, accented with chrome and padded with a silicone material. The ear adapters feature state-of-the-art antimicrobial adapters courtesy of SteriTouch. The cables are flexible, and can easily be coiled up and stashed into the pouch provided or a coat pocket.They feature water and sweat resistant materials, robust yet delicate enough to allow for use with some water sports, though not recommended for extensive wear under water. The odd jog on a rainy day should not pose too much trouble, though. Unfortunately, they only come in a bitonal dark green/grey and white version, with a lime green cable, arguably a colour combination that works well in sports contexts.

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Sound Quality

When it comes to sound, tone and clarity, the PMX 686G is not your everyday headset. These earbuds deliver an impressive sound, with a volume that’s slightly too strong for most when it’s set at maximum, but it will certainly not disappoint those who like to pump up the volume in very noisy, crowded places. To that end, the earbuds cancel out background noise quite well, and the passive noise isolation performance is great for commuting, gym workouts and crowded environments. They also leak very little sound, even though they’re not airtight. They take a couple of hours to break in, or for the ears to accommodate, whichever way you like to look at it.

Fortunately, high notes don’t ring in your ears, but the headset is not specifically made to crank up the volume to deafening levels, so some distortion can occur with volume. With mid-range frequencies and softer pitches, though, the headset performs splendidly. The sound pressure level is reported to be as high as 120 dB, a decent level by all accounts, with frequencies ranging from 18 Hz to 20 Gz, extensive enough to catch every detail. With an impedance of 30 Ohm, it will work well on most portable devices, and it will also not disappoint when coupled with an amp.The cable can be worn outside and underneath the clothes with almost the same effect.

Friction with clothing doesn’t alter the quality of the sound. While the microphone renders good vocal recording, it also picks up background noise. The earbuds don’t have suction cups, so they can’t be jammed in the ear canal for an airtight fit. Still, they won’t move around as you move your jawbone, meaning there’s no need to readjust them for optimal sound.

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Features Exclusive to the PMX 686G

One important aspect is that the adapters on the buds have antimicrobial properties, as mentioned above, which makes them ideal for those concerned with their hygiene and health. Another very important feature is the fact that they are sweat and water resistant, something competing brands can’t boast. The cable is reinforced with para-aramid fibres for extra strength and durability. They’re tangle-free and smoothly textured. The kit also comes with a handy, light, breathable pouch for easy storage, as well as a cable clip for sturdy fastening.

The headset is compatible with Samsung Galaxy, Sony, HTC, LG, and other Android smartphone and tablet brands. With iOS powered devices, you may not be able to adjust your volume from your inline remote. Different devices have different levels of compatibility, though, so it’s best to test this model or similar ones on your phone before you go ahead an buy. Having said all this there is now in fact a dedicated iOS version of these headphones already available in Europe and we assume Sennheiser will launch in the States as well. Look for “PMX 686i SPORTS”.

We didn’t get ahold of these but we suspect it will address all these iOS compatibility issues.The jack plug is 3.5 mm in diametre and single-sided for less tangling. It’s also angled for greater durability.which can be an issue when your MP3 player or phone isn’t large enough to peek out slightly of your pocket, as the cable may disconnect.

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Verdict

When all is said and done, there’s hardly anything about the PMX 686G that could be held against it. The sound is crisp and engaging, the colour is cheerful, the earbud adapters are antimicrobial, the neckband is light and sturdy, the single cord is flexible and durable, and the whole ensemble makes for a great personal entertainment unit on a cold, rainy day. The price range isn’t all that surprising, quite to the contrary; there are similar headsets with a considerably heftier price tag, and the style, waterproofing and antimicrobial capabilities on this headset clearly give it an edge. If you’re looking for a lightweight, perky, stylish and reliable headset to accompany you come rain or shine, then you’re likely to find the PMX 686G is all that and a bag of crisps.

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Specifications

Impedance 30 Ω
Frequency response 18–20.000 Hz
Sound pressure level (SPL) 120 dB (1 kHz/1 Vrms)
THD (total harmonic distortion) <0.5%
Jack plug 3.5 mm; angled
Cable length 1.2 m single-sided cable
Pick-up pattern Omnidirectional
Sensitivity as per 121 TR 9-5 –44 dB V/Pa

 

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Sennheiser PMX 686G Sports Earbud Neckband Headset Review:8.2

BUILD QUALITY & DESIGN 8.5/10.

SOUND QUALITY 8.4/10.

COMFORT 8.2/10.

FEATURES 7.6/10.

PRACTICALITY 8.4/10.

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PROS

  • – Very practical in sports conditions.
  • – Great Sound Quality.
  • – Goes up to the max!.
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CONS

  • – Lack of proper iOS compatibility with controls (but addressed in other version).
  • – Goes up to the max!.

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