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Sennheiser OCX 686G Sport Earbuds Review


 
When I was presented with an opportunity to review Senns OCX 686G SPORTS headphones, I took a closer look at their 4 models and found the main difference to be focused around fitment style. While MX 686 and CX 686 share the same slide-to-fit adjustable fin mechanism, they have a different type of earpiece design with CX being a more traditional in-ear, while MX being an earbud type with special ear caps. I find their style to be perfect for those who wear glasses and can't have anything going over their ears. PMX 686 features a lightweight neckband with earbud style headphones that enable a shallow fitment - convenient for raising awareness around you without too much sound isolation. The last one was OCX 686 which features a more traditional in-ear design with an ultra lightweight over-ear hook. I found OCX model to be suited better for my needs with a super secure fitment and a better sound isolation. All these headsets come with in-line remote where you can chose either Android or iPhone version (check each model since some might support one or the other). My write up will be focused on OCX 686G SPORTS (Android) model which I received for review. Here is what I found.

 
 

Arrived in a rather flashy compact package, you are greeted with a full scale view of OCX 686G under a plastic display cover. As you examine the front and the back of the box, you can learn a lot about its Samsung Galaxy compatibility, supporting a variety of other Android phones and tablets as well, all the detailed technical data (specs) and the list of included accessories, and also info about Steri-Touch material used in ear adapters which is anti-bacterial and IPX4 sweat and water resistant. Unfortunately, opening the box was a bit of a challenge, and I felt like I was opening my kids x-mas toys where the packaging always has a lot of plastic loops pinning the product down to the cardboard back. I do understand this enhances the visual presentation of the headset, but I did have to rip off a plastic cover glued to the cardboard back panel and use scissors to cut open all the plastic loops, though it was obviously not a showstopper.
 
Once out of the box, you will be amazed at how light these headphones feel. Trust me, the reference to “ultra lightweight” is not just a marketing hype, at slightly over 20g (including cable, remote, and everything else in-between) they really do feel lightweight! Along with headset, included were 3 sets of S/M/L eartips with a signature Sennhesier cross-bar at the top across the stem opening. I never found it to affect a sound signature, but it always works great as a stopper so you don’t push eartips too far into the nozzle. Senns also included a durable mesh storage pouch where instead of a traditional drawstring closure they used Velcro for a more secure storage. You can actually use this pouch to store your valuables, like keys or money while you are exercising. Cable clip was also included and already attached, making it convenient to secure cable to your cloth so it doesn’t dangle around. Also there was a comprehensive manual.
 
Looking closer at the design and the color, you can’t mistake it for anything else but a dedicated sports headphones. It's very clever to use a bright neon green color for additional visibility, especially when you are a runner. Plus, it raises awareness of the cable around exercise equipment - more contrast in comparison to a traditional black cable. Starting with a gold plated 3.5mm headphone plug, it's right angled with a molded strain relief. The plug itself is low profile and small enough to fit most of the smartphone cases. Though being flat, the cable actually has a unique slightly oval shape which helps in keeping it tangle-free and also reduces area of contact with your cloth to minimize microphonics effect. Y-splitter was integrated with in-line remote and has a good strain relief at the common side of it.
 
Usually, I'm not a big fan of in-line remote down at the y-splitter because that's where the microphone is located, and you want to keep it closer to your face. Here after a number of calls I was able to confirm mic having a decent sensitivity to pick my voice loud and clear without anybody complaining about the quality. The front of the remote has 3 rubbery sealed buttons with volume up/down and multifunction button in the middle. My "G" model had no issues controlling One Plus One, S5 & HTC Desire 526 volume, and Play/Pause/Call with a single click, skip Next with a double click, and long press for Google NOW. I was surprised that triple-click didn't work to skip Prev, but perhaps it could be configured with some headphone apps (like Jays headset control) by changing sensitivity of triple clicking.
 
Going up from in-line remote through a sliding chocker, cable snakes through a soft and a flexible sealed earhook which transforms into a plastic arm connected to the shell of earpiece. Ergonomics of the earhook shape is very comfortable, and you literally don't even feel like you're wearing these headphones. The shell is all plastic and features a sealed in-ear-canal design to block outside noise, no visible vents for the moisture to get in, though I wouldn't dare to submerge it in a water. Just nice to know you can run with these outside even during a light drizzle, and obviously they are IPX4 rated. They also have L/R marking with a little bump next to L to distinguish the side without even looking at it.
 
I honestly didn't have much expectations for OCX 686G sound performance considering it's a sports headset. I did give them a quick listen out of the box and found sound to be a little bassy with more focus on a low end. But I'm glad I waited a few more days of burn in before making my final judgment. That burn in rewarded me with a more balanced sound which still had an enhanced bass and slightly v-shaped signature. The first noticeable improvement was a sound being very open and airy with a rather good layering and separation. Soundstage really opened up with above the average depth and an average width.
 
I found low end to have a nice fast mid-bass punch with a moderate sub-bass support. Though bass did sound a bit hollow, it still had a nice impact to drive the rhythm, important to keep you going during work out. Also, it was surprisingly well controlled without any bloat spilling into lower mids. Upper mids were smooth and clear, but not very detailed. Maybe slightly recessed, but still nicely balanced with a low end. Treble had a good extension with a sparkle, and still remained sibilance-free and not harsh at all. The sound is definitely not an audiophile quality level one would expect from Sennheiser, but you have to realize these are SPORTS headphones where sound quality is not the highest priority. But nevertheless, they didn't let down in sound quality! Out of many similar sports headphones that I recently tested, I would say they are on the same level of sound quality as Monster iSport Victory, but 686G fitment and comfort level totally destroys Victory.
 
Overall, your fitment preference might vary but I found OCX 686G SPORTS model to be among the most comfortable sports headsets I ever tested! Super lightweight over-the-ear hooks and comfortable in-ear fitment contributed to a perfect design where these headphones feel almost like being glued to your ears, and you don't even feel like you are wearing them. Additional feature of being able to control audio playback of your Android phone including volume adjustment and being able to pick up and answer calls is just an icing on a cake! A decent sound quality where you can actually enjoy the music with a fun sound signature and without being drowned in a muddy bass bloat - that is a bonus!!! Yes, it's a Sennheiser pair of headphone, and no - they don't have a audiophile grade sound. But the fans of Sennheiser who trust the quality of German engineering will not be disappointed, and as a matter of fact, anybody who has been looking for a quality SPORTS wired headphones with a phone control (either Android or iOS specific) will be very pleased with this newly released 686 line!
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