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Sennheiser CX 95 Style Canalphones
When it comes to headphones, you have three basic choices to make. You either go for 'cans' that fit over the top of your head and sit on or around your ears; you can choose earbuds - which hang just on the cartilage 'hook' of your ear; or you can plump for canalphones, the type that you shove right down your ear canals.
The latter has experienced a huge uptake in popularity in the past few years. Once the idea of inserting a foreign object deep into my ears seemed an objectionable concept; now it seems second nature - and earbuds are slowly but surely being consigned to also rans.
It's easy to see why this is happening: the passive sound isolation you can achieve with a snug-fitting pair of canalphones allows you to get closer to the music without having to crank the volume up to deafening levels, and the design has proved so popular that all sorts of variations on the theme have sprung up.
Fittings range from triple-flanged rubber cones that go deep inside your ear to single fitments that sit just at the end. The latter is where Sennheiser's latest canalphones - the CX 95 Style - sit. These are headphones for those who may not yet be convinced or converted by the canalphones concept: they're designed to plug just the outer part of your ear canal not go right in. As a result they're pretty comfortable to wear. Even someone not used to wearing in-ear headphones will get used to these pretty quickly and their light weight means they don't tug at your lugs as other headphones can.
In the box there's plenty of scope for different ear sizes too: small, medium and large fittings are supplied in the box, though I was a little disappointed to see no foam tips. There are other handy accessories, though. You get a sturdy hard case with the CX 95s with a central cable winder, along with a metre-long extension cable, should the 30cm-long captive cable be too short.
The light weight of these headphones and mid-range cost - a reasonable £63 - aren't without their downsides. They don't feel like the most robust phones I've ever used. The cable is the chief culprit here: it feels thin and flimsy, and I was quite nervous about catching it in my jacket zip. Ultimate Ears' Super.fi 4's were much better in this respect, combining thick cabling with a remarkable resistance to tangling. The cables on Shure's headphones are also thicker and feel more hardwearing than this. The earpiece bodies are light, too - they don't feel as well-made as the hefty, metal-bodied Super.fi 4s or the Cerulean X1's I reviewed last year.