The protective sleeves at the plug and earpiece ends, at least, are better made – and I like the fact that the plug at the end of the extension cable is a right-angled one. It means that it’s a lot easier to slip your player into a pocket without catching the cabling. And there’s further compensation for the flimsy cable: the earpieces have slightly angled tails, which means the cables hang vertically from them without straining against the sleeves; and the CX 95’s smart matte gold and black paint job is lovely to behold – in an understated sort of way.
But all of these considerations take a back seat when you hook these things up and start listening in earnest. I place great stall on first impressions with headphones and my immediate reaction on plugging in the CX 95’s and listening to the opening track from Newton Faulkner’s recent album, ”Handbuilt By Robots”, was “wow”.
The presentation was full of zingy detail and warm mid-range coupled with defined bass. The quiet atmospheric acoustic guitar was rendered perfectly: I could clearly hear the faint zip of fingers sliding on strings, the rattle and buzz of those strings as they came into contact with the fretboard and the hollow knocking of Faulkner’s knuckles as they beat the rhythm out on the front of his guitar. And as the pure sound of the acoustic guitars gave way to vocals and a bigger band sound, the CX 95’s coped superbly, with a balanced mid-range – vocals and studio instruments were all easy to pick out – and bass notes that thumped out with wonderful power and definition.
With some headphones you turn up the volume to try and hear more detail; with the CX 95’s I was turning up the volume for the hell of it – because I was enjoying the music so much. They’re clearly a significant step up from the company’s excellent CX 400’s – and anything else in this price range for that matter.
Next, I fired up some more relaxed jazz to test the CX 95’s ability to render voices and live music, and was just as impressed. Diana Krall’s smoky vocals wrap you up in their sensual silkiness yet consonants and sibilants retain an edge, and when her piano playing kicks in, the notes ring out effortlessly with purity and clarity that’s hard not to love.
For something a bit more energetic, I turned to the opening track from Biffy Clyro’s magnificent ”Puzzle” album – a perfect way to test power and control – and again was not left wanting. The CX 95’s balance comes through yet again: the music has power and drive without sounding woolly, muddy or ill-defined.