Sennheiser PX-95 Stereo Headphone Review

Discussion in 'Headphone Reviews' started by dalethorn, May 20, 2014.

  1. dalethorn

    dalethorn Obsessive Auditor

    Jul 3, 2011
    Charleston South Carolina
    Youtube review: Sennheiser PX-95 Portable Stereo Headphone review by Dale - YouTube


    Sources: iPhone5 with Portaphile Micro/PA2V2/Decware Zen Head amps using the LOD, various computers using Microstreamer/Beyer A200p/v-moda Verza DAC/amps.

    Review note: My first impressions of the sound of the PX95 are based on direct comparisons to other headphones - the v-moda M80 and M100, the Beyerdynamic DT1350 and T51p, the FAD Pandora IV and VI, and notes I've accumulated from many prior reviews. I describe how I relate to the PX95 (i.e. my personal tastes and how I use the headphone) only after covering all of the objective issues. Note that this headphone is completely open, with zero isolation and 100 percent leakage.

    My first impression of the PX95 was a near-hi-fi signature due to a full bass response and a smooth clear midrange. Like most small headphones however, the PX95 treble is very recessed, and you can see the extent of that in the graph that accompanies this review, or on my dalethorn website under photos and audioforge. As noted above, I don't judge that recess as an absolute, but only in comparison to numerous other headphones. I don't have access to any of the headphone manufacturers' design documents, but I suspect that these all-too-common and severe treble recesses are deliberate, to hide undamped resonances and other problems with low-cost headphones that customers would reject outright. Since I do hi-fi reviews only, the remainder of this review will assume compensation** for the PX95's treble recess.

    **The Audioforge Parametric Equalizer app that I use restores most of the missing highs without creating new peaks and recesses in the sound.

    Another photo that accompanies this review (or on my website under photos and Panasonic ZS40) shows both the $59.95 USD billing and the $47.95 retail price that wasn't removed before shipping to me, since the original vendor second-sourced the headphone and the second source second-sourced it again.

    When I removed the PX95 from the box, I was literally shocked at how cheap and flimsy it looked and felt, compared to the photos I'd downloaded from various websites. In spite of the extremely lightweight and spartan build, the finish is good and the cable, while thin, looks and feels very similar to the cable used with the $900 Sennheiser IE800 IEM. Ironically, the PX95 cable has far less microphonics than the IE800 cable. The PX95 cable is double-entry and uses a standard right-angle miniplug. It's not detachable, and does not have controls or a microphone. I removed one of the flat foam earpads, which tucks into the flange on the earcup like most of these small headphones, to get a look at the driver. The drivers appear to be 40 mm as best I could measure, but strangely, the surface of the driver was two-toned at least - rather dark on one side and much lighter on the other side. The earpads are larger than the PX-100II earpads, and don't look to be interchangeable.

    The PX95 sound quality and dynamics seem quite good - exceptional for a tiny $60 (or possibly $47.95) headphone, noting the treble compensation as stated above. One of my favorite test tracks (aside from the music samples listed below) is the "Organ Pedal Scale" sample from the Chesky test disc (or HDTracks download). This track played with good detail and fundamental weight, and it's not just an exception - in the Beethoven music sample listed below I noted an excellent bass performance. Another great test track is the Tutt-Keltner drum improvisation, which is very revealing of transient responses. I played this side-by-side with the PX95 and Beyerdynamic DT1350 (T51p earpads), and the DT1350 was obviously cleaner and more detailed on the drum hits. The DT1350 also had much better extension and detail on the top end when playing the cymbals. In spite of these results, when the PX95 is played on its own the overall sound seems quite good.

    My summation of the sound is that the PX95 may be OK out of the box for portable use for most customers, and OK for non-critical hi-fi use indoors when a proper EQ is applied to restore some or all of the recessed treble. I'm aware when I'm doing a hi-fi listen of the less-detailed bass reproduction, and I'm not even certain of the level of bass distortion because it may be smoothed over by that lack of perfect detail, yet I find the bass enjoyable for the music I've played. The midrange may not be perfect, but I don't hear any bothersome colorations, so I'd say the midrange is excellent. The treble is tricky if the EQ isn't ideal or is boosted even a little too much, since the raggedness of the high frequencies that's being hidden by the recess becomes noticeable with a treble boost. But when the EQ is done right, the sound is much better than I'd expect for what it cost, and even competitive with headphones in the mid-$100's USD.

    The comments in the music tracks listed in this review can be compared to other headphone reviews I've done, to get an idea of how the PX95 plays the different types of music listed here compared to other headphones. My suggestion is instead of reading each comment below as an absolute unto itself, you could compare these notes to other reviews as they get posted, and see how the PX95 compares with each individual track.
    Last edited: May 20, 2014
  2. dalethorn

    dalethorn Obsessive Auditor

    Jul 3, 2011
    Charleston South Carolina
    PX-95 review part 2 - music samples.

    Animotion - Obsession (1980's New Wave/Techno): The upper bass synth has excellent detail and tone with a modest weight, and both male and female vocals sound natural without favoring either. The PX95 plays this very well.

    Bauhaus - Bela Lugosi's Dead (~1980): Strong midrange sound effects - this is a good worst-case test for resonant-type sounds in the most sensitive midrange area. Handled very well by the PX95.

    Beethoven Symphony 9, Solti/CSO (1972): Excellent overall sound. Of special note here are the bass impacts beginning around 10:30 of the fourth movement. Those impacts are soft and well in the background, but you can really feel the weight they carry with the PX95. This bass result was surprising, since many of my full-size headphones don't perform this well.

    Black Sabbath - Iron Man (Classic Rock): Very good instrumental detail and the vocal sounds very natural. As with most classic rock tracks, there is very little or no deep bass. The PX95 plays this music smoothly, and the lack of deep bass doesn't unbalance the treble.

    Boz Scaggs - Lowdown (1976): Good sound quality - this is a great test for any nasality in the midrange. Handled extremely well by the PX95.

    Cantus - Danny Boy (Traditional/Male Choral/Acapella): The PX95 plays the voices with enough low end warmth and weight to sound very natural, yet there is no added emphasis of the lower register of the male voices on this track.

    Cath Carroll - Moves Like You (1980's New Wave/Techno): This track's percussion and voice are crisp and well-balanced, and there's a good sense of space or soundstage around the voices and instruments. The PX95 reproduces the space and detail convincingly.

    Catherine Wheel - Black Metallic (~1991): Goth with industrial overtones - I like this since it's a great music composition and the sound effects are smoothly integrated into the mix. This may sound distorted or mushy with some headphones, but the PX95 renders the deliberate instrumental distortions clearly.

    Chris Isaak - Wicked Game (Pop/Rock): The PX95 plays this high treble energy recording very smoothly - the voice and instruments are detailed but not sharp or edgy.

    Chromatics - I'm On Fire (Synth-Pop, female lead): This track has a good amount of space around the voice and instruments, making for a very pleasant stereo image. The voice is excellent, and the tambourine is not only identifiable as such, but has better-than-average tonality.

    David Hazeltine - Fur Elise (Jazz): A very high-quality recording from HDTracks. The PX95 reproduces the instruments smoothly with a spacious ambiance. The wire-brush-on-cymbal harmonics are extended and detailed, but even with the treble EQ the upper harmonics are blunted.

    Grieg (Beecham-Royal Philharmonic) - Peer Gynt-Solveig's Lullaby (Classical): This very old (late 1950's) stereo recording must have been made on the most expensive gear in the world, since the overall sound quality and especially Ilse Hollweg's amazing voice are as close to "being there" as I've heard with some of the better classical recordings made since the year 2000. The PX95 plays this music perfectly.

    Hans Zimmer - Dark Knight-Aggressive Expansion (Soundtrack): The percussion in this track hits really hard, and the bass tones beginning around 0:45 have the ultra-deep "shuddery" kind of sound and feel that indicates a good deep-bass response. Overall, the PX95 plays this music very well.

    Heaven 17 - Let Me Go (1980's New Wave/Techno): The bass instrument (guitar?) has very good detail, and the voices and ambiance have a "you are there" quality that's uncommon in early 1980's pop music. The PX95 does an excellent job with this track.

    Hugo Audiophile - 15-16 (Electronic): I'm not sure what the 15-16 stands for - perhaps track numbers from a CD album. The deep-bass tones that start around 33-34 seconds into the track reproduce fairly well with the PX95. This is a great recording for evaluating whether a headphone's bass will be sufficient for most environments, since for many headphones that have a weaker bass, the deep bass gets absorbed and mostly lost when the environment contains a lot of low-frequency energy.

    Human League - Keep Feeling Fascination (1980's New Wave/Techno): This track's bass line is very detailed, but the somewhat forward voices don't have quite the "you are there" quality of the Heaven 17 track noted above.

    Jimmy Smith - Basin Street Blues (early 60's): This track has several loud crescendos of brass and other instruments that don't sound clean and musical with some headphones. The PX95 provides excellent detail. Listen particularly to the second crescendo at 15 seconds in for maximum detail effect. I'd like to emphasize that these crescendos are probably the worst-case test I have for instrument separation and detail, and the PX95 does those extremely well.

    Kellogg Auditorium, Battle Creek Michigan, Aeolian-Skinner Organ (1933) - Pedal, 32', Resultant, Arpeggio: This 16 hz organ pedal tone differs from other music tones in that you won't "hear" the tone - you'll only feel it. Although most music tones have harmonics (including this one), the harmonics from this tone will be too weak to provide any "feel", so whatever you actually hear would not be part of the fundamental 16 hz tone. There are ~30 hz sounds in the outdoor environment in big cities, generated by large trucks, buses, and subway trains, and they have a quality of "rumble" that's similar to some deep-bass tones found in music. This 16 hz organ tone is easily distinguished from those sounds when compared on a headphone that has good undistorted response at 16 hz. The PX95 reproduces the fundamental tone pretty well, but with less detail than many of the larger headphones.

    Mantovani - Sunrise Sunset (Easy Listening, ca. 1972): A master musician and conductor who specialized in light classics and orchestral pop music, Mantovani's accomplishments were overshadowed by music critics who couldn't tolerate the notion of "light classics" or "semi-classical" music, even when those recordings were no threat to the classical music genres. In any case the later Mantovani recordings from the mid-1960's through mid-1970's had the advantage of being mixed for much better hi-fi systems than those which the music critics possessed at the start of the Long Playing (LP) record cycle. Here in 2014, at least some of those digital remasters have improved the sound further, although it's not always the case. This track as played on the PX95 is an excellent example of the sheer musicality lurking in those later recordings, and is highly recommended for soundstage, instrumental tone, and musical balance.

    Michael Tilson Thomas - Rhapsody In Blue (20th Century Classic): Great sound and soundstage, and terrific piano playing and tone. There are some very deep bass impacts starting around 38 seconds into the 17:24 length track, and the weight of those impacts is subtle but appreciable with the PX95.

    Porcupine Tree - Trains (Pop-Rock): This track opens with some nicely-detailed string sounds and a forward-sounding male voice with a higher-than-average register. There are a series of "clip-clop" effects starting at 3:19 that should sound like they were made with wooden blocks of some kind. The PX95 reproduces those sounds faithfully.

    Richard Strauss (Mester-Pasadena) - Also Sprach Zarathustra (opening) (Classical): The granddaddy of bass is in the opening 1:50 of this recording, and I've heard it only once on a large and expensive loudspeaker system in Cleveland. For most people, that experience would be indistinguishable from being in a fairly strong earthquake. The PX95 conveys that experience in a subtle but convincing way. The tympani also have good impact here.

    Scarlatti-Kipnis - Sonata in E Major K381 (Classical, Harpsichord): The harpsichord here is fairly bright and highly detailed, and while the PX95 renders the tones and transients pretty well when using a good amp like the Portaphile, the upper harmonics are somewhat dull when using an iPod or iPhone alone.

    Trombone Shorty - Backatown (Jazz-Funk): The deep bass impacts here are quite strong, and work very well with the horns and other instruments. The PX95 delivers the impacts with great weight and fair detail, and the horns have the kind of bite that gives them a realistic sound.

    William Orbit - Optical Illusion (Billy Buttons Mix) (Electronic): This is about as close as I want to get to easy-listening music. The string tones beginning at 0:18 are fairly soft, and while the bass isn't very deep, it still adds a good underpinning to the music. The short poetic rap at 4:14, preceded by an etherial female voice, works very well with this track.
  3. andi.f.k

    andi.f.k Casual Listener

    Mar 21, 2015
    replacement earpads

    Does anyone know if the earpads from PX100 are the same as the ones for PS95?

    I have lost my earpads on my PX95 and can't find any place to buy them from.
  4. dalethorn

    dalethorn Obsessive Auditor

    Jul 3, 2011
    Charleston South Carolina
    Look up the following UK website and then call their number. I couldn't find the PX95 earpads in a search.

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