Sennheiser PMX 686i SPORTS earphones review

Marc Terrano 17 July 2017 NEWS

Quick Verdict
The Sennheiser PMX 686i SPORTS earphones sound great and work well during workouts, but have a high price without offering Bluetooth capability.

Strengths

  • Won’t move or fall out during workouts
  • Great sound quality
  • Solid build quality

Could be better

  • Pricey
  • Lacks extra features
  • No size customisation

Click to purchase the Sennheiser PMX 686i SPORTS

Click to purchase the Sennheiser PMX 686i SPORTS from Amazon US site

Sennheiser’s sports earphones are pricey but won’t let you down mid-run. Purchase a pair today from Amazon.

View details

Sennheiser’s sports earphones are pricey but won’t let you down mid-run.

Sennheiser’s current lineup of sports earphones sits in a sort of sportsperson's no-man's land. With no wireless sports-specific earphones currently in the Australian market, running duty falls to the four wired models Sennheiser offers. The PMX 686i SPORTS is the only neckband-style set of earphones in this range.

Design

The PMX 686i SPORTS earphones clearly emphasise function over flair. They have a simple and elegant style which mixes green with muted greys and a touch of chrome. The cable has a small microphone built in, which was clear to listeners when we used the headphones to make phone calls. The three-button remote has a raised primary button which is easy to find mid-run. Overall the build quality on this headset is high. The cable is reinforced with para-aramid fibre so it doesn’t feel as flimsy as some cheaper headsets do. The neckband is light but sturdy, which is what you want for a pair of sports earphones. Unfortunately, the earphones lack any sort of customisation. It’s a one-size-fits-all product and tends to cater more towards small- to medium-sized heads. Some research suggested that past reviewers with larger heads found them uncomfortable. We found them to be snug but comfortable during extended runs and weights workouts. Neckband closeup

Functionality

The golden rule any sports headset must not break is that it doesn’t make your workout harder than it needs to be. Earphones shouldn’t hurt your ears, require constant fiddling or fall off your head midway through a workout. Happily, the PMX 686i SPORTS earphones regularly passed these tests during our review. They sat glued to my head and comfortable throughout numerous 7km runs and heavy compound weights sessions lasting around an hour each. The only exception to this was in situations where I had the back of my head against a surface. If you’re bench pressing, for example, the plastic neckband will awkwardly press against your head, making it a bit uncomfortable. That said, for my needs, this was only a minor inconvenience, and far from a deal-breaker. Like most quality sports earphones the PMX 686i SPORTS is water resistant and easily cleaned with running water. Another nice touch is that the ear adapters are made from SteriTouch antimicrobial material. This is useful for those stashing their headphones in damp gym bags or for those listening to some tunes after playing contact sports. Adapters closeup Outside of sports functionality, Sennheiser has taken a spartan approach with the PMX 686i SPORTS. There are no premium features like heart rate monitors or any bundled apps. In the box, you’ll receive a breathable velcro pouch and a cable clip. This is all capped off with a two-year warranty.

Set-up and sound quality

Because there's no wireless functionality, the PMX 686i SPORTS earphones are easy to set up. Plug them into your chosen device, pull the neckband over your neck and away you go. The cable runs on the shorter side at 1.2m but has just the right amount of slack to avoid noise while running. Coming from Sennheiser, the PMX 686i SPORTS would be surprising if it didn’t have good sound quality. They didn’t disappoint and had some grunt when it came to bass-dominant songs. They were equally impressive with podcasts, managing to balance out the clear, crisp sound of conversation. Sennheiser designed these earphones to allow some external sound to bleed through, keeping you aware of your surroundings. This can be useful for runners or bikers in city runs, though did have the disadvantage during one particularly windy run of making the podcast I was listening to barely audible.

Pricing

The biggest drawback to this headset is its price. Sennheiser advertises the PMX 686i SPORTS earphones on its website at $179.95 and some digging will find them for around $120. Even at this reduced price this is steep for a pair of wired sports earphones. This is especially true considering popular wireless sports earphones like the Plantronics Backbeat Fit are around the same price.

RetailerPrice
Sennheiser$179.95
Addicted to Audio$179.95
Scorptec$135.00
Mwave$119.00

Verdict

The Sennheiser PMX 686i SPORTS earphones are a worthy addition to any active person’s gym bag. They’ll provide superior sound and build quality and won’t interrupt your workout. The lack of a wireless option may scare off those who have put the cable life behind them, but they’ll work well for anyone who doesn’t mind plugging in for a price. Larger heads need not apply.

Latest Headphone reviews

Get more from finder

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on finder.com.au:

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com.au is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder only provides general advice and factual information, so consider your own circumstances, or seek advice before you decide to act on our content. By submitting a question, you're accepting our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.
Ask a question
Go to site