Sennheiser and Strauss & Wagner are two brands that I really appreciate for their constant output of quality audio products. Recently, Strauss and Wagner released the EM205, a new set of 3.5mm earphones. They just so happen to now go for the same price as another set of store-bought earbuds, the Sennheiser CX 100. From the outside, both models might not seem like much, but I found a lot of similarities between the two, and though it would be interesting to see where each earphone excels. Hopefully, this comparison will help you decide which thirty dollar earbuds are the right ones for you.
What You Get
There’s not much to say here other than how limited both earphones are in what accessories they offer. The CX 100 offers just one extra set of ear tips more than the EM205, but the EM205 includes a drawstring carrying pouch, in which the former does not. Not really the make or break qualities for your purchase, but worth noting.
Look and Feel
The theme across both earphones is their miniature housing design. The CX 100 especially has this tiny body where the ear tip ends up being considerably bigger than the earphone itself. The EM205 has a consistent architecture that presents a classy, more elegant design. It also features a stronger aluminum compared to the hard plastic makeup of the CX 100. It leaves the EM205 appearing like a more heavy-duty model next to the Sennheiser earbuds, which offer a lighter, toy-like aesthetic. However, no matter what each pair looks like it’s the fit that’s really going to make it or break it for most.
I’m happy to say that both models offer a secure, and comfortable fit that makes each pair seem invisible. It’s easy to forget they’re in your ears a lot of the time. The EM205 has a slight leg up in sound isolation, while the CX 100 delivers marginally better security from their tip selection. It isn’t easy to say which fit I prefer, as they’re almost at the same level of comfort. However, when accounting for the build, the EM205 is put at a slight advantage.
When I first started researching the EM205 I was quite surprised by the driver size, especially when considering the price point. It isn’t disclosed how big the drivers are on the CX 100, but you’ll usually find 6mm or 7mm drivers for these types of housing, and when taking into account how small the EM205 is, I thought being able to support a 9mm driver was a strong feat. The EM205 also has a feature that’s a significant inclusion which the CX 100 lacks, and that’s an attached mic and remote. WIth the EM205 you can make calls, access your voice assistant, and control playback from the onboard remote attached to the 3.5mm cable. It almost feels like an oversight that the CX 100 doesn’t include one. It gives the EM205 another significant reach above the Sennheiser model.
Aside from a small difference in impedance, both earphones feature a low resistance signal that is easy to drive for your smartphone or laptop.
With thirty dollar earphones, a good soundstage might be harder to come by. However, both the EM205 and CX 100 offer some of the best separation and imaging for the price. You won’t find the widest or most holographic stereo field, but both earphones offer an accurate representation of spatiality. The EM205 presents the largest image, while the CX 100 offers a more layered presentation of instrumentals. The EM205 seems to have the most inward depth due to the range of lows it presents, but the CX 100 has the most top-end flair. It surrounds your headspace more authentically than the EM205 even if you may get a more impactful sound out of the latter.
Bass response is bountiful on the CX 100, but the EM205 just delivers the better punch. Both earphones have similarly clean textures, but the CX 100 definitely leans a little more toward the warmer direction when it gets to the low-mids. If you prefer a warmer sound signature then the CX 100 might give you what you want, I just found more to like from the deep, resonant bass of the EM205.
The mid-range is placed more toward the front of the CX 100, with boosted mid-bands that give the sound signature a much-needed heft. In comparison, the E205 is still sufficient with its mid-range response, but it leaves too many notches that leaves it without much emphasis. However, vocal performances and instrumentals still appear clear and digestible.
The Treble response in both earphones is a bit shrill, but the CX 100 definitely has the most tonal smoothness out of the two. I found the highs on the EM205 to be too thin, but still maintained a strong presence in the sound field. Crash cymbals and high-hats are probably the most discerning element here, and make the best case for the EM205 in this area. However, the CX 100 outputs a much cleaner, more dignified treble that has more of a resonance.
Each earphone definitely has its quirks and at the end of the day has excellent value for their price. Both models offer a clean sound signature, with seamless fits and compact designs, however, if I had to go with one I would probably choose the EM205. I feel like I’ll get the most long-term benefits from them due to their superior build quality. If you prefer a more balanced response than a heavier image, then the CX 100 might be the one for you. Personally, if I’m looking for balance, I’d probably spend a bit more, but for an always immediately satisfying sound, the EM205 is my go-to thirty dollar pick.
|S&W EM205||Sennheiser CX 100|
|Impedance||32 Ohms||28 Ohms|
The Strauss & Wagner EM205 and Sennheiser CX 100 are available at Audio 46.
MAJORHIFI may get a commission from retail offers.