In the early days of the Apple iPod, users used to swap their headphones so that they were less of a target for thieves, but now that everyone has one it's not so much of an issue. But there's still a very real reason to swap the headphones — the Apple ones are crappy. Better than they used to be, but still pretty bad.
If you're looking to pay around AU$100 there's probably a handful of brands you should be looking at, but the one that sticks out is Sennheiser. But like any company it offers a lot of different options at this price level and not all of them are good. The one option that sticks out to us is the PX100: a natty pair of collapsible headphones that are lightweight and sound great.
They were released in 2002 or so, and in headphone terms this makes them pretty old. Time for an update, then.
As you'd expect, the mark II models share many similarities with its forebear: most notably in the folding design that emulates a pair of sunglasses and makes them super portable. The build quality on the new design is noticeably improved with the set now possessing further rigidity and a comfortable fit. The design of the earpieces is also updated and looks less like plastic Kmart wheel rims and more like a Goth's orienteering compass. Lastly, the cable has also changed and is now single-sided and a little shorter.
The PX100's had a very open mid-range and tight bass, but in our previous review we criticised its lack of treble sparkle. Well, Sennheiser has gone back and tweaked the formula, but the reticent treble remains. If we're generous we'll say that the sound is "tighter" overall, with a solid bass response and reigned-in mids. If we were truthful we'd say that the company has pumped up the bass at the expense of mid-range detail.
Do not take this to mean that the PX 100-II sounds bad because it doesn't. In fact it now sounds very similar to the AKG K 414 but in an open design.
Rock sounds best, and the set's ability to reign in mid-range hash means that the early Hives track A.K.A.I.D.I.O.T. was the most cohesive we've ever heard it. Bass drums were propulsive and vocals tight while cymbals bordered on sweet.
Yes, the Sennheiser PX100s were better, but the good thing is that they're still available in the short term. We'd go for them if given a choice, but if you're looking for a very sexy pair of over-ear cans that fold easily into your bag then the mark IIs are a very good option.