The headphones are in-ear headphones with an asymmetrical 'Y' design: this means the cord to the left ear bud is significantly shorter than the cord to the right one, causing the main stretch of cable to hang towards the left. The headphones feature removable sleeves, and their nozzles are guarded with a metallic mesh.
An inch below the neck split you'll find a microphone pendant. On one side of the pendant is a small indentation with three slits, one of which is the microphone. The reverse side of the pendant has a button, which can be used to hang up calls, pause music playback, or perform other functions depending on the device the headphones are connected to.
The cord ends in a standard 1/4-inch plug and doesn't feature much of a cord guard.
In the MM50 iPs' box, you'll find the headphones and three sleeves.
Since in-ear headphones are so small, they really don't have much on them to break. The MM50 iPs seem a good quality overall, but they do have a potential Achilles Heel. The MM50 iPs don't have a particularly good cord guard at its plug. Cord guards help prevent the cord from bending too harshly at the plug, which can cause wear and tear damage or even shearing. To reduce the risk of wire wear, make sure the plug sticks straight up from your cell phone or media player when the device is in your pocket.
UPDATE: Someone in the office went out and bought a pair of these shortly after these headphones were reviewed. As of November 2nd, about three months after this was written, the microphone button has stopped working entirely. It was definitely related to the poor cord guard. The person in question reported any movement at the cord guard could send the signal that the microphone button was pressed down. We strongly recommend taping up this junction, adding some kind of splint, or otherwise stopping the cord from bending at the cord guard too sharply.
The MM50 iP headphones are tiny, so there's not a lot of room for aesthetic flair. We generally think they look better than the average in-ear headphone, and their black coloration will help anti-Apple consumers set themselves apart from the iPod crowd. If you want really good aesthetics from a set of in-ear headphones, check out anything by V-MODA, such as the Vibe Duos, which are also a headset.
The Sennheiser MM50 iP headphones didn't have a bad frequency response. First of all, many bass enthusiasts will love these headphones: the low end is very loud. Towards the mid-range frequencies, the lines both dip ever-so-slightly below our bottom limit. Though they will sound quieter than the bass, they won't sound overly quiet. Towards the high end, there's a bit of a spike around 7 kHz. This is the pitch of spoken sibilance, and the initial impact sound of some drums (known as the attack). After that point, however, the graph drops down fairly quickly. This isn't unusual: typically headphones underemphasize the really high pitches. Here the MM50 iPs go a bit overboard, but not by much. If your song has a lot of really high-pitched sounds, they might have some issues with erratic emphasis.
Overall: great bass and a good overall frequency response, although the high end might sound like it fades in and out randomly.
Well, the MM50 iPs get beat out by the V-MODA Vibe Duos for the boomiest bass, but otherwise perform well. The high end isn't any more or less erratic than any of the headphones pictured here. They performed about as well as the Apple iPod in-ears, but with much better bass. If you're a purist, and therefore want the least artificial emphasis, then the ER6is are your best bet. Typical users will be fine with the MM50 iPs, however.
The Sennheiser MM50 iP headphones have hardly any distortion at all. Your playback will sound just like the original source file. If you're an audiophile looking for distortion-free in-ears, the MM50 iPs will be happy to meet your needs.
Well, based on numbers alone it's pretty obvious that the MM50 wins this round. The headphones that came the closest were the Bose QuietComfort 3s, but you can clearly see how there's a bit of distortion in the low end. All the other graphs have noticeable peaks in them and, somewhat less noticeably, tend to hover around the 1% distortion level throughout.
The MM50 iP headphones actually performed pretty well on this test. The line stays within a 2 decibel range of neutral, which is virtually inaudible. Towards the high end there's a dramatic shift, but headphones usually have troubles with frequencies that high. Plus, the shift is rather minor, just eight decibels.
On the tracking graph, it's usually quite apparent why a pair of headphones got the score they did. The one thing to keep in mind: we don't score the extreme high or low end. In this case, a straight line dead across center is ideal. Knowing this criteria, it's easy to see why the 6isolators have the best score. The Denons managed to just barely beat the MM50 iPs because the MM50 iPs tend to wander around a bit more. The other headphones have obvious deviations from the ideal flat line.
The Sennheiser MM50 iP headphones were capable of outputting 121.80 decibels, which was enough to reach our perfect score cut-off point. Really, any louder than 120 decibels isn't going to do much by worsen your hearing. This decibel level is about what's output by an airplane engine. There are myriad reasons why you shouldn't insert an airplane engine into your ear, and one of them is a dangerously high decibel level. If you like it loud, however, the MM50 iP headphones are more than happy to oblige.
The Sennheiser MM50 iP headphones did a pretty good job of blocking out ambient noise. Like most in-ear headphones, it performed well in the middle range, which is where most noise-cancelling headphones have a lot of trouble. The MM50 iPs didn't block out a ton of lower frequency noise, however, so low rumblings aren't a particular strong suit. On a commute via bus -- and especially by train, since there's often a lot of metal-on-metal squeals -- the MM50 iPs should hold their own.
Compared to other in-ear headphones, the MM50 iPs were just about average. The 6isolators performed the best, but they also came with triple-flange sleeves: the bane of high-pitched frequencies. Though the MM50 iPs aren't the best isolators out there, they will out-perform the typical in-ear headphones and noise-cancelling on-ear or over-ear.
The Sennheiser MM50 iP headphones won't leak your playback very far. Realistically you should have nothing to worry about. The only scenario we can fathom where an outsider would overhear the MM50 iPs' playback is if you were listening at max volume and someone was sitting next to you in a library. In this case, turn down your music because it's a quiet room. Seriously, turn it down: I read on the Internet that loud iPods can make you deaf!
The MM50 iP headphones are pretty comfortable. They don't exert much pressure on the inside of your ear, although, like most in-ear headphones, you never really forget you're wearing them. There were three sizes of sleeves (the rubbery part that fits on the ear bud and ventures into your ear canal), which is what you'll find packaged with most headphones. We were lucky enough to have adequate ear size/shape, however, so we didn't run into any issues.
As always, we highly recommend trying out headphones before you buy them, preferably for upwards of six hours at a time. Until we build a robot that allows us to measure comfort for every ear size and comfort preference, we'll only be able to give you the general consensus around our office. We have robot builders building around the clock to remedy this situation.
After six hours we really didn't notice any change in our overall comfort level, which is pretty remarkable for in-ear headphones. Typically having a foreign object in your ear for so long would start to cause some discomfort, but we really didn't run into any.
The Sennheiser MM50 iP headphones have a cable that measures 40 5/8 inches (3 feet, 4 5/8 inches; about 1.03 meters) from the end of the plug's cord guard to the end of the ear bud's cord guard. This will be more than enough to reach that media player in your pocket, but isn't good for much else. There also aren't any included adapters. Overall, while the MM50 iPs will help the iPod/Phone crowd connect to their music, they're limited to that role.
Typically in-ear headphones have a lot of customization options, because sleeves (the small rubber thing you put on the end of the ear buds to protect them from your ears) are small, cheap to make, and come in a lot of different sizes and styles. In the case of the MM50 iPs, there are three different sizes of sleeves, which is a standard set of sleeves.
As in-ear headphones, there's not much to the MM50 iPs that'd bog you down. The cord is short and the ear buds are tiny: it doesn't get much more portable. There isn't a case included, however, so you'll have to be content with just shoving the headphones into your pocket. If you're looking for portability, in-ear headphones like the MM50 iP are the way to go.
Some in-ear headphones come with cleaning tools, since some people have dirtier ears than others. The MM50 iP headphones don't come with such a luxury. They do allow you to remove the sleeves, however, so you can clean them easily and not risk getting the headphones' vitals wet.
The MM50 iP headphones do not require a battery to function. Needing batteries in order to function adds limitations to your headphones' use, or means you have to carry around spares. Since this is annoying, we give out some points to headphones that aren't dependent on batteries.
Remote & Mic
The MM50 iPs have a microphone and a button part of the way down the cord, for use with cell phones and certain media players. Interesting fact: the microphone button is where the MM50 iP gets its 'iP' from (it's short for iPhone). This isn't the first time we've seen a set of headphones jumping on the iWagon, but this might be the best set of headphones that has chosen to pander to the Apple audience.
The Sennheiser MM50 iP headphones are a great deal for cell phone users, iPod users, or people just looking for a portable set of headphones. They have great audio quality, are very portable, and are cheap. In terms of bang for your buck, they're one of the best headphones we've reviewed thus far.
We like the Sennheiser MM50 iP headphones. They have great audio quality, are comfortable, come with a microphone button, and cost $100. If you're looking for a set of in-ears in this range, the MM50 iPs are a great option.
To get into specifics, the MM50 iPs don't have the greatest isolation: they're about on par with an above average set of active noise-cancellers, but they don't compare to some of the better in-ears. They do have very good leakage control. Their frequency response is good for the most part. The bass gets a big boost, but might sound a bit boomy in the lower bass sounds. The distortion is absurdly low, making the MM50 iPs our new second-place champ in that category (the Sennheiser HD 555s are currently in first place, although they use our old graph lay-out; ignore everything below 100 Hz).
One thing some users might miss, however, are the array of options that typically come with in-ear headphones. The Etymotic Research ER6is and Shure SE210s, for example, each come with a ton of different sleeve options, which vary in size as well as type (soft plastic, foam, triple-flanged, etc.). The MM50 iPs come with three sleeve options, which is the standard assortment. The MM50 iPs also might have some durability issues: the plug doesn't have much of a cord guard. This means if your phone or media player shifts around in your pocket, it could lead to the cord bending sharply at the plug. This could lead to the cord getting damaged.
Overall, for $100 the MM50 iPs are excellent. They're not the perfect pair of headphones, but in terms of value they're one of the best. This is a pair of budget headphones that bests headphones costing upwards of three times what they cost.
Meet the tester
Mark Brezinski is a senior writer with seven years of experience reviewing consumer tech and home appliances.
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