Walkman stemmed from the lack of good sealing on the bundled MDR-EX082 and the average quality (but supremely comfortable) of the CX 300. I narrowed down my choices to either a Denon AH-C700, Klypsch Custom-1, Ultimate Ears Super.Fi 3 and Sennheiser CX 95.
I finally got the CX 95 cheap from a fellow Head-Fi'er. These canalphones retails for £60-70 on the high street (or less online), a price which puts it at the high-range non-IEM canalphone market (or entry-level depending on whom you ask). Sennheiser is a brand I can trust, having a good impression with their budget canalphone, the CX 300 priced at £40 (but you can get them for under £20 easily) as well as the mainstream PX 100. The construction of the CX 95 is fairly predictable. Made of tough plastic material, the CX 95's heads are pretty sturdy protecting the single driver design. The same can't be said about the cables - which are flimsy and rubbery almost like the CX 300. The default lenght is perfect for when I slip my Walkman into my shirt pocket, but the extension cable is a just too long. I pair it with my Sony extensions instead.
The CX 95 does not disappoint in the sound quality department. With a rated impedance of 16 ohm, the CX 95 isn't difficult to drive. Playing FLAC files from my PC, the Sennheiser provided my blessed eardrums with good and balanced dynamic sound. At the price range, the CX 95 blew away the CX 300 in bass level in its quality, while maintaining a more balanced sound throughout. While it isn't as great as Denon AH-C751 (which has a greater frequency range I believe) IEMs I auditioned two week ago, it also costs far far less. Sounds are warm, with a reasonable clarity an overall detailed sound stage with Sennheiser's usual bass performance. Even when paired with my A818, and despite using lossy 256kbps files, the CX 95 performed extremely well. Highs are bright and the mids and lows balanced. Compared to my self-repaired Shure e2c, the CX 95 is a more 'fun' headphones while the e2c was more clinical and the Sony crispier.
In terms of isolation, the CX 95 works well, though no better or worse than the snug fitting CX 300. I had no problem riding the tube or waiting outside the changing rooms in Selfridges, with a little ambient noise disturbing my enjoyment. The same can be said about sealing, as I can comfortably use this in bed without any retort aimed at me. Comfort wise, the Sennheiser's soft tips are pretty much as comfortable as they can get (I settled for the medium size tips), and best of all I can use my Sony tips on them. They are not meant to be worn behind the ears like the e2c (which I tolerate only because they sound great), which is even better for my ears. The downside of the CX 95 is its microphonics. Microphonics level with in-ear canalphones has improved a lot since a decade ago, but they still exists. The CX 95 can be worn over the ear to alleviate the problem slightly, if you do not mind reversing the stereo imaging.
I love the CX 95 as it provides a reasonably great sound quality. It doesn't work well with all music genre, particularly if you prefer music with great clinical detail like classical genre. Despite that I found it pleasing for listening to old Metallica, Vanessa-Mae, Ministry, Carcass etc., and oddly loving the enveloping warmth sound the CX 95 produces. I am not a bass head and yes, the CX 95 like the CX 300 is bass-driven. But with proper EQ-ing and customising the A818's DAC, I found that the bass quality is soft and warm complimenting my sound preference very well. Overall the CX 95 is a great and balanced canalphones that isn't too expensive to invest in and is a couple of steps up over their entry level CX 300 models. Just don't expect to use it in the gym.
+ Great SQ and clarity for a sub £70 headphone
+ Warm and soft bass quality
+ Good seal
+ Interchangeable with CX 300 and Sony silicon tips
+ Isolates well
- Extension cable too long
- Flimsy cable
The Sennheiser CX95 is available for less than £60 at Amazon UK, but has since been replaced by the CX 550