Like many dedicated long-distance runners, I have been on a perpetual hunt for the perfect set of headphones. Every time a new pair arrives, it’s like a first date ringing the doorbell. The anticipation! The promise of a new (running) partner! But eventually the sound quality disappoints and I’m inevitably left alone.
Thus, the arrival of the Sennheiser/Adidas 680 Sports Headphones was like a 13-year-old finding Edward Cullen ringing her doorbell. These are some of the best runner-friendly headphones we’ve yet strapped on.
The first sign that these headphones were a cut above was the carrying case. Yes, some headphones — very, very special ones — come in a heavy, water-resistant drawstring sack.
The sack contains more than the usual extra set of foam earpads and cable clip. The headphones also come with an extension cable that has integrated volume control, which is a thoughtful idea but more useful while sitting at your computer than running. It’s already as easy as it could possibly be to adjust the volume on an iPod. Still, the extension cable is useful, great for hooking onto or through extra layers of clothing.
The sound quality is exceptionally clean and crisp, with particularly deep bass. Playing “In da Club” is a peculiarly satisfying experience, as I’d never been so able to thoroughly replicate the head-pounding experience of being in a club in the streets of my decidedly suburban neighborhood. The headset’s large earbuds do let in some ambient noise. However, this is more advantage than inconvenience, as nothing ruins a good run faster than being hit by a car.
I tested the headphones’ touted water resistance, first in Portland’s 62-percent humidity and rain, then in sweaty ears and finally by soaking the headphones in wet hand towels. After each soaking, the phones suffered no ill effects in performance.
Kevlar-reinforced cables even survived the slobbery mouthings of my dog (that one was an accident, not a test). And the behind-the-neck design stayed put, even through the most strenuous circumstances — doing yoga while watching The Discovery Channel. I’ve always preferred a behind-the-neck design over in-ear buds, whose security depends on the size of the user’s ears. They do make wearing sunglasses or hats a little more difficult, though. And the PMX 680s are no exception. Trying to wear a baseball cap or Ray-Bans with these suckers is virtually impossible.
In sum, these headphones are everything you’d ever want in a pair of running headphones. And at a mere 60 bucks, they’re just a little easier to obtain than a sparkling 100-year-old vampire with fantastic hair.