If you read this site, or have seen me around you will know that I almost always have a pair of headphones dangling in front of my shirt. One way that I make this possible, is to always have a spare set of headphones on backup waiting to be deployed into action. This makes sure that I don’t miss any beats. As with many forms of electronics, an experienced user can usually tell when an item is about to stop working. I had a feeling that my new favorite Sennheiser CX300II earbuds were going to give in to the abuse I shell out, and stop working sometime in the next few months, so I decided to buy a new pair. I like to buy headphones before I need them, that way I have some time to search for the best deals. My hope is that I don’t get burned with a too-good-to-be-true price. Well, I got burned again.
I’ve written about this topic before, once about some Sony earbuds from eBay, and once about Bose noise canceling cans, also from eBay. Because of my bad experiences with buying non-genuine headphones from eBay, I thought I’d try other sources on the web. This time I decided to go with one of my favorites, Amazon.com. I love Amazon because of the sheer volume of items for sale, very competitive pricing, liberal return policy, and as a bonus, because the UK is so small, super saver shipping that arrives in 1-2 days.
So I found my headphones on Amazon and ordered them. I knew they were fake right away, but that didn’t stop me from spending the next hour or so examining them in close detail to make sure. I have posted some pictures below, with the fake ones on the left/top and my soon-to-die genuine ones on the right/bottom.
The box they arrived in looked normal enough:
There is something just a bit off of the logo badge on the back as well as the L/R label in the fakes. The big silver button is not quite flush, the logo is off center, and both the logo and L/R are crooked. Granted my real ones show a bit of wear and tear, but at least the paint is straight.
You can also see subtle differences in the shape of the earbud. The most obvious differences are the cheap looking black plastic, and the silver ring size. According to a quick Google search, another hallmark of counterfeit CX300II’s is the depth and placement of the V groove on the silver piece below. Obviously different between the two pair.
Another obvious difference is the speaker grill. This set of fakes has a recessed grill, and was blatantly different than my old ones. I can even tell from a stock photo from the Sennheiser website that the grill isn’t set back like you see below.
In the package with my headphones came a handy carrying case, which isn’t really important to earbud itself, but I think it does help highlight the forgery. Again the logo isn’t quite right.
Which brings us back to the package they came in. Remember how I said that the packaging didn’t look too fishy earlier? Well, have a look at the product number below. Doesn’t look funny right? It shouldn’t except that according to Sennheiser’s website, product 502741 refers to the CX300II that are WHITE. That would be a counterfeit fail.
And I didn’t even mention the most obvious and first reason I thought these were fake – the sound. They sound like crap. Too muddy and heavy on the bass, too much mid, and no high make for a cloudy sound that isn’t anything like the clear dynamic range I was used to with my old Sennheisers.
Long story short, I got my money back from Amazon, have written some nasty reviews, and have purchased a new set from what I think is an authorized reseller of Sennheiser products, for about twice the price I found them on Amazon for. I’m on high alert for fakes now, so I’ll be sure to let you know if something bad happens again with my new CX300IIs. For everyone’s sake, I hope they are the real deal.