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Hands on ... Sennheiser OCX 685i Sports Earphones

What are they?

High-performance earphones for fitness fiends.

How will they change my life? At what point in history did actively pursuing exercise become a reality? Did the hunter-gatherers rush back from a hard day to weigh themselves on the balance stones? Agricultural innovation must shoulder some of the blame as farmers replaced hard graft with animals and ploughs.

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It's a modern-day Catch-22 - as technology makes life easier it detracts from our once energetic existence and we then have to rely on it to aid our fitness endeavours. Gyms are bedecked with ever more convoluted equipment, resulting in customer disenchantment. Often they're a place for social convening rather than exercise.

As it turns out, the most valuable gym tool is the one you take with you: a decent pair of earphones. Getting in the zone doesn't come easy when all you can hear is talk of who has done the ALS ice bucket challenge or the plot developments on Hollyoaks.

As their name suggests, the Sennheiser OCX 685i Sports Earphones are geared toward athletic activities and feature a sealed acoustic design which blocks out most noise, meaning they're best suited for indoor use. They come with a built-in remote and mic as well as buds for most ear shapes.

Good points? The design is built to last and stands up to any punishment you can throw at the earphones. They are sweat and water resistant so it's unlikely you will need the two-year warranty but it's nice to know you can rely on a fallback should the worst happen. The ear-hooks fit securely and are comfortable even when the perspiration is dripping like a faulty tap.

Although the sound quality of gym-oriented devices isn't ordinarily of a high standard (they don't need to be, after all), the OCX 685i punch well above their weight and are a pleasure to wear. There's no tinny sound or vibration feedback and the quality is virtually indistinguishable from my main headphones.

The remote and mic work well no matter how hard you pound the treadmill, with no loss or jump in sound quality.

Bad points? Only two colours are available, which might not be horrific but is a tad limited.

Best for … The serious gym user uninterested in posing but keen to get down to practicalities without compromising on sound quality.

Avoid if … You have issues wearing in-ear buds.

Score: 9/10. This is a quality set of sports-specific earphones with no pointless frills.

Sennheiser OCX 685i, £44.99 (en-uk.sennheiser.com)

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