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HomeAppleSennheiser IE 200 earbuds overview: reconnecting with music — actually

Sennheiser IE 200 earbuds overview: reconnecting with music — actually

From time to time, I simply want a break from Bluetooth headphones. I get fed up with recharging them. Heaven forbid I by chance put my cellphone in my left pocket whereas out and about as an alternative of my proper and begin noticing audio cutouts. (Sure, this will nonetheless occur with as we speak’s greatest wi-fi earbuds and telephones.) And I remind myself that I’m robbing my ears of the true potential of my cultivated lossless music library by settling for Bluetooth codecs as an alternative of going wired. I’ve been feeling that wi-fi fatigue recently, and it simply so occurs that Sennheiser simply launched a brand new pair of wired earbuds, the IE 200, that appeared value attempting out. 

These $149.95 earbuds promise balanced, detailed sound in a compact in-ear monitor (IEM) with adjustable ear hooks and a removable braided cable. There’s no built-in mic — these are music-only buds — and Sennheiser enables you to select between kind of bass by a singular “dual-tunable” ear tip design. In a single place, the IE 200s add some punch to the low finish. However mount their ear ideas within the outer place, and the decrease frequencies turn out to be extra impartial.

The IE 200s borrow a lot of their DNA from Sennheiser’s $700 IE 600 earbuds — ranked among the many crème de la crème of IEMs — and goal to ship a few of that magic at a extra accessible worth level. The corporate despatched me a pair of the IE 600s to check alongside its newest buds so I may evaluate and distinction. However my focus whereas utilizing these has been to maintain issues informal; I didn’t run them by a DAC or do a lot intense analytical listening at dwelling. I simply needed to make my music time really feel extra intentional and deliberate. Wired headphones will at all times do this extra successfully than a set of AirPods Professional and even Sennheiser’s personal Momentum True Wi-fi 3. “It’d be good if it meant one thing once more,” I posited aloud on the espresso store — most likely alarming the individual sitting close by who heard me say that out of the blue.

The best way I eat music varies based mostly on what cellphone I’m presently utilizing. If it’s an iPhone, I’ll be carrying round 1000’s of music tracks encoded in Apple Lossless Audio Codec (ALAC) that I’ve amassed by the years. I at all times wish to have my favourite albums inside attain, it doesn’t matter what my present Spotify or Apple Music subscription standing is. And I’ve tried to protect my private assortment in affordable high quality with out going too overboard; if I ever want high-resolution lossless audio, I’ll flip to Amazon Music or one thing like Qobuz. 

After I’m utilizing an Android cellphone, the place ALAC is considerably misplaced, I’ll principally keep on with Spotify, Amazon, and private library stuff that I’ve uploaded to YouTube Music. (I actually can’t suggest that service sufficient for storing your hard-to-find tracks within the cloud. It doesn’t do any of Apple Music’s mistake-prone monitor matching nonsense and makes use of solely the recordsdata and monitor metadata that you simply feed it. If you happen to’re a nerd like me who’s meticulous about that stuff, it’s nice — and free.) 

A photo of Sennheiser’s IE 200 earbuds next to the company’s IE 600 eabuds.

The IE 200s (left) have a sound signature impressed by Sennheiser’s IE 600 earbuds (proper).

However the dilemma in both state of affairs was the identical: I shortly crash-landed again in our fashionable actuality the place the headphone jack doesn’t exist on standard smartphones. So I swallowed my satisfaction whereas testing the IE 200s and made certain to hold two dongles with me always: a 3.5mm-to-Lightning adapter for my iPhone 14 Professional Max and a USB-C equal for my Pixel 7. 

The variations between the IE 200 and far pricier IE 600 start proper out of the field. The 600s include a hardshell case, whereas the 200s match right into a comfortable carrying pouch. The nicer case has sufficient spare room for a backup / substitute cable, however that’d be a good match within the pouch. Each the IE 200 and IE 600 embrace six units of ideas: three sizes of silicone and three foam options. I’m a foam individual each time given the selection, and the biggest measurement did me nice all through all of my testing. 

A photo comparing the case material of Sennheiser’s IE 200 and IE 600 earbuds.

The IE 200s have a plastic casing, whereas the $700 IE 600 use 3D-printed zirconium.

The 2 units of earbuds share the identical outer casing form and are very comparable in measurement, however they use completely different supplies. The IE 600s are produced from a extremely neat hand-finished 3D-printed zirconium shell that can most likely look pretty much as good in 5 years because it does as we speak. Sennheiser wasn’t about to match that stage of expertise with the mainstream IE 200s, so it opted as an alternative for a stealthy all-black plastic shell. It may not age as gracefully, however it nonetheless seems to be smooth. In each circumstances, the earpieces have been properly compact and sat comfortable and flush in my ears. They’re each lots safe — particularly with these foam ideas. Sennheiser has executed a wonderful job with ergonomics right here: the IE 200s match me naturally and comfortably in a manner that not all earbuds do, and my glasses weren’t a problem for the adjustable ear hooks.

A photo of the cases of Sennheiser’s IE 600 and IE 200 earbuds.

The IE 200 earbuds include a comfortable carrying pouch.

A photo comparing the cases of Sennheiser’s IE 200 and IE 600 earbuds.

You’ve bought to go greater in Sennheiser’s lineup for a extra protecting case with additional storage.

The braided cable bundled with the IE 200s was tremendous light-weight and mainly felt like nothing as I used to be sporting them. That’s a very good factor, however the wire isn’t resistant to microphonics and jostling noise if you’re on the transfer. Like Sennheiser’s different IEMs, these connect to the cable utilizing MMCX connectors, however the recessed connector design on the earpiece may pose an issue for some aftermarket cables; be sure that they’re particularly appropriate with Sennheiser’s merchandise. 

Sennheiser describes the IE 200s as “exceptionally impartial,” however that’s not correct. Seems, a impartial presentation simply isn’t very thrilling to numerous common customers, and these positively share a V-shaped sound signature that’s just like the IE 600s. The bass enhance on the inexpensive earbuds is inoffensive and by no means veers into bloated territory. Every part is properly managed, which extends to their balanced mids and elevated treble frequencies. The IE 200s are articulate, detailed, and an pleasant hear. 

However you’re not precisely getting the identical expertise as from the already famend IE 600s. Regardless of these two units of earbuds sharing the same frequency response, you don’t want fancy audio gear to note that the costlier pair has a smoother, extra dynamic tonality to them. The sub-bass hits a little bit fuller. Every part feels richer and fewer clinically sharp than on the IE 200s, and the soundstage is much less condensed. The IE 600s have simply that additional contact of heat and authority to them. There’s a purpose these buds are separated by a whole bunch of {dollars}, however I nonetheless imagine the $150 IE 200s are a very good possibility should you’re trying to spend a bit on wired earbuds. You gained’t be as involved with babying them, they usually sound lots good. I’m not right here to debate whether or not “Chi-fi” IEMs are a better purchase; I’m certain you could find all types of debates about that throughout headphone boards and on YouTube.  

However I’ll say that Sennheiser’s “dual-tunable” ear tip idea appears very gimmicky. Most individuals will seat the ear ideas flush with the casing, and that’s the place the IE 200s carry out their greatest and are extra bass-forward. To chop again on that low finish for the “analytical” listening mode, it is advisable pull the guidelines ahead to a secondary place. The simplest manner to do that is to totally take away them and put the guidelines again on very gently; they simply form of catch naturally at that preliminary outer place. Push extra, they usually’ll transfer to the bassier seating. The issue is that it’s very simple for the tricks to transfer as you’re placing the IE 200s into your ears, so if you would like the sunshine bass tuning, you’ve bought to watch out. In the long run, it’s not value it: these earbuds sound higher with fuller bass, and this concept appears a little bit too intelligent for its personal good. 

A photo of Sennheiser’s IE 200 earbuds.

These earbuds present wealthy, detailed audio — even when they will’t match the terrific constancy of the IE 600s.

It’s been good getting reacquainted with wired earbuds whereas reviewing the IE 200s. I nonetheless bemoan dongle life, and it may be awkward after I often overlook that there’s no mic on these when answering a name. However neither of these issues is sufficient to cease me from often pushing apart Bluetooth earphones — even for all their conveniences — and plugging in. After I take the time, that’s nonetheless after I really feel essentially the most linked to the music I’ve liked for many years and the place it sounds the very best. I’ll nonetheless seize my most well-liked wi-fi earbuds on most days; that’s not going to vary. However should you choose up Sennheiser’s latest earbuds, you may end up having fun with the identical occasional reprieve from our wi-fi world.

Images by Chris Welch / The Verge



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