Sennheiser IEMs

Sennheiser IE300 Review

Written by Chrono

Introduction

The IE300, which will become available for purchase at the price of $299.95 beginning in March, is the latest addition to Sennheiser’s line-up of in-ear headphones, and in fact, it’s the first audiophile-oriented IEM they’ve released in almost four years. The goal of theIE300 is to create a nuanced and accurate listening experience wherever you go–so, how does it perform?

Note: The IE300 was provided to me for review by Sennheiser.

Sources and Music Used in Listening Tests

All the listening for this review was done on the Astell & Kern SR25. For the listening tests I used music from a wide variety of genres including Rock, Jazz, Classical, Acoustic, Hip-Hop, and latin. I played tracks from my own FLAC library as well as from Tidal Streaming Service (Master Quality).

Packaging and Accessories

The IE300’s blue and gray packaging matches that of other headphones in Sennheiser’s audiophile series of products.

Inside the box, you’ll find the IE300 alongside a sweet array of accessories. Included with the IE300 are 6 different sets of ear tips; three small, medium, large silicone tips, and three small, medium, large memory foam tips. The stock cable is using MMCX connectors on the headphone side, an angled 3.5mm jack on the source end, and it measures roughly 1.2m, which I find to be a very comfortable length for most use cases. Additionally, the IE300 includes a very nice, portable hardshell case; it’s low profile and easy-to-pocket, but it still has plenty of room to house the IEMs as well as the included eartips and cleaning tool.

Build and Comfort

The IE300’s build is a slight departure from that of other headphones in Sennheiser’s audiophile-oriented IEM line-up, instead more closely resembling the design of the headphones that comprise their Pro series. As a result of their Pro-audio-inspired design, the IE300’s chassis is very small and lightweight, which makes for an IEM that is durable, lightweight and easily portable.

For comfort, the memory foam tips are outstanding. They conform very nicely to the users ear canal, which I found made for significantly more comfortable listening sessions, they greatly enhanced the passive noise attenuation of the IEMs, and I felt as though I got the most sound out of them since the seal was just right.

On the other hand, though, I didn’t find the silicone tips to be all that amazing. Regardless of what size I used or how I positioned the headphone, I was never really able to get a comfortable fit or a good seal. I think that this is because the tips themselves are maybe a little too far on the flexible side, and I think that they could have benefitted from being a little stiffer and more uniform to create a more consistent fit and seal, which is crucial for getting an IEM to be both very comfortable and to sound its best. Of course, our ears are all different and you might not have the same issues, but I just wanted to share my experience with these sets of rubber tips.

One last note on comfort, is that thanks to their small size, I think that even for users with smaller ears, getting a good fit won’t be difficult with the IE300.

Sound

The IE300 is using a single dynamic driver set-up, and is equipped with a refined version of Sennheiser’s 7mm Extra Wide Band transducer. For the sound section of this review I’ll be sharing how the IE300 performed in my experience and every now and then I’ll draw some comparisons to Moondrop Blessing 2, which is my benchmark for tonality and technical performance around the $300 price range.

First Impressions

The IE300 is a headphone that I’d describe as having an “exciting” tonality to it, as its V-shaped sound signature makes for very present bass and energetic highs. Naturally, this means that the midrange doesn’t feel as rich as on other headphones I’ve tried, but it doesn’t feel neglected.

Of the V-shaped headphones I’ve listened to, I think that the IE300 is one of the few that actually executes it really well, although as we’ll discuss briefly, this kind of tuning does have some inherent effects on timbre.

Bass

The bass region on the IE300 has a pretty significant upshelf under 200hz. This emphasized mid to sub-bass region makes for a very warm-sounding bass response, which for my tastes and preferences made the bass come through as a little bit swollen at times.

Nonetheless, I found the bass here to be very enjoyable. At no point did it feel to me as though it was overbearing or intrusive of other frequency ranges, and I did find myself appreciating the roundness and fullness that the bass here provided to instruments’ lower registers. I personally would have preferred a tighter tuning, but I think that for many listeners this will make for a more “fun” bass region that adds a nice warmth and depth to the IE300’s sound.

Mids

Despite the boosted bass, the lower mids don’t feel at all overwhelmed from below. They retain a clean fundamental range in the 300hz-600hz region, and the overall response is a linear one, with an accurately depicted body and well-defined, but smooth upper-midrange presence.

As a headphone with a V-shaped sound signature, though, it should come as no surprise that the midrange on the IE300 doesn’t stand out like it does on other headphones, so for mid-centric listeners this would not be my number one recommendation.

Highs

The treble region is where, once again, the IE300 sees a fairly significant boost. As the upper midrange transitions into the lower treble the IE300 remains leveled, with no glare or hash that I noticed. Moving along to around the 7K-10K region in the mid-treble, though, there is a very noticeable rise in that section of the frequency response.

Now, this treble rise has a few different effects on the IE300’s overall sound as well as its timbre. Since it’s a broad elevation, it does make the headphone come through as being bright sounding, though I wouldn’t go as far as saying that it’s strident or piercing.

I think the most standout feature of the treble elevation here is that it can make the IE300 sound artificially brightened and vocals in particular gain this crystalline-like glisten up-top. There was also a slight stress on consonant sounds, so there was a little bit of mid-treble sibilance, but I think that it was pretty minor compared to the timbral effect of the unnaturally highlighted overtones and harmonics. Again, I don’t really feel as though the treble here was harsh (and I’m fairly treble-sensitive), I just feel as though it unfortunately does slightly compromise the headphone’s timbre.

Resolution

The IE300 delivers performance that I think is appropriate for an IEM in this price bracket. Even through busy musical passages the IE300 properly reproduced all the different vocal and instrument tones, which created a well-defined and textured image of the music. Obviously, compared to some of the over-ear counterparts in this price range–like the HD 600–I felt as though the IE300 could sound a bit grainy, but its internal resolution competes squarely with the Blessing 2.

Soundstage, Imaging and Layering

The IE300’s spatial qualities are what surprised me the most about its technical performance. Of course, as an in-ear headphone its soundstage was still a very intimate one. However, its stereo imaging was really outstanding when compared to some of the other IEMs I’ve tried like the Blesign 2 or even the much higher-priced Campfire Audio 2020 Andromeda. The IE300 was really adept at delineating the positioning and directionality of sound, and when combined with its good sense of instrument separation and depth, it actually made for the most spacious listening experience I’ve had with an IEM thus far.

Dynamics

When it comes to its excursive capacity, I felt as though the IE300 was a bit lacking. There was a bit of kick behind the lows, but I feel as though this was mostly due to the boost in bass; and even then I wasn’t really getting a particularly satisfying sense of punch and slam. Still, the IE300 did bring a fair bit of snap and bite in the top-end, which helped in retaining some of the tactility behind instruments. Again, for comparisons, I think that in this regard the IE300 performs similarly to the Blessing 2.

Conclusion

The IE300 I think is a good return to form for Sennheiser and its line-up of audiophile-oriented IEMs. It’s portable, well-built, very comfortable, it delivers solid technical performance for the price, and it’s got a very enjoyable tonality.

Me personally, I would probably still gravitate towards the Blessing 2 at around the $300 mark, as its tonality more closely lines-up with my preference, though the IE300 is a great option and is sure to satisfy listeners looking for an in-ear solution with a more V-shaped but balanced sound signature.

19 Likes

Great review Chrono.

2 Likes

Nice review @chrono and also nice to see Sennheiser updating their IEMs a little.

1 Like

Thanks for the review, @Chrono . Another IEM on my wish list.

1 Like

OK, took it off the wish list. Hit “add to cart” instead - will be my personal b’day gift.

5 Likes

That’s awesome, congrats! Hope you enjoy them :love_you_gesture:t3:

OMG, they just arrived and two tracks in (Jamiroquai - Virtual Insanity, Marcus Miller - Detroit) I love them already. Comfortable, nice seal, perfect for home-office and late night sessions.

5 Likes

Sennheiser IE 100 Pro Wireless Review

Written by Chrono

Introduction

The IE 100 PRO is the most recent entry in Sennheiser’s IE Pro series of IEMs, and now that it’s succeeded the IE 40 Pro, it’s also the most affordable.

In this review, I’ll be going over my experience with the IE 100 Pro wireless bundle, which retails for $179.99. This bundle consists of–of course–the new IE 100 Pro IEM and the new Sennheiser IE Pro Bluetooth connector, but each of these components can be purchased separately at the price of $119.

Sources and Music Used in Listening Tests

All the wired listening for this review was done on the Astell & Kern SR25, and the wireless bluetooth listening was done from Tidal on my iPhone 11 Pro. For the listening tests I used music from a wide variety of genres including Rock, Jazz, Classical, Acoustic, Hip-Hop, and latin. I played tracks from my own FLAC library as well as from Tidal Streaming Service (Master Quality).

Packaging and Accessories

At $179.99, the IE 100 Pro wireless is accompanied by a nice suite of accessories. For starters, there is the IE Pro BT Connector wireless adapter, which I’ll briefly cover in more detail. Also included with the IE 100 Pro are four sets of ear tips (S/M/L rubber tips, and one set of M foam tips), a leatherette carrying pouch, a roughly 1.2m, 3.5mm cable with ear hooks for wired listening, and a Sennheiser cleaning tool.

Wireless Functionality

All of the IE 100 Pro’s wireless features come from the IE Pro BT Connector, which is a new accessory from Sennheiser designed to make any IEM from their IE Pro series wireless over bluetooth.

It’s a very simple unit that replaces the standard IE Pro cables, and is worn around the user’s neck. It features AAC, aptX, and Bluetooth 5.0 support, and USB-C rechargeable battery.

Since they hang around the back of the neck, they’re not the easiest to use, but the module on the right side of the IE Pro BT Connector does feature a microphone as well as controls for mobile devices. The buttons on this module have the standard set of commands, such as play/pause, volume up/down, next/previous track, voice assistant, call accept/end, as well as mic mute/unmute.

Overall I think that the IE Pro BT connector works well, with seemingly no loss to sound quality or additional latency. Additionally, its lightweight design is very nice since, unlike similar devices, it doesn’t feel as though it’s trying to rip IEMs from my ears. I will comment, though, that at 10 hours the battery life is fairly short. It’ll easily last through a day of commuting, but for travelling it may not even make it through a whole flight. Also, the max volume you get from the IEMs when using the IE Pro BT Connector isn’t that high, so if you like to do some loud listening, you may be left wanting.

Build and Comfort

The IE 100 Pro’s build is identical to that of its predecessor, the IE 40 Pro. The IE 100 Pro featured in this review has a matte-black finish, but there are also clear and red color options available. For its material work, the IE 100 Pro is rocking a pretty simple plastic chassis that feels fairly sturdy with no creaking or flexing; it doesn’t feel as rugged as the IE300, or as premium as Moondrop’s offerings, but I don’t think any durability concerns will rise even after extensive usage.

For comfort, the IE 100 Pro is a very easy wear. It’s not as small as the IE300, but it’s still on the smaller side for IEMs, so these should fit well even for users with smaller ears. The included silicone ear tips, I found, were very comfortable and I had no issues getting a good seal with them. The included foam tips were also very nice, as they helped in giving the IE 100 Pro a more custom feeling with increased noise isolation; though I do wish that small and large variants had been included.

Sound

The IE 100 Pro is using a single dynamic-driver setup, and I’d say has just a very mild V-shape to it. Despite the slightly more energetic bass and treble regions, I’d still say that it leans more towards being a “neutral-sounding” headphone. It has one of the better overall tonal balances I’ve heard in an IEM, and right off the bat I’ll say that this is the best wireless in-ear headphone I’ve heard in the sub $200 bracket thus far.

Bass

The bass on the IE 100 Pro is warm, with a focus on the low to midbass frequencies. Whilst the region under 50hz unfortunately doesn’t have as much depth and sub bass presence as I would like to have heard, the bass response on the IE 100 Pro remains prominent by virtue of the emphasized 60hz-140hz frequencies.

For my taste and preferences, I feel as though the bump in the midbass frequencies can make for an ever so slightly bloated bass response that I think could have used just a bit more precision and contouring. Still, I will note that the accented midbass does make for a more “fun” bass response and it seems to help the IE 100 Pro in creating a heightened sense of slam that lends low tones extra kick.

Mids

The mids on the IE 100 Pro have a great tuning, and because of the more “neutral” balance, they sound quite a bit richer and more prominent than on the IE300. The fundamental range here between 300hz-600hz is well-defined, and it gives vocals and instruments alike a robust body. Additionally, the upper midrange between 1K-5K has proper presence, with a good representation of overtones that lie in that region without coming through as forward or shouty.

Highs

I really enjoy the treble region on the IE 100 Pro. It has a very gentle rise between 6K-12K that can put a small stress on consonant sounds, and its highs are just a little on the brighter side. However, I think they have the right amount of brilliance where despite feeling more energetic, they’re not harsh or piercing.

I think that this tuning for treble region plays well with the also slightly boosted lower to mid bass response, and I think that it helps in creating an enhanced sense of clarity in the upper registers. I think it’s also worth mentioning that I found the IE 100 Pro to have good upper treble extension, as the air frequencies above 10K had good presence, and added a very nice glisten up-top.

Resolution

Admittedly, going from the Blessing 2 or the IE300 to the IE 100 Pro, there was a very noticeable loss in image clarity, and they did sound quite a bit grainer by comparison; but that’s not particularly shocking given the price gap between them. Despite not having the resolve or nuance of those higher-end IEMs, though, the IE 100 Pro remains structured throughout, and for its $119 price tag, I think that it provides an adequate level of performance for its detail retrieval capabilities.

Soundstage, Imaging and Layering

Not unlike the IE300, it’s the IE 100 Pro’s spatial qualities that really exceeded my expectations. The stereo imaging on this set of IEMs feels really good, with even distribution across the stage and remarkably accurate left-right localization. Additionally, it had surprisingly good depth and instrument separation; which made for more open-feeling listening experience despite its inherently intimate soundstage.

Dynamics

The IE 100 Pro has good excursive capacities, and it delivers a satisfying sense of punch and slam. As I mentioned earlier, the boosted lower to midbass may play a part in adding a bit of “oomph” in the lows, but either way it made for a more engaging and dynamic listening experience. One thing I did notice was somewhat missing, however, was that percussive instruments and acoustic guitars, for example, didn’t really have much of their attack and strike; so the IE 100 Pro did feel as though it lacked a little of that top-end tactility that I find enhances the presence of instruments in other headphones.

Conclusion

Whether it’s wired, or wireless, the IE 100 Pro is a strong showing from Sennheiser. Whilst it’s not the most resolving IEM I’ve listened to, it’s got good spatial qualities and enjoyable dynamics to properly round out its technical performance. Additionally, it’s got a subtly energetic frequency response with a great tonal balance, it’s very comfortable, and should you opt for the wireless version, you gain a lot of versatility for listening on the move without the need for a dedicated audio player or weird, janky mobile phone dongles.

Unfortunately, at the time of making this review, I haven’t had the opportunity to listen to the similarly-priced and very popular Moondrop Starfield IEM so I am unable to draw any comparisons. However, at $119 for the standalone IE 100 Pro, I think is a fantastic option for audio enthusiasts looking to experiment with IEMs or audio professionals looking for a solid monitoring solution at an affordable price point.

6 Likes

Now, the question is: would that BT cable also fit on the IE300 and would it be powerful enough to drive them?

Thanks for the review @Chrono!

2 Likes

Unfortunately no. The BT connector is using the same kind of connector that the IE Pro series uses. The IE300 is using MMCX :frowning:

2 Likes

Thanks for checking. And even the MMCX on the IE300 is not “standard” because they are kind of recessed into the housing.

1 Like

Gotta agree with Twinguin.

I got the IE300 over the weekend and after 6 days I am very pleased with them with a few quibbles.

Here are my impressions:

Sound first because it’s just excellent: Deep, impactful bass that doesn’t get in the way of anything else. Instruments and voices sound uncolored. Listen to hip-hop with 808 trap drums and the bass thumps, every word is clear and those ratchety ticking sounds up high are crisp. Listen to aggressive rock and the rhythm section drives and the guitars snarl. Listen to jazz and the saxophone and trumpet are right next to you and every size of cymbal sounds precise and distinct, with its own complex overtones. In electronic music, high tones go zinging around outside your head. Put on the genius chaos of Miles Davis’s “On the Corner” and you have percussion surrounding you while sax and trumpet argue at the center and guitar squawks and grumbles at the sidelines.

There’s probably a little extra bass emphasis, if you want to get analytical, but it feels good.

They’re small, light, comfortable, very low profile. I usually use large foam tips–Comply or Chi-fi Anji Rui knockoffs–but I got a great fit with the included large silicones. Tried some other wide Chi-fi silicones I had around and they fit well but completely squashed the treble, so Sennheiser clearly put some thought into these tips for both fit and material.

OK, the complaint: the cable. It’s very light and thin, one strand that divides, and it is way too microphonic. I had to borrow a shirt clip from my $3 counterfeit Sony MH750 (at least they were good for something). Not even a shirt clip, Sennheiser?

I also worry about the durability of this thin cable–especially because while the cable is described as MMCX, the connector is recessed in the buds, and none of my other MMCX cables–the nice soft un-microphonic braided ones–will fit. I’ve disliked proprietary cables since I had my first Senneheiser HD414s, and unless someone can steer me to a non-micorphonic cable that will fit the recessed MMCX connector, this cable might as well be proprietary.

But right now, shirt-clipped and new…boy, do they sound good.

3 Likes

I agree on the microphonics of the cable. So far, I tried to tuck it away under the shirt and that worked ok for me. But I will search my other IEMs to “steal” a clip. Also, the cable has the perfect length to tuck it away in a shirt’s sleeve and use the old 6th gen iPod as writstwatch :slight_smile:

Works with most IEMs actually.

In fact, they are so small (or my ears that big) that I cannot grab the IEM itself but have to pull on the cable when taking them off.

2 Likes

Just got my pair yesterday and I’m super impressed. Love the way they sound and they fit my listening habits and preferences extremely well, especially within the price range. I completely agree that the cable leaves a lot to be desired, hopefully the balance version is a bit better whenever it’s released. Fit wise, they are by far the most comfortable IEM I’ve owned, super light weight, and sits well and snug with the included silicon tips. For the life of me I could not get a good fit with the Polaris V2 (and I tried a TON of different tips) nor the IKKO OH10s. I was curious though, maybe it’s because my ears are small or something :slight_smile: but they fit / rest perfectly but the cable doesn’t wrap around my ear, not even close, as it seems from other pics/reviews I’ve seen. Maybe that just is what it is unless I’m doing something wrong.

3 Likes