Sennheiser may be looking for an investor for its consumer division, but the company still makes fabulous headphones and for me the brand will always be one of the premium headphone makers that can always help me. get stomped even while listening to music which I already know well.
This month I’m reviewing a new pair of in-ear monitors (IEMs) from Sennheiser. The IE300s are a new pair of IEMs that are, in a way, symptomatic of Sennheiser’s current problems. The IE300 sounds stunning and costs a bit more than many other headphones on the market, but the old adage “you get what you pay for” still holds true here and the IE300 is a classic example.
On the flip side, how many people are buying wired headphones these days? Apple hasn’t made an iPhone with a headphone jack for a few years now. Wireless is where the market growth is and yet Sennheiser produces a pair of wired headphones without even offering an in-line remote.
The Sennheiser IE300 is for people who, like me, use a DAP (digital audio player) and just don’t want to compromise by using Bluetooth. They are also ideal for anyone who uses a DAC (digital to analog converter) with their smartphone to bypass the internal audio chip which may not deliver the highest quality sound. There is no doubt that Bluetooth headphones have improved dramatically over the past few years with the widespread adoption of the AAC and aptX codecs. Now we are also seeing a growing number of Bluetooth headphones using aptX HD and LDAC codecs for those who want to push wireless technology to greater heights.
For those of us who still prefer to listen with wired headphones, the Sennheiser IE300s are a compelling case for investing in IEMs that can bring out all the nuances of a piece of music, especially when streaming from anywhere. ‘a high-resolution music service like TIDAL Masters. . The IE300 are essentially a leaner and more affordable version of the fabulous IEM IE600 from Sennheiser. I reviewed the IE600 a few years ago and still think it is the best dynamic single driver IEMs out there. However, they are not cheap.
The IE300 offers many of the tonal characteristics of the IE600, but their physical construction is not as good as the IE600. The IE300 uses an ear hook design that clips over the top of the listener’s ears and is a great way to reduce microphonics, those annoying rubbing noises that can cause headphone cables to run when they are rub together during exercise. The IE300’s fit is comfortable and Sennheiser has provided a good selection of ear tips in a range of silicone and memory foam sizes. IEMs like the IEM300 need to have the correct size eartips to achieve the best acoustic sealing and optimum sound quality.
The cable of the IE300 is only 1.25m and is short enough to be easily used with a smartphone or DAP. The termination is a 90 degree jack and the cables are detachable, using industry standard MMCX connectors that allow the cable to be upgraded or to choose a longer version or one with a different termination such as the Pentaconn 4.4 mm socket. In fact, Sennheiser sells optional cables with different terminations.
As I mentioned before, there is no in-line remote that comes with the IE300 and the cables use a standard 3.5mm stereo TRS connector instead of the TRRS type that smartphones use to transmit commands. from a distance. It would be possible to replace the cable with an MMCX version with an in-line remote, but I doubt serious audiophiles care too much.
The sound of the IE300 is absolutely sublime. I have reviewed many IEMs that use multiple drivers and special hybrid arrangements of balanced armature and dynamic drivers, but nothing beats the sound of a well-tuned dynamic driver like those used inside the IE300. There is a consistency in the sound of a dynamic driver that injects rhythm into the music in a way that is always best when designed correctly. I know that multi-driver headphones can deliver amazing levels of resolution that can challenge a bat’s hearing, but the sound produced by the IE300 has a full tonal character that brings out the best in almost any setting. genres of music.
The bass response of these headphones is truly impressive. It has a subsonic characteristic and probes the depths of the lower parts of the music in a way that few other headphones can with a lower frequency range of just 6Hz. The midrange is advanced the right distance and provides so much energy that brings out the rhythm in almost all tracks. The highs are well concentrated and energetic, but never tiring. I can always recognize a good pair of headphones by the way they make me forget to analyze the music and instead drag me into the music and stomp me with the sounds. The Sennheiser IE300 are such a pair of IEMs and they are an absolute pleasure to listen to.
I tested the IE300s using them with the excellent little DAC Bolt from Helm Audio which I then plugged into the Lightning connector of my iPhone. The sound was simply breathtaking and it’s amazing how much more detail I could hear than with a regular pair of bluetooth headphones connected to my smartphone. The IE300 has superbly efficient drivers and it is possible to derive excellent volume levels from them. The frequency range is wonderfully wide, while the soundstage is beautifully presented with each precisely chosen instrument rather than being presented as part of an overall acoustic mush.
Verdict: The Sennheiser IE300 IEMs are definitely a niche product as the wired headphone market shrinks. Even so, if your smartphone has a headphone jack or if you’re using a DAP or DAC to enjoy music streaming services, the IE300 is an affordable way to get audiophile sound on the go. It’s almost like listening to a pair of full-size headphones because the sound is so big and airy. Comfort levels are good, while the selection of ear tips allowed me to find a good fit for my problematic ears. If you are looking for a pair of audiophile IEMs and don’t want to spend a fortune, then the Sennheiser IE300 is an absolute bargain and an affordable alternative to the superb IE600. These IEMs show how the world’s best-known brand of headphones can still deliver the goods and still have some of the best driver designs on the market. Highly recommended.
Price and availability: Sennheiser IE 300 headphones will be available from March 2021 for £ 259 / $ 259 / € 259
More information: www.sennhesier.com
- Transducer: single dynamic pilot, pressure chamber
- Impedance: 16Ω
- Sound pressure level (SPL): 124dB (1kHz / 1 Vrms)
- Ear coupling: in-ear
- Frequency response: 6 Hz – 20 kHz
- Cable length: 1.25 m
- Weight: 4g per earphone