David’s Take: Sennheiser IE200 Review – The Little Brother That Could

Last year I did a glowing review of the Sennheiser IE600, an in-ear headphone made of rare and expensive materials using 3D printing too boot. The 600s looks beautiful, sound beautiful, and have all the characteristics that a proper audiophile product should have. 

Just last week I received the Sennheiser IE200. An entry level IE product priced at a measly US$150. It looks identical to the IE600, but of course the IE200 is not made of Mars Rover materials. I’m still a fan, nevertheless. 

Here’s what I like: the IE200 are finished in black and have an understated look. They sit nicely in my ears with the supplied silicone earpieces, and I can wear them for many hours without any discomfort. Being featherweight and having a perfect balance helps immensely. The IE200 contain Sennheiser’s usual 7mm True Response drivers with nearly zero THD or Total Harmonic Distortion and have a fairly flat frequency response, thanks to the diffuse-field equalization. The impedance is only 18 Ohms, but it seems to require more power to drive it dynamically. Not a problem at all, just an observation. 

For my tests I used the IE200 with my iPhone 13 ProMax and FiiO BTR7 bluetooth DAC with THX Technologies AAA headphone amp. The files are lossless downloaded via iTunes through my music subscriptions.

Of course, compared to the US$600 IE600 the IE200 at almost a third of the price are not close in comparison. But they are still impressive nevertheless. Soundstage is ample although the layers of songs with high instrumentation complexity can be a tad jumbled at times, while surprisingly still having plenty of detail. Playing back Netflix various movie soundtracks in Spatial Audio (developed by Sennheiser using Ambeo technology) such as the opening scene of “6 Underground” was quite a spectacle whizzing around and above my cranium. The spaciousness is wonderfully accurate (when compared by playing the soundtrack in my THX-equipped reference home theatre in Dolby Atmos reproduced by the industry-standard MKSound S150 monitors and V12+ THX Certified speakers and sub. Something that my AirPod Pro 2 can’t do, even when using Apple’s Spatial Audio technology).

While the bass is not as deep as I wanted it to be, it’s still very punchy and tight. There is a slightly boosted mid-bass but never to the point of sounding boomy. Be it in playing back movie soundtracks or lossless music ranging from Bach to Michael Jackson, from Run DMC to MKTO. And the obligatory Judas Priest’s “Johnny B. Goode” from their album Ram it Down, and a slew of music I commercially produced in my studio are part of my usual repertoire, of course. 

Vocals are clear with slight boosts in certain vocal regions which is welcome, as a fix for pop music’s target audience where the vocals are usually mixed too low for my liking. The IE200 makes modern pop music sound more pleasing to my ears. Surprisingly enough, listening to the obligatory Diana Krall and Anne Bisson, while having the IE pushing the vocals region higher, does not make these audiophile albums sound too warm either. Me likey!

The only quibble I have is in the treble that can sound a teensy bit harsh at times. Again, this is simply a quibble as I’m so used to the more natural sound that is produced by the IE600. It’s not a problem. Especially if you’re listening to the IE200 in public transport or while cycling where there is a lot of sound surrounding you. For some people they may even like the sparkle of treble in the recording considering how much high frequencies are lost in lossy compressed music, which the target demographic of the IE200 usually use.

All in all, the IE200 is a very pleasing set of earphones. It fits a price-sensitive target audience that still want a quality brand-name headphone perfectly. For the price, the IE200 is highly recommended. 

All photos: Sennheiser.com