Our smartphones have been nudging us in a different direction, but sometimes, the simplicity and convenience (with reliability) of a good old, wired headphone is unmatched. No need to worry about charging, particularly before travelling. No more irritating (and perplexing; often solved by turning off and on again) audio dropouts and connectivity issues. Just plug and play, as it was meant to be. In an era where true wireless earbuds have everyone’s attention, credit must be shovelled Sennheiser’s way for persisting with the old school idea. That is, the 2023 edition of the Sennheiser IE 200.
The price tag is ₹14,990 and the Sennheiser IE 200 are categorised as in-ear monitor (or IEM) earphones. The hints were already there, if you’d looked closely – detachable braided cable, no in-line microphone, eartips that have dual adjustment (you may get variable benefits of this) and adjustable behind-the-ear hooks.
In each ear are 7mm dynamic transducers, which Sennheiser calls ‘TrueResponse’. Unlike a lot of true wireless earbuds which tend to flex their muscles with larger sized audio drivers in each ear, Sennheiser is relying heavily on tuning to get the sort of detailing you’d expect from IEMs. The close to neutral sound signature is a good start, though it isn’t absolutely flat, as Sennheiser would like you to believe.
There is a definite “V” shape to the sound that you hear, but it is a very slight adjustment to boost lower and higher frequencies. To put it simply, neither spill over into the mid frequencies, which is exactly what you want. There is no shortage of versatility – the Sennheiser IE 200 can be equally handy for a bit of dance or electronic genre music as you may be out for a run, as well as for some serious podcasts when you just want some shut-eye time after a hectic day at work.
I tested this with a mix of lossless audio albums (the port of call is Apple Music), and tracks that aren’t (Spotify and Amazon Music are your choices here). There is an undeniable level of detailing and articulation that the Sennheiser IE 200 deliver. More so, with the higher quality music files. There is a dynamism to the sound, as well as a very welcoming signature that works well for most music genres and vocal led content. It is rare for this to happen, but I did not reach for any music app’s EQ or phone’s audio settings to make these sound better.
There is no actual hint of noise cancellation anywhere on the Sennheiser IE 200. These are simply very high-quality earphones, with no modern-day complications. The fit though, if you get the eartips spot on for size, gets the job done. So much so, a conversation between two good people on the next workstation, doesn’t filter through to your ears. Good for the times when you want to block out the ambient din. Not so much, if you miss your own phone ringing.
Also Read:Sony WH-1000XM5 have matured with age, which shouldn’t come as a surprise
Speaking of eartips, bundled is the full array if small, medium, and large size tips, in silicone and memory foam. My recommendation would be the foam tips. They are just better to wear, for longer durations.
The Sennheiser IE 200 has been built well, with the outer casing made of what feels like good quality plastic. It is a black finish, albeit a metallic look, with a red ring insert (where the cable can detach) to add some colour. As far as my observations go, the finish doesn’t catch scratches, and nothing tells me these earphones won’t age gracefully. Even if you aren’t careful enough to keep them in a case.
Sennheiser has talked about the dual-turnable design mechanism which lets you set the eartips at two different positions. In my observation, it didn’t make much difference to the bass response, in either setting. The greater change comes from the fit (how well the earbuds fit in your ears), and that’s directly related to the eartips you select. Be more careful about that, than pulling out or pushing in the tip angle.
There are times when you simply want to return to the convenience of a wired earphone. The gadget ecosystem around us doesn’t always allow that. Looking at you, Android phones and the iPhone. Yet, if you are using a separate digital music player or most of your listening (particularly during work hours) happens on a desktop computing system, there isn’t even the hassle of convertors and adapters.
Sennheiser tops that off with the soft of sound signature and dynamism which exudes quality and exactly what you’d want from earphones that cost as much as this. The Sennheiser IE 200 returns us to a simpler time and connects you with the music like no Bluetooth solution can. At least for now.