At the beginning of last year, Sennheiser officially released the first product of the new flagship IE series, the IE 300. As the entry-level product of this series, it has won praise from many enthusiasts. In the middle of last year, Sennheiser brought the flagship product of the IE series – IE 900. As Sennheiser’s first flagship earbuds product with a price of more than 10,000 RMB, it has been a great success and is still out of stock. As a series of entry-level and flagship-level products, the middle product has not been released until March of the following year after the release of the two products. This product finally came to our eyes, it is the mid-end product of the IE series——Sennheiser IE 600.
In fact, it has been about two weeks since I got the Sennheiser IE 600. As dynamic earbuds, we have also carried out a period of burn-in and careful listening with various front-end devices. As a dynamic earbuds priced at 4999 RMB, although the price is less than half of the Sennheiser IE 900, it is not an entry-level or cheap product in the industry.
And this belated mid-end product, compared with the two products in the same series that have been recognized and successful, can it play a role in linking the past or receive the same praise as the first two earbuds? Take a look at our experience.
Consistent appearance style (Design & Accessories)
First of all, as a product of the IE series, there is no doubt that the IE 600 adopts almost the same cavity design as the other two products in the same series. However, in terms of the material of the earbuds cavity, it is neither the plastic material of IE 300 nor the CNC-cut aluminum alloy structure of IE 900, but an amorphous zirconium material called “ZR01” 3D printed in Germany. The metal has an atomic structure similar to glass, and is three times harder and more resistant to bending than high-performance steel.
In addition to being used in high-end products like Sennheiser IE 600, ZR01 amorphous zirconium is also used in the aerospace industry. For example, the drill bit of NASA’s Mars rover, because in extreme environments such as Mars, very good toughness is required. The IE 600 earbuds shell has been treated with multiple fine processes, its surface finish is greatly improved, and it has strong corrosion and scratch resistance, this extraordinary durability ensures that its shell will last forever.
In terms of accessories, IE 600 is also in the middle of IE 300 and IE 900 configuration. It comes with two cables, a 3.5mm single-ended earphone cable and a 4.4mm balanced earphone cable. Compared with the Sennheiser IE 900, it lacks a 2.5mm balanced earphone cable, but the 4.4mm balanced port is now the absolute main interface. The headphone interface is still the same as IE 900 and IE 300, and adopts the design of Fidelity+MMCX. The interface part on the headphone side still has a design similar to “steps”. For users who like tossing cables, special attention is required.
In addition to earphone cables, which are relatively the most valuable accessories, Sennheiser IE 600 also comes with a total of 6 pairs of eartips, including three pairs of silicone materials and three pairs of memory foam materials. Then there are accessories such as cloth storage bags, cable clips and cleaning tools that are standard in the same series.
Acoustic Configuration & Reference Equipment (Configuration & Playback Equipment)
In terms of acoustic design and configuration, Sennheiser IE 600 is also catching up with the flagship product IE 900. It is also equipped with a 7mm TrueResponse dynamic unit. In terms of the configuration of the acoustic cavity, the flagship IE 900 adopts the three-cavity sound absorber (X3R) technology, while the IE 600 also adopts the exclusive dual-cavity sound absorber technology (D2CA). The “ZR01” amorphous zirconium cavity shell material mentioned above is actually not inferior to the aluminum alloy cavity of IE 900.
With such a high acoustic configuration and a price of 5,000 RMB, such a product must of course be paired with an excellent front end as a reference sound source. In the audition session for a period of time, I mainly referred to three devices as audio sources, namely: FiiO M17 player, Hiby RS6 player and Goldenwave desktop decoder and amp all-in-one machine. In terms of cable and interface, 4.4mm interface is selected.
For the reference music and sources, we mainly use two lossless streaming media, Apple Music and Qobuz. The songs are mainly classical music that is more commonly heard recently, as well as a small number of vocal pop and rock rap songs. Classical music is dominated by large-scale symphony and piano solo categories.
Get along in harmony, but don’t go along with the sound style (Sound Quality)
The first thing to say is that compared to the IE 300 and IE 900, the sound performance of the Sennheiser IE 600 is different from the previous two earbuds with very similar overall energy distribution styles. But this difference is more like a presentation of “living in harmony, but not casually agreeing”. If IE 300 and IE 900 are like the brilliant and warm sound performance of old-style Sennheiser, then IE 600 is more like HD600, HD800S and these “modern” Sennheiser’s sound interpretation.
Compared with IE 300 and IE 900, the new IE 600 sounds more “modern” and more in line with the sound style of high-end headphones and speakers in recent years. If you are not an old-style user who misses the former sound style and don’t like a lot of low frequency of IE 300 and IE 900, then the relatively more neutral and healthy sound of IE 600 will definitely attract you more.
However, the Sennheiser IE 600 is by no means the kind of earbuds that highlight the brighter mid-high frequency, it is more like a sound style with a slightly warmer mid-range. As mentioned above, it is similar to the energy distribution of HD800S and HD600. For most classical music, it can have just the right amount of low frequency surround and the ability to stand out rhythm that pop music should have. For the mid-high frequency part, the transparency is also better in the same series. And in terms of sound field and imaging, the IE 600 is undoubtedly a product worth mentioning in this price segment.
The Sennheiser IE 600 has a moderate soundstage that’s not overly exaggerated, but it still gives you a feeling of expansiveness. In terms of sound imaging, it will be relatively detailed and clear, you can hear clear instrument positions, and it also has a good performance for the expression of distance. Both the horizontal distance and the distance between the instruments in the orchestra and the recording location can be clearly explained.
For the Sennheiser IE 600, its sound performance did not continue the sound style of the IE 300 and IE 900 as I expected, but this style is still the mainstream aesthetic performance of Sennheiser. This differentiated product of the same series is also a correct product direction, providing a different choice for audiophiles who like different sound styles. In the price range of 5000 RMB, the balance and sound characteristics of IE 600 are very obvious advantages. And as a product of Sennheiser, a top brand in the industry, it is a very worthy choice.