After 75 years of development, Sennheiser sold its consumer electronics business to SONOVA, the world’s top medical hearing group, in 2021. Shortly after the acquisition was officially announced, Sennheiser officially released the new flagship in-ear earbuds of the IE series —— Sennheiser IE 900.
Regardless of the possibility, the IE 900 may be the last flagship product of Sennheiser that is completely independently developed and designed after being acquired. Of course, acquisitions are not necessarily a bad thing.
So how to see IE 900 may also be Sennheiser’s “The Last Dance” in the high-end series of products that represent the brand. For this brand-new flagship priced at $1500, what kind of performance will it have?
Sophisticated and luxurious appearance and accessories
For appearance and accessories, Sennheiser IE 900 has a very refined appearance design and luxurious accessories. There are three cables in the package. The three cables are 3.5mm standard headphone jack, 4.4 and 2.5mm balanced headphone jack cables. The configuration of three cables is not common in today’s headphones, and most of them are matched in the form of adapters. Three cables undoubtedly added a lot of cost.
In the cavity design of the earphones, the IE 900 adopts the CNC aluminum alloy processing method, and the precision machine tool directly uses the process of digging aluminum to make the shell of the cavity. The stepped design is adopted, and the lines on the earphone cavity are very finely carved. The color also uses the primary color of aluminum alloy, and the silver appearance is still very high-end. Earbuds are designed with mmcx pins, but they are slightly different from the common sockets on the market. There will be a step for the socket and cable part. If you want to replace the cable, you may need to actually try to see if it can be plugged in.
In terms of other accessories, the Sennheiser IE 900 comes with a cloth storage bag, as well as 6 pairs of eartips in three sizes and two materials, which are silicone material and memory foam material. The sponge eartips of Sennheiser’s flagship earbuds series have always been very soft, and these two eartips have little impact on the sound, so you can choose based on your favorite material. It is also worth mentioning that the eartips this time are also equipped with a dust filter in the middle part, which can better prevent dust and earwax in the ear canal from entering the cavity.
Reference equipment and records
For the IE 900 earbuds, the main interface I use is a 4.4mm balanced plug cable. Portable devices mainly use the Hiby R8 player as the audio source, and desktop devices mainly use the SSL2 sound card and the AUNE S6PRO all-in-one machine as the audio source. The reference tracks are mainly for classical music and pop music. The Hiby R8 uses Apple Music as the playback software, and the desktop device uses the Qobuz streaming platform as a reference.
In classical music, the main reference repertoires are the symphonies of the large compilation and the 3-5 ensemble repertoire of the small compilation. In terms of pop music, the modern and popular Billie Eilish is selected, and there are also some classic old man’s voice recordings. However, in terms of personal preference and product positioning, the description of the sound is mainly from classical music, and the performance of popular music will also be mentioned.
A true return to classics combined with modern advancements
If there is one word to describe the sound performance of the Sennheiser IE 900, it is like what I said in my previous IE 300 review. Sennheiser has finally returned to the “Old Sennheiser” sound that audiophiles have been talking about with its new flagship series. The IE 900 is also in the same vein as the IE 300, inheriting Sennheiser’s consistently excellent low-frequency performance, atmosphere and envelopment. Compared with the classic sound of the previous flagship, thanks to the development of diaphragm material and technology, the new IE 900 has undoubtedly greatly improved the quality of sound. In this era of sound styles that emphasize details, high frequencies, and speed, it is undoubtedly moving and addicting to use modern high-quality to interpret the once classic warm and magnificent sound style.
The Sennheiser IE 900 is very close to the sound of the Sennheiser IE8 in terms of classical music. Huge low-frequency quantity and enveloping feel make for a very pleasant listening experience. And compared with the old generation products, the IE 900 has almost no occlusion effect on the middle and high frequency when the low frequency quantity remains unchanged. If the Sennheiser IE8 is an earbuds with a thicker sound style, then the IE 900 is already a product with a neutral sound style but more prominent low frequency quantity.
In the performance of specific instrumental music, the performance of IE 900 is more interesting. With excellent detail and relatively precise imaging positions, these are high quality sounds very similar to modern Sennheiser sound styles. But in the low-frequency sound part, it has a very good quantity and envelopment. And the low frequency is always in a position where it is on the verge of collapse and never gets out of control, which is very interesting and enjoyable to listen to. The resolution, imaging, transparency, low-frequency quantity and envelopment are not in conflict and can be obtained at the same time, which can be said to be very rare in earbuds at present.
Finally, about pop music, excellent low-frequency performance is of course a great addition to today’s pop music. Whether it is the accompaniment of Hip-Hop or the rhythm brought by regular pop music, the low-frequency performance can bring enough immersion. And the excellent low frequency performance does not interfere with the performance of mid-high frequency and vocals. In the image of the vocals, it has inherited the consistent style of Sennheiser. The position of the vocals is relatively restrained, not very close, but you can also feel the excellent image and mouth shape of the vocals.
If you talk about the combination of IPC + IE8 with the older generation of enthusiasts, it is a topic that was talked about in the circle. Now ten years have passed, and the classic products have been discontinued. In fact, it is more that enthusiasts nostalgic for the classics and the sound characteristics of that era are gone forever. However the Sennheiser IE 900 gave a near perfect answer. The price of $1500 is not low for a single dynamic earbuds, but it is not a very expensive price for the current flagship earbuds. And I personally think that it gives you a sound style that is hard to find on the market today.