These earbuds complete Sennheiser’s wired IE series, but as the middle brother, priced at S$1,099 or US$700, between the flagship IE 900 and the entry-level IE 300, what’s the selling point? We have the Sennheiser IE 600 with us today, and after trying out the IE 300 and IE 900, I’m honestly, quite excited to see how the IE 600 sounds.
So let’s talk design first. The IE series all have pretty distinct looks, with the sparkly design on the IE 300 and the ridged CNC metal shell of the IE 900, but the IE 600 really caught my eye when the teaser photos came out. These are made with a 3D-printed AMLOY-ZR01 amorphous zirconium metal. Boy, that’s a mouthful. Anyway, I think these look great. Sure, they’re a duller silver/grey colour than the IE 900, but the interesting texture on the shells make up for it, and it’s also more subtle in the ear as compared to the shiny IE 900. And the texture is really interesting. I always was a little worried about dings or scuffs on the IE900 and those crisp ridges, but these feel a lot more scratch resistant and sturdy for some reason. FYI, though, the nozzles are plastic, but I don’t think it’ll impact much since Sennheiser probably designed it that way for their own reasons.
On the left side, you get the Sennheiser logo printed on as per usual, but the IE 600 model name is now engraved or debossed into the shell instead of printed on, which is nice. You get the bass vents on either side under the logo, which is pretty unintrusive and out of the way. These are still needed, of course, because Sennheiser is sticking to their tried-and-tested 7mm TrueResponse transducer which is the one used in the IE 900 and IE 300. In the IE 600 though, they’re using dual resonator chambers to eliminate resonance, as compared to the triple Helmholtz resonator chambers in the IE 900.
Anyway, because there’s only a single driver in these, the shells are really small and they don’t stick out of your ear much, if at all. Wearing comfort is great and the passive noise isolation does help quite a bit, although, at this point, I feel obligated to talk about the cable. These come with the same para-aramid reinforced cables that the IE 300 and IE 900 came with. So you get the same Fidelity+ MMCX connectors, which means you’ll have to look for special aftermarket cables because the connectors are recessed in the housing. That being said, you do get a 3.5mm single-ended and a 4.4 balanced cable in the box, which is nice, but something that I noticed was quite prominent was microphonics.
This has been an issue since the IE 300, but previously, I didn’t notice much microphonics when I was testing the IE 300 or the IE 900. It was only with the IE 600 that I really noticed pretty bad microphonics. Of course, it could just be an issue with this particular unit and cable, but well, it’s worth pointing out.
You still get a hard-sided carrying case and cleaning tool like with the IE 900, although the 2.5mm balanced cable from the IE 900 is missing here, but hey, it’s the middle brother after all.
Anyway, let’s move on to the sound. As always, a disclaimer that audio is super subjective, so go and try these out for yourself if you can! The IE 300 was a fun, energetic sort of earphone while the IE 900 was definitely more analytical and resolving, and I feel that the IE 600 is veering slightly towards the IE 900 territory; more neutral than the IE 300, while being slightly warmer than the IE 900. I’d say it’s a more natural and balanced experience with these IEMs, almost in line with their middle-of-the-lineup position.
The bass is ever so slightly boosted, and very much like the sort of bass you would get out of a dynamic driver. It’s powerful and impactful and it’s very well controlled with no bleeding into the mids. However, if you’re looking for more oomph in the bass response, the IE 300 would be the better option in my opinion. But solely if you’re looking for more of a fun, bassier earphone. For more detailed bass, the IE 900 would still win out.
Moving onto the mids, you get a slight hint of warmth along with a very natural smoothness when it comes to percussion, vocals and the likes. Additionally, I’m not 100% sure but it feels like there’s a slight bump in the upper mids. Here is where the difference between the IE 600 and the IE 900 starts to show. There’s plenty of detail here, and vocals feel… just a bit more impactful, especially higher pitched ones. Of course, it’s been almost a year since I last heard the IE 900, so my memory could be off, but I’m sure that if I’m wrong, people will let me know in the comments section!
As for the treble, well, it’s pretty good. There is a slight elevation here and in the upper treble as per normal, and like the IE 900, treble-sensitive folks might not like it all that much, even though the bumped-up upper mids do taper back the treble a bit. Personally, I like my treble to be brighter and more energetic, and that’s what I really loved about the IE 900, so to me, these are almost just as good.
Soundstage-wise, it’s not quite as intimate as the IE 300, although it’s not as wide as the IE 900. It’s a comfortable middle ground, with a good amount of spaciousness and air. Positioning and imaging are still very accurate though, which is excellent.
At S$1,099 or US$700, the IE 600 are honestly really good. I like these a lot, and the price tag is way more palatable to me than the IE 900. The overall sound signature is definitely more consumer-friendly as well, which is nice. Sometimes you just want a pair of nice, fun-sounding earphones, you know?