Sennheiser is one of the most reliable makers of headphones and earphones. However, it gets most love for its top-end and bottom-end models, the IE 80 and CX300 earphones. What about the bits in the middle? The Sennheiser IE 60 cost around half the price of the top-end in-ear headphones, but are they high-end enough to demand more than a hundred pounds?
Not traditionally known for the neat designs of its earphones, Sennheiser recently teamed-up with BMW to up its style cred in pairs like the CX980i. Graceful and made of metal, they were a departure for the headphone pro. However, the IE 60 send Sennheiser straight back to the design low-tier class.
All seams and angular contours, it doesn't subscribe to the ideal that simpler is better. Sennheiser has tried to spice-up the look with some gold trim, but it has rather backfired. Getting gold to look classy rather than tacky is tricky at the best of times. Their predecessors, the IE 6, used a silver finish - and we prefer it.
Pure aesthetic aside, there are fewer complaints to make about the Sennheiser IE 60 design. The buds aren't overly large, and are lined in rubber across their outer curve, intended to keep them stuck in your ears more firmly. As the rubber tips sit towards the outer part of your ear canal rather than getting properly stuck in, this tweak doesn’t make a great deal of difference, but with the right-sized tip the fit is strong enough.
The parts of the earphones most prone to wear and tear have been reinforced with chunky plastic - the 3.5mm right-angle jack, cable junction and where the cable enters the bud. These earphones do, however, miss out on some significant features commonly found in headphones at this price.
There's no handsfree kit and the cable is non-removable, a significant issue at the price. The cheaper Shure SE215 offer a removable cable, while there are countless headphones with handsfree kits these days. When the IE 60 earphones are clearly a minor iteration on the 2009 Sennheiser IE 6, it seems a little odd not to offer at least the option at launch. Sennheiser offers phone call-receiving versions of several of its headphones, which usually carry the "i" tag.
Along with the earphones themselves, Sennheiser includes a pair of earhooks to hold the cable over your earlobes, a carry case, cleaning tool, cable clip, and three pairs of rubber tips. The noise isolation supplied by the tips - with a good fit - is enough to block out most of the noise from public transport, but doesn't lead the class. Shure's buds offer slightly better isolation with their deeper-delving olive tips.
However, it's good enough for most situations and can be improved by buying separate foam tips. Comply's T-500 tips are compatible with this particular model.
The Sennheiser IE 6 do little to stand-out, design-wise. Other than decent strength, they offer no noteworthy extra features and the look doesn't suggest their high-end price. Can they win back points on sound?
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