The Sennheiser IE 200 are an entertaining pair of wired in-earphones that bridge a casual, mainstream sound with a higher quality performance. Comfortable to wear, easy to drive in terms of amplification, and with a pleasingly warm performance, the IE 200 in-ears are never less than enjoyable to use.
- Warm, enjoyable sound
- Very comfortable to wear
- Easy to drive
- Could be more dynamic
- Lacks an in-line remote
- Dual turntable ear-tipsTune the sound by changing the position of the ear-tips
- Ear-tipsSilicone and memory foam sets
Wired headphones are apparently on the comeback trail, and the Sennheiser IE 200 has arrived to give you audio quality par excellence.
Much like wireless headphones, cheap wired headphones can still be crude in terms of performance. Apple’s EarPods were, and still are, popular; but their performance wasn’t as great as their popularity indicated.
The aim of the Sennheiser IE 200 is to provide “balanced, high-fidelity sound”. It’s not often you back against Sennheiser with their pedigree, and indeed the IE 200 proves to be a very likeable pair of wired headphones.
- Very comfortable to wear
- Over-ear hook fit
- No in-line remote
The design of the Sennheiser IE 200 is, at least to me, intended not to attract much attention. Aside from the branding and lettering you wouldn’t necessarily look at these headphones and say ‘Sennheiser!’ There’s a very fuss-free, get on with business theme with these in-ear monitors.
They even lack the more sparkly, dusty particle look of the IE 300 to help them stand out from the norm and the only colour they come in is black.
Sporting an ear-hook design, the material used is flexible so it can be moulded to the back of your ear for a secure fit. Like the IE 300 they feature an MMCX connector that allows the housing to be (easily) detached/attached to the cable, and you can twist the earphone to better fit into the ear during placement.
Apparently, there are two ways of positioning the IE 200’s ear-tips that lead to different sound tuning. The standard way offers a smoother sound and another position that improves bass and high-frequency tuning. Sennheiser doesn’t make it particularly clear how to do this (this video helps). There is a difference in tone, though there are times where I wonder whether pushing the earphones into the ear with force completely negates that tuning option.
Noise isolation is very effective with a good seal, blocking most sounds quite easily and comfort is good thanks to the lightweight design (4g). I’ve worn the IE 200 for hours and not felt even the slightest discomfort.
Of course, there’s no ‘transparency’ mode, so if you want to hear what’s around you, you’ll need to take them out. Three Silicone and memory foam ear-tips (small, medium, and large) are provided in a pouch (with a magnetic seal) for carry that continues the IEM’s minimalist vibe.
The 1.2m cable is braided and is not averse to becoming knotted up, though I’ve not found it difficult to ‘un-knot’ whenever that’s happened. There’s no in-line mic/remote, which primarily means that playback will have to be done on the source device. For those used to the convenience of wireless, this may come across as inconvenient.
At the other end is a 3.5mm jack for connecting to a source device (say a portable music player) and that’s pretty much that. A very simple design, but it all comes together effectively.
- 18-ohm impedance
- Wide frequency response
- Dynamic 7mm TrueResponse transducer
According to Sennheiser, the IE 200 has a frequency response from 6Hz to 20,000Hz, which suggests they can hit the upper limit of human hearing and reach past that in terms of bass with the 6Hz figure.
Considering that human hearing (normally) only falls to 20Hz, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to hear frequencies at 6Hz, but these lower frequencies may be communicated by the IE 200 in a way that you can feel them.
Impedance is 18 ohms, which is very low and should make it a very easy task to ‘drive’ these headphones from a source device, whether that be a smartphone, portable music player, or even a laptop.
Aside from that the driver (or transducer as Sennheiser refers to it), is a dynamic 7mm extra-wideband True Response effort that at the very least is similar, if not the same, as the one used in Sennheiser’s Momentum 3 True Wireless and is also used in the IE 300, IE 600, and IE 900. The aim of the True Response transducer is to reproduce sound as it’s meant to be heard.
- Slightly warm, rich presentation
- Could be more dynamic
- Wide, spacious soundstage
The earphones’ driver setup, source device, and quality of music you’re listening to all influence the eventual sound. What qualities does the Sennheiser IE 200 bring to proceedings?
For one, they’re a very smooth listen – despite the audiophile nature Sennheiser is claiming for the IE 200, I don’t sense they’re bringing an elevated level of detail to music. With Janelle Monae’s Can’t Live without You Love, they don’t strike me as the most revealing or exacting pair, but the sound they produce goes down easily.
They’re not overly rich, but strike an easy balance of being slightly warm but balanced from the highs to the lows. Nothing sticks out like a sore thumb across the frequency range – it’s all knitted together well for a flowing listen.
The midrange has a nice warmth to it, eschewing crispness and favouring smoothness in its description of Faye Webster’s voice in Sometimes and getting her melancholic tone right, or Chris Cornell’s baritone vocal range in the Shape of Things to Come.
There is a solid level of dynamism present in Murder and The Orient Express from the Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning soundtrack, but while there’s energy and flow to the track I don’t really hear it ‘soar’ as such and with quick, rhythmic tracks such as this the earphones can lack a degree of outright excitement.
Adding a DAC can help boost this area. Using the THX Onyx DAC connected to an iPad Pro, and the Sennheiser retains the same smooth, slightly rich presentation but with an extra ounce of attack, and a sharper sense of dynamism in transitioning between quiet and loud notes.
The highs are clear and there’s some brightness to treble, though they’re not sharply reproduced. Putting the in-ears in their ‘second’ position yields a crisper, more detailed performance, though I preferred the weight provided with the original position more.
The bass is well managed, sounding balanced and with decent depth that gives extension to the low end, but I wouldn’t suggest you go expecting a big and powerful performance. As I mentioned before, despite the warmth, these Sennheisers manage to offer a presentation that’s balanced.
More positives are that the soundstage is easily coherent and described with width, more so than the similarly priced Letshuoer S12 Pro. There are good levels of detail and clarity – if there is any distortion, I haven’t heard any.
I wouldn’t describe these earphones as wholly audiophile or analytical in taste, at least not with their standard tuning, as they seem to bridge a more casual, mainstream approach with a balanced sound. They’re never less than entertaining, and if you’re still into wired listening, the Sennheiser IE 200 is a contender under the £150 mark.
Should you buy it?
If you like a smooth, warm presentation: Sennheiser appears to have courted a more mainstream sound with the wired IE 200 in-earphones. There is an option to change the tuning for a clearer, more analytical presentation.
If you want something more convenient: The IE 200 are obviously not true wireless earbuds, and given the lack of 3.5mm jacks on mobile devices, support for wired earphones is not as wide as it used to be. Check out our Best Wireless Earbuds list.
The Sennheiser IE 200 are a well thought out pair of in-earphones. Their plug-and-play nature is a welcome trait; they’re very comfortable to wear and they’re easy to drive but adding a DAC or headphone amplifier can give them a more pronounced sense of dynamism and attack.
The slightly rich and warm presentation is enjoyable, though I do feel that doesn’t quite make them as audiophile in performance as Sennheiser is suggesting. They’re the kind of wired earphones for more casual listeners who want a higher-quality sound than those looking for a premium experience. In that respect Sennheiser is well stocked for options with the IE 300 and IE 600 available. Check out our Best in-ear headphones list for more options.
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Tested for several weeks
Tested with real world use
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The answer to that question depends on what you want to get out of your headphones. If you’re looking for convenience with the likes of noise-cancellation and transparency mode, wireless is better. For performance, wired earphones are better, and not susceptible to interference.