- Strong mid-range and bass
- Good low-volume performance
- Occasionally muddled sound
- Non-removable cable
- Review Price: £129.99
- Dynamic driver
- 10 - 18,000 Hz frequency response
- 1.2m cable
- 16 ohm impedance
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?
At around £120, the Sennheiser IE 60 earphones are aimed at those who care a lot about how their music sounds. The good news is that, as a brief summary, they sound great. They offer the forthright bass and mid-range of the best Sennheiser earphones, producing a powerful sound. Performing remarkably well at low volume too, they’re a good choice if you like to keep your player’s volume fairly low without leaving music weak and limp.
They use dynamic drivers, rather than the balanced armature type commonly seen at this high-end level. However, this is common to all current Sennheiser in-ear models – the £250 IE 80 use the same type of driver.
There are some sound compromises that you won’t hear at that top-end level, though. There’s some thickness to the upper-mids and low-bass. This helps to give the earphones warmth, but also can confuse more complex arrangements or those that have a particular emphasis on this part of the frequency spectrum.
High-end detail and resolution is also not a patch on the Sennheiser IE 80, which provide a more open, clear sound. Comparing with earphones twice the price is rarely a favourable comparison, but this lack of top-end focus married to the low-mid bump results in less clarity than some cheaper sets, such as the Nocs NS400. Sennheiser’s lower-end sets are often accused of having a “boxy” sound, and this is a fairly true description of the sound signature here.
A mid-range focus does have some benefits, though. Vocals are pushed right to front of a mix, avoiding getting submerged under other sonic layers as they often are in bass-centric sets.
Vocals do miss the lighter touch of more refined, insightful treble. And this is something you can find in some similarly priced earphones – not just the big-daddy Sennheiser IE 80. Both the Phonak Audeo PFE 112 and Nocs NS400 have that extra touch of grace and fidelity, and are available for the same price or less. A hearty mid-range is admirable, but isn’t enough to win out over the current class leaders.
With strong mid-range and bass performance, the Sennheiser IE 60 offer good sound whether you’re listening at low volume or ear-splitting levels. However, lacking the treble finesse of some similarly-priced sets and Sennheiser’s higher-end models and removable cables, they don’t quite win our full recommendation.
Score in detail
Design & Features 6
Sound Quality 7