Sennheiser IE200 review: wired wonder
Proves the old ways can still be the best
No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. The Sennheiser IE200 is a genuine pair of wired earphones, released in the year 2023. With a cable and everything. And that’s awesome.
A cable means not having to worry about whether you’re using the best quality Bluetooth codec, y’see. Or how much battery life you’ve got left before it’s time for a trip to a plug socket. At £130 they might be as expensive as the average pair of true wireless in-ears, but the IE200 are a whole lot simpler – and still manage to pack in niceties normally found in Sennheisier’s more premium IEMs.
Can detachable cables and speaker drivers with an extra wide frequency range convince you to embrace wires once more?
Design & build: family resemblance
The IE200 shares its minimal design with the rest of Sennheiser’s IE range. The buds are made from black plastic like the step-up IE300, rather than the premium zirconium and aluminium metals seen on the IE600 and IE900 respectively, but still look very sleek. The only splash of colour is the red ring on the right bud, so you can tell at a glance which ear it goes in. Branding is subtle, as are the ventilation holes next to the Sennheiser logos.
With a shape that matches the contour of your ears and diminutive dimensions, they sit flush when worn, and won’t move about even if you do. That’s partly down to the cable’s plastic ear hooks – which are easily moulded into shape, stay firmly in place, and are slim enough not to irritate glasses-wearers – and partly to the low weight of the buds, which tip the scales at a paltry 4g each.
The cable itself is tightly braided, to cut down on friction noise, and is light enough it doesn’t drag down on your ears. It also helps reduce tangles, although at 1.2m long some unknotting will still be required if you just bundle everything into the included leatherette pouch without winding it up a little first.
Features: just the tip
Sennheiser hasn’t just slapped a handful of silicone ear tips in the box and called it a day: the IE200 also gets a trio of interchangeable foam tips, which create a tighter seal in your ear and give better passive noise isolation. Whichever you go for (and it’s well worth experimenting with different sizes to find the most comfortable fit), the firm’s dual-tuneable positioning gives you some extra control over the sound.
Push the ear tips fully onto the buds and you’ll get a more bass-focused fit. Place them closer to the front, though, and the more vented fit reduces low-end impact, with a more spacious presentation. At least, that’s the theory. It’s all too easy to push the tips in further than you meant to when putting the buds into your ears, so you end up with the bass-focused fit whether you wanted it or not. This happened to us with both the foam and silicone tips, but different sized and shaped ears might experience different.
The buds use Sennheiser’s own spin on the industry standard MMCX connectors, which make it a breeze to disconnect the cable without any specialist tools. Seeing how cables are usually the first point of failure, you’ll be able to swap in a new one for a lot less than the price of a new pair of earphones, and serious music lovers can upgrade to an audiophile alternative – as long as they check compatibility first, as not all regular MMCX cables will fit.
Most smartphone listeners will have to reach for a USB-C dongle, now that the 3.5mm headphone port has gone the way of the dodo. You could hook the IE200 up to a Bluetooth headband if you wanted to (although Sennheiser doesn’t sell an official one) but we prefer cabled listening – especially when handheld gaming on the Nintendo Switch or Steam Deck. Zero latency means the sound is always in sync with what’s happening on-screen.
Sound quality: delicate balance
The IE200’s 7mm dynamic drivers aren’t ridiculously power-hungry, so you don’t need high-end hardware to drive them. They’re perfectly happy hooked up to a smartphone, so there’s no need to also invest in a headphone amplifier. Whatever you plug them in to, expect wonderfully precise and detailed sound for the money.
There’s real balance to Sennheiser’s tuning, with individual instruments all finding their own space within the mix. While the soundstage isn’t extensively wide, it’s not claustrophobic, and stereo separation is impressive: the rhythm guitar on SR-71’s pop punk anthem “Right Now” isn’t drowned out by rapid fire cymbal hits, which sit towards the rear and gives the vocals room to breathe.
Bass is well controlled, whether you’re using the foam or silicone tips, and have them in the bass-focused position. Blu Cantrell’s “Breathe” is impactful and meaty, without the kick drums being enveloped by the sub-bass, which really helps bring out the lively mid-range. More delicate acoustic tracks have real transparency, which while not on the level of pricier, multi-driver IEMs, still shows off the IE200’s impressive range. The high-end isn’t overworked either, delivering crisp notes that never stray into harsh territory.
These aren’t truly neutral in-ears, but there’s a linearity to the sound you won’t find in any number of rivals, both wired and wireless, which tend to favour “fun” over accuracy with V-shaped tuning curves.
Sennheiser IE200 verdict
With excellent build quality, supreme comfort, and a fantastic sonic performance for the money, the Sennheiser IE200 is an excellent entry-level IEM. They don’t punch too far above their weight, so as not to tread on the firm’s pricier IEM offerings, but have a more intimate presentation than what many Asian alternatives (affectionately known as ChiFi in certain headphone enthusiast circles) deliver.
We get it, wired earphones aren’t for everyone these days. For many, the convenience of true wireless outweighs any performance penalties brought by Bluetooth. But if you’re all about sound quality, this is an excellent jumping off point into the audiophile world.
Well-balanced sound from a keenly-priced pair of IEMs. The IE200 is as good a place to start your head-fi journey as any.
Wonderfully balanced, enjoyable audio
MCXX connectors and replaceable cable increase lifespan
Great first step for audiophiles
Dual-tuning ear tips can be fiddly
Cloth carry pouch instead of hard case
Sennheiser IE200 technical specifications
|Cable type||Angled 3.5mm, MMCX connectors|
|Weight||4g (not including cable)|