technology

Sennheiser IE 600 headphones review: ever closer to perfection

Manufacturing & accessories

The IE 600 are modeled on the same format as all the other models of the IE series and materialize in compact, very light and very thin earphones, with a cable passage which operates from above in the “In- Ear Monitors”. The manufacturing quality was already amazing on the manufacturer’s entry-level reference and is just as good here, if not even more so. The density of the metal chassis and the design of the connector connecting each earphone to the cable give off an extremely reassuring impression of solidity.

Sennheiser IE600

The metal used on the IE 600 (amorphous zirconium) gives them this atypical appearance. The small bumps and the coating also make the headphones perfectly insensitive to marks and scratches.

The manufacturing quality of the cable that accompanies the headphones further reinforces this observation with a thick, flexible sheath and a mini-jack connector ending in an angled connector, which also seems ready to last. Once again, the manufacturer has a perfect command of his subject.

Sennheiser IE600

As on the IE 300, the IE 600 connect to their cable via MMCX connectors.

The list of accessories supplied with the IE 600 is more than honest: a rigid transport case with neat finishes, two 1.2 m cables – one unbalanced terminating in a 3.5 mm mini-jack connector, the other symmetrical with a 4.4 mm Pentaconn connector —, pliers, a cleaning tool and an armada of pairs of silicone and memory foam tips (three of each).

Editor's Rating: 5 out of 5

Comfort & support

Almost identical to the IE 300 in design and weight, the IE 600 therefore always offers a top-notch wearing experience. Thanks to their compactness, their lightness and their shape, the headphones instinctively find their place in the hollow of the pavilion and at the entrance to the auditory canal. The wide range of tips provided allows you to maximize comfort according to your morphology and your preferences (contact with silicone or memory foam, insulation). What’s more, although they are in-ear headphones, intrusive by nature, the feeling of pressure here is quite measured.

The attachment system for the tips is both simple and very clever: they can be removed without difficulty, but know how to stay perfectly in place once the earphones are housed in the ear.

The attachment system for the tips is both simple and very clever: they can be removed without difficulty, but know how to stay perfectly in place once the earphones are housed in the ear.

The passage over the ear of the cable can be confusing at first sight for those who discover this system. It will therefore certainly require a few sessions to get used to it. Nevertheless, the shape memory design on part of the cable sheath makes it possible to marry the pavilion well, and therefore to ensure comfort and support at all times, knowing that the headphones manage to stay well on their own. in place in the hollow of the pavilion. A faultless again on this point.

A small, integrated cable tie adjusts where the main cable splits.

A small, integrated cable tie adjusts where the main cable splits.

Editor's Rating: 5 out of 5

Audio

Do the IE 600s manage to exceed the performance of the IE 300s and reach the pinnacle of sound neutrality? As for raw performance, the answer is yes. The IE 600s push excellence even further, but when it comes to the quest for supreme neutrality, our verdict is not so obvious.

Measurement of the frequency response (normalized at 94 dB, 1 kHz): the sound reproduction remains unchanged, whether it is a silicone (purple) or memory foam (black) ear tips.

Measurement of the frequency response (normalized at 94 dB, 1 kHz): the sound reproduction remains unchanged, whether it is a silicone (purple) or memory foam (black) ear tips.

© The Digital

As we suspected, these headphones offer a slightly different vision of the IE 300s. approach the best possible sound transparency, in the sense that it brings a slight gain in definition and detail. The entire first part of the spectrum, from the lowest frequencies to the mids, is certainly a little less warm, more “dry” one might say, but in the end a little better staged and controlled, more readable. The behavior of intras from a strict frequency point of view is not the only reason for this, since the loudspeaker is quite simply a bit more agile and reactive to process these frequencies. We finally end up with very deep, punchy and immersive bass, with all the same a more frank support on the impact, the seat, the most serious resonances.

Measurement of membrane reactivity: square waves at 50 Hz.

Measurement of membrane reactivity: square waves at 50 Hz.

© The Digital

The IE 600s also bring a little more satisfaction in the reproduction of treble/extreme treble, here a tad finer, detailed and homogeneous. We feel that efforts have been made to extend even more the response of the headphones in the higher frequencies, which is felt in the reproduction of multiple fine elements and the perception of the stereophonic scene, while limiting the small shiny aspect in the boundary between high mids and highs. The result gains in naturalness while always being more respectful of the stamps for an even more spectacular result.

Measurement of membrane reactivity: square waves at 500 Hz.

Measurement of membrane reactivity: square waves at 500 Hz.

© The Digital

As long as we are being choosy, and even if it means approaching the greatest neutrality, we would have liked an even softer approach in the treble to really stem the subtle coloring still perceptible in the latter, especially on the instruments with the highest harmonics (cymbals, sibilant voices, saturated electric guitars, etc.), especially when the latter are naturally enhanced by the mixing of the piece.

It’s the same with the little boost of energy at the border between mids and high-mids, more audible and inflating the feeling of presence a little too artificially, and therefore bringing the back of the sound stage a little towards the foreground. These are objectively anecdotal specificities with regard to the excellent overall performance, but they can tickle people who know they are very sensitive to them.

Nothing to report on the distortion side, admirably controlled over the entire audible spectrum.

Nothing to report on the distortion side, admirably controlled over the entire audible spectrum.

© The Digital

A final word on the sound insulation provided by the headphones, which is good overall, very good for the silicone tips, a bit light with the foam ones in the low-mids/mids. Sennheiser’s in-house earmolds tend to compromise between insulation and comfort/feeling of intrusion. The result is a less pronounced occlusion of the ear canal and, the laws of acoustics being what they are, less attenuation in this area compared to other models. You can always cut yourself off very well from the surrounding noise pollution to enjoy your music in good conditions, but some of the components of the human voice, for example, will remain quite perceptible.

Insulation measurement: reference (black); foam tips (purple); silicone tips (orange). Unsurprisingly, the foam tips are the ones that provide the absolute best insulation, but the difference with those made of silicone is, so to speak, marginal in terms of perception.

Insulation measurement: reference (black); foam tips (purple); silicone tips (orange). Unsurprisingly, the foam tips are the ones that provide the absolute best insulation, but the difference with those made of silicone is, so to speak, marginal in terms of perception.

© The Digital

Strong points

  • Very rich and perfectly defined sound reproduction.

  • Impeccable treble reproduction.

  • Wide, immersive and extremely detailed soundstage.

  • Impeccable distortion management.

  • Top quality manufacturing.

  • Excellent feelings of comfort, perfectly assured support.

Weak points

  • The slight excess of liveliness (emphasis on mids/high-mids) will not be to everyone’s taste.

  • Sound insulation foam tips a bit light.

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