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More likely than not, you, the audiophile, would’ve heard of the great Sennheiser brand due to their reputation in the headphones game.
The venerable HD600, released in 1997 and based off the HD580 in 1993, later spun off to the HD650 in 2003 and then made cheaper in collaboration with Massdrop as the HD6XX in late 2018. The HD800, introduced in 2009 and then further refined into the HD800S in late 2015. The HD25, an industry staple in both the DJ and broadcasting world since 1988. And lets not forget the “concept headphone” models in the Orpheus, the HE-1, and various other “babies” in-between.
But it’s no secret that Sennheiser has had quite the rocky journey through the IEM world. The original IE8, the updated IE80, the flagship IE800, and subsequent updates IE80S and IE800S, all found lukewarm responses during their respective times but have long since lost their allure in today’s hypercompetitive market. And of course the Momentum In-Ear series, but your average IEMphile would more consider them as “consumer-fi” rather than one targeted towards the fastidious.
A little over 3 years since the release of the IE800S (which itself was a refresh of the original IE800 initially released in 2012), Sennheiser now updates their flagship spot with a fresh face: the IE900. This comes as Sennheisers newest push into the consumer-audiophile IEM market starting with the IE300, which was positioned as a more budget-ish offering. And so it only stands to reason that Sennheiser would subsequently target the opposite side of the market, diving back into the kilobuck price bracket.
But enough chit-chat, you’re all here to get that one question answered. How good is the IE900 actually?
Product page: https://en-us.sennheiser.com/ie-900
Driver configuration: single DD
This IE900 was kindly provided by Sennheiser.
My unboxing posts are pretty much the only times I’ll ever talk about build quality, accessories and the like. I’m not really the person to ask about these things as I don’t really care about them that much.
- Canvas hard case
- Cleaning tool
Cable: single-wire configuration. Rubbery feel, stiffer that I expected but also rather sturdy with a solid core.
Connection: a pseudo-recessed MMCX connection (recessed on the IEM side) identical to that of the IE300. Should be more durable than standard MMCX, but third-party MMCX are likely not going to be compatible.
Build: fairly decent full-metal build, no complaints.
Fit: negative profile. Good insertion depth, no complaints.
- A fairly big step up from the IE800/S. Less upper-mid congestion, better treble sparkle, slightly better resolution… but don’t expect a night-and-day difference in terms of technicalities.
- Biggest strengths are in both ends of the spectrum; emphasised yet well-controlled bass, and excellent treble extension without sibilance. Timbre is also solid with no weird metallic resonances that plague some high-end DDs.
- Honestly I’m extremely impressed with the IE900’s bass response. Probably some of the best I’ve heard presented by a single-DD.
- Midrange tonality would potentially be the big dealbreaker. Not the worst I’ve heard and arguably the biggest improvement from the 800/S, but still lacking when comparing to other top-tier kilobucks and so knocking the competitiveness of the IE900 down a peg.
- Has a bit of “muffle” going on in the vocals, and stuff like electric guitars lack proper bite. May be up your alley if you’re looking for that laidback signature, though the treble might turn you off in that case…
- Overall the IE900 fills a niche as a decent high-end DD, but wouldn’t be a front-runner for the kilobuck space in my books.