Review: Sennheiser IE 200 – Audiophile earphones for the masses

Review: Sennheiser IE 200 – Audiophile earphones for the masses. It may not be the ultimate in-ears, but they play above their class

Sennheiser clearly believes there’s still a place for wired in-ears. And this is despite the enormous success of wireless TWS devices. After a series of more expensive devices in the IE family, the German brand is now launching an entry-level model that promises to bring audiophile sound to the masses.

Sennheiser’s IE family has long stood for wired earphones with better sound quality. Since the sale of Sennheiser’s consumer division to the Swiss audiological giant Sonova, the story has become a bit more complex and extensive. After all, there are also IE models with a Pro suffix that are released by the professional division of Sennheiser (still in the Sennheiser family’s hands). At the same time, the consumer division has released a whole series of new IE models, without adding PRO. Those two lines are a bit mixed up, while they don’t offer the same thing. This time we are going to work with the Sennheiser IE 200.

The offensive on the consumer side started with the high-end IE 900, which retails for 1,500 euros, followed by the more affordable IE 300 and the mid-range IE 600. But even that IE 300 is – officially – 299 euros, which is still a lot for people who are not fully immersed in the wonderful world of headfi. That observation immediately explains the existence of the IE 200, Sennheiser’s latest offering. For 149 euros, these in-ears promise much of the same as their more expensive brothers – but at a price point that is much more accessible. Intriguingly, they allow music lovers to choose between a more open, audiophile sound and one that prioritizes bass with more body and presence. Or so the manufacturer promises.

Whatwired in-ears
Driversingle 7 mm TrueBalanced transducer
Impedance18 Ohm
Sensitivity119 dB (1 kHz, 1 Vrms)
Extra’s1.2 m cable with 3.5 mm jack, 3 x silicon tips, 3 x foam caps, pouch
Weight2 grams per ear

Good first impression

In the headfi world, 150 euros is budget class. But for many consumers, that amount is a significant expense. Sennheiser also seems to realize that, because they do their best to present these loafers attractively. Not cheap, it could be much better, but in a way that the consumer does not get the feeling that he has purchased the inferior option. Some high-end brands opt to send their loafers into the world in a very basic way, but that is not the case here. The IE 200s come in a box that is just as solid as the more expensive models and comes with quite a few extras. For a good fit, three pairs of caps are included as usual, each in a different size (small-medium-large). Sennheiser does this twice again, so you can choose from a silicone cap or a squeezable foam plastic cap for each size. We prefer the latter type, which resembles the tips of the Comply brand, for better stability and also sound transmission. Also included in the box is a small storage pouch.

Also included is a braided cable terminating in a universal 3.5mm jack. It is a ‘quiet’ cable that makes relatively little noise if you touch it while listening. So you can walk around with it.

Positive in terms of durability is that this cable hangs from the earphones via standard MMCX connectors. So you can replace it if it wears out. Or if you wish to upgrade to a balanced cable – although we think that’s something that owners of the more expensive models, in particular, will consider. The price of such an official balanced upgrade cable is almost as high as the IE 200s themselves.

Workmanship is excellent for the price

The IE 200 devices are similar in design to the more expensive IE models. Only the housings are made of a lighter plastic instead of aluminum, as with the IE 600. That choice of materials is probably related to the lower price but also ensures that the in-ears have little weight. On our mini scale, they tap out at 1.89 grams, including a cap. You really don’t feel that.

If you’re looking for a design statement, then you’ve come to the wrong place with the IE 200s. Sennheiser is really about German functional solidity, and that’s exactly how these devices come across. The build quality does look good. In general, you will rarely be disappointed with the German brand in that area.

Like many better in-ears, the IE 200 is equipped with a pliable earhook that routes the cable behind your earcup. If you have never worn this type, it takes some getting used to. Once properly applied and with the correct size in terms of cap – and this can differ per ear – you do get excellent stability and wearing comfort.

More or less bass?

The tube over which the caps slide and which fits in your ear canal is quite small, by the way. In our opinion, that also makes these in-ears suitable for people with a smaller ear canal entrance. Sennheiser also tries to offer something extra here. You can place the caps on the front or back of the tube thanks to an edge. Depending on the position you get a slightly different sound. At the back, you end up with a better seal to your ear canal, transferring bass more effectively. The caps in the front, therefore, give the impression that you get more detail and clarity.

It’s an interesting idea. And it is somewhat reminiscent of what JBL offers with its Tune Flex-TWS, where you can also tune the sound (and fit) with two types of caps. However, while using the IE 200, you quickly inadvertently push the caps to the back position. A bit of a gimmick, then.

DAC is not a must

Looking at the technical specifications of the IE 200, they don’t seem very challenging to drive. With a sensitivity of 119 dB and a slightly higher impedance of 18 Ohm for an IEM, you could easily connect them directly to a smartphone. If you can find another phone with a headphone output that is. Since that is becoming increasingly rare, you may have to buy a USB-C to-jack adapter for mobile use. Or if you aim for better quality: a mobile DAC such as the AudioQuest DragonFly, iFi Audio GO Link, or Lotoo PAW S2. Anyway, in those scenarios you usually get your hands on a solution with a little more power and control will not be a problem at all. If you use a music player or DAP, the IE 200 will also work fine with it.

While some manufacturers equip in-ears with multiple drivers per ear, Sennheiser prefers to use a single speaker. Both design philosophies have advantages and disadvantages so that in itself does not say much. The brand itself speaks of a TrueResponse transducer, referring to a 7 mm driver that the brand also used in other products. Sennheiser itself says that its driver produces virtually no harmonic distortion and sounds balanced.

Suitable for all genres

We found out during testing that the IE 200 doesn’t need anything special to play music. With both a dirt-cheap Shanling M0 and a high-end Astell & Kern KANN Alpha player, the Sennheiser was completely happy. On the latter player, we could quickly determine that the manufacturer is not lying by stating that audiophile quality is being brought to a lower price point. ‘Blues & Bach – The Music of John Lewis’ may be a bit dark and less broad, but listening pleasure is there in hope thanks to a nice mid-range and relatively good balance. Not that there is a neutral frequency response, but it is less pronounced a V-shape (a lot of bass, a lot of high) than what you find with very cheap earphones.

We experience a good sense of detail, which gives us the impression that we can really oversee the teamwork, but can also zoom in on the individual players. With ‘Spanish Steps’ we notice that not all the fine detail really comes through – especially with the drums – but that’s to be expected at this price point. Even with the caps in the rear position you will never get deep sub-basses. If we quickly compare it with the IE 300, then the next IE model is more impressive in that respect. Officially, that IE 300 is twice as expensive, but as always shopping around can narrow that gap considerably. If you’re a bass head, we’d recommend that move.

Still, the IE 200’s bass response, controlled and not overdone, is fine for this category. Most of all, it’s clean, thanks to that TrueResponse transducer.

In terms of the grandeur of the presentation and the soundstage, you get a fairly enveloping feeling with the IE 200s. As a result, ‘The Longing’ by Tamino or ‘Hurt’ by Arlo Parks get something intimate that you don’t easily get through a wireless speaker or the car radio. More is possible in this area. The IE 600, for example, scores better in that area. At the same time, the Sennheisers certainly have an edge over most TWSs in this area.


The word ‘cheap’ might sound crazy to some, but by better headphone standards it’s a label you can safely put on the IE 200. Price-wise, because in terms of sound quality, these Sennheiser have much more to offer than a budget label indicates. The IE 200 may not be the ultimate in-ears, but they play above their class. In good Sennheiser custom, these are earphones with an all-round character that is aimed at making all types of music sound good.


  • Valuable upgrade compared to budget earphones
  • Value for money
  • Sit well
  • Can you connect to everything
  • Interchangeable cables


  • Tuning via caps is a gimmick
  • Deeper basses may have more body