Sennheiser’s IE series has been quite the powerhouse in the world of IEMs. The new IE 200 is the latest set of earphones from them that made a big impression on me, even more impressive when you see the price. Its strongest comparison would be the IE 300, Sennheiser’s former iteration of a budget-fi IEM that is now off the market. Of course, there are still ways to get the IE 300, but the new IE 200 is meant to be the logical upgrade to the IE 300, but there will always be specific characteristics that some will prefer. Here are some of the differences and similarities you can expect from the IE 200 and IE 300.
What You Get
Expect to see the same materials with both the IE 200 and IE 300. The main differences are the IE 200’s braided cable and the simple pouch instead of a zipper case. You’ll get the same amount of silicone and memory foam ear tips with both packages, but I did not see a cleaning tool come with the IE 200.
Look and Feel
There are almost no differences in build between the IE 200 and IE 300. The IE 200 actually has a plainer design compared to the IE 300. However, they posses the same pill-shaped body, and it makes for two of the smaller IEM builds compared to the wider market. This makes both the IE 200 and IE 300 hold exactly the same level of comfort. So, if you found the IE 300 comfortable then the IE 200 should stack up the same way.
Sennheiser’s 7mm TrueResponse driver makes an appearance in both IEMs. This component has been a staple for Sennheiser’s design for a long time, and it is responsible for many of the characteristics that make their earphones so favorable among the audiophile market. When I listened to the IE 200, I found it odd how much power it wanted from my simple iPhone lightning adapter. The IE 300 wasn’t really like that, and offered a sufficient amount of headroom and loudness to me no matter how I was listening to them.
Both the IE 200 and 300 are effortless when it comes to their soundstages. The IE 300 has the unfortunate place as the first to release out of the two. Since its release, the IE series has only gotten better, and I feel like the IE 200 has superior ability. Both IEMs have similar levels of depth, but the IE 200 goes just a bit wider. The IE 200 feels like it is communicating more room in between each individual performance, and they become more transparent in the mix as a result. Instruments are easy to localize with the IE 300 as well, but the positioning doesn’t feel as intricately layered as the IE 200. These are both two very accurate representations of soundstage, but the IE 200 just appears more transparent and pure, while the IE 300 is a little flatter in comparison.
In the bass region, the IE 200 and 300 both showcase a warm timbre with intimate qualities. Comparing the two, the IE 300 feels a bit more reserved. With the IE 300, you get more scale to the bass, as it fills out more of the sound signature with smooth and colorful textures. Both IEMs are subtle in their detail, not wanting the extension to veer to far into the mids, but the IE 300 seems the cleaner of the two. However, I personally had more fun with the IE 200’s bass response, as it offered more excitement to the tone, especially in the sub-bass.
You’ll find the starkest difference between these two IEMs in the midrange, where the IE 200 seems to improve the most. Both IEMs undergo emphasized regions of mid-bands, but the IE 200 is much more articulate with it. The IE 300 is a little disorganized in comparison, as it struggle more with balancing roominess in a closer sound profile. However, the IE 300 is still clear and well represented in the midrange, but the IE 200 is just snappier and more resolving with its details.
There are some notable bright spots to the IE 200, which are a bit more pronounced compared to the IE 300. If you want a smoother tone, then the IE 300 will probably go down easier, but the IE 200 will never be too harsh or pricing. Its tone just feels more alive, and it brings more height and crispness to the sound signature than the IE 300 ever could.
The IE 200 and IE 300 are both great IEMs that are priced in a generous way. I wish there was a space for both of these IEMs to exist, but only the IE 200 is readily available, and it’s not a bad trade-off at all. I think the IE 200 is a worthy upgrade from the IE 300, but there are some aspects of the later that you may personally prefer.
The Sennheiser IE 200 is available at Audio46.