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Sennheiser IE 300 In-Ear Headphone Review

Sennheiser's Return to Audiophile IEMs

Christopher Coke Posted:
Category:
Hardware Reviews 0

Sennheiser is one of the most respected names in the audio business, but there’s a good chance you know them from their over-ear headphones. Don’t let that fool you, the company has been deep into the in-ear world for years, delivering pro-level earphones to musicians around the globe. The IE 300 is a different beast: it’s consumer targeted, separate from the company’s Pro line-up and is tuned to deliver the high fidelity sound audio enthusiasts crave.

But, as we know, good sound isn’t just an audiophile’s pursuit. Are the IE 300s for you? Find out in this review. 

Specifications

  • Current Price: (Amazon) <- Link here or to vendor site if unavailable
  • Impedance: 16 Ω
  • Transducer principle: Single Dynamic Driver, Pressure Chamber
  • Weight w/o cable: 4g
  • Sound pressure level (SPL): 124 dB (1 kHz / 1 Vrms)
  • Ear coupling:In-Ear
  • Cable length: 125 cm
  • Frequency response: 6 Hz - 20 kHz
  • THD, total harmonic distortion: < 0,08 % (1 kHz, 94 dB SPL)
  • What’s in the Box: 
    • IE 300 Earphones
    • Cable with MMCX connectors and 3.5mm plug
    • Silicone & Memory Foam Sets (S, M, L)
    • Carry Case
    • Cleaning Tool
    • User Manuals

The Sennheiser IE 300 surprised me in more ways than one. They arrive in a nice two-piece box adorned with renders of the earphones, but they really don’t do justice to how small the earphones are. With the lid removed, it’s plain to see how tiny and non-descript they are. They’re clearly made to sit flush in the ear and not stand out, which also makes them a good fit for users with small ears or for listeners who prefer to sleep in their earphones. 

That isn’t to say they’re boring. Sennheiser has decorated them with white speckles. They’re not glittery like a lot of Chi-Fi IEMs but definitely look nice. The branding isn’t what I would call subdued with a big Sennheiser logo on the outside and the product name on the inner shell, but since the earbuds are so small it winds up that way anyway. The overall look is tasteful but stylish, even if you’re the only one who will really notice. 

That small size also makes them comfortable to wear over long periods of time. They’re lightweight and didn’t press on my outer ear like a UIEM might (universal-fit IEM). Instead, the nozzle is held by the ear canal, so it’s especially important to find a good fit. Sennheiser proves three pairs of silicone and foam tips to help with this process (as well as a nice zippered carrying case and cleaning tool), but I found the silicone to be a bit too thin to really secure. The memory foam tips were perfect, however, and really aided in blocking out surrounding noise. 

One of the more exciting additions arriving with the IE 300s is Sennheiser’s new cable, but it’s also one of the more disappointing pieces of the package. The cable takes inspiration from the company’s Pro-line earphones with nice memory-wire ear hooks to keep them secure in the ear. It’s also thin and smooth, so you don’t have to worry about it getting hung up on your jacket. The cable is also detachable using MMCX connectors, which is another high point, so if anything ever happens to the cable, you can simply replace it instead of being stuck buying all new earphones. 

I say it’s disappointing because it’s just not as easy to manage as a normal woven cable. It has a decent amount of memory, which leads to curls when it’s sitting slack. This makes it fairly prone to tangling when wrapped up in the case. It’s also not interchangeable with normal MMCX cables either, so replacing it isn’t easy. Since the connections to the buds are recessed, none of the three alternate MMCX cables I tried had enough reach to snap into place — including my Bluetooth neckband. To be fair, Sennheiser doesn’t claim the IE 300s will work with other cables, but I suspect users may want to investigate this option. I obviously can’t say there aren’t aftermarket cables that will work, but my Tripowin, Fiio, and Yinyoo cables were all too short. 

With that out of the way, let’s get into what really matters most here, and that’s how they sound. The IE 300s use a single 7mm XWB (extra wide band) transducer, which is its proprietary dynamic driver. It combines this with “back volume” technology which directs airflow to the transducer, which allows for a greater degree of control for the bass and mid frequencies especially. Sennheiser then added a resonator chamber to absorb masking frequencies and enhance the clarity of what the user can hear.

All of that adds up to a more powerful sound than anything this size has a right to. The IE 300s are defined by their bass, which is prominent but not overpowering. This lends them a “big” sound with plenty of punch for rock, pop, and hip-hop. The upper register has also received a tweak, which draws out higher frequency detail like cymbals and some of the airiness and space behind stringed instruments. Mids are tamer. Vocals and guitars are clear and detailed but don’t tend toward fatiguing sharpness. These headphones definitely embrace the V-shaped sound signature which highlights energy and detail.

In my listening, I took in a wide range of tracks: everything from classical, to EDM, to rap, to post-hardcore. Sennheiser’s tuning made each of them enjoyable. Electronic music and rock really shined thanks to the punchy bass, but these headphones did a great job of capturing the atmosphere in music, too, which isn’t something that’s especially common with in-ear headphones. 

In-ear headphones tend to sound more compressed than over-ear headphones but Sennheiser’s acoustic chambers and XWB transducer do a good job of giving music and other media a sense of space, letting the music breathe. This was really striking in orchestral soundtracks where the sound had a sense of depth I didn’t expect going in and really enjoyed. The detail and texture was also excellent. I’m not a soundtrack guy, usually, but stringed instruments sounded so lifelike, I found myself falling down the Hans Zimmer rabbit hole on Spotify.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to value, there’s a particular market for $300 IEMs. These are in-ears for the audio enthusiast, someone who likes a powerful, energetic, and detailed sound. Yet, their tuning also makes them an excellent fit for entertainment in general: music, movies, gaming, you name it. The IE 300s are exceptionally well-rounded headphones for this price point and offer a tuning that should be popular with a wider range of listeners than the average “audiophile.” Cable aside, the IE 300s mark a stellar return for Sennheiser to the consumer audiophile space. 

The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes.
9.0Amazing
Pros
  • Powerful, punchy bass
  • Lots of details and air — solid V-shaped tuning
  • Not fatiguing
  • Nice included case and array of accessories
  • Small and comfortable
Cons
  • Cable has a tendency to tangle
  • Silicone tips are too flexible
  • Cable isn’t easily interchangeable


GameByNight

Christopher Coke

Chris cut his teeth on MMOs in the late 90s with text-based MUDs. He’s written about video games for many different sites but has made MMORPG his home since 2013. Today, he acts as Hardware and Technology Editor, lead tech reviewer, and continues to love and write about games every chance he gets. Follow him on Twitter: @GameByNight