Hands-on with Sennheiser’s $1,000 IE 600 earphones

Natural, intimate and emotional – Just like me

Sennheiser has produced an expertly crafted pair of earbuds with its IE 600 models. From the metal zirconium build to the high-fidelity sound, there’s a lot to love.

The German audio company says that the earbuds offer a virtually distortion-free sound reproduction thanks to their ‘True-Response’ transducer and the single 7mm driver in each ear. The company says that these buds are tuned for an extra-wide frequency range and come across as natural, intimate and emotional — just like me.

After throwing the buds through my usual earbuds testing playlist (Apple Music/Spotify/YouTube), I dove deeper into Apple Music to explore the new lossless function and to find music with really nice depth and detail.

This, of course, led me to the MTV Unplugged Version of Lauryn Hill’s I Get Out. This song chills my spine every time I hear it, and listening to it the first time with the IE 600s was a treat. I felt like I could hear the warble in Hill’s voice so clearly, and the scratch of her fingers on the guitar strings gave me goosebumps on the back of my neck. I wasn’t even pushing the headphones to their full potential since Apple Music only had this song in 16-bit 44.1 kHz playback. Still, it was plenty and sounded so crisp. It will be hard to go back to Bluetooth. The memory foam tips also blocked a ton of external sound, rivalling active noise-cancelling on a lot of wireless buds.

After that, I tested something more modern. I’m used to listening to  FKA twigs’ latest hit tears in the club with ‘Spatial Audio’ enabled, so that was my first choice. The song sounded excellent, with the instruments, sounds, and vocals separated well in space and balanced appropriately. While Spatial Audio is a fun option that helps Bluetooth buds punch above their weight class, I’d take these wired earbuds and their clarity over them every day.

Last Friday, one of my favourite artists, JPEGMafia, released a new EP and it’s mastered in 24-bit 96kHz and sounds incredible. Maybe it’s hard for me to look objectively at the song that’s likely going to be my most played track all March, but the depth in the sampling and production on display here is breathtaking.

Even as he raps, the background maintains pleasing depth that’s only slightly muddled, and the bass kicks when he drops in a drum hit feels like it’s hitting me right in the chest. Sometimes the sound profile feels a bit sharp, but since I’m so used to testing out wireless earbuds, it’s difficult to tell if that is just me getting used to these earbuds, or if they actually are pushing the limits.

An unboxing experience

As much as I’d like to wax poetically about how every song I listened to felt enhanced by the IE 600s, there are other aspects of the earbuds I want to discuss. Let’s start with what’s in the box.

Since these buds are so pricey — the official cost is 699 EUR (roughly, $992 CAD) — there is understandably an above-average unboxing experience. Inside, the small metal buds are packed in custom foam cutouts. There are memory foam and silicone ear tips, plus a fancy certificate of authenticity. There’s even a separate cable with a 4.4mm AUX jack. I would have loved to see a longer cable to make it easier to use with my laptop when it’s mounted at my desk or one with a mic. I know that audiophiles likely don’t care, but it’s really annoying to have to switch earbuds if I want to have good call audio quality.

Finally, there’s a cleaning stick and a small carrying case for travel. I’ll also mention that the Sennheiser tips are really nice and include a bit of foam in the tip itself to help stop wax from clogging the actual speakers. It’s a nice touch.

Stay tuned for a full review in the future for a more detailed analysis. In the meantime, you can read my thoughts on the little sibling to these, the Sennhessier IE 300s.