At The Source AV, we discuss Home Audio & Video, Personal Audio, Home Theater, Home Automation. Our goal is to bring you our honest thoughts on some of the best equipment in the music industry so that you can make an informed buying decision.
Today, we explore the Sennheiser IE 900. This article will discuss some design features, build quality, and some of my initial sound impressions.
IE 900 Design Features
The award-winning IE 900 is Sennheiser’s current audiophile in-ear flagship. The IE 900 uses the new X3R single driver system, which, according to Sennheiser, helps avoid phase incoherence and unwanted distortion found with some multi-driver systems.
The new precision-milled X3R system builds on Sennheiser’s in-house developed 7mm TrueResponse transducer. Using three Helmholtz resonator chambers placed between the diaphragm and the nozzle and an acoustic vortex, Sennheiser states the system helps create a smooth treble response. According to Sennheiser, the three resonator chambers smoothen the frequency response at high frequencies from 6 to 10 kilohertz allowing the listener to hear frequencies above 11 kilohertz better.
Built from aluminum for its suitability for high-precision milling, the IE 900 only weighs 4 grams per earphone and is, in my opinion, aesthetically pleasing. According to Sennheiser, a five-axis CNC machine precision cuts each housing individually from a single block of aluminum. Once anodized, the housing is highly resistant to wear and corrosion.
The IE 900 uses gold-plated fidelity+ MMCX connectors with great care in how they have been positioned to provide strain relief on the connection. The included cables can be routed behind the ear for additional comfort and are para-aramid reinforced to withstand thousands of bend cycles.
What Comes Included with the IE 900?
The IE 900 includes a 3.5mm stereo cable a 2.5mm and 4.4mm balanced cables. Also included are three pairs of silicone ear adapters in three sizes, three elastic foam ear adapter sets in three different sizes, a cable clip, a cleaning tool, a cleaning cloth, a certificate of authenticity, and a premium portable carrying case.
Feel of the IE 900
As far as comfort goes, as I mentioned earlier, the IE 900 are incredibly lightweight, and the flexible para-aramid reinforced earpieces allow you to get an excellent secure fit around each ear. As with all IEMs, I was challenged to get a good seal with my ears which took some time and adjustment. I settled on the larger foam ear adapters to get the best fit for my ears.
Regarding my initial sound impressions of the IE 900, starting with their bass, I found the IE 900 has pretty deep sub-bass when the proper seal is achieved; this was especially noticeable for me when listening toBlinding Lights from the Weekend. I also noticed a nice bump in the midbass, giving them an entertaining sound signature. Again, the most significant issue for me was obtaining the proper seal to appreciate the quality of bass the IE 900 can output for a 7mm driver.
The Midrange is a bit more subdued sounding than some of the lower bass frequencies, with what sounds like a less energetic upper midrange to my ears. Strings don’t quite have as much energy or bite as I am used to hearing on some tracks like Let’s go crazy by Prince. I believe this has been done by intention on Sennheiser’s part to avoid sibilance, but it is something prospective listeners should be aware of.
Listening to Nora Jones, Come Away With Me, I found her vocals to sound lovely. With the midrange sounding reasonably neutral. Listening to Jack Johnson, Better Together, and his vocals along with the guitar's strings is very pleasing with no significant faults as long as you don’t mind a bit less energy in the upper midrange.
Treble from the IE 900 has good sparkle and air. Cymbals from Hans Zimmer’s Live in Prague Album on the song Crimson Tide are clearly defined with a lovely splash, standing out from the rest of the instruments on the track. Similarly, I found the same performance in the treble region on Fear Inoculum from Tool.
One of the biggest standouts about the IE 900 I noticed on first listen is the excellent soundstage for a closed-back in-ear. In many ways, the IE 900 reminds me of Sennheiser’s HD800s. The IE 900 are not at the same level, in my opinion, as the HD800s as far as imaging, sound stage width, and depth go. However, for an in-ear, I got vibes of the HD800s. The three-dimensionalities of the stage are also very impressive.
The detailed presentation of the IE 900 is excellent, with subtle details easily being picked up from singers' breaths to fingers sliding on strings. Dynamics are also excellent for an IEM, with good punch and slam when the track calls for it. The slam of the drums when listening to the Crimson Tide track from Hans Z Live in Prague was visceral and quite enjoyable.
The biggest issue for me with the IE 900 is the included ear tips. I wasn’t truly satisfied with any of the included tips for the shape of my ears and personally would look for an aftermarket option if I was to purchase the IE 900.
What do you think of IE 900s? Have you had a chance to try them out? Let us know in the comments below. Until next time, friends, remember, let the music be your guide!