Today, we will look at the new Sennheiser IE 200 earphones compared to the IE 600 earphones. This article will primarily discuss earphones in terms of build quality, comfort, design, and sound quality.
We realize there is a significant price gap between these two earphones; however, several TSAV customers and viewers of our channel have asked for this comparison, so we are happy to give you some impressions.
TheIE 200 is usually priced at $149.95, and theIE 600 is typically priced at $699.95, although they do go on sale. With that said, let’s talk about what you get for the price difference between the IE 200 and IE 600 in build quality, the included accessories, and the sound quality.
Build Quality and Design
Starting with the build quality, both earphones have excellent shape and fit comfortably in the ears sitting flush with the ear. This is great if you don’t want earphones that stick out or are larger by design.
The IE 200 is built from a plastic-type material and weighs only about 4 grams per earphone. In contrast, the IE 600 is made from resilient AMLOY-ZR01 amorphous metal housing, which is 3D printed in Germany, weighing about 6 grams per earphone.
The difference in weight is a nonissue for me; although the IE 200 feels slightly more comfortable in my ears, ultimately, I find the shape and fit excellent from both. I am not a huge fan of the included ear tips with the earphones, they will get the job done, or you can always pick up some aftermarket tips if you don’t jive with the included ones.
Both the IE 200 and IE 600 include silicone and memory foam tips in Small, Medium, and Large. When it comes to the included cables, there are distinctly better cables included with the IE 600 earphones.
The IE 600 includes an unbalanced para-aramid reinforced cable with a 3.5 mm connector and a balanced para-aramid reinforced cable with a 4.4 mm connector compared to the cheap feeling and microphonic cable of the IE 200, which is unbalanced using MMCX connectors and terminated in 3.5 mm.
I understand why the lower quality cable, as the IE 200 are much less expensive than the IE 600; however, you may want to replace the cable of the IE 200 if you decide to pick up a pair as they are not of the same quality as the IE 600 cables and they unfortunately, are a bit microphonic, picking up some noise as the cables move.
The included pouch of the IE 200 is also less high quality than the premium zippered carry case of the IE 600. Also included with the IE 600 that you won’t find with the IE 200 is a cable clip, cleaning tool, cleaning cloth, and a much nicer presentation box.
The included accessories may not be important to you. Still, as a potential buyer, you should be aware as the included accessories of the IE 600 provide a better overall user experience.
So let’s talk about some of the differences in the design of the two earphones. The IE 200 uses a single true response 7mm dynamic transducer for each earphone with an FR of 6-20,000 Hz, an 18 Ohm impedance, and an SPL of 119 dB with less than .08 THD and is designed in Germany but assembled in China.
The IE 600 also uses a single true response dynamic driver per earphone; however, they also have dual-resonator chambers for the transducer principle with an FR of 4-46,500 Hz, an 18 Ohm impedance, an SPL of 118 dB, and a THD of less than .06%.
So on paper, we are starting to see how and why we have a larger price for the IE 600, better accessories, better technical specifications, better alloy housing build quality, and more premium packaging, as well as the IE 600, is designed and built in Germany.
The zirconium alloy of the IE 600 is stronger than steel, with triple the hardness and flexural strength of high-performance steel, according to Sennheiser. The metallic satin surface is built to resist corrosion and scratches compared to the plastic-type material housing of the IE 200.
However, not everyone can afford to drop 6-700 dollars on earphones, and that is where the IE 200 fits nicely into Sennheiser’s lineup. The FR of the IE 200 and IE 600 have some similarities, which is likely why many of our customers and viewers of the channel want to know how they compare.
Before we start comparing the sound qualities of the two earphones, I need to mention one thing unique about the build of the IE 200. Sennheiser has designed the IE 200 with two ear-tip listening positions.
The standard position, back on the ear tip housing, and is what Sennheiser calls the reference listening position.
You can choose the outer position for what Sennheiser says will give you a more analytical listening experience—essentially giving you two tuning options with one set of tips by just changing the position of the tips allowing for more or less low-end.
I will talk about how this sounds on the IE 200 a bit more when we get into my sound impressions. I utilized three headphone amplifiers with built-in DACS to formulate my impressions, the Chord Hugo 2, the Chord Mojo 2, and the Woo Audio WA8 tube amplifier, using each of the earphones included stock cables.
For music services, I utilized Qobuz, Tidal, and Amazon Music HD, listening to several playlists I have created for listening to headphones, earphones, speakers, and other audio-related gear. I will share some of my notes from some of the tracks across my playlists and the differences I heard between the two earphones then I will offer my final thoughts.
Listening to Hans Zimmer's Crimson Tide Live in Prague, the similarities in sound are there, with the IE 600 having tighter, more impactful bass that better balances with their treble tuning. The IE 200 with the tips in their reference listening position has a bit less emphasis on the bass regions, which creates a sound quality that sounds a bit more midrange and treble-emphasized.
However, the treble of the IE 200 doesn’t sound as present to me as the IE 600, or it just doesn’t balance as well with the reduced bass of the IE 200 for my preferences. The IE 600 also sounds more dynamic from the drum hits on this track, presenting a punchier sound quality.
The timbre of the cymbals, electric guitar, and brass sound more energetic and livelier when listening to the IE 600. While I enjoy both earphones with this Hanz Zimmer classic, the IE 600 sounds more detailed, technical, exciting, and impactful.
Listening to Dreams from Fleetwood Mac, the IE 600 has more bass guitar girth and texture to the strings, which can almost be felt but is just not there when listening to the IE 200. Stevie’s vocals are a bit warmer in presentation from the IE 600 and are better separated from the other vocals and instruments. The vocals are better defined from the entire band when listening to the IE 600.
When listening to the IE 200, I am drawn towards the high hat and cymbal splashes, more so than the rest of the instruments. While the vocals still sound good, they are less defined, present, or tonally enjoyable than the IE 600, for my sound tastes.
However, for listeners that prefer a bit more neutral-sounding bass with less mid-bass and sub-bass, and more emphasis on a smoother-sounding treble, the IE 200 may be exactly what they are looking for. For my taste, the IE 600 presents the subtle details of the song and the emotion of the vocals more powerfully on this track.
On paper, the IE 600 has more treble than the IE 200, but again it’s the delicate balance between the bass regions, mid-range, and the treble that sounds more exciting, detailed, and enjoyable to me when listening to the IE 600.
The IE 200, however, at its very affordable price, is a great value and gives you a good quality of sound, just not at the level of the IE 600, no matter what you read or see on the internet. The difference is real if you listen with a high-quality amp and DAC.
Listening to Wandering by Yosi Horikawa, the IE 600 sounds more detailed with better imaging on their sound stage of the bass hits, bird chirps, and all the recorded sounds Yosi uses to produce this excellent track when compared to the IE 200.
Again, the dynamics also hit harder, and the mid-bass and sub-bass move you when listening compared to the thinner-sounding IE 200. Listening to Bubbles, also by Yosi, and the ping pong balls, rubber balls, and other recorded sounds on the sound stage sound more defined and have more contrast to their images on the stage when listening to the IE 600.
The IE 200 images very well on their soundstage for a $150 earphone, don’t get me wrong, just not at the same level as the IE 600. The width of the stage also sounds a bit wider with better depth from the IE 600 floating images on their stage in a more holographic way when compared to the flatter-sounding, more compressed stage of IE 200.
I feel like the IE 200 is just giving you a little sense of what the IE 600 has to offer; while on paper, the two earphones look similar in their FR, audibly, there is a more detailed, dynamic, and emotionally moving sound that the IE 600 brings to the table which is driven in part by their bass sound signature.
Listening to the song Black, by Pearl Jam, I can feel the bass guitar and drums when listening to the IE 600 compared to the IE 200. The sound of the IE 600 makes me feel like I am a part of the music when listening, whereas the IE 200 is almost like taking a step back from the music and simply hearing it.
Emotion is hard to describe when listening to music, but the emotion I experience when listening to the IE 600 cannot be reproduced when listening to the IE 200. Listening to Even Flow, again from Pearl Jam, it is clear that while the IE 200 is an outstanding value in sound, this is not a fair fight for my sound preferences.
The vocals on Even Flow sound a bit more subdued and distant when listening to the IE 200 when compared to the IE 600, and again, the stage sounds flatter and less realistic than what I have come to expect from other earphones, headphones, or speakers for my taste in sound.
Listening to Snarky Puppy Lingus, the dynamics and slam from the drums are softer than what I like. However, the stage does a good job of separating the instruments from each other, especially for the price of the IE 200.
The Brass, high hat, and cymbals are more prominent on the stage than some other instruments, which some listeners may prefer.
Listening to the IE 600 and the drums have more body when being struck, the brass sounds a bit richer in timbre, and the hi-hats and cymbals sound more balanced with the rest of the instruments on the track. The guitar also has more body to its sound when it's played. Again, the IE 600 puts me in the middle of the music, which gives me a more emotional response as if I am listening live to Snarky Puppy.
Before I wrap up, I wanted to give my thoughts on the dual position tip tuning system of the IE 200; while I think this is a cool idea, just like pad swapping is with some headphones, I don’t think the outer position sounds better and sounds worse for my preferences reducing dynamics, slam, and essentially neutering what is left of the low end of the IE 200.
So overall, while I did find the treble of the IE 200 can sound a little less spicy at times than the IE 600, depending on the track, which some listeners may appreciate, I would still choose the IE 600 for its overall build quality, sound signature, and included accessories.
I get that even when on sale, the IE 600 is considerably more expensive than the IE 200. Still, with six months of zero interest via PayPal, most people may be happier in the long run and not necessarily feel the desire to want to upgrade the IE 200 or have the need to get better cables and accessories down the road.
Instead, my recommendation would be, of course, to always give them both a listen side-by-side if you can, and if you prefer the sound IE 600, you are good to go knowing that it is a tremendous earphone and people, I know, even prefer it over the more expensive IE 900 which I also really enjoyed!
If I were sensitive to a certain track and how the IE 600 presented the treble, I would pair it with a synergistic amp like the Woo Audio WA8 or use EQ or tone control to make a slight adjustment.
On the topic of synergistic amplifiers, before we wrap up, I enjoyed both earphones with all the amps I listened to them with; each creating a slightly unique presentation in sound. For my preferences, I enjoyed the IE 200 the most with the Woo Audio WA8 and Mojo 2, which filled out their sound, giving a bit more low-end.
The WA8 also helped with the soundstage, presenting less of that forward flat presentation I described earlier. With the IE 600, I didn’t necessarily have a favorite and was equally pleased with all the headphone amplifier DAC combos.
So as always, it will come down to your preferences, and I encourage you to listen to both earphones side by side with the amplifier and source components you plan on having in your system to formulate your impressions, as we all hear a bit differently and differ on what we value or prefer in sound quality.
We have these fantastic earphones, numerous amplifiers, and DACS in our headphone bar, so if you are in SoCal, stop by and hang out with us and have a listening party. We have both theIE 200 is usually and theIE 600 earphones available for sale online if you can't make it to the store.
If you are interested in trading up your old headphones or other gently used audio gear for a new set of headphones, check out ourtrade-up program, and don’t forget we will price match, other authorized dealers!
We have some cool videos coming this year with new product announcements, so don’t forget to subscribe to our channel to stay in the know! From $150 earphones to multi-million-dollar home audio cinema and automation systems, TSAV is a HiFi enthusiast's paradise for building the system of your dreams.
Until next time friends, remember, let the music be your guide!