In a way, Sennheiser’s IE 300 are in very special company in some tech circles. Like a certain pair of headphones from a fruity company whose price totally overshadowed its other features, the IE 300 in India have led to many a raised eyebrow, and quite a few expressions of surprise, especially among those who do not really follow the Sennheiser IE series (the IE 600 and IE 500 are much more expensive, and the IE 300 is supposed to be a relatively affordable option).
What’s not there!
Comments about the headphones generally begin with:
“Rs 30,000 for a pair of earphones? With no big earcups!”
“They do not even have ANC!”
“Forget ANC, they do not have a mic!”
“Forget a mic, they don’t have Bluetooth! They are wired and need a 3.5 mm audio jack.”
“They do not have a volume or track control panel!”
“You cannot make calls from them!”
And after all this, end with once again:
“Rs 30,000 for a pair of earphones?”
Actually all the above are true. At a time when people are declaring that wires and the 3.5 mm audio jack are dead and that ANC is a must-have in any expensive pair of earphones, the Sennheiser IE 300 bring none of those to their audio party. And they come with a Rs 29,990 price tag.
Alert: if Bluetooth and ANC matter to you and you use your earphones for calls as well, STOP reading. Now.
What’s there? Sound, sound…and amazing sound
The Sennheiser IE300 are meant for those who really – and I mean REALLY – love to hear music, and what’s more, like to hear it the way it was recorded. These are what we call audiophile earphones. Is it because of the 7mm XWB transducer or special resonator chamber? Perhaps. But whatever the reason, the simple fact is that these are fantastically clear.
Bassheads who love rumbling beats and thumps will not like them that much (although the bass seems a little accented sometimes), but those who like to hear every string, and every instrument and even notice the indrawn breath of the singer as they launch into a new lyric, will simply love them. There is a lot of detail here, and in the best Sennheiser tradition, it is delivered with an amazing level of clarity. Well, whatever the cause, the fact is while their quality is apparent no matter what you play, I would recommend using these to hear really high resolution or “lossless format” music – you will be amazed at the amount of detail these pick up. Whether it is the thump of drums, the picking of a chord on a stringed instrument, or the vocals of an accomplished singer, you will get to hear them all with a level of clarity and detail that is phenomenal.
Do you want to hear high-quality music with stunning clarity? These earphones are for you. Yes, of course, they are great for watching shows and all too, but they really are meant for those lossless files. Using them to hear MP3s would be like using an AK-47 to kill houseflies. No, these are meant to be used for the highest quality of audio and are the kind of earphones those working in studios and editing and mixing audio tracks will really appreciate. Volume levels are superb – around 75 percent will be more than enough for most users and even if you take it all the way to the max volume, the sound quality will not be compromised (there will be no cracking or distortion).
On the subject of volume, it would have been nice to have some sort of volume and track controls on the earphones themselves – reaching out to the media player, computer, or phone to change volume or tracks is not a deal-breaker but not very convenient, especially when you are paying this sort of premium. Still, all said and done, you get very clear, unaccented sound, with a degree of detail that is surprising – the kind you associate with large, over-ear headphones.
Fit for great audio, but take some fitting
This, of course, brings us to their form factor. The Sennheiser IE300 are typical in-ear, wired buds, although you can detach the cables from the buds if you wish. The contacts between the buds and the cable are almost seamless and yet flexible enough to let the buds rotate 360 degrees and although you might hear a slight disturbance when you run a finger over the contact point, I really do not know why you would even want to do so. You get three sets of silicon tips and three sets of memory foam tips in the box to let you get the exact fit for your ears. The right and left ear tips are not marked by name – you figure out that the one with a small red band below it is for the right, and the one with the green is the left.
Using the IE 300 is a bit can, however, take a bit of getting used to. Pun intended. And that is because Sennheiser has gone with the concept of what it calls “adjustable flexible ear hooks” to keep the buds in place. These are slightly stiff bits of plastic between the cable and the buds that have to be bent around the ears. This is not very intuitive and can sometimes be a little irritating, especially as these “hooks” often lose their shape when you place the earphones back in the compact square case that comes in the box. Having to twist that stem into place can be a little annoying. Mind you, once you get it right, it stays right in place. The noise isolation is very good once you get the right-sized buds into your ear.
The earbuds and cable are of very good build quality. The buds are of solid plastic and have a slightly starry pattern on them, which some might like. Honestly, they will not be that clearly visible when you place them in your ears. The MMCX connectors, which connect the cable to the buds are gold-plated. The cable is flexible and very sturdy (although a little prone to tangling) and so is the 3.5 mm plug. Some might have expected a 2.5 mm option too at this price point (you can purchase it separately), but we do not think this is a dealbreaker.
At Rs 29,990, the Sennheiser IE300 are very much for those who are looking at very high quality, audiophile-level audio, without the hassle and portability that large headphones bring. Or for those who have had their eyes on the IE 600 and IE 500 but not THOSE sort of premium budgets.
The biggest charm of these earphones is the fact that you can slip them into your pockets and literally plug them into an audio system or even a phone with a 3.5 mm audio jack. No, you will not get the sort of open, wide soundstage (where you get a sense of even the location of different sounds) that a pair of headphones for the same price will give you or the same level of noise isolation (those big ear cups are better designed to keep sound out), but what you get is comparable sound quality and a lot of conveniences.
And if you are the type that values clarity and balanced sound in a very compact and super portable form factor (slip it into your pocket and carry it around) or indeed work in studio-like conditions where you need to edit sound very carefully, then these are in a zone of one. There are other in-ear monitors from the likes of Shure (the Aonic 3) and Audio-Technica (the rather fantastic ATH-E70) in the same or slightly lower price band, but the IE 300 are a great option for anyone wanting audiophile-level sound with minimum compromises in a compact form factor.
Rs 30,000 for this pair of earphones? This pair of headphones that has no ANC, no in-wire control panel, does not handle calls, and needs a wired connection?
If this level of sound matters to you, and you do not want to be lugging around hefty headphones. Simple.
- Audiophile level sound quality
- Solid and sturdy design
- Compact enough to be carried in your pocket
- Comes with a case
- Fitting it into the ears takes getting used to
- No volume or track controls on the earphones
- No smart functions
- Expensive (for some)
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|Ease of use||
The Sennheiser IE 300 are targeted at the audiophile crowd. Their amazing levels of clarity and sound quality make them a great proposition for those wanting high-quality sound without the hassle of hefty headphones.